Gold and Culture in 10 Parts: From Songs, Movies, Literature, Symbolism to Civilizations and more

This is an extensive overview of the gold and culture in ten parts – ancient civilizations to songs and movies. Also covered: symbolism and cultural artifacts, ancient civilizations and modern culture, book and poetry, language, fairy tales, mythology and folklore and finally songs and movies.

Jump right to the article below.

Infographic about the uses of gold:

Infographic - gold and culture from songs, music, movies, literature to ancient cultures.
Infographic – gold and culture from songs, music, movies, literature to ancient cultures.


Culture, the shared patterns of behaviors, interactions, and understanding that are learned through a process of socialization.

One such thread is gold. This precious metal, symbolizing wealth, power, and divinity, has been intricately woven into the fabric of human culture, shaping and being shaped by it in turn.

Indian wedding, wife with gold jewelry.
Indian wedding, wife with gold jewelry.

From the ancient civilizations that revered it as a divine element to the modern societies that uphold its value in various forms, gold’s influence is as enduring as the element itself. It has inspired countless tales, traditions, and artistic expressions, and continues to do so in our digital age.

In this comprehensive overview, we delve into the multifaceted relationship between gold and culture. We examine its role in literature, language, music, movies, mythology and folklore.

So, are you ready to embark on this journey and uncover the golden strands of our shared cultural tapestry? If so, read on, as we delve into the fascinating world of “Gold and Culture”.

Discovery of gold treasures, style of 17th century painting.
Discovery of gold treasures, style of 17th century painting.

Table of overview about different aspects about gold and culture:

Topic Explanation
Gold in Ancient Civilizations In ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece, gold was often associated with gods and rulers, symbolizing power and wealth.
Gold in Modern Culture Today, gold continues to hold a significant place in our culture. It’s used in fashion, design, technology, and finance.
Gold in Literature and Language Gold is often used metaphorically in literature and language to denote wealth, success, or something of high quality.
Gold in Songs In songs, gold is often used metaphorically to express themes of love, ambition, or struggle.
Gold in Movies In movies, gold can be a plot device symbolizing wealth, power, or a goal to be achieved.
Gold in Mythology and Folklore Gold often plays a significant role in mythology and folklore, symbolizing power, wealth, or immortality.
Gold in Digital Culture In the digital age, gold has found new forms of expression and significance, such as “digital gold” in the world of cryptocurrencies.
Gold and the Golden Ratio The golden ratio, a mathematical concept related to aesthetics and design, is named so because of its ‘golden’ or ideal proportions.
Gold in Art Gold has been used extensively in art, from ancient golden artifacts to modern gold leaf painting.
Gold in Socioeconomic Context Gold continues to play a crucial role in the global economy, often seen as a “safe haven” investment.

We invite you to join us on this golden journey, as we uncover the myriad ways in which gold has touched and continues to touch our lives. We start with the symbolism of gold.

Part 1: Symbolism of Gold

Gold as a Symbol of Wealth and Power

duck tales - gold as a symbol of wealth and power.
duck tales – gold as a symbol of wealth and power.

In various cultures and societies, gold has been a symbol of wealth and power for centuries. Its rarity and lustrous beauty make it a valuable commodity, often associated with affluence and authority. This symbolism is evident in various aspects of society, including:

  • Currency: Gold has been used as a form of currency since ancient times, and even today, countries maintain gold reserves as a sign of economic strength.
  • Jewelry: Gold jewelry is often seen as a status symbol, reflecting the wealth and social standing of the wearer.
  • Architecture: The use of gold in architecture, such as gold domes on religious buildings or gold leaf on statues, signifies importance and grandeur.

Gold as a Symbol of Divinity and Spirituality

Gold is also often associated with divinity and spirituality. Its incorruptibility and enduring shine have led many to associate it with the divine and the eternal. This symbolism is seen in various religious and spiritual contexts, including:

  • Religious Artifacts: Many religious artifacts, from Christian chalices to Buddhist statues, are made of gold, symbolizing the divine nature of their purpose.
  • Sacred Texts: In many sacred texts, such as the Bible or the Quran, gold is mentioned as a symbol of purity and divine presence.
  • Religious Architecture: Many religious buildings, such as temples, churches, and mosques, use gold in their architecture as a symbol of the divine.

Gold as a Symbol of Love and Commitment

Gold rings as a symbol of commitment.
Gold rings as a symbol of commitment.

Gold is also a universal symbol of love and commitment. This is most commonly seen in the tradition of gold wedding rings, which symbolize a couple’s enduring love and commitment to each other. Other instances include:

  • Anniversary Gifts: Gold is often given as a gift on milestone anniversaries, symbolizing enduring love and commitment.
  • Love Tokens: Gold tokens, such as lockets or bracelets, are often given as symbols of love and affection.

Gold in Mythology and Folklore

Gold also holds significant symbolic meaning in various mythologies and folklore. From the golden fleece in Greek mythology to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in Irish folklore, gold often represents a quest for wealth, power, or enlightenment. Some examples include:

  • Greek Mythology: The golden fleece, sought by Jason and the Argonauts, symbolized authority and kingship.
  • Irish Folklore: The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, guarded by leprechauns, represents a treasure that is difficult to attain.

Gold as a Symbol of Achievement and Victory

Gold medal.
Gold medal.

Finally, gold is a universal symbol of achievement and victory. This is most evident in the awarding of gold medals in sports competitions, symbolizing the highest achievement. Other examples include:

  • Academic Awards: Gold stars or seals are often used to recognize academic achievement.
  • Professional Recognition: In many professions, gold awards or badges are given to recognize exceptional performance or service.

In conclusion, the symbolism of gold is multifaceted and deeply ingrained in cultures around the world. Its enduring allure and value make it a powerful symbol in various aspects of life, from wealth and power to love and achievement.

Part 2: Gold in Cultural Artifacts

Gold in Ancient Artifacts

Muisca raft, pre-Columbian voice piece
Muisca raft, pre-Columbian voice piece (wikipedia/ Pero Szekely CC BY-SA 2.0).

Throughout history, gold has been used in the creation of cultural artifacts due to its malleability, ductility, and enduring shine. From ancient civilizations to modern societies, gold has been used to create objects of cultural, religious, and aesthetic significance.

  • Mycenaean Artifacts: The Mycenaeans, an ancient civilization in Greece, were known for their gold artifacts. The Grave Circle A in Mycenae, discovered in the 19th century, contained a wealth of gold objects including masks, cups, and jewelry. The most famous of these is the so-called “Mask of Agamemnon,” a gold funeral mask dating back to the 16th century BC.
  •  Incan Artifacts: The Incas, known as the “children of the sun,” referred to gold as the “sweat of the sun” and crafted beautiful artifacts from it. The golden sun disk, a symbol of their sun god Inti, is a notable example. The Incas were known to have produced more than 700 different types of gold products, ranging from jewelry to ceremonial knives.
  • Sumerian Artifacts: The Sumerians, one of the oldest civilizations, also used gold in their artifacts. The Great Lyre from the Royal Cemetery at Ur, dating back to 2500 BC, features a bull’s head made of gold leaf and lapis lazuli.

Gold in Religious Artifacts

Gold’s association with divinity has led to its extensive use in religious artifacts. Its incorruptibility and brilliant shine have made it a preferred material for creating objects of religious significance.

  • Christian Artifacts: Gold is used in the creation of various Christian artifacts, such as crosses, chalices, and reliquaries. The Crown of Thorns in Notre Dame Cathedral, for instance, is held in a gold and crystal reliquary.
  • Buddhist Artifacts: Many Buddhist statues and artifacts are gold-plated, symbolizing enlightenment. The Buddha statue of Mahamuni in Myanmar, is covered in gold leaf.
  • Islamic Artifacts: Gold is used in Islamic art and architecture, often in the form of intricate geometric patterns. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, a significant Islamic site, features a gold-plated dome.

Check out the video about the Buddha statue of Mahamuni:

Gold in Art and Sculpture

Gold has also been used extensively in art and sculpture. Artists have used gold leaf to add richness and depth to their works.

  • Byzantine Icons: Gold was used extensively in Byzantine iconography, creating a heavenly glow around the figures. The Pala d’Oro, a gold altarpiece in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, is a stunning example of Byzantine gold work.
  • Renaissance Art: Artists during the Renaissance used gold leaf to highlight certain elements of their paintings. The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck, completed in 1432, features extensive use of gold leaf.
  • Modern Art: Contemporary artists continue to use gold in their works, such as Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” which uses gold lights to create a mesmerizing effect.

Gold and Culture: in Modern Cultural Artifacts

In modern times, gold continues to be used in the creation of cultural artifacts. From gold records awarded to successful musicians to gold-plated Oscars given to film industry professionals, gold remains a symbol of achievement and excellence.

  • Gold Records: The tradition of awarding gold records to musicians who have sold a certain number of copies began in the 1950s. Elvis Presley received his first gold record in 1956 for the album “Elvis Presley.”
  • Oscar Statuettes: The Oscar statuettes, awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, are made of gold-plated bronze. Since the first awards ceremony in 1929, more than 3,000 statuettes have been awarded.
Gold record
Gold record (wikipedia/ Robert Passaro CC BY-SA 3.0).

Part 3: Gold in Ancient Civilizations

Gold’s Central Role in Ancient Societies

ancient gold artefacts.
Ancient gold artefacts.

Throughout history, gold has been a central figure in the development of ancient civilizations. Its allure and value have transcended geographical boundaries, making it a universal symbol of wealth and power.

In the pharaonic period of Egypt (3150 BD until 343 AD), gold was revered as the skin of the gods, particularly the sun god Ra. The Egyptians’ belief in gold’s divine properties led to the practice of entombing pharaohs in gold, a testament to their belief in gold’s ability to provide eternal life. This practice was most notably seen in the burial of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, whose tomb was filled with gold artifacts.

Meanwhile, in ancient Rome (8th century BD to the 5th century AD), gold was a symbol of power and prestige.

Roman Statue of Zeus, ruler of heavens, 2nd century CE
Roman Statue of Zeus, ruler of heavens, 2nd century CE (The Met).

The Romans mined gold extensively, using it for a variety of purposes. These included:

  • Creating intricate jewelry that showcased the wealth and status of the wearer
  • Minting coins often depicting emperors and gods, which were used in trade and commerce
  • Decorating statues and buildings, demonstrating the grandeur of the Roman Empire

Gold’s Influence on Ancient Art and Architecture

Gold’s influence extended to ancient art and architecture, where it was a dominant feature. In ancient India, gold was used extensively in the construction of temples and the creation of religious icons. The Golden Temple in Amritsar, built in the 16th century, is a testament to this tradition, even though it was constructed much later.

The golden temple of Haramdir Sahib in India.
The golden temple of Haramdir Sahib in India (wikipedia/ Shagil Kannur CC BY-SA 4.0).

In the ancient city of Troy, archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered a large cache of gold and other treasures, known as Priam’s Treasure. This discovery included thousands of artifacts, many of them made of gold, providing a glimpse into the city’s rich history. The artifacts included:

  • Gold jewelry, demonstrating the craftsmanship of the time
  • Gold coins, indicating the economic system of the period
  • Gold vessels, suggesting the luxury and opulence of the society

Archaeological Discoveries and Their Cultural Significance

Archaeological discoveries of gold artifacts have provided us with a wealth of information about ancient civilizations. The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt in 1922, filled with gold artifacts, revealed much about the burial practices and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.

In South America, the Moche civilization, which existed from 100 to 700 AD, left behind an impressive array of gold artifacts. These artifacts, often found in burial sites, provide insight into the Moche’s complex social hierarchy and religious beliefs (read more).

Moche culture, head-form bead 3rd - 7th century.
Moche culture, head-form bead 3rd – 7th century (The Met).

The artifacts included:

  • Gold headdresses, indicating the status of the wearer
  • Gold necklaces, showcasing the craftsmanship of the period
  • Gold ear ornaments, suggesting the fashion and style of the time

Gold’s Impact on the Development of Ancient Civilizations

Gold had a significant impact on the development of ancient civilizations. It was a driving force for trade, exploration, and even warfare. The desire for gold led to the expansion of the Roman Empire into new territories, including Britain, where the Romans established large-scale gold mining operations from around 49 AD.

In conclusion, gold played a pivotal role in ancient civilizations, shaping their cultures, economies, and histories.

Check out other extensive articles about gold:

Part 4: Gold in Modern Culture

Flexing with gold jewelry and watches.
Flexing with gold jewelry and watches.

Gold in Contemporary Fashion and Jewelry

In the realm of modern culture, gold continues to hold a significant place, particularly in fashion and jewelry. Gold is synonymous with luxury and elegance, and it is a staple in the creation of high-end jewelry. From the runways of Paris and Milan to the red carpets of Hollywood, gold jewelry is a common sight. It is used in various forms, including:

  • Gold chains and necklaces: Often seen adorning the necks of celebrities at events like the Oscars or the Met Gala.
  • Gold rings and bracelets: Popular choices for events like weddings or anniversary celebrations, adding a touch of elegance to any attire.
  • Gold watches: A symbol of status and wealth, often associated with luxury brands like Rolex or Patek Philippe.

Moreover, gold is not limited to jewelry. It is also used in fashion design, where gold threads are woven into fabrics to create intricate patterns and designs. Designers like Versace and Dolce & Gabbana often incorporate gold in their collections, creating pieces that exude opulence and glamour.

Gold in Modern Art and Literature

Gold’s influence extends to modern art and literature. Artists often use gold to create striking pieces of art. For instance, Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting, “The Kiss”, created in 1907-1908, uses gold leaf extensively to create a luxurious and romantic atmosphere.

The Kiss (Der Kuss) by Gustav Klimt.
The Kiss (Der Kuss) by Gustav Klimt 1908-9.

In literature, gold often symbolizes wealth, power, or a quest for immortality. It is a recurring motif in works such as:

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”: Published in 1925, gold symbolizes wealth and ritches.
  • J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series: The golden snitch is a critical element in the magical sport of Quidditch. The objective is to catch the snitch to win the game.

The Symbolism of Gold in Modern Culture

Chinese New Year, importance of gold.
Chinese New Year, importance of gold.

In modern culture, gold continues to be a symbol of wealth, power, and success. It is often associated with achievement and victory, as seen in the awarding of gold medals in the Olympics and other sports competitions. Gold is also a symbol of enduring love and commitment, as evidenced by the tradition of gold wedding rings.

The Socioeconomic Implications of Gold in Today’s World

Gold continues to have significant socioeconomic implications in today’s world. It is a highly sought-after commodity. Gold is traded on commodities markets, and its price is a critical indicator in financial sectors. It is also a popular investment, with many people buying gold as a hedge against inflation or economic downturn.

Moreover, gold mining remains a major industry worldwide. It provides employment for millions of people but also raises environmental and ethical concerns. For instance:

  • Grasberg mine in Indonesia: One of the largest gold mines in the world, it has been a source of controversy due to its environmental impact.
  • Gold mining in South Africa: The country has been a significant producer of gold, for many years the world biggest, but mining activities have led to environmental challenges.

Check out the video about South Africas Gold mines:

The Impact of Gold on Modern Economic Systems

The role of gold in modern economic systems cannot be overstated. The gold standard, a monetary system where a country’s currency or paper money has a value directly linked to gold, has had a profound impact on economic policies and systems around the world. Although no country longer use the gold standard, gold reserves continue to be a significant aspect of many countries’ economic strategies.

Key points include:

  • Gold reserves: Many countries, like the United States and Germany, hold substantial gold reserves, which can act as a hedge against economic instability.
  • Gold trading: Gold is actively traded on commodities markets, influencing global financial trends.
  • Gold mining: Countries like China, Australia, and Russia are major producers of gold, impacting their economies and global gold supply.

In conclusion, gold’s influence permeates various aspects of modern culture, from fashion and art to economics and symbolism. Its timeless allure continues to captivate, and its impact on our world remains as relevant as ever. As we continue to explore the role of gold in culture, we will uncover more facets of this fascinating element.

Part 5: Gold in Books and Poetry

Representation of the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Representation of the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Gold in Literature: A Symbol of Many Meanings

Gold has been a popular subject in literature, and it can symbolize various things depending on the context. Here are some examples of how gold is used in literature:

  • Wealth and Success: Gold is often associated with wealth, success, and high status. In literature, characters associated with gold may be seen as generous or selfish, depending on the context.
  • Heroism: Gold can also symbolize heroism. In some stories, the hero may be rewarded with gold for their bravery or accomplishments.
  • Arrogance: Gold’s connection to wealth can also represent arrogance and being a showoff.
  • Religion: In some cultures, gold is linked to religion. It has been used in religious buildings and attire since ancient times, connecting it with divinity.

 Here is a table of 10 books where gold plays a significant role:

Book Title Author Role of Gold
Silas Marner George Eliot Gold coins symbolize the protagonist’s isolation and emotional poverty.
The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien A dragon’s hoard of gold symbolizes the destructive power of greed.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone J.K. Rowling Gold coins, or Galleons, represent the wealth of the wizarding world.
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson A treasure of gold ignites a dangerous adventure, symbolizing the perils of greed.
The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett A gold-encrusted falcon statuette drives the plot, symbolizing the allure and danger of wealth.
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Gold represents the opulence and decadence of the Roaring Twenties.
The Goldfinch Donna Tartt A painting of a goldfinch symbolizes loss, survival, and the enduring power of art.
The Golden Bowl Henry James A golden bowl serves as a symbol of a flawed marriage.
Goldfinger Ian Fleming Gold symbolizes power and obsession in this James Bond novel.
The Golden Compass Philip Pullman The golden alethiometer, or golden compass, guides the protagonist on her journey, symbolizing truth and destiny.

Each of these works showcases the multifaceted role of gold in literature, serving as a powerful symbol that can convey a range of meanings and themes:

  • “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare: In this play, the character Portia famously says, “All that glisters is not gold”. The play also features a subplot involving a gold casket that a suitor must choose to win Portia’s hand in marriage.
  • “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: This novel features a character named Daisy who is described as having a “voice full of money” and wearing a “white dress, silver-bright”. The novel also explores the theme of the corrupting influence of wealth and the American Dream.
  • “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien: This epic fantasy novel features dwarves who are known for their love of gold and treasure. The novel also explores themes of power, corruption, and the struggle between good and evil.
  • “The Gold in Makiling” by Macario Pineda: This short story is a retelling of a Philippine folktale about a mountain goddess who guards a vast treasure of gold. The story explores themes of greed, temptation, and the consequences of selfishness.
  • “The Gold Bug” by Edgar Allan Poe: This short story follows a man who becomes obsessed with finding a buried treasure of gold. The story explores themes of obsession, greed, and the power of puzzles and codes.

These are just a few examples of literary works where gold plays a significant role. Gold can symbolize wealth, success, heroism, arrogance, and religion, among other things, and can be used to explore a wide range of themes and ideas in literature.

Gold in Poetry: A Metaphor for Transience and Value

A Woman reading a poetry book.
A Woman reading a poetry book – gold and culture.

In poetry, gold often takes on a more metaphorical role. Poets use gold to represent concepts such as beauty, purity, and transience. The precious metal serves as a potent symbol, adding depth and nuance to their verses.

  • Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (1923) uses the image of gold to symbolize the fleeting nature of beauty and youth. The poem reflects on the ephemeral beauty of a golden sunrise, suggesting that all beautiful things must eventually fade.
  • Emily Dickinson’s “The Moon was but a Chin of Gold” uses the image of a golden moon to explore themes of transience and change. The moon, like gold, is a symbol of something distant and unattainable, reflecting the poet’s sense of longing and desire.
  • Thomas Hood’s “Gold!” (1844) is a satirical poem that uses gold as a symbol to critique societal obsession with wealth and materialism. The poem’s repeated exclamations of “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!” mimic the frenzied pursuit of wealth, highlighting the hollowness of materialistic desires.

These poetic works demonstrate the versatility of gold as a metaphor, enriching the imagery and themes of the poems.

Gold in Books and Poetry: A Universal Symbol

Whether in the pages of a novel or the lines of a poem, gold is a universal symbol that resonates with readers. Its lustrous allure and enduring value make it a powerful tool for authors and poets, allowing them to explore complex themes and ideas. From tales of adventure and ambition to meditations on beauty and transience, gold continues to shine in the world of books and poetry, illuminating the human condition in all its complexity.

Part 6: Gold in Language

The Golden Touch in Idioms and Phrases

Painting Golden Age (Goldenes Zeitalter) by Lucas Cranach dem Älteren 1530.
Painting Golden Age (Goldenes Zeitalter) by Lucas Cranach dem Älteren 1530.

Language is a treasure trove of golden idioms and phrases. These expressions, steeped in history and culture, often use “gold” to symbolize something of high value or quality. The use of gold in our everyday language is a testament to the precious metal’s universal appeal and symbolic power. Here are a few examples:

  • “Golden opportunity” – This phrase refers to a perfect chance or the best opportunity to do something. It’s as if one has stumbled upon a nugget of gold, a rare and valuable find. The term “golden” here signifies the rarity and preciousness of the opportunity, much like a piece of gold.
  • “Worth its weight in gold” – When something is extremely valuable, useful, or important, it’s said to be worth its weight in gold. This phrase underscores the high value we place on gold. It’s a powerful expression that equates the worth of something (an object, a person, a skill) to the weight of gold, emphasizing its immense value.
  • “Golden age” – A period of great happiness, prosperity, or achievement is often referred to as a golden age. This phrase conveys a sense of peak performance or optimal condition, much like the lustrous shine of pure gold. The term “golden” in this context symbolizes the highest standard or the pinnacle of success.
  • “Golden handshake” – In the corporate world, a large payment given to a top executive who is forced to leave a company is known as a golden handshake. The use of “golden” in this context highlights the substantial value of the payment. It’s a metaphor that equates the financial compensation received by the executive to a handshake made of gold.
  • “Golden rule” – A basic principle that should always be followed to ensure success in general or in a particular activity is known as the golden rule. The term “golden” signifies the rule’s importance and value. It’s a guiding principle that holds as much value as gold in ensuring success or maintaining harmony.

These phrases reflect the high value society places on gold, using it as a metaphor for something precious or of great worth.

Part 7: Gold in Fairy Tales

Fairy Tale Rumpelstitskin, illustration by Walter Crane 1886.
Fairy Tale Rumpelstiltskin, illustration by Walter Crane 1886.

One common element in many fairy tales is gold, a symbol of wealth, power, and magic. In this chapter, we’ll explore the role of gold in classic fairy tales and the moral lessons behind its glitter.

The Role of Gold in Classic Fairy Tales

Here are some classic fairy tales where gold plays a key role:

  • Rumpelstiltskin: In the Brothers Grimm’s classic fairy tale, a miller’s daughter is forced to spin straw into gold for the king. When she is unable to do so, a mysterious creature named Rumpelstiltskin comes to her aid, spinning the straw into gold in exchange for her firstborn child. The gold here symbolizes an impossible task and a high price for assistance. This tale, first published in 1812, has been retold countless times, with the golden straw remaining a central symbol of the story.
  • The Water Lily and The Gold-Spinners: This lesser-known tale tells the story of three maidens who are kept by an old woman and forced to spin gold flax into yarn. The youngest maiden is transformed into a water lily by a magic ball. The gold flax here represents a task of labor and the transformation is a punishment for disobedience. This story, while not as widely known as others, still carries the common theme of gold being a symbol of both reward and punishment.
  • Gold as a symbol of magic and transformation: In many fairy tales, gold often represents magic, wealth, and transformation. It’s a symbol of something valuable and desirable, often achieved through magical or extraordinary means. From golden apples to golden hair, the presence of gold often indicates a magical or supernatural element in the story.

Moral Lessons Behind the Glitter

Gold as a test of character.
Gold as a test of character.

These stories use gold as a tool to teach values such as the dangers of greed, the importance of hard work and sacrifice, and the consequences of one’s actions. Here are some of the moral lessons associated with gold in fairy tales:

  • The dangers of greed: Fairy tales involving gold often carry a moral lesson about the dangers of greed. Characters who seek gold or use it for selfish purposes often face dire consequences. This is a common theme in stories like “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs” where the pursuit of gold leads to downfall.
  • Sacrifice and reward: Gold in fairy tales often represents a reward that comes after a sacrifice or a difficult task. It’s a symbol of the value of hard work, bravery, and kindness. In stories like “The Golden Bird” and “The Golden Goose,” the hero’s kindness and bravery are rewarded with gold.
  • Gold as a test of character: In many stories, gold serves as a test of character. It tempts characters into greed and dishonesty, revealing their true nature. Those who resist the temptation are often rewarded, while those who give in face negative consequences.

In the next chapter, we will explore the role of gold in songs, and how it’s used to express various themes and emotions. Stay tuned!

Part 8: Gold in Mythology and Folklore

King Midas touch turns anything into gold. In this illustration even his daughter. Illustration by Walter Crane (1893).
King Midas touch turns anything into gold. In this illustration even his daughter. Illustration by Walter Crane (1893).

Gold, a symbol of power, wealth, and immortality, has been a central element in mythology and folklore across the globe. Its radiant shine and rarity have made it a potent symbol in numerous stories and legends.

Gold in Greek Mythology

Greek mythology is replete with tales where gold plays a significant role. The gods themselves were believed to have sent gold to Earth for the benefit of humankind.

  • The Golden Fleece: This is one of the most famous gold-related myths. The Golden Fleece, a symbol of authority and kingship, was sought by Jason and the Argonauts for its power and value. The fleece was the golden hide of a divine ram and was kept at Colchis, guarded by a dragon.
  • Midas and his Golden Touch: Midas, a well-known figure in Greek mythology, was granted a wish by Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry, to have everything he touched turn to gold. This “Midas Touch” became a curse when he turned his food and his daughter into gold, teaching a lesson about the dangers of greed and the emptiness of material wealth.

Norse Mythology: Gold and the Gods

In Norse mythology, gold had a central role in various stories.

  • The Brísingamen Necklace: Owned by the goddess Freya, this necklace was made of gold and was so beautiful that it caused the goddess to weep golden tears. The necklace was a symbol of fertility and love.
  • Draupnir, the Gold Ring: The dwarves, master craftsmen in Norse mythology, crafted Draupnir, a gold ring owned by the god Odin. This ring dripped eight new rings of equal weight every ninth night, symbolizing abundance and prosperity.
The ring Draupnir is visible among other creations.
The ring Draupnir is visible among other creations.

Gold in the Myths and Folklore of Asia

In Asian mythology and folklore, gold often symbolizes immortality or longevity.

  • Penglai: In Chinese mythology, Penglai, a fabled island of the immortals, was said to have palaces made from gold and platinum. The immortals consumed “gold cinnabar”, believed to be a substance that granted eternal life.
  • The Golden Koi: In Japanese folklore, the Golden Koi is a symbol of perseverance and strength. The story tells of a group of koi swimming upstream in the Yellow River. When they reached a waterfall, most turned back, but a few persisted and reached the top, where they were transformed into golden dragons.

Gold in European Folklore

Gold also features prominently in European folklore.

  • The Nibelungenlied: In this epic German poem, the Nibelungen hoard is a massive treasure of gold, brought to the Rhine by Siegfried. After his murder, his widow Kriemhild uses the gold to seek revenge, leading to a tragic end.
  • Rumpelstiltskin: In this German fairy tale, a miller’s daughter is locked in a room and forced to spin straw into gold. A mysterious creature, Rumpelstiltskin, assists her but demands a high price. The tale is a cautionary one about greed and deceit.

Gold in Indian Mythology

In Indian mythology, gold is often associated with the gods and divine power.

  • Sita’s Golden Deer: In the epic Ramayana, Sita is lured by a beautiful golden deer, leading to her abduction by the demon king Ravana. The golden deer is actually a demon in disguise, showing how appearances can be deceiving.
  • Hiranya: In the Puranas, Hiranya often refers to gold, and is associated with wealth and prosperity. It is often mentioned in the context of gifts to the gods or Brahmins.

Gold in Indonesian Folklore

In Indonesian folklore, gold often symbolizes wealth and power.

  • The Legend of Lake Toba: In this legend, a fisherman catches a golden fish that transforms into a beautiful woman. They marry, but when their son discovers his mother’s true form, it leads to the creation of Lake Toba. The story shows how gold, or wealth, can lead to unexpected consequences.

From these examples, it’s clear that gold has been a powerful symbol in mythology and folklore around the world, representing everything from power and wealth to perseverance and immortality. Its allure transcends cultures and eras, making it a timeless symbol in our collective consciousness.

Part 9: Gold in Songs

Gold in songs. gold in culture, woman playing the guitar.
Gold in songs. gold in culture, woman playing the guitar.

Music has always been a powerful medium for storytelling and expressing emotions. It’s no surprise that gold, a symbol of wealth, success, and aspiration, frequently appears in song lyrics across various genres. From pop to rock, country to hip-hop, artists have used gold as a metaphor to convey diverse themes.

The Golden Age of Music

The use of gold in music is not a recent phenomenon. It has been a recurring theme in songs for decades, reflecting the cultural, social, and economic contexts of different eras.

  • “Gold Digger” by Kanye West (2005): This Grammy-winning song is a critique of materialistic relationships, where one person is only interested in the other’s wealth. It’s a commentary on the superficiality and greed often associated with wealth and fame.
  • “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young (1972): This classic folk-rock song is a poignant search for kindness and sincerity amidst the superficiality of the world. The “heart of gold” in the lyrics symbolizes a person’s inner goodness and purity, which are more valuable than any material wealth.
  • “Fields of Gold” by Sting (1993): This nostalgic song is a reflection on transient joy and the beauty of the present moment. The “fields of gold” in the lyrics represent a place of happiness and contentment, a metaphor for cherishing the simple joys in life.

Watch “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young:


Gold in Pop Culture: Chart-Topping Hits

Pop culture has seen numerous chart-topping hits that feature gold in their lyrics, titles, or themes. These songs not only entertain but also provide insights into societal values and perceptions of success.

  • “Gold on the Ceiling” by The Black Keys (2012): This rock song explores the illusions created by material success. The “gold on the ceiling” symbolizes the allure of wealth and the false sense of security it brings.
  • “Golden” by Harry Styles (2019): This pop song is a romantic anthem about taking risks for love. The “golden” in the lyrics represents something precious and worth pursuing, much like the pursuit of love.
  • “Gold Rush” by Death Cab for Cutie (2018): This indie rock song is a contemplative piece about the ties between memories and geographical landmarks. The “gold rush” symbolizes the rapid changes in the city and the nostalgia for the past.

Watch the song “Gold Rush” by Alans Death Cab for Cutie:

Gold in Songs: A Symbol of Aspiration and Desire

Gold in songs often symbolizes aspiration, desire, and the pursuit of wealth. However, it can also represent the pitfalls of greed and the emptiness of material success.

  • “Gold” by Spandau Ballet (1983): This new wave song was initially a spoof on ‘Goldfinger’ and other James Bond film songs but ended up being one of their biggest hits in the United States. The song uses gold as a metaphor for resilience and invincibility.
  • “Gold Lion” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2006): This indie rock song seeks a more profound sense of humanity and higher consciousness inside each person. The “gold lion” symbolizes the inner strength and potential within each individual.
  • “Gold” by Imagine Dragons (2015): This alternative rock song cautions against chasing fame and fortune, based on the story of the Midas Touch. The song uses gold as a symbol of the destructive power of greed.

In conclusion, gold in songs serves as a versatile symbol, representing everything from wealth and success to aspiration and cautionary tales about materialism. Its presence in music underscores its cultural significance and enduring allure.

Part 10: Gold in Movie

Watch the Trailer for “Gold” (2016):

Gold is portrayed in movies in various ways, depending on the storyline and genre. Here are some common portrayals of gold in movies:

  1. Symbol of wealth and success: Gold is often depicted as a symbol of wealth, luxury, and success. It is associated with opulence and extravagance, representing the desire for material possessions and financial prosperity.
  2. Motivation for greed and corruption: In many movies, gold serves as a catalyst for greed and corruption. Characters may become obsessed with obtaining gold, leading them to engage in unethical or illegal activities. This portrayal highlights the destructive power of greed and the moral consequences of pursuing wealth at any cost.
  3. Treasure and adventure: Gold is frequently used as a plot device in adventure movies. It can be portrayed as a hidden treasure that characters embark on a quest to find. The pursuit of gold often leads to thrilling and dangerous adventures, adding excitement and suspense to the storyline.
  4. Conflict and power struggle: Gold can also be a source of conflict and power struggle in movies. It may be the cause of disputes between characters or even nations, leading to tension and conflict. This portrayal highlights the influence and allure of gold and its ability to drive people to extreme measures.
  5. Historical significance: Some movies portray gold in a historical context, showcasing its importance throughout different time periods. For example, movies set during the gold rush era depict the frenzy and chaos surrounding the search for gold, capturing the historical significance of this precious metal.

It’s important to note that these portrayals may vary depending on the specific movie and its storyline. Gold can be depicted in different ways to serve the narrative and thematic elements of the film.

The Early Days: Gold in Silent Films

Scene from The Palace of Arabian Knights (1905).
Scene from The Palace of Arabian Knights (1905).

The allure of gold has been a recurring theme in movies for over a century, starting from the silent film era. The silent film “The Palace of Arabian Knights” (1905) is one of the earliest examples where gold plays a pivotal role. In this short adventure fantasy, a poor but honest young man wins the hand of a beautiful princess after facing a series of exciting adventures involving apparitions, cartwheeling skeletons, a dragon, and plump dancing girls from the Folies Bergere.

Another silent film, “The Indian Runner’s Romance” (1909), also revolves around the theme of gold. In this western short, an Indian comforts a dying prospector in his last moments. In exchange, the prospector reveals the location of his gold claim. A group of cowboys tries to get the information and go as far as kidnapping the Indian’s wife.

The Golden Age of Hollywood: Gold in Classic Films

As we move into the Golden Age of Hollywood, the theme of gold continues to be prevalent. The film “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948) is a classic example. Directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, the film tells the story of three men in search of gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains. The film is a profound exploration of greed and paranoia, showing how the lust for gold can lead to the downfall of men.

The Modern Era: Gold in Contemporary Cinema

In the modern era, the theme of gold has been explored in various genres, from adventure films to crime thrillers. The James Bond film “Goldfinger” (1964) is a notable example. In this film, the villain, Auric Goldfinger, has a maniacal obsession with gold. His grand plan involves irradiating the gold in Fort Knox, thereby increasing the value of his own gold reserves.

In the crime thriller “The Italian Job” (2003), a team of thieves plan to steal gold from a former associate who double-crossed them. The film is known for its exciting car chase sequences and clever heist plot.

Table: 10 Movies Where Gold Plays a Role:

Movie Title Year Role of Gold
The Palace of Arabian Knights 1905 A young man wins a princess’s hand after a series of gold-related adventures.
The Indian Runner’s Romance 1909 A dying prospector reveals the location of his gold claim to an Indian.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948 Three men search for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains, leading to greed and paranoia.
Goldfinger 1964 The villain, Auric Goldfinger, plans to irradiate the gold in Fort Knox to increase the value of his own gold reserves.
The Italian Job 2003 A team of thieves plan to steal gold from a former associate who double-crossed them.
Fool’s Gold 2008 A recently divorced couple rekindle their romantic life while searching for a lost treasure.
Gold 2016 A prospector makes a massive gold discovery in the jungles of Indonesia.
The Lost City of Z 2016 A British explorer searches for a mysterious city in the Amazon, believed to be filled with gold.
The Sisters Brothers 2018 Two assassins are on a journey through the 1850s Old West on an assignment that involves a chemist who has developed a formula that reveals the location of gold in rivers.
Gold 2021 A lone drifter is left to guard a massive gold discovery over one harsh desert night.

Watch the trailer for “The Lost City of Z”:

From silent films to modern blockbusters, the theme of gold has been a constant in cinema, symbolizing wealth, power, greed, and sometimes, redemption. The allure of gold, with its promise of wealth and prosperity, continues to captivate audiences, making it a timeless motif in the world of cinema.


Gold has been and continues to be an integral part of our shared human story.

From the ancient civilizations that revered it as a symbol of divinity and power, to its metaphorical use in literature and language, its melodious presence in songs and its glittering appearances in movies, gold’s cultural significance is as diverse as it is profound.

In essence, the story of gold is a story of us – a tale of our shared human experience.

Check out other extensive articles about gold:


What is the significance of gold in culture?

Gold has been a symbol of wealth, power, and divinity across various cultures since ancient times. It has been used in art, fashion, literature, and rituals, signifying its deep-rooted cultural significance.

How is gold represented in ancient civilizations?

In ancient civilizations, gold was often associated with gods and rulers, symbolizing power and wealth. It was used in various artifacts, from jewelry to ceremonial objects, reflecting its high value.

What is the role of gold in modern culture?

How is gold depicted in literature and language?

Gold is often used metaphorically in literature and language to denote wealth, success, or something of high quality. It's also a common theme in many fairy tales and myths, symbolizing a quest or reward.

What is the significance of gold in songs and movies?

In songs, gold is often used metaphorically to express themes of love, ambition, or struggle. In movies, gold can be a plot device symbolizing wealth, power, or a goal to be achieved.

How is gold represented in mythology and folklore?

Gold often plays a significant role in mythology and folklore, symbolizing power, wealth, or immortality. It's featured in various myths and legends, from the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology to the golden treasures in Norse tales.

What is the role of gold in modern and digital culture?

In modern culture, gold is used in fashion, design, and technology. In digital culture, gold has found new forms of expression, such as 'digital gold' in cryptocurrencies or as a form of in-game currency in video games.

How does gold influence our perception of value and wealth?

Gold has been a universal symbol of wealth and value for thousands of years. Its enduring value influences our perception of wealth, luxury, and financial stability. Even in the digital age, gold continues to be a standard for economic security.