Behind the Peace Symbol

Behind the Peace Symbol

Nowadays we all recognise this symbol, but how did it come about? What are the origins of the peace symbol?

The symbol started its life as a symbol of the British anti-nuclear movement. Since then, it has become an international sign for peace and possibly the most widely used protest symbol in the world.

During the Cold War, in the 1950s, nuclear weapons were being placed in many countries in Europe. This aroused widespread popular protests. In the UK, a committee for direct action against nuclear war (DAC) was formed. The DAC was inspired by Gandhi and his non-violent approach to civil disobedience. One of the first things the organization did was to organize a march. The event was Britain’s first major demonstration against nuclear weapons — a 52-mile march from London to the town of Aldermaston, home to an A-bomb research center.

Artist Gerald Holtom was assigned the task of creating the visuals for the march, for the banners and signs. Holtom wanted to create a recognisable sign showing that everyone had a joint responsibility to remove the threat of nuclear weapons.

The symbol quickly began to represent the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and in 1960, it became truly famous all over the world when an American student named Philip Altbach persuaded the Student Peace Union to use it. It became very popular, and by the end of the 1960s, it had become a universal symbol of peace, frequently used by protesters.


The peace sign consists of two semaphore signs. Flag semaphore is a visual signaling system in which flags are held in different positions representing the letters of the alphabet. This system has been used in the maritime world since the 1800s.
Artist Gerald Holtom used the semaphore signs representing N for Nuclear and D for Disarmament and combined them inside a circle. The circle represents the earth.


Today, it is a symbol of freedom and can be used freely by anyone. The peace movement, led by several Nobel Laureates such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), IAEA and the latest laureate, ICAN, continues to fight for a world free from nuclear weapons.

We hope this article has helped you better understand the hippie peace symbol. If you love the peace symbol, you can refer to some of our artwork:

Rock painting collection

Emerald Blossoms - “Hippie Soul” Multicolored sunflowers combined with the hippies's peace symbol on hand-painted rocks

Emerald Blossoms - Peace symbol with sunflowers and cheerful smileys hand painted on rocks for the hippies

Wood slice painting collection

Emerald Blossoms - Four nature painted combined flowers, trees; waves; sun and moon on a wood slice

Emerald Blossoms - "Stay groovy" A meaningful and fun saying on a wooden slice painting for the hippies

Terracotta pot painting collection

Emerald Blossoms - "Hippie Soul" sunflowers combined with the hippie's peace symbol and rainbow background on hand-painted terracotta pots

Emerald Blossoms - A cool girl with the hippies’s style combined a striking black and sunflowers background hand-painted on terracotta pots