Owl Coffee Mug

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What is the Significance of Owl imagery in Typical Owl Coffee Mug Designs?

Usually, when people give owl coffee-mug gifts, they think that they're just giving something cute. They think that they're giving a coffee mug that has a very distinctive design. You really can't fault them for thinking this way because it's easy to think of the owl as yet another animal. Picking out an owl mug, at least as far as the people who think this way are concerned, is not much different from picking out a mug involving designs with lions, giraffes, zebras, horses, cats, dogs, you name it. An animal, after all, is an animal.

Well, that's going to be a problem because you have to understand that the owl, and just like any other animal, for that matter, has a specific meaning. You have to understand that whenever you're dealing with imagery, you have to always converse or reference the meaning of that particular image.

These meanings change from culture to culture. These meanings change over time, and being clueless regarding these differences can ensure that at best, your gift comes off as banal and generic; at worst, your gift might even be perceived as a threat or as something offensive. You don't want to get across the wrong message. This is why a little attention to detail as far as the cultural and sociological meaning of the imagery found in your gift can really go a long way.

Make no mistake about it the owl is an interesting motif. It may seem like you're dealing with another bird and a predator at that, but it actually goes much deeper than that. Believe it or not owl designs have existed throughout history.

In fact, they can be found extensively in Greco-Roman designs. There are many vases and pottery from the ancient classical Greek world where owls figured prominently. What's the big deal with owls in Ancient Greece?

Well, owls in Ancient Greek mythology symbolized wisdom. In fact, they have been so closely associated with wisdom and philosophy that the owl was actually the official familiar or ritual animal of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, in classical Greek mythology. That's how rooted in a specific reading owls are.

These owl designs have existed throughout history both as pagan and Christian as well as secular design motifs. With each design version, there is also a different set of connotations and expectations. You need to be aware of this because you might actually be sending a message that you did not intend to send.

The Owl as Predator

So, why have owls have figured prominently in a lot of designs throughout history? Well, you have to understand that the owl is actually a bird that eats other animals. It's a predator, but you really can't tell looking at it because with its big eyes and its funny sound and its nocturnal habits, it's easy to overlook the owl. In fact, a lot of people don't think much of the owl. They think it's just another bird, but it actually is quite an efficient killer.

If you are a mouse, and you're running around in the middle of the night, you're basically taking your life in your own hands and putting yourself in harm's way because the hooting sound that you hear around you is the owl sending out sonar signals to identify where you are so it can swoop down and eat you. That's how efficient it is. It kind of like has its own GPS or sonar system. That's how powerful of a predator the owl is. It also does this in a very stealth way. You don't see it coming because it operates in the cover of night.

Moreover, it's very quiet except for the hooting sound. It may seem like nothing's happening, and you are a rat running through a field, and suddenly you end up on the menu for an owl family. That's how stealth the owl is and it's easy to why all this mythology of wisdom, intelligence and sophistication surrounded the owl throughout history because, like it or not, there's a lot of preparing, planning skill and intelligence required to do what the owl does. At least, this is how it appears according to popular imagination.

The Owl as a Symbol for Wisdom

There's a long, historical image of the owl as invoking wisdom. When you see an owl, you see something that is wise or intelligent. What accounts for this?

Well, as mentioned above, to be such an effective and ruthless stealth killer, it has to have a lot of things going for it. It has to know when to swoop down. It needs to know when to send the right signals. It also needs to be able to track where these signals converge so it can quickly and efficiently dispatch its target. Given all this information, it's easy to see why the stealth capabilities of the owl translate to a reading of wisdom, intelligence and planning.

It also has a lot of fans because hunting takes diligence.

It's not one of those things that you get all excited about. You jump in with both feet, and you let your passion get the better of you, and you come out a winner. It doesn't work that way.

It requires diligence because according to many studies, for every 100 attempts an owl makes to make a kill, a fairly low percentage result in success. In other words, it has to keep trying again and again and has to bounce back from setback after setback and failed attempt after failed attempt for it to get its meal.

This is very, very praiseworthy. This is definitely very admirable because, let's face it, there are a lot of challenges in our lives. There are a lot of things that we'd like to do that are not very convenient and very comfortable. They present hardship, but we need to do them and, unfortunately, a lot of people when they were faced with that situation, their number one instinct is to simply give up.

Not the owl. It keeps at it. It keeps changing its game plan, and it keeps trying again and again until it succeeds. That is the key to victory, and this is why a lot of people look at owl designs as a symbol of hope. They see it as a symbol of constant focus and wisdom properly applied that eventually leads to great results.

Keep this in mind when giving away an owl coffee mug as a gift or requesting one because imagery that may seem everyday, basic or generic actually can run deep. There are, in fact, many messages going on and oftentimes, a lot of these messages seem contradictory on the surface.

In many cases, a lot of these messages seem like they're going all over the place. However, when you look at the history of the image of the owl on a typical coffee mug, you're actually tapping into a long collective set of images and meanings that can pack quite a number of messages.