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Images of Sarmatian deities and the Osset epos.

The Greek sources on Sarmatian-Alanian mythologies are not numerous. As Herodot said, the solar deity was 'the Lord of the Massagetics'. We know about mysteries of the Aphrodite, Tanais (deities of the river of Don) and Pharsiris ' with a brilliant face'. The main thing in a cultural heritage of the Alanians is Nart epos which has been written down in 19 century A.D. It was distributed among many peoples of Caucasus, but in the most full edition is kept by the Ossets, descendants from the Alanians. The fine arts of the Sarmanic-Alanians tribes not so perfectly as Scythian one, but are rich enough antropomorthic motives. Comparing them with plots of Nart epos, we can reveal images of ancient mythology.

In this case work is facilitated by existence of S.A. Jatsenko's article "Antropomorthic images of Sarmatia" (Jatsenko, 1992). "... It is marked about 50 plots with antropomorthic characters <...> Which originals are kept in the museums scattered in huge territory" (p. 189).

In legends the Ossets the God of the Clear Sky, probably, is replaced with the Christian god-father. Thunderous function belongs to god Wacilla that is translated as 'Saint Ilya'. Frequently he is represented by set some kind of the whole class of inhabitants of heaven. A identification of the ancient God of the Thunder with prophet Ilya typically for peoples of the East Europe as we shall see later on an example of the Slavs.

For a role of the God of Earth Powers can apply Barastyr - the owner of a next world; Don-Bettyr (literally 'water Peter') - the lord of waters and a water empire (compare Greek Poseidon, Irish Donn, mythological images of the southern rivers of the East Europe (Myths of nations of the world, 1998. v. 1, with. 531); Afsati - the lord of noble animals represented by the horseman on a deer (this god posessed a sanctuary at Krivoi Rog); Falvara (sacred Flora and Laurels) - the patron of the cattle. There is special deity Tutyr - the owner of wolves. The myth was kept how Tutyr has beaten out one Falvara's eye that last did not see the wolves creeping to herds (than not 'torment' expressed in anthropomorthical form). There are the images of twins-primogenitors representing type transitive to the Hero (similar Greek Dioscuri and Indian Asvinau).

Type of the Cultural Hero was personified by Wasgergi and, partly - by Azamas. Wasgergi (the name occurs from 'Saint George') it was thought by the horseman, ride on white three-legged horse (by the way, Odin in one of German fairy tales rides on such horse also). He was considered as a divine ancestor of the Narts and their patron. Azamas, the owner of a magic pipe (Afsati has presented him it), symbolised a dying and reviving nature.

At last, the type of the Great Goddess is divided into Bsenon, Dzerassa

and some other female characters.

Now we shall look, as these late images correspond with products of Sarmatian-Alanian arts. Jatsenko allocates following iconography types: "the goddess as the young girl with two plaits and pair of animals on the sides"; "the goddess on a throne and the horseman forthcoming on the right"; "pair of the horsemen, worth beside the person each other"; "an archer shooting at a bird"; "the horseman - the hunter for a hare"; "the horseman rides on the bull"; "ram-men"; "a composition with capture of a monster"; " a man's deity sitting on buddistic pose with a vessel in hands"; "the Mongolomorphical god with his hairdress in unit, sitting on a leopard"; "a figure of the man, beside the World Serpent curtailed in a ring and the flying bird holding in paws a stone"; " three images of bearded man's heads placed on a ring" (Jatsenko, 1992, pp. 196 - 200).

Pair horsemen Jatsenko compares with Asvinau and Diocuri, but the main thing - with the Nart twins.

The double image of archer shooting at a bird - "the major moment of Alanian ethnogenetical legends - unsuccessful hunting of the twins for the magic bird - the future wife of one of them and she-ancestor of the Narts - Dzerassa (the daughter of the Lord of waters)" (Jatsenko, 1992, p. 196). Alanian myth about the twins it is possible to compare with Roman myth. The Alanian twins's father was man who was named 'wolf' (Romul and and Rem were reared by the shewolf). It as though speaks well for tothem values of the wolf for Sarmatian tribes. In that case, the antagonism between the Sarmatians and Scythians is the more clear. However, against the given assumption the wide circulation of a cult of the God of Earth Powers in Alanian culture, that will be shown below.

The horseman - the hunter for a hare. "V.V. Miller has connected this plot with Alanian hero, who caught the future to the spouse - water goddess Bzenon in shape of a hare <...> The Scythian Plots of hunting of the horseman on a wild boar D.S. Rayevsky has connected with Targitay image - the spouse (and probably the son) of the water goddess (Rayevsky, 1977, pp. 49 - 50, 83)" (Jatsenko, 1992. p, 196).

Pair the horsemen, worth beside the person to each other. "Some more M.I. Rostovtsev considered that the left horseman in with a staff-rod and rithon in his hands - the god of local nomads similar Iranian Mitra. There is in the Alanian-Ossetic epos a deity having ancient functions Mitra - the god of the contract and the patron of soldiers-men Wasgergi. <...>" (Jatsenko, 1992. P. 197). Further Jatsenko compares Wasgergi with Mitra in terms of motive of generation of the son in a stone. I can remind, as Illyrian emperors (in the before esteeming the Hero) venerated Mitra.

The goddess on a throne and the horseman forthcoming on the right. "As a whole, probably, stages of similar type represent ceremony of a marriage of the goddess with a man's deity - the horseman who has the same attributes, as Wasgergi. Connection of composition with a doleful cult is frequently emphasised. Taking into account all this, it is possible to connect the given stage with reached up to us and rethought in Nart epos fragments of a myth about a wonderful marriage of god Wasgergi with goddess Dzerassa" (Jatsenko, 1992. P. 198). From this marriage was born the mother of 100 Nart heros. She became the wife of stepbrother and mother of hundred brothers-Narts and their beauty sister. Incestuous marriages were encouraged in a society of ancient Iranians. But here there is also deeper analogy - ascending to time of Indo-Europeans unity - the union of the Hero and the Great Goddess. There is on Etruscan mirror marriage of Hercle and Uni (appropriate Roman Supreme goddess Juno) is submitted. There is on primitive Sarmatian-Alanian representation from Komarovo the goddess is shown with snake legs and the bird's wings.

The goddess as the young girl with two plaits and pairs animals on her sides was represented usually on female headdresses and diadems. "Her image can be compared with Lurystan goddess, living in a gold trunk of the world tree, Scythian Argimpasa. The rests of representations about this goddess, probably, we find in Nart epos in connection with a spring myth about Agunda (Agunda's travel on a chariot with deers etc.)". (Jatsenko, 1992. p. 199). According to a myth, beauty Agunda has managed to fascinate game on pipe Azamas, symbolising a dying and reviving nature. But as the bride money he had to pay the repayment as hundred annual deers.

Ram-men. "The Deity of similar shape (it is not necessary to confuse to one of embodiments Pharn) well-known in mythology the Alanian-Ossets. At late time it referred to 'sacred the ram' and was a deity - the owner of a house. To him prayed for birth of boys, sacrificing clay sculptures of rams" (Litvinsky, 1968, 71 - 71). On grivna from Kobyakovo we see taming the Chinese dragon by three similar essences. (Jatsenko, 1992. P. 199). It is necessary to tell, that though Persian Pharn represents a special deity, it obviously ascends with 'sacred the ram' to the uniform prototype. Pharn means 'shine', 'light', 'glory', 'the divine blessing'. Pharn "... For shahs Paradata and Kay - a mark of great value, a regal accessory, authority <...> For heroes - a pledge of their glory and victory, for 'mere mortals' - abundance, good luck, riches..." (Rak, 1998, 515). One of Pharn variants - a nimbus around of a head - has gone through Zoroastrian Iran and became indispensable attribute Christian sacred. Another, more ancient variant, was thought in shape of the ram. The mutton horns served as a part of shah's crown that originates in the Bronze Age of Lurystan. All these characteristics concern to a complex of the Cultural Hero, and in part - the God of Earth Powers.

To the same group concern a deity with deer ears and sitting having crossed legs a man's deity with a vessel in his hands. Attributes of the last: a vessel in hands, images of the eagles pecking fishes, and connection of this deity with a horse. Jatsenko compares this god of the Indian god's image of world waters, the keeper of the supreme law - Varuna, and identifies with one of the major deities of Alania-Ossetia - Don Bettyr. (Jatsenko, 1992, 200). From the point of view of the given research the 'Turkish' pose of a deity is faster 'Buddhistic' Cernunnos pose. The deer ears and the mutton symbolic also speak for themselves. Struggle against a monster is variant of struggle against the wolf.

In one it is possible to contradict against Jatsenko - concerning identification of the horseman on the bull. He writes: "In pagan religion of descendants of the Alanians - the Ossets representation about the wild bull was kept. He/she is the god - patron of agriculture Wacilla" (Jatsenko, 1992. P. 199). Wacilla was not the god of agriculture and the bull not his symbol (though in some traditions, for exemplare - Scandinavian and Hurrite ones the ram and the bull nevertheless accompany of the God of Thunder, that, probably to explain as a case of inversion). But further Jatsenko speaks: "... The figurine 'a local cult from Panticapaeum (tab. 10,3) - the horseman on the bull, playing on a pipe is not less interesting. The deity of a reviving nature playing on a magic flute, is well-known Azamas which name is known from 2-th centiry A.C.<...> (Abaev, 1982, 65-67)." (Jatsenko, 1992. P. 199). The dying and reviving god is a God of Earth Powers, and any not the God of Thunder!

So, at representatives of the given cultural world to the basic types of a structural nucleus corresponded: to the God of Clear Sky - it is possible, Papay or "Ares" (the Scythians), to the God of Thunder - Wacilla (the Alanians); to the God of Earth Powers - Don-Bettyr, Falvara, Afsati; to the Cultural Hero - Kolaksay (the Scythians), Wasgergi (the Alanians); to the Great Goddess - Api and Tabiti (the Scythians), Bzenon, Dzerassa (the Alanians). The attention absence in the Scythian pantheon of the God of Thunder and the God of Earth Powers and accent for an image of the Cultural Hero (whether it be images of Kolaksay in anthropomorphic art or a deer pays to itself within the framework of animal style). Last fact with the big share of confidence can be attributed on the account of early addition of imperial authority at Scythians (as it was mentioned above, their history shares for the appropriate periods - 'the first empire', 'the second empire', 'the third empire'). Representatives of the Sarnatic-Alanian branch esteemed also the various deities which are going back to the God of Earth Powers. In it, probably, their ideological difference from the Scythians consists.

Fantalov Alex


Speciality 24.00.01 - the theory and a history of culture

The dissertation on competition of a doctor degree of cultural science

Thracian and Dacian history.




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