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Led Zeppelin IV “ZOSO” Symbol Meanings
The four symbols on the label and inside sleeve of Led Zeppelin IV, represent (from left to right) Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Robert Plant.
Jimmy Page decided that the next Led Zeppelin album would not have a title, but would instead feature four hand-drawn symbols on the inner sleeve and record label, each one chosen by the band member it represents. “We decided that on the fourth album, we would deliberately play down the group name, and there wouldn’t be any information whatsoever on the outer jacket”, Page explained. “Names, titles and things like that do not mean a thing.” This album was one of the first to be produced without conventional identification. The idea for each member of the band to choose a personal emblem for the cover was Page’s.
During Led Zeppelin’s tour of the United Kingdom in Winter 1971, which took place shortly following the release of the album, the band visually projected the four symbols on their stage equipment.
Jimmy Page claimed that he designed his own symbol. Sometimes referred to as “Zoso”, he has explained that it was not in fact intended to be a word at all. However, it has since been discovered that the symbol has existed since at least 1557 to represent Saturn. Saturn rules over Page’s astrological sun sign, Capricorn, and may indicate why he chose it, though the guitarist has never publicly disclosed the reason for his selection.
John Paul Jones’ symbol, which he chose from Rudolph Koch’s Book of Signs, is a single circle intersecting 3 vesica pisces (a triquetra). It is intended to symbolise a person who possesses both confidence and competence.
John Bonham’s symbol, the three interlocking rings, was picked by the drummer from the same book. It represents the trinity of mother, father and child. The symbol (upside down) also happens to be the logo for Ballantine beer.
Robert Plant’s symbol is the feather of Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice and fairness, and is the emblem of a writer (ie song lyrics). It can be found in “The Sacred Symbols of Mu” by Colonel James Churchward. This is not a common symbol, but does turn up in Egyptian and Red Indian texts.