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"Witness that kunckle-headed young man at your brother's wedding, who attacked me for sporting the symbol of a well-known Dark wizard! Such ignorance. There is nothing Dark about the Hallows - at least, not in that crude sense. One simply uses the symbol to reveal oneself to other believers, in the hope that they might help with the Quest."
— Xenophilius Lovegood explaining the Sign of the Deathly Hallows[src]
Hallows Sign

Illustration of the Deathly Hallows symbol

The Sign of the Deathly Hallows was a triangular mark used as a representation of the Deathly Hallows, three legendary objects that were allegedly created by Death, and, if united, would supposedly make one the "Master of Death", also known as the "Vanquisher of Death" and the "Conqueror of Death".

The sign was actually composed of three separate marks that, united, make up the sign. The Elder Wand was represented by the straight vertical line, the Resurrection Stone by the circle surrounding it, and finally a triangle enclosing them both to represent the Cloak of Invisibility.[1]

Due to its history, and the history of the objects that it represented, the sign had also picked up certain additional associations.



The symbol of the Deathly Hallows

On 7 December 1926, Gellert Grindelwald, in the guise of Percival Graves gave his necklace with the Sign of the Deathly Hallows on it to Credence Barebone.[2]

In the autumn of 1996, Harry Potter first observed this sign in a memory seen in Albus Dumbledore's Pensieve, though he did not recognise it at the time. The sign was featured on a ring owned by Marvolo Gaunt, though Gaunt himself was unaware of what the sign represented, nor the fact that his ring actually contained the Resurrection Stone inside it. He instead referred to the sign as "Peverell coat of arms" in an attempt to bolster his credentials as a pure-blood.[3] Harry would later recall seeing the mark after learning about the Hallows from Xenophilius Lovegood and this, in turn, would lead him to realise that Dumbledore had hidden the Resurrection Stone inside the Golden Snitch that he had granted him in his will.[4]

Harry next observed this symbol at Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding on 1 August 1997, hanging around the neck of Xenophilius Lovegood as a necklace. At the time, Harry thought the symbol looked like a triangular eye. A bit later, however, he was confronted by Viktor Krum, who wanted to know if Harry (disguised at the time) knew Lovegood well. Harry asked why, and Krum stated that he would duel Lovegood for wearing the sign, were he not a guest of Fleur's. He explained to a puzzled Harry that the sign was Gellert Grindelwald's mark, which he had carved into a wall during his time at Durmstrang Institute, apparently in an irremovable method. Some students later copied it into their books and clothes, thinking to shock and to make themselves impressive. Others who had lost family members to Grindelwald, including Krum, corrected them. Harry, thinking it highly unlikely that Lovegood would be involved in any sort of Dark magic, suggested that perhaps he did not know what the symbol meant and thought it instead to be a cross-section of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack. Krum, however, remained unconvinced and later confronted Lovegood.[5]

In December of that year, Hermione Granger was reading over The Tales of Beedle the Bard, when she saw the sign drawn over the title of one of the stories. She asked Harry to have a look at it, but Harry was reluctant, as he had never studied runes. Hermione, however, pointed that the sign was not in the Spellman's Syllabary. Harry consented to examine the sign more closely and said that it looked like the sign that Lovegood was wearing around his neck, which Hermione agreed with. Harry explained how Krum had said that the sign was Grindelwald's mark, but this did not make sense to Hermione, as Grindelwald was not known historically to have any particular mark.[6]

A while later in the month, as Harry and Hermione took a trip to Godric's Hollow, they chose to visit the graveyard where Harry's parents were buried. Here, Hermione discovered the grave of Ignotus Peverell (the original owner of the Cloak of Invisibility) and found the Sign of the Deathly Hallows marked upon it, though she did not pay much attention to it at the time due to Harry's desire to find his his parents' grave.[6]

Towards the end of the month, following the discovery of the Sword of Gryffindor, Hermione was examining a copy of Albus Dumbledore's letter to Gellert Grindelwald in The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore when she noticed that Dumbledore had replaced the "A" in his signature with a miniature replica of this symbol. Seeing this led her to decide that it was important that she and Harry pay a visit to Xenophilius Lovegood, whom she was sure could tell them more about the sign. Harry was less convinced, but was outvoted by her. When asked, Lovegood explained that one wears the sign to identify oneself to other believers in the hope that they might help with the Quest to find the Hallows. Since, however, the both of them was not familiar with the Hallows, Lovegood had Hermione read to the both of them The Tale of the Three Brothers from The Tales of Beedle the Bard to explain. He then drew first the straight line, then the circle, and finally the triangle to create the mark and represent the three Hallows. He later stated that the appearance of the symbol on Ignotus Peverell's grave was considered proof that the Peverells were in fact the brothers described in The Tale of the Three Brothers.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

  • In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 there are several signs around the levels that Harry Potter can pick up. They are glowing blue with magical light and spinning.
  • The "double association" seen with this symbol may be referential of the Swastika, a symbol with auspicious meanings in a number of ancient religions that was later adopted as the symbol of Nazi Germany.[7]
  • In the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the sign instead appears on the inside title page of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, rather than over the title of one of the stories.
  • The sign of the Deathly Hallows is similar in appearance to the Eye of Providence, a real-life symbol representing omniscience, most commonly seen on the reverse of Great Seal of the United States of America.


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 21 (The Tale of the Three Brothers)
  2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, Scene 79
  3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 22 (The Deathly Hallows)
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 16 (Godric's Hollow)
  7. WP favicon Swastika on Wikipedia

See also[]