Dalkrin-the-Wanderer

Interpreting Cutie Marks

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(edited)

(A note to the Reader: This system is a work in progress and will be updated as new information is established.)

 

Within the Cannon of MLP, we see many myriad Cutie Marks on display and I've often wondered, 'how do they work?' What is to follow is my attempt to make sense of these enigmatic emblems emblazoned on the ends of our equine friends. Using this tool, you will be able to interpret any cutie mark and derive a deep and complex meaning and it is my hope that these meanings may be at least close to the cannon explanations for the marks. To this end, I ask you to assist me with new ideas or suggestions to help me flesh out this system and achieve a satisfactory level of accuracy.

Definitions:
In order to accurately describe the Cutie Marks and how to Interpret them, I will begin by defining my terms.

Spoiler
  • Cutie Mark: A symbol tied to a pony's destiny that appears on their flank in a moment of epiphany or accomplishment which becomes an integral part of the pony's identity and destiny.
  • True Name: A name that, like a Cutie mark is tied to the soul of the pony, often resulting in the pony's name giving some hint to the nature of their future Cutie Mark. Not all ponies have their True Names from birth, notably Pinkamena Diane Pie began going by her True Name, 'Pinkie Pie' after earning her Cutie Mark.
  • Glyph: An image that is part of a Cutie Mark. These images have objective meanings but can also have subjective relevance to individual ponies.
  • Arrangement: The position of Glyphs in relation to the pony and to each other. The spatial relationships of the Glyphs help to refine their meaning beyond the objective meaning they already possess.
  • Circumstance: The events that led to a Cutie Mark. These further refine the meaning.

Type:
Cutie Marks can be divided into two broad categories that will determine how you go about interpreting the data you collect

Spoiler
  • Symbolic: A symbolic Cutie Mark relies more on subjective meaning than objective and thus the tools provided here will be of limited use. The arrangement can usually be used to refine the meaning but the meaning of Glyphs can be wildly different from the established common meanings. 
  • Literal: A Literal Cutie Mark relies mostly on the Concrete Meanings of its Glyphs and Arrangement.

(Note: this is not a binary set, but rather a sliding scale. A Cutie Mark can be Mostly Literal with some Symbolic elements or vise Versa.)

 

Glyphs:
The Glyphs are the foundation for any cutie mark. Glyphs each have various meanings that can be attributed to them so the Circumstance and the Pony's personality should be considered when determining the meaning of a Glyph and consequently a Cutie Mark. What follows is an incomplete list of glyphs and their associated meanings.

Abstract Glyphs:
These Glyphs relate to concepts and ideas, not actions items or occupations. Many of these will also have Material meanings.
Spoiler
  • Star: Wisdom, Magic, Wonder (Stars with an even number of points are always associated with magic) 
  • Cloud: kindness, Caring, Home
  • Rainbow: Wonder, luck, talent
  • Fire: Optimism, leadership, protection 
  • Lightning: Power, Intelligence, Wit, Excellence
  • The Sun: Hope, Strength, Leadership
  • The Moon: Beauty, Patience, Change
  • Light Rays: Truth, Understanding, Knowledge
  • Wisps: Chaos, Wonder, Adaptability
  • Scroll: Leadership, Learning, Knowledge
  • Book: Knowledge, Learning
  • Fleur De Lis: Nobility, Royalty, Leadership
  • Rose: Love, Personal Growth
  • Flower: Personal Growth, a floriographic meaning
  • Wings: Hope
  • Paintbrush: Creativity, Creation
  • Heart: Love, Kindness
  • Gem: Strength, Beauty, Rarity
 
 
 
Material Glyphs:
Glyphs with clear meanings based on their form and relation to real world objects.
Spoiler
  • Water Drop: Rain Manipulation, Weather Work, Swimming
  • Book: Reading, Writing, Research, Bookbinding, Teaching
  • Telescope: Curiosity, Astronomy, Science, Learning, Lens Grinding
  • Quill: Writing, Art, Organization, Law
  • Scroll:
  • Flowers: Growing, Beauty, Art, Horticulture, Romance
  • Wrench: Repair, Mechanics, Inventing
  • Hammer: Carpentry, Construction
  • Star: Astronomy, Magical Study/Practice
  • Wings: Flight, Racing, Military Acumen, Speed
  • Gear/Sprocket: Mechanics, Technical work, Engineering
 
 

Ornamentation/Embellishment:
Some Cutie Marks will have additional patterning or special charactaristics that will help to modify the meaning of the Glyphs.

Spoiler
  • Amalgamation: The combining of two Glyphs, granting one the characteristics of another. The base Glyph of the Amalgamation is the more important of the two, literally shaping the meaning of the secondary Glyph which is applied so that it's superficial characteristics follow the form of the base. Thus, the meaning of the Secondary Glyph modifies but does not completely change the meaning of the Base Glyph.
  • Filigree: Abstract embellishment that surrounds or sprouts from a Glyph or Glyph. Shows a sense of reverence for the Glyph's meaning.
  • Shine: A glare or gleam on a Glyph. Shows a drive for perfection regarding the meaning of the Glyph to which it is applied.

Color
Color plays an important role in establishing meaning in cutie marks. The coloration of glyphs, their relation to each other and the coat, mane and eye colors of the pony in question can have some significance. Color is only significant if it departs from the usual color of the Glyphs. for example, a Red apple has little additional significance, but a blue carrot might.

Spoiler

Red Color  Red

Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love.

Shades of Red

  • Light red represents joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity, and love.
  • Pink signifies romance, love, and friendship. It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness.
  • Dark red is associated with vigor, willpower, rage, anger, leadership, courage, longing, malice, and wrath.
  • Brown suggests stability and denotes masculine qualities.
  • Reddish-brown is associated with harvest and fall.

 

Orange Color  Orange

Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.

  • Dark orange can mean deceit and distrust.
  • Red-orange corresponds to desire, sexual passion, pleasure, domination, aggression, and thirst for action.
  • Gold evokes the feeling of prestige. The meaning of gold is illumination, wisdom, and wealth. Gold often symbolizes high quality.

 

Yellow Color  Yellow

Yellow is the color of sunshine. It's associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.

  • Dull (dingy) yellow represents caution, decay, sickness, and jealousy.
  • Light yellow is associated with intellect, freshness, and joy.

 

Green Color  Green

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money.

  • Dark green is associated with ambition, greed, and jealousy.
  • Yellow-green can indicate sickness, cowardice, discord, and jealousy.
  • Aqua is associated with emotional healing and protection.
  • Olive green is the traditional color of peace.

 

Blue Color  Blue

Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, and truth

  • Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness.
  • Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

 

Purple Color  Purple

Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.

  • Light purple evokes romantic and nostalgic feelings.
  • Dark purple evokes gloom and sad feelings. It can cause frustration.

 

White Color  White

White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection.

 

Black Color  Black

Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery.

(Color Meanings borrowed from http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html)

Arrangement:
To determine the meaning of the Literal type, you will consider it's Arrangement. The possible Arrangements are as follows

Spoiler
  • Solitary: A single unaccompanied Glyph. Denotes a particular affinity or skill in or understanding of the Glyph's subject.
    Roseluck.jpg.09f3c00576e20e8d23e86d7ab01f7ad4.jpg
  • Triune: A Trio of identical or very similar Glyphs. Denotes a strong fondness, love or passion.
    Applejack.thumb.png.5e47fa4fec47864b0e976e11e88134e6.png
  • Cluster: an alternate form of the Triune, though with more symbolic significance in the particular number of Glyphs pictured.
    Derpy.png.12d8662ccf9b32002dd6f9a97067718e.png
  • Ensconced: A singular large central Glyph encircled by a Cluster of smaller Glyphs. Denotes a duty, personally held, often times related to the relationship between the central Glyph and the Cluster.
    moondancer.thumb.png.7a9fbbec7abf627326f9aac7ab4d6aae.png
  • Overlaid:  A smaller central Glyph overlaid upon a larger secondary Glyph but is not completely enclosed. Denotes a particular excellence.
    Coloratura.jpg.b2d9d8fe68857bdfd652a8f464e81b00.jpg
  • Offset: Two similar images of equal size and prominence offset so that both are visible in part or whole. Holds a similar meaning to overlaid to a much greater degree, implying an unrivaled skill and destiny.
    Shoeshine.jpg.92d0f1e4cf3a32e3a9f11b007c037515.jpg
  • Occluded: A Glyph that is partially hidden by another, unique Glyph. Implies a strong relationship between the two Glyphs, often favoring the occluded Glyph as some sort of personal goal or struggle.
    5b026c60cfb98_CloudKicker.thumb.png.487cdfeb9f550dcba9e13f8207317f16.png
  • Paired: A Glyph that is shown with some other related Glyph, such as a scroll and quill. Reinforces a particular Concrete meaning and refines the abstract meaning.
    Scroll.png.6672127559d1a9908933c38d437bf933.png
  • Sundered: A Glyph or Glyphs that appear broken or separated. Signifies the enduring of hardships or some perceived inadequacy as well as some will to continue on in spite of it. Often associated with stoic and strong ponies.
    5b026c66be894_LillyBlossom.thumb.png.287db69ca70c586bf6f66bc859cd6ce1.png
  • Nested: Two or more Glyphs arranged so that a single larger Glyph encompasses the smaller Glyphs.  Implies a protective nature.
    Shining.thumb.png.a749617a18b207269717af2399f163bd.png
  • Mirrored: A symmetrical Glyph. Implies an ordered and structured personality. The more axis of symmetry, the more pronounced the implication. Often applied specifically to what the image represents as opposed to the pony as a whole.
    5b026c6b78792_VelvetSentry.jpg.a0c869bd1e8ec25ee3326fb682155336.jpg
 

Circumstance:
The particular situation in which a Cutie Mark was earned can have significant info critical to determining the meaning of the Mark.

Spoiler
  • Echoed: Similar marks between different ponies. Often implies some kindred spirit or alignment of purpose. While similar marks are very common, Echoed marks are often earned very near to one another and often, though not always in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Inherited: A Glyph or motif that repeats along family lines with uncanny frequency. Often the Glyph itself has little meaning though exactly copied marks imply great affection.
  • Aligned: a mark that seemingly matches the name the pony identifies with. This strongly implies that the name in question is a True Name, and thus is linked with the pony's destiny. If ha pony knows their true name it can help them to truly understand their cutie mark and through that, themselves.
  • Misaligned: A mark that seems at odds with the name the pony identifies with. When the name and the mark of a pony do not agree for whatever reason, then some fundamental understanding is still missing. This can cause issues if their understanding of their mark is in error.
  • Dramatic: A mark that was received under extraordinary circumstances. Can mean either a sense of great purpose or a seeking of purpose.
  • Mundane: A mark that was received under normal circumstances. This Circumstance has little interpretive meaning and is the most common for Cuties Marks.

 

Edited by Dalkrin-the-Wanderer
Revisiting and adding A Color section

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So with the above currently established, I would like to see if it holds up.

I'll begin by doing a breakdown of Twilight Sparkle's Cutie Mark.

 

Two Offset Six-Pointed Stars Ensconced by a cluster of five five-pointed stars which was earned Dramatically.

Offset implies Unrivaled Skill or Destiny and the Six Pointed Stars being even numbered points denotes magic.

The Cluster, like a Triune shows a passion, fondness, or love, and the number five, repeated here in the points of the stars and the number of them matches with her friends who factor heavily into her Destiny. The Offset Stars being Ensconced by the stars shows her dedication as a friend and duty as the Element of Magic

The Dramatic Circumstance of her Cutie Mark further reinforces her importance as the Element of Magic and Princess of Friendship.

Her Mark Echoes Shining Armors mark, showing the deep bond they share and that is separate from the inherited white five-pointed stars that both she and Shining got from their mother.

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I would like to thank you for this; it is very helpful and I can tell you’ve really done your homework on this.:) Some picture examples would be nice, though. Just a suggestion though if you’re up for it.:twi:

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Absolutely. I'll start looking around for some. Also, any suggestions for additional Glyphs, Arrangments or Circumstances would be awesome. I want to set this up as a tool for bronies to create cutie marks for their characters without having to do too much guess work.

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(edited)

What about guns,mechanics,games,strategy?

Edited by Nightmare Terror

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What would that Glyph look like?

Any suggestions are welcome as I don't anticipate being able to cover everything myself.

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This reminds me of the rules I was typing up a while back for how pony names work only I kept finding exceptions to each one so I gave up on it for the time being.

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I know what they would look like,im asking would it be possible for sonepony to get a cutie mark under those categories? 

Example: Guns Melee weapons = War,Weapons expert

Tools = Mechanics,Handypony

Games = Gamer ponies

Comic Book = Fiction Pony

tnt = Demopony

Etc

 

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Yeah, totally. You can give your pony any cutie mark you want. this is just a tool to help people figure out marks if they can't settle on one or are just curious what the one they made might mean. When dealing with cannon, however, you need to establish precedent before throwing something in. Gaming, we have Button Mash so that's good. Guns, a likely non-starter as this is a Children's show. If you're not concerned with respecting cannon, then this will still work for you.

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4 minutes ago, Nightmare Terror said:

What about guns,mechanics,games,strategy?

Guns I wouldn't expect to be used as a cutie mark, as they're complicated and very specific but they could stand for being a sharpshooter, defense, maybe firearms history or just manufacturing. Something to keep in mind of course whenever making a cutie mark is that it has to be something that could be reasonably obtained by a child. Mechanics could simply be variations for an inventive pony, all the way from one designing locomotives to mousetraps. As for games, the images of cards, dice, checkers, chess, and jacks, come to mind, all having to do with chance and strategy. Something like a video game is way to specific, but there is room for something within a videogame, but gaming so rarely is what defines a person, the only example that comes to mind would be people who dedicate themselves to speed runs and other related world records and nothing more. Even popular gamers like the guys over on Achievement Hunter, or Game Grumps, they're really just commentators which falls more into the sort of things you expect from tv and radio hosts despite them being direct competitors with internet entertainers. There of course is always game development. Strategy itself is can be represented by things but I don't beleive there's one core symbol for it.

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I'm curious. Anyone with OCs, I would like to see what this system says about your characters and how accurate it ends up being.

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Alright. Did a little cleaning up to make the info easier to access. Also modified the Glyph section so now there are two types of Glyph. Abstract and Material.

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13 hours ago, Dalkrin-the-Wanderer said:

I'm curious. Anyone with OCs, I would like to see what this system says about your characters and how accurate it ends up being.

5b03303576f3c_FleurdeLisinOliveWreath.png.b46d3bce219834ebe72a0aeeca321479.png

I've got this for mine. It appears to be Symbolic, Abstract, Nested/Mirrored, and I think Misaligned for Circumstance.

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(edited)

So a Fluer De Lis denotes royalty or Nobility. The olive branches (Those are olive branches, right?) symbolize peace. is there any significance to the number 11 or 22 in the character's life?

Nested and Mirrored shows a protective nature and an ordered mind.

So it could be that he is either himself a noble or royal or is dedicated to protecting them in such a way that it is relevant to their destiny. And being misaligned could mean that they either misunderstand their mark or there is some great obstacle to their achieving their potential.

how does that stack up to your character's personality? I don't imagine it even came close honestly.

Edited by Dalkrin-the-Wanderer

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4 hours ago, Dalkrin-the-Wanderer said:

So a Fluer De Lis denotes royalty or Nobility. The olive branches (Those are olive branches, right?) symbolize peace. is there any significance to the number 11 or 22 in the character's life?

Nested and Mirrored shows a protective nature and an ordered mind.

So it could be that he is either himself a noble or royal or is dedicated to protecting them in such a way that it is relevant to their destiny. And being misaligned could mean that they either misunderstand their mark or there is some great obstacle to their achieving their potential.

how does that stack up to your character's personality? I don't imagine it even came close honestly.

In this case, the Fleur De Lis is being used as nobles and royals see it, and that's as a representation of their power. They're open to being seen as olive or laurel branches, as either can be representative of prosperity. There is no significance to the numbers 11 or 22.

Protective and orderly are definately descriptive characteristics associated with this character. Sometimes they come off as random, but that's because their mind is constantly making connections to other things, to the point when they have a question, what it's about at first seems to have nothing to do with what was just being talked about. They strive for securing what they have and expanding on it when they can, in hopes for an improved quality of life for all.

He is dedicated to protecting nobles while also seeking to be one someday. The confusion for misaligned comes from how the cutie mark represents something they're both seeking and good at achieving, whereas the name is the means to how they do that.

I think you're pretty close in a general sense. The one thing you can't factor is how personal a cutie mark can be so you'll never be 100% accurate unless it's Mundane. Luckily since it's those ones that are the most common you shouldn't have too many surprises.

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Well that's freaking awesome! I didn't expect an OC to match up to the criteria I established here. It being mundane however doesn't mean anything regarding the interpretation. The one that makes it less reliant on these guidelines is how symbolic the mark is. The more symbolic, the more it is able to deviate from these guidelines.

 

So! Anyone else want to give it a shot? I need more data points and I would love to analyze any OCs you guys might have. Also, if you can think of any variables I haven't accounted for in this system, please let me know

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22 hours ago, Dalkrin-the-Wanderer said:

I'm curious. Anyone with OCs, I would like to see what this system says about your characters and how accurate it ends up being.

well, as far as I know, my cutie mark is such a mix of many things in accordance to the rules you proposed!

let's see if we both concur.

the big ones: symbolic, mirror

her name is Rosebud, she's a pegasus.

 

cutie mark- rosebud.png

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Alright, Here we go.

 

The Glyph is a Mirrored Solitary rose. I have no criteria for embellishments so that's definitely something I'll need to look into. The contrast between black and red seems significant but again, I have no criteria to compare that to yet.

So with the info I have, all I can extrapolate is Your OC is either a detail oriented Horticulturist (Which doesn't fit with the Symbolic Type) or She is a calculating lover. I can't imagine either of these being right.

Was I even close?

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18 minutes ago, Dalkrin-the-Wanderer said:

Alright, Here we go.

 

The Glyph is a Mirrored Solitary rose. I have no criteria for embellishments so that's definitely something I'll need to look into. The contrast between black and red seems significant but again, I have no criteria to compare that to yet.

So with the info I have, all I can extrapolate is Your OC is either a detail oriented Horticulturist (Which doesn't fit with the Symbolic Type) or She is a calculating lover. I can't imagine either of these being right.

Was I even close?

detail oriented, yes! very! but while she loves plants its not her specialty. it's more symbolic in the sense that it fits her talent, which is performance. my idea for the symbolism was not only to represent her name, but also how she "bloomed" when she discovered her talent; in essence a blooming rose.

black and red is significant, yes!

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I could have guessed some artistic stint had I paid attention. The rose is a flower, flowers symbolize, among other things, Art which includes theater. So, what is the significance of the six spines and the Color Contrast? If you don't mind sharing. I intend to include this input in a revision of the system.

 

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I was Never take into account the meanings of glyphs when designing my character's cutie mark! :sealed: I've done, I just based on a couple of ideas of what I wanted as a talent for my Pony ... :huh:what would you say about my cutie mark?:fluttershy:

Symbol: A feather releasing a magic flash.

5afc5acea924e_cutiemark.png.6456b31f54d6aa6f20d38678990f4811.png

the name that I put to my pony is Berry Bliss Sundae, she's a unicorn ... his name I did not put it based on his cutie mark, I put it based on his palette of colors and personal tastes ... let's see if we're according to the meaning.

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(edited)
4 hours ago, Berry-Bliss-Sundae said:

A feather releasing a magic flash.

5afc5acea924e_cutiemark.png.6456b31f54d6aa6f20d38678990f4811.png

 

A feather with gradient, red to blue occluding a pink four-pointed star with a red wisp with blue accent.

The star is associated with magic, the feather could be a quill, meaning art likely. The occlusion gives it a sense of a struggle or challenging goal.

Following this info I would guess that Berry-Bliss is a cremery worker who seeks the challenge of creating the best icecream ever. She uses her magic very prominently in this as well. Maybe with a freezing spell.

How is that?

Edited by Dalkrin-the-Wanderer

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1 hour ago, Dalkrin-the-Wanderer said:

A feather with gradient, red to blue occluding a pink four-pointed star with a red wisp with blue accent.

The star is associated with magic, the feather could be a quill, meaning art likely. The occlusion gives it a sense of a struggle or challenging goal.

Following this info I would guess that Berry-Bliss is a cremery worker who seeks the challenge of creating the best icecream ever. She uses her magic very prominently in this as well. Maybe with a freezing spell.

How is that?

very close! the cutie mark is a 'symbolic' form or at least for me, to represent the creation / imagination ... when you want to create something (a painting, a dress, a machinery) usually the use of a plan, a sketch, is used , a guide that will help give life to what you want to create. The pink star that releases magic is nothing other than the power to create (whether or not with magic) what you want according to the limit of your imagination.

I do not know about glyphs and my character is still in construction, so I would not know if my concept applies to the shape of my cutie mark. :huh:

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Well, this is all just a thing I put together on a whim and have since decided to see through. So any info I set up here is pure speculation anyway. I hope to eventually have a robust system that can help creators make interesting characters and help people understand the characters they already have. It all has to do with interpretation too so it won't be an exact science, (Though I am suprised to see that most of the OCs I've analyzed, I've come close with.)

 

Any other takers. This is pretty fun and I'm curious just how robust I can make this system. And again, any suggestions you may have to help this out would be appreciated.

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