Carcosa Collection

The Library

The Library



The Yellow Sign is a fictional symbol or glyph, first described in Robert W. Chambers’s book The King In Yellow.

The King in Yellow never fully describes the shape and purpose of the Yellow Sign. The story of the same name offers only that it is "a curious symbol or letter in gold. It was neither Arabic or Chinese, nor as I found afterwards did it belong to any human script." Nonetheless, "The Repairer of Reputations”, one of the stories in the collection, suggests that anyone who possesses or sees, even by accident, a copy of the sign is susceptible to some form of insidious mind control or possession, by the King In Yellow or one of his heirs. The stories also suggest that the original creator of the sign was not human and possibly came from a strange alternate dimension that contains an ominous and ancient city known as Carcosa.

H. P. Lovecraft and many of his imitators were great admirers of Chambers' book and incorporated many of his characters and symbols into their own works. Lovecraft refers, in one story, to the Brothers of the Yellow Sign, as enemies of the Mi-go. In the latter-day Cthulhu Mythos, developed by August Derleth and other Lovecraft imitators, the Yellow Sign is the sign of Hastur and is used by members of his cult to identify one other. In addition, according to many of these works one of Hastur's avatars is known as The King In Yellow. This interpretation is popular among role-players, but many prefer the more vague horror of Chambers' original vision.

Many thought the Yellow Sign was a serpentine salamander symbol that appeared on the first printing of Chambers’s work.  It was in fact the logo of the publisher.

The Salamander

In 1989, Kevin Ross designed a Yellow Sign symbol for The Call of Cthulhu RPG. Ross created the symbol for an adventure scenario entitled "Tell Me, Have You Seen The Yellow Sign?" in the supplemental book The Great Old Ones. The symbol resembles a yellow triskelion, and is also believed to resemble a tentacled creature, since Hastur is often described as an aquatic tentacled being similar to Cthulhu.
Ross later stated in an interview that the image used is actually a corruption of his original drawing; apparently, Chaosium printed the image both upside-down and backwards. Flipping the image horizontally and vertically reveals Ross' original conception of the Yellow Sign, which resembles a coiled body or tentacle with two tentacles branching upward. Fans have pointed out that this image bears a resemblance to the "Kronos" symbol used by the band Blue Öyster Cult. When asked, Ross admitted to being a big fan of the band, but could not remember if the resemblance was deliberate.

Ross Yellow Sign

Presumably the mistake occurred because the sign (as familiar to us now) contains what looks like a question-mark, acting as a counterpoint to the question "Tell Me, Have You Seen The Yellow Sign?" Ironically it makes the Sign appear more fluid, more dynamic, than it would have otherwise appeared.


As part of RAINFALL RECORDS creation of a King in Yellow musical compilation of the play, Steve Lines created yet another twisting version of the dread sign.  Many who see it comment on imagining the shapes of a snake, a butterfly, female reproduction organs and other strange things. 



RR Yellow Sign


The Carcosa Collection’s YELLOW SIGN

As in keeping with the ethos of the Collection, and the fact the other Yellow Sign has an earthly history, recognized too easily, the channeling of creative forces to emulate what a Yellow Sign would look like was undertaken by another dark artist locked in a sensory deprivation tank and loaded full of Liao substance...

Seriously, it appears the Yellow Sign constantly shifts and evolves, as it should if it really is the symbol of Mystery.  Hence the Carcosa Collection Yellow Sign is yet another evolution of the dread symbol...

The visions of serpents, as indicated in the actual stories when describing the play, seem to appear in all the signs, and indeed, the sign we have imagined (or was it projected to us from Beyond?) indeed has the draconic shape... unlike the other signs that were only coiling, what seemed to be missing was the sharp deadly aspect of the snake... its venoumous fangs.  Also, the relationship between a serpent's grace, its connections with rhythm, also needed to be incorporate. Thus taking those essential dark elements and combining them with ancient sigils from earliest known man, with a hint of sexual mystery and smooth lines combined with sharp cutting angles of venomous fangs, resulted in the 21st century Yellow Sign of the Carcosa Collection.

Gaze upon it at your own risk.


Tome Tribute

"They say foul beings of Old Times still lurk in dark forgotten corners of the world, And Gates stll gape to loose, on certain nights, Shapes pent in Hell."

From Unaussprechlichen Kulten

Credits and Copyrights

Carcosa Collection and Website Bruce Ballon © 2010-2015 , Web Design Luke Shield and Bruce Ballon, Art / Graphics / Photos by Steve Lines and Bruce Ballon, music clip by Ennio Morricone

The Book

Thought of the Eon

There is a concept that is the corrupter and destroyer of all others. I speak not of Evil, whose limited empire is that of ethics; I speak of the infinite.

-Jorge Luis Borges