Halo (religious iconography)

Jesus and nine of the Twelve Apostles depicted with "Floating" disk haloes in perspective (detail from The Tribute Money, illustrating Matthew 17:24-27, by Masaccio, 1424, Brancacci Chapel).
Standing Buddha with a halo, 1st-2nd century AD (or earlier), Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara.

A halo (from Greek ἅλως, halōs; [1] also known as a nimbus, aureole, glory, or gloriole) is a crown of light rays, circle or disk of light [2] that surrounds a person in art. They have been used in the iconography of many religions to indicate holy or sacred figures, and have at various periods also been used in images of rulers or heroes. In the sacred art of Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, among other religions, sacred persons may be depicted with a halo in the form of a circular glow, or flames in Asian art, around the head or around the whole body—this last one is often called a mandorla. Halos may be shown as almost any colour or combination of colours, but are most often depicted as golden, yellow or white when representing light or red when representing flames.

Ancient Greek world

Octadrachm of Ptolemy III

Homer describes a more-than-natural light around the heads of heroes in battle. [3] Depictions of Perseus in the act of slaying Medusa, with lines radiating from his head, appear on a white-ground toiletry box in the Louvre and on a slightly later red-figured vase in the style of Polygnotos, ca. 450-30 BC, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [4] On painted wares from south Italy, radiant lines or simple haloes appear on a range of mythic figures: Lyssa, a personification of madness; a sphinx; a sea demon; and Thetis, the sea-nymph who was mother to Achilles. [5] The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the sun-god Helios and had his usual radiate crown (copied for the Statue of Liberty). Hellenistic rulers are often shown wearing radiate crowns that seem clearly to imitate this effect.[ citation needed]

Further afield, Sumerian religious literature frequently speaks of melam (loaned into Akkadian as melammu), a "brilliant, visible glamour which is exuded by gods, heroes, sometimes by kings, and also by temples of great holiness and by gods' symbols and emblems." [6]

Other Languages
Cymraeg: Eurgylch
فارسی: هاله نور
français: Nimbe
Latina: Nimbus (ars)
polski: Nimb
русский: Нимб
suomi: Sädekehä
Türkçe: Hâle
українська: Німб