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Tennessee Cultural Symbols

Tennessee has nearly 50 official cultural symbols, some of which are explored under symbols of the arts and political symbols. If you’re looking for additional information, you can check out my books.

Cultural Symbols  
Symbol Circular feature of state flag 2016
Railroad Museum Cowan Railroad Museum, Franklin County 2007
Railroad Museum Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Hamilton County 1978
Railroad Library A.C. Kalmbach Memorial Library 2004
Aviation Hall of Fame Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame, Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport in Sevier County 2001
Tartan 1999
Artifact “Sandy,” Mississippian stone statuary 2014
Beverage milk Redundant Symbol 2009
Pet dogs and cats that are adopted from Tennessee animal shelters and rescues 2014
Botanical Garden University of Tennessee Botanical Gardens 2013
Site of Freshwater Pearl Culturing Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Farm and Museum, Camden, Benton County 2004
Art Form songwriting 2003
Song Rocky Top 1982
Song The Pride of Tennessee, Tennessee Waltz, When It’s Iris Time in Tennessee 1996
Song Smoky Mountain Rain 2010
Song Tennessee (by Vivian Rorie) 1992
Song Tennessee 2011
Song The Tennessee in Me 2023
Song Copperhead Road 2023
Public School Song My Tennessee 1955
U.S. Bicentennial Song Fly Eagle, Fly! 1976
U.S. Bicentennial March Song The Tennessee Salute 1975
Bicentennial Rap Song A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap 1996
Bicentennial School Song My Home Will Always Be in Tennessee 1996
Fife and Drum Corps Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps 2014
Folk Dance square dance Redundant Symbol 1980
Theatre Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville 1999
Outdoor Drama Production at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area 2009
Poem Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee 1973
Bicentennial Poem Who Are We 1997
Cowboy Poet Laureate David Nelson 2004
Christian Poet Laureate Colonel Hugh X. Lewis 2006
Painting “Tennessee Treasures” and “Tennessee Treasures Too,” by Michael Sloan 2007
Fine Art porcelain painting 1981
Artist Burton Callicott 1991
Artist-in-Residence H. R. Lovell 2000
Jamboree and Crafts Festival The Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival – House Joint Resolution 24 1997
Rifle Barrett Model M82/M107 2016
Airplane Memphis Belle 2017
Flag Salute 1981
Flag Salute 1987
Declamation I Am Tennessee
Veterans Poem “Home To Stay” by the late Jasper N. Bailey 2014
Veterans Poem “Echoes From a Soldier’s Grave” by Sergeant First Class Ernest E. Sharp 2016
Language English Redundant Symbol 1984

Tennessee Cultural SymbolsSandy, Tennessee’s official “symbol,” Tennessee tartan, and milk.

With nearly 50 cultural symbols, it’s hardly surprising that Tennesseans adopted the four more redundant state symbols—milk, square dance, English, and the honeybee (one of Tennessee’s four official insects). Tennessee’s worst cultural symbols are explored under political symbols, with a mixture of good and bad discussed under symbols of the arts.

My favorite is Tennessee’s official artifact, dubbed “Sandy.”

Sandy is an 18-inch sandstone statue of a kneeling male figure that was carved between 1000 and 1350 A.D., during the Mississippian period (not to be confused with geologists’ Mississippian Period, when ended long before dinosaurs evolved).

Sandy was found in 1939 along with a companion female statue at an archaeological site on a farm in Wilson County. The pair of statues are thought to represent ancestors from which a prehistoric community originated. According to Indian Country Today,

“Similar stone statuary pairs have been found across the South and Midwest at large Mississippian period town sites, but the [ones at the] McClung are particularly noted for their realism and workmanship.”

Tennessee has an official “symbol.” It’s simply the circular feature from the state flag.

Tennessee also has a state tartan. Dark blue and green represent mountains and agriculture, respectively. Red is symbolic of the sacrifices made by Tennessee soldiers and pioneers, while represents the unity of the three Grand Divisions of the State of Tennessee. Purple represents the state flower, the iris.

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