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THE SCYTHIAN/SARMATIAN INFLUENCE ON THE SLAVONIC MYTHOLOGY AND DECORATIVE ART

by Sergei V. Rjabchikov
Krasnodar, Russia
<srjabchikov@hotmail.com>

Copyright © Sergei V. Rjabchikov, 2001. All rights reserved

Here I study Scythian/Sarmatian inscriptions which shed new light upon the Slavonic pagan mythology and plots presented in the Slavonic decorative art.

1. First of all, one can decode several Scythian/Sarmatian texts relying on the readings of syllables of Linear A (B) (Rjabchikov 2000a).

Let us examine a Sarmatian record on a vessel (4th century B.C.) discovered in a Sarmatian (Sauromatian) barrow in the neighbourhood with Volgodonsk, Rostov-on-Don Territory, Russia (Moshkova 1977: 211, figure 1a). Here the two zigzags (thunder/lightning signs) are inscribed. Sign 56 pa and a rhomb (ay) give the name Pai (Papai) of the sky god of the Scythians and Sarmatians (Rjabchikov 2001a). Now one can study the second fragment of the record (Moshkova 1977: 211, figure 1b). Three crosses (signs 46 ay 'life') (1) are inscribed above a horizontal line (the earth). Above them the sign of the sun with sign 59 ta, seven (initially eight?) dots, and the sign of the crescent with the word 59 80 tama are presented. The word ta signifies 'the sun; fire' (2), the word tama corresponds to Old Indian tamas 'darkness'. One can see the figure of a hole (Yama, the god of the dead) (3) and a line (the Scythian/Sarmatian chthonic god Ta gima sad, cf. Old Indian sathan 'connection') (4) to the right of the crosses. I suppose that this text describes a solar eclipse (perhaps an annular eclipse of April 22, 351 B.C., on the base of the computer program RedShift 2). To the right of the hole one can see the figure of the blade of a Sarmatian sword. I presume that it is a hint of Agni, the Scythian/Sarmatian god of the fire, incarnated in the sword. It is well known that this god plays the main role in sacrifices according to the Indo-Arian mythology (Neveleva 1975: 85).

A round artifact from the Moiseevskoe town (Kursk Territory, Russia) of the Scythian time is decorated with an interesting record (Alikhova 1962: 125-6, figure 21 [15]). Here eight crosses (signs 46 ay 'life') and sign 56 bha 'shine; the sun' are inscribed (5). It is necessary to stress that numbers four and eight are connected with symbols of the World Tree in the Scythian beliefs (Bessonova 1983: 82-3).

One can decode a Scythian inscription on a jug discovered near Bakhchisaray, the Crimea, Ukraine (Vysotskaya 1972: 72-3, figure 21 [3]). The signs are engraved next the picture of a bunch of grapes. The text reads 59 05 05 46 ta jaja ay 'The sun bears the life'. The root ja (cf. Old Indian ja 'born; to produce') is included in Old Indian jambuka 'grape without stones'. The place name Dzhankoy of the Crimea is comparable with Old Indian ja 'to bear; to produce' and naka 'the sky'. Perhaps the initial variant of this place name was Ja naka 'The sky bears'. A cross (ay 'life') is seen in the figure of the letter v (looking like the sign of a (solar) bird locating near the World Tree) of a Russian Gospel of the 12th century (6). The Old Russian letter v is named vedi, cf. Old Indian vid 'to know', Russian vedat' 'to know'.

A rhomb containing several dots is depicted on a Scythian finger-ring (Bessonova, Bunyatyan and Gavrilyuk 1988: 56). Interestingly, rhombi with several dots or with a flower inserted in a round ('the sun') are seen on a dress of one of daughters of the Russian grand prince Yaroslav Mudry (Yaroslav the Wise) of the 11th century (7). The sign resembling a romb reads ay 'life' (Rjabchikov 2001a).

The face of a goddess made out of clay is exhibited in the Taman' Archaeological Museum (Taman', Krasnodar Territory, Russia). It was dated to 5th-4th centuries B.C. This face is decorated with several petals (tongues of flame; rays of the sun), so it is undoubtedly an image of the Scythian goddess Tabiti (Rjabchikov 2001c). I have distinguished several Scythian signs on it, see figures 1 [1-3].

FIGURE 1

figure1.gif

Sign 56 reads bha 'shine; the sun', and sign 33 reads ra 'the sun' (Rjabchikov 2001b). The epithet 75-09 vese 'knowing' has a direct relationship to the goddess Tabiti known as Makosh' (Mokosh'), Baba-Yaga (the old woman Yaga), Rozhanitsa in the Russian mythology and fairy-tales (Rjabchikov 2001c). According to the Russian fairy-tale Mar'ya Morevna (Marine Mar'ya), Baba-Yaga (the sun) flies on her mare around the earth every day. According to the Russian fairy-tale Doch' i padcheritsa (A Daughter and a Stepdaughter), Egi-baba (Baba-Yaga) bakes pancakes (Russian bliny, the symbols of the sun). According to the Russian fairy-tale Ivanushka, Baba-Yaga's hut compares with a spindle. According to the Russian fairy-tale Zolotoe vereteno (A Golden Spindle), Baba-Yaga spins. The key words of this fairy-tale are '(Russian hot) baths' (Russian banya, cf. Old Indian bhati 'to shine', bhanu 'the sun'), 'a golden spindle' and 'the gold'. They are symbols of the sun. According to the Russian fairy-tale Knyaz' Danila-govorila (Prince Danila-govorila), Baba-Yaga says, "Gay, gay, gay", cf. Old Indian gaya 'house; household; family; offspring; sky' and Iranian (Avesta) gaya 'life'. The key word of this fairy-tale is Russian topi 'heat!' (cf. the Scythian/Sarmatian name of the goddess Tabiti). According to the Russian fairy-tale Vasilisa Prekrasnaya (Vasilisa the Beautiful), Baba-Yaga keeps the fire. According to the Russian fairy-tale Opyat' padcheritsa i machekhina dochka (Again, a Stepdaughter and a Stepmother's Daughter), the money is in the red chest of Baba-Yaga, and the heat (a celestial symbol) is in her blue chest.

As has been shown earlier (Rjabchikov 2001c: figure 1), a Scythian picture depicts the sacral hut of Baba-Yaga (Tabiti) in the shape of a square that stands on four chicken legs. Number four (eight) is pertinent to the World Tree (Bessonova 1983: 82-3). Archaeologists discovered an early Slavonic temple including places for three idols (Rybakov 1987: 123-5, figure 22). B.A. Rybakov (1994: 493, figures) decodes patterns of some Russian embroideries: a goddess, the goddess Makosh' and another goddess stand in the pagan temple. Let us examine the two embroideries (Rybakov 1994: 493, two central figures). I have distinguished two chicken legs attached to both sides of the temple! Perhaps such legs are associated with the magical egg ay 'egg; the World Tree; life, vitality; vigour; long life'. An intricate pattern is presented on a large wooden Orthodox cross covered with silver from Novgorod (12th century?) (Bocharov 1969: figure 28). This is the drawing of Baba-Yaga's hut standing on four chicken legs. A spiral is inserted in a rhomb (ay). This spiral is either the symbol of a solar eclipse or a certain solar symbol. In fact, according to the Russian fairy tale Zhikhar'ko, a little boy, Zhikhar'ko, roasted Baba-Yaga's daughter and Baba-Yaga as well. It is the encoded report about a solar eclipse.

One can investigate another Russian embroidery (Maslova 1978: 109, figures 53v). The pattern represents Makosh' as well as two goddess sitting on horses.

FIGURE 2

figure2.gif

Above the figure of Makosh' one cross is presented, and rhombi (ay 'egg; the World Tree; life, vitality; vigour; long life') with rays (they are the suns!) surround her, see figures 2 [1, 2]. This embroidery can be compared with an Old Russian temple ring with a pagan composition dated to the 13th century (8). The latter consists of two solar horses standing between the sun. Thus, Makosh' is the sun goddess. Let us examine another Russian embroidery (Molotova and Sosnina 1984: photo 134). Here I have distinguished the following pattern : it is a horse-bird (cf. Old Indian ravi 'the sun; sun god', vi 'horse; bird') on which a woman with extended arms stands. It is notable that a round with a dot in the centre substitutes the woman's head. I believe that this woman is the sun/fire goddess Makosh' (Scythian Tabiti). The round with the dot is a Scythian sign of the sun and fire (Rjabchikov 1999a).

Let us consider a Slavonic embroidery collected in the Kuban region, Russia (Gangur 1999: photo 1a). Baba-Yaga's hut with four rounds (it is a designation of the motion of the sun throughout the year) and with eight chicken legs is attached to the top of the World Tree. Its trunk is painted red, six branches are red, and four ones are green. I think that the red colour denotes life, blood, fire, dawn, light, death and birth, and the green colour denotes life and growth (9). There are following names of an ancient town of the Crimea: (Stary) Krym '(The Old) Crimea', Surhat, Solhat (Yakobson 1964: 158). I split the place name Surhat into the word sur- (cf. Old Indian surya 'the sun', Surya 'the sun god') and hat (cf. Old Russian h(a)t(a) 'house' written down in a graffito of Tmutarakan' (10), Russian hata 'hut'). The place name Solhat is split into the words Sol and hat. In the other hand, the name of the goddess Sol 'the Sun' is registered in an archaic epigraphic source at the Taman' peninsula (Trubachev 1977: 23). This suggests that the place name Solhat means 'A house of the sun goddess (Sol, Tabiti, fairytale Baba-Yaga)' (11).

Other drawings of the solar hut of Baba-Yaga distinguished by the author in different Russian/Slavonic embroideries (Maslova 1978: 97, figure 45v; 112, figure 56b; Gangur 1999: 58, figure 37; Rybakov 1994: 511, figure; Gangur 1999: 56, figure 35zh) are presented in figures 3 [1-5].

FIGURE 3

figure3.gif

Figures 3 [1, 2] contain not only a picture of Baba-Yaga's hut (pagan temple, idol), but also two smaller temples (idols) of two goddesses called Rozhanitsa 'Bearing'. Really, crosses (signs 46 ay 'life') are represented on both smaller temples. Besides, a cross (sign 46 ay 'life') is represented on Baba-Yaga's hut, and the Russian fairy-tales Vasily-korolevich i Mar'ya Yaginishna (Prince Vasily and Mar'ya Yaginishna), Ivan-Tsarevich v podzemnom tsarstve (Prince Ivan in the Underground Kingdom), Zakoldovannaya korolevna (A Bewitched Princess), Tsarevna-lyagushka (The Frog Princess), Fenist Ц yasny sokol (Fenist, the Bright Falcon) report about three sisters called Baba-Yaga. The Russian fairy-tale Zory-tsarevich i Elena-tsarevna (Prince Zory (Dawn) and Princess Elena) describes two daughters of Baba-Yaga.

Figure 3 [3] discovered on a Slavonic embroidery from the Kuban region represents Baba-Yaga's hut (pagan temple, idol). It is worth noting that a rhomb (square) and a cross denote the idea "life" in the Scythian script. Furthermore, a rhomb is an archaic fertility symbol (12). This embroidery includes not only several figures of Baba-Yaga's hut (solar symbols), but also spirals (symbols of solar eclipses). So this composition describes the death of Baba-Yaga.

Figure 3 [4] depicts Baba-Yaga's hut. Figures 3 [2, 4] are presented in the immediate vicinity of figures of horses, Indo-Arian symbols of the sun and fire (13).

Let us study figure 3 [5] discovered on a Slavonic embroidery from the Kuban region. Baba-Yaga's hut is shaped like a big cross; moreover, five rounds (four rounds and one round in the centre) are located in this hut. But number five is the symbol of the fire god Agni in the Scythian beliefs (Rjabchikov 1999a) (14). I have investigated a Slavonic embroidery from the Kuban region that is exhibited in the Krasnodar Historical-Archaeological Museum (Krasnodar, Krasnodar Territory, Russia). The pattern is akin to a rhomb which includes four small red rhombi and one small grey rhomb in the centre. I also have decoded several patterns on a Russian embroidery (Molotova and Sosnina 1984: photo 116). The combined sign contains four rhombi and one rhomb in the centre, and each outer rhomb has a chicken leg. Therefore it is another designation of Baba-Yaga's hut. Rhombi and a cross (ay 'life') are other patterns. It is felt that five rhombi represent a temple. Besides, an early Slavonic temple consisted of four places for the fires and of a sacrificial pagan altar (Rybakov 1897: 129). Interestingly, in olden times several Byelorussians Ц participants of the pagan festival Kupala Ц portrayed a cross (Byelorussian kryzh 'cross') in accordance with a song (15). The latter contains the mysterious words to-to, tu-tu and tu-tu-tu. I believe that they are a reflex of the Sarmatian language. The Slavonic term Kupala is relevant to the ideas "white; to shine; lust; bathing" (16). The word tu-tu (tu-tu-tu) correlates with the idea "flue; oven", the word to-to correlates with the idea "god; the pagan god Sopukha (Kupala); cross". Let us study another song (Sokolova 1979: 239) associated with this feast. I conclude that the archaic form of Byelorussian agon' 'fire' is to-to-to. It may be deduced that the word to corresponds to Scythian/Satmatian ta 'the sun; fire'. What does the word tu signify? I think that it means either 'wind; to blow' or 'fire; to burn', cf. Russian dunovenie 'breath of wind', dut' 'to blow', Etruscan thunem 'wind' (17), Ossetic dumun 'to blow', Old Indian du 'to burn'.

Again, let us examine a Russian embroidery (Rybakov 1994: 511, figure).

FIGURE 4

figure4.gif

The sign of the water is under Baba-Yaga's hut; the Russian letter zh (Old Russian zhivete' 'live!') (18) and sign 33 ra 'the sun' are above the hut. Sign 33 is depicted in figure 4. It is obvious from these data that the water is associated with the underworld and death in the Russian folk beliefs.

I have distinguished two motifs in a Russian embroidery (Maslova 1978: 58, figures 15i), see figures 5 [1, 2].

FIGURE 5

figure5.gif

Figure 5 [1] depicts a plant; figure 5 [2] depicts a rhomb with a cross ('life') and with rays. The latter motif is situated above two heads of horses in the real embroidery. The Old Russian amulet (19) represents two horses standing between the sign of the sun; two horses and the sun are presented in the Indo-European art (20). Pairs of solar horses are presented in the Scythian art and Sarmatian inscriptions (Rjabchikov 2001a, 2001b). Stylised figures of pairs of horses (normal and inverted ones) and a cross (ay 'life') are depicted on a Russian dress (21). A stylised figure of a pair of horses as well as a red sprout (flower) between four black triangles are seen on a Russian dress; a stylised inverted figure of a pair of horses as well as an inverted black sprout (flower) between four yellow triangles are seen on the same dress (22). So the horses may denote a day (the sun), and the inverted horses a night when the sun is invisible. The four triangles may be the cardinal points (4*3 = 12 months, a year). A Slavonic wooden decoration of a Cossack house from the Kuban region is exhibited in the Krasnodar Historical-Archaeological Museum. I have distinguished three segments of the pattern. The first segment consists of two figures of the heads of horses as well as a symbol of the sun between them. Below this segment there is a symbol of the sun (a wheel) with eight (!) rays. It is the second segment. Below it inverted figures of the heads of horses as well as a symbol of the sun are presented. It is the third segment. It can be assumed that this combined construction deals with the ideas of death and resurrection. So figure 5 [2] is a symbol of the sun.

Let us examine a Slavonic embroidery collected in the Kuban region and exhibited in the Krasnodar Historical-Archaeological Museum. This is a funeral towel (Ukrainian rushnik 'towel') (Gangur 1999: 24, 74). Specifically, it contains a strange pattern (Gangur 1999: 62, figure 42b). In my opinion, here two horses are disposed bilaterally along a cross (the sun); they are painted blue (the colour of the sky). To this segment another segment is attached. These two inverted horses and cross (the sun) are painted red. The whole picture may symbolise death and resurrection. Interestingly, an Orthodox cross is attached to a decoration looking like rays of the sun at the Orthodox church named for the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God in Taman' (Rjabchikov 1998-2001: photo 19). God is the sun and shield in the Orthodox Christian beliefs; a dress of the Church is the sun (Psalm 83 of the Greek and Slavonic Bible: 12; Revelation 12: 1; Nikifor 1891: 666). On the other hand, rays of the sun are presented in wooden decorations of old Russian houses (Rybakov 1987: 477, 479, figure 78).

Now one can study other patterns of the same funeral towel. The upper one is a Scythian cross (ay 'life') (23) known as a cross of the Apostle Andrew, too. Another pattern is a cock (Gangur 1999: 24-5, figure 11a). Its head and body are painted red, and the edges of the legs and of the feathers of the tail are blue. Its head looks like an Orthodox cross. It may be a Christian symbol. Naturally, the cock is an emblem of the Apostle Peter (24), it is the sign of repentance in the New Testament (25). Another pattern of the funeral towel is a bee or fly. In conformity with N.A. Gangur (1999: 35-6, figure 20e), this sign is connected with the idea "death". In a Russian song a bee symbolises the transition from winter to summer (26), therefore this symbol may describe the transition from death (winter) to immortal life (summer). Another pattern of the funeral towel has a complicated shape (Gangur 1999: 62, figure 42a). I suppose that it is a Russian fairytale character, Tsarevna-lyagushka (the Frog Princess). On can see its crown and feet. The transformation of the Frog Princess to the nice girl Vasilisa Premudraya (Vasilisa the Wise) in the Russian fairy-tale The Frog Princess may be a symbol of a new and happy life. This change is connected with the idea "fortune". Fortune-telling books as well as several dried feet of frogs were kept in a chest of a Kuban wizard in 1970s (an anonymous informant 2001: personal communication). It might be well to point out that the plot about a man married to a woman-frog is registered in the Old Indian literature (Korepova 1992: 478). According to the fairy-tale, three brothers shot from bows, and one of arrows fell near the Frog Princess. The wordplay is quite possible: cf. Old Indian bana 'arrow', bhanu 'brightness; light; ray of light; the sun', zalura 'frog', zala 'house; building; large room; court; fence; wall; dart; spear'; luluka 'frog', Russian luk 'bow'. In an early version of the Russian fairy-tale Tsarevna-lyagushka the human name of the Frog Princess is Svetlana (Korepova 1992: 478) < Russian svet 'light'. Another pattern of the funeral towel is a flower. It may be a symbol of resurrection and immortal life.

In particular, flowers and stylised runes, Dagaz 'day', are depicted on a modern embroidery (an exhibition, the Krasnodar Regional Library named for A.S. Pushkin, Krasnodar). It should be borne in mind that a rhomb (ay 'life') is incised near the rune Dagaz 'day' on a vessel from the ancient town Tmutarakan' (Rjabchikov 2001d: 12, figure 26). On the other hand, these specific signs may be the crosses (ay 'life; the sun'). I conclude that symbols of flowers denote the ideas "flowering, blossoming; life; resurrection; revival".

On an artifact discovered in a buried treasure, the village Martynovka, Kiev Territory, Ukraine, there are Scythian/Sarmatian signs (Rybakov 1953: 77, figure 17 [16]), see figure 6.

FIGURE 6

figure6.gif

This artifact was dated to 6th-8th centuries, therefore early Slavonic priests might know ancient secret records on the Scythian/Sarmatian religion (Rjabchikov 2001c). Four Scythian/Sarmatian signs 12 so 'the sun' (27) denote the motion of the sun throughout the year (four seasons). Two signs 80 ma ('solstice; solar; the sun', cf. the name Makosh') correspond to the festivals dedicated to the winter and summer solstices (28). Really, one early pagan Slavonic temple was dedicated to the goddess Makosh' and the feast Kolyada (the winter solstice), and another early pagan Slavonic temple was dedicated to the goddess Makosh' and the feast Kupala (the summer solstice) (Rybakov 1987: 129). Interestingly, four Scythian/Sarmatian signs 12 so 'the sun' (they denote four seasons) and a sprout in a round (the sun) are seen on a dress of one of daughters of the Russian grand prince Yaroslav the Wise (29). Four Scythian/Sarmatian signs 12 so 'the sun', a rhomb, a sign resembling fire are written down on an illumination of a Russian Gospel of the 12th century; another illumination of this book contains two rounds with four sprouts, two Scythian eight-pointed mirrors (symbols of the sun) and drops. Symbols of (solar) birds as well as four Scythian/Sarmatian signs 12 so 'the sun' and a round in the centre are written down on an illumination of a Russian Psalter of the 14th century (30). The sun is represented as a round with four short lines (four sprouts; two sprouts and two short lines) on frescoes of a Novgorod church of 12th century (31).

It should be recognized that Makosh' shears the sheep; she spins (Rybakov 1994: 387). In fact, the sheep is a symbol of the fire in the Scythian beliefs (Rjabchikov 2001a); Russian spinning-wheels are covered with solar signs, and the spinning demonstrates the life (Rybakov 1975a: 40-1). For example, a spinning-wheel exhibited in the Krasnodar Historical-Archaeological Museum is covered with two symbols of the sun. Moreover, a female figure decorated by ears is represented on some Russian spinning-wheels (Rybakov 1975a: 42); perhaps it is an image of the goddess Makosh'. Signs 09 se are inscribed on two weights of spinning-wheels of the Kingdom of the Bosporus, see figures 7 [1, 2]. These artefacts are exhibited in the Taman' Archaeological Museum.

FIGURE 7

figure7.gif

The word se corresponds in my view to Old Church Slavonic seti 'to sow', Russian seyat' 'to sow', Russian semya 'seed' (32). Now one can decode the signs presented on an earthenware pot from the Maykop Museum (Maykop, Republic of Adygea, Russia); this artifact was dated to the first half of the 7th century B.C. (Erlikh 1989: 245, figure 2). I have distinguished the three signs of the sun, the three signs 09 se ('sowing') and horns. Perhaps it is a report about the spring sowing, and the horns are associated with the Scythian goddess Argimpasa [Ar gim pasa] '(The transformation) from winter to spring Ц the cattle' (Rjabchikov 1999a).

Let us investigate another Russian embroidery (Maslova 1978: 28-9, figure 8). The pattern represents Makosh' and two goddesses sitting on horses, further, each horse has two heads. The solar signs of this picture are presented in figures 8 [1, 2].

FIGURE 8

figure8.gif

Both symbols correlate with Scythian and Satmatian mirrors. It is necessary to stress that a Scythian mirror (an eight-pointed "star" inserted in a round) is seen on a dress of one of daughters of the Russian grand prince Yaroslav the Wise (33).

A Russian shirt is decorated with some motifs (34), figure 8 [3] represents an ear. G.S. Maslova (1978: 95, 97, figure 45a) studies a motif found in a Russian embroidery, see figure 8 [4]. I think that it should be divided into four parts. The lower part is roots of a plant (tree). The second part is its trunk (35). The third part may represent two wings (a bird, hence it is the sky). The fourth (upper) part is a rhomb decorated with rays, so it is the sun.

2. As has been shown earlier (Rjabchikov 2000c, 2000d), the Scythian and Russian fairytale character Koshchey Bessmertny (Koshchey the Deathless) is the chthonic god. Often he personifies a solar eclipse, the sea, death and winter solstice. His image is depicted on an Alanian mirror twice (36). A horned serpent (the Scythian/Sarmatian goddess Argimpasa) is represented near Koshchey's bones. The name Koshchey means 'Bone' (cf. Russian kost' 'bone').

Let us examine a bone plate from Novgorod (13th century) (Bocharov 1969: figure 92). The pattern represents a dragon. A spiral (the sign of a solar eclipse) is engraved near the dragon's jaws. Then one can study the figure of another bone plate from Novgorod (14th century) (Bocharov 1969: figure 93). A dragon attacks the sun during a night or solar eclipse; a plant (sprout) is located above it. Hence the dragon lives in the underworld. Let us examine the signs engraved on a bone spoon from Novgorod (13th century) (Bocharov 1969: figure 88). The lower motif of the handle includes two crossed bones. I believe that it is a symbol of Koshchey the Deathless. Above it one can see a spiral (the symbol of a solar eclipse), two Scythian/Sarmatian signs 12 so 'bright; look; eye; heat; shine; to shine' describing the motion of the sun. Then the signs of solar eclipses and the thunder sign are presented. The upper sign is engraved on the spoon's bowl. This sign resembles a rhomb (ay 'the sun; life') (Rjabchikov 2001e) including four dots (the four cardinal points). I believe that it is a sign Tapas 'Heat of the Universe' of the Indo-Arian mythology (37).

Let us consider a Slavonic embroidery collected in the Kuban region (Gangur 1999: 65, figure 45). The first symbol includes two crossed bones, a cross (ay 'life; the sun'), the sun at the zenith and the setting sun (the sun during the night). It is a designation of Koshchey the Deathless, an emblem of a solar eclipse, winter and death. The second symbol is a combined figure of the sun goddess, it contains a rhomb and cross (ay 'life; the sun'). I believe that this is Baba-Yaga. This code reads 'nature returns to life'. The third symbol depicts Koshchey the Deathless, too. A year ends.

3. Now I investigate the origin of the Old Russian feast Rusalii. Rusalka 'mermaid' is a composite female personage of the Slavonic pagan beliefs (Pomerantseva 1975: 69-85; Sokolova 1979: 214-20, 227). Begeninya and Vila (Vela) are other Russian names of a mermaid. The first name is associated with Russian bereg 'coast, bank', and the second name with Old Indian vela 'garden; limit, boundary, end; boundary of sea and land; coast, shore'. It is well known that the mermaid lives in rivers. Such a character looks like a naked beautiful girl with flowing green hair and a piscine tail instead of legs. The mermaids like swinging on branches of trees; they laugh loudly (38). It is common knowledge that the mermaids live in rye when it is in blossom and ripens; in the rest of time they live in the forests, i.e. on the banks of rivers and lakes.

The following incantation against the mermaid was recorded in the Smolensk province, Russia in the 19th century (39):

Au, au, shiharda, kavda!
Shivda, vnoza, mitta, minogam,
Kalandi, indi, yakutashma, bitash,
Okutomi mi nuffan, zidima.

In my opinion, it is a Sarmatian text (40). I have reconstructed it as follows: Au! Au! Zhihar da, Kav da! Zhiv da, v noza. Mi ta, mi nogam. Kala ndi. Indi! Yaku tash, ma Bi tash. O Kuto! Mi, mi nu, Van! Zidi ma! A key to this archaic record is the word Zhihar (cf. the Russian fairytale character Zhikharka 'little Zhikhar') and Zhiv (cf. the name of the Slavonic pagan deity Zhiva 'Living'). The Indo-Aryan word da means 'mother' (41); the word kav is comparable with Old Indian gav 'bull; cow; cattle; herd of cattle'. The archaic text signifies: 'Hi! Hi! The mother Zhihar (Living), the mother Cow! The mother Zhiva (Living), to the feet. The sun is going, (it) is walking. The bud (light) of the mother. Go! The Cow (Yak) leaves, the solar Cow (Bull) leaves. Oh, (the god) Kuto (either the house-spirit or the god Yarila)! Go, go quickly, Van! Sit down, the sun/fire (goddess)!' (42). I conclude that the mermaid is the Cow, otherwise the spring goddess Argimpasa [Ar gim pasa] '(The transformation) from winter to spring Ц the cattle' (43). Actually, the bull and horse are personifications of the Greek god Poseidon of the sea and water (44). The names of the Scythian god of the sea, Thagimasad [Ta gima sad '(The transformation) from the sun (summer) to winter Ц the connection/sinking (Sad)'], and of the Scythian goddess Argimpasa contain the common Scythian word gim(a) 'winter' (45). The chthonic Scythian/Sarmatian deity Sad (46) is preserved in the character Sadko from the Russian traditional heroic poem of the same name. This poem reports about the herds of the mermaids. The decoded Sarmatian text includes the following names (epithets) of the mermaid Argimpasa: Zhihar (Living), the mother, the Cow, Zhiva (Living), the Cow (Yak), the Cow (Bull) and Van. This goddess is related to a bud. She (the personification of spring) (47) must leave, and the sun Ta (the personification of summer; it is a mark of the Slavonic pagan feast Kupala, see above) and the solar goddess Ma (the sun/fire goddess Makosh'/Tabiti) must come. What does the name Van mean? I compare it with Old Indian van 'to desire, to love, to wish; to make ready', vana 'sound, noise; forest, wood; plenty, abundance; water'. All the meanings are connected with the important features of the mermaids.

According to the Russian fairy-tale Prince Ivan in the Underground Kingdom, Prince Ivan flies on the bird Magovey; it eats calves. The Sarmatian name Magovey signifies 'Solar cow/bull' (Ma gav). This fairy-tale contains the strange term stragiya-tsar'-devitsa 'queen-girl'. I think that the word stragiya compares with Sarmatian sotara 'old man; leader; chief; king' (Rjabchikov 2001b). It should be recorded that the Russian grand princes Igor', Vladimir and Yaroslav have a common epithet, stary 'old' < Sarmatian sotara, in two masterpieces of the earliest Russian literature, Slovo o Zakone i Blagodati (The Sermon on Law and Grace) by metropolitan Ilarion (Saint Nikon) and the Song of Igor's Host. According to the Russian fairy-tale Snegurochka (The Snow-Maiden), a bull (a symbol of spring) saved the Snow-Maiden (a symbol of winter).

The word rusalka 'mermaid' corresponds to the Russian roots ros (cf. Russian rosa 'dew', orosit' 'to irrigate, to water', oroshenie 'irrigation') and rus 'river' (cf. Russian ruslo 'river-bed') (Rybakov 1994: 525; Belyakova 1995: 56). I should like to stress that the mermaids/vilas are connected with the rhytons made of the horns of bulls according to figures engraved on specimens of the Old Russian decorative art of the 11th-13th centuries (48) and with Turitsa 'Cow' according to the data of the Yugoslav folklore (49).

The name rusalka 'mermaid' is associated with Russian rost 'growth', rostok 'sprout, shoot', porosl' 'shoots' (the root ros) as well. A sprout is indeed represented between the two mermaids resembling sirens on an Old Russian ornament (50). The green colour of the mermaid's hair denotes the growth of plants. The Russian folklore text known as Charodeynaya pesnya solntsevykh dev (The Magic Song of the Mermaids) (Rjabchikov 1999d) begins with the following Sarmatian words: Shiv Ц da Ц vinza, kala Ц nda mi nogama! 'Go, Zhiva (Living) Ц the mother Ц a garland, the Bud Ц the mother!' (51). This text also bears a direct relation to the goddess Argimpasa (Rjabchikov 1999d).

Let us examine a Russian plate representing Bereginya (Pomerantseva 1975: 82, photo). The symbol of a sprout (plant) on her body is the same as represented on the Old Russian bone plate from Novgorod (see above). The signs of a kid and an eye are located near Bereginya. I suppose that the figure of this kid points to the goddess Argimpasa associated with the cattle. The sign of the eye denotes the sun (52), in this case it is a designation of the summer season. Let us examine a Russian plate depicting the mermaid (Pomerantseva 1975: 85, photo). There I have distinguished a rhomb and cross (ay 'life; the sun') on her arm. She holds a branch.

The words Ц io, io Ц of a Russian song (53) correspond in my view to the goddess Argimpasa.

Sarmatian vinz- 'garland' (54) of the Magic Song of the Mermaids bears on Russian spring rites: girls threw garlands into the water, and a horse was the symbol of the mermaid (55).

An early Slavonic calendar was discovered (Rybakov 1987: 183, figure 36; the analysis in pp. 177-87). B.A. Rybakov (1987: 184) reads the sign of a tree (June 4) as the symbol of the Slavonic feast Semik (the day of the god Yarila). Moreover, B.A. Rybakov (1987: 182) reads the sign consisting of two crosses as the sign of the feast Kupala (June 24). The first cross looks like the two crossed sticks or branches of a tree called berezka 'birch' (56). The wordplay is quite possible: cf. Russian kres 'fire', kresnik 'June' (57), Old Church Slavonic kres'' 'solstice', kresenie 'resurrection', Old Russian kres'' 'solstice; equinox', Russian krest 'cross'.

The early Russian work Slovo ob idolakh (The Report about Idols) reveals that the Russians worshipped the god Kutny, the goddess Vela, (the god) Yadrey, (the goddess) Obilukha, and the god of the cattle (58). The god Kutny is the Sarmatian god Kuto '(the day of) Yarila (of June 4)', the goddess Vela denotes the Rusalii feast of June 19-24, (the god) Yadrey (the Indo-Arian sun god Indra) denotes the Kupala feast of June 24, (the goddess) Obilukha (the goddess Lada, cf. Russian leto 'summer', sladky 'sweet') denotes June 29, and the god of the cattle denotes June 30.

A Russian song devoted to the mermaids contains strange words ru (59). Let us examine a Russian head-dress, kokoshnik, that was worn by a married young woman (Efimova 1989: photo 126). Sign 26 ru is surrounded by seven petals (tongues of flame; rays of the sun) that denote the seventh month, June. I suppose that this sign (word) ru is connected with the Rusalii feast of June 19-24. The noise and laugh are attributes of the mermaids, and the word ru can be related to Old Indian ru 'sound, noise; to make any noise or sound; to cry aloud; to sing (as bird); to break; to break to pieces; cutting, dividing', Russian rubit' 'to fell'. Now one can examine an Old Russian dipper ornamented with the figurine of a waterfowl and the sun (Rybakov 1994: 237, figure). The swan and duck are associated with the sun during the night (Rybakov 1994: 236). The figurines resembling sign 26 ru and a cross are attached to the figurine of the swan (duck). Six rounds (the sixth month, May) are engraved on the handle of the dipper. I surmise that all the signs correlate with the cult of the mermaids.

In my opinion, the tree of the Slavonic feast Semik (so-called berezka) is depicted on an Old Russian style of the 10th-11th centuries (60). I have counted seven signs 'round with dot' ('the sun; fire') and distinguished a tree with nine pairs of branches. The wordplay is quite possible: cf. Russian devyat' 'nine', devitsa 'girl', Old Indian taru 'tree', taruni 'young woman'. The seven suns denote the seventh month, June.

The signs of the trees of both calendars look like a spruce (fir). It is interesting to note that sometimes a branch/tree of the Kupala feast is called elka 'spruce' in the Kuban area (61). It may be the symbol of the sun and fire, cf. Russian el' 'spruce', Greek elios 'the sun'. A Russian song describes the World Tree: a spruce (the sun) stands on a mountain, and a house is located near (literally "under") this mountain. On the other hand, a Russian song of the Kupala feast tells of the fire on a high mountain (another symbol of the sun), and three serpents were burned, the first one was connected with cows (62).

Let us examine a Russian embroidery (Maslova 1978: 109, figure 53b). The goddess Makosh' stands between two horses and holds them by the bridles. Big crosses (ay 'life; the sun') are attached to the horses. These crosses include small squares divided into four parts (four seasons) by small crosses. Similar compound figures are situated from both sides of the figure of this goddess, they represent a bird (chicken) (63) sitting on the top of a spruce. It is possible that this spruce is a symbol of the feasts of Yarila (Semik) and Kupala.

Let us examine another Russian embroidery (Maslova 1978: 124, figure 64v). The central figure is a horseman. His head is a rhomb including an eight-pointed "star" (Scythian mirror) and four crosses as the cardinal points. Two crosses are represented near the head. I suppose that they denote the feast Kupala (see above). The tail of the horse is attached to a spruce. I think that this tree is a symbol of the feasts of Yarila (Semik) and Kupala. Two figures of cows (bulls) are attached to the lower side of the horse. This is a symbol of the Scythian/Sarmatian goddess Argimpasa (the Russian pagan god Yarila) who personifies spring. A woman with extended arms stands between the cows (bulls). Two symbols of the sun (rounds with crosses) are attached to both sides of her figure. This combined symbol means that the spring months devoted to Argimpasa/Yarila have passed. To the left of the horseman there is a woman with extended arms. One symbol of the sun (a round with a cross) is to the left. To the right of the horseman there is a woman with extended arms. Two symbols of the sun (rounds with crosses) are attached to both sides of her figure. A rhomb (ay 'life; the sun') is attached to each head. I presume that the decorated figures of these women are a certain calendar symbol ('it is the beginning of the summer season'). A two-headed bird and two sprouts are also seen on the upper tier of the embroidery. The lower tier includes figures of the fairytale bird Zhar-ptitsa ('Heat-Bird', i.e. the sun) decorated with a branch (tree) as well as figures of two horses and the sun located between them decorated with two branches (trees). Here some plants (sprouts) are seen, too.

The cult of the waving of birches (64) and of the braiding of garlands was quite popular with the Russians, Ukrainians and Byelorussians (Sokolova 1979: 188-93, 190-6, 230-1). The Russians decorated birches in a forest. The participants of the rite brought in particular fried eggs which were signs of life (cf. Hittite eia 'the World Tree', Old Indian ayus 'life; vitality; vigour; long life', Russian yaytso 'egg' and German Ei 'egg', Ukrainian yaytse-raytse 'magical egg') (65). The felled trees were placed and decorated in inhabited localities. Finally the birches were thrown into a river. According to a Russian song (66), all those who did not take part at the feast of Ivan Kupala are compared with a stump and a coffin, and the participants are compared with a white birch. The stump and roots of a plant are symbols of the underworld; the wordplay is quite possible: cf. the name of the Old Russian deity Karna 'Sorrow; crying; grief' (67), Russian koren' 'root'. The Byelorussians placed decorated birches near houses; the trees called may were kept till the Kupala feast, then they were burned down. I believe that term may is originated from Old Indian maya 'full', Scythian/Sarmatian ma 'solstice; solar; the sun', perhaps it is another name of the Kupala feast (68). The Ukrainians placed the trees during the Kupala feast. Thereupon these trees were sunk (broken, burned). The sinking of the birch corresponds to the idea "rain"; this rite is associated with the rite of the parting with the mermaids (Sokolova 1979: 196). Perhaps such a sinking is associated with the ideas "sea, water, dew, sprout, growth" and with a reflex of the Scythian god Thagimasad/the Russian pagan personage Vodyanoy 'merman'. The Ukrainian name of the tree of the Kupala feast is Morana (Marena, Mara), it is the name of the Slavonic pagan personage who personifies winter and death (Sokolova 1979: 231). In fact, Old Indian marana signifies 'death' (69). One can suppose that the calendar mark (archaic personage) Argimpasa is split into two ideas: the first is gim(a) 'winter' called marana (cf. Russian more 'sea'), and the second is ar (the Slavonic god Yarila who personifies spring). The sinking or destruction of a symbol of winter is a mark of the meeting with summer. A broken tree (cf. the word ru 'sound, noise; to make any noise or sound; to cry aloud; to sing (as bird); to break; to break to pieces; cutting, dividing' connected with the mermaids) may be a symbol of the end of the Rusalii week.

On two early Slavonic artifacts discovered in the buried treasure, the village Martynovka, there are Scythian/Sarmatian signs (Rybakov 1953: 77, figure 17 [8, 9]), see figures 9 [1, 2].

FIGURE 9

figure9.gif

Both inscriptions are identical. The artifacts look like a tower. The lower tier contains the word 80-33 mara 'death', cf. Old Indian mara 'death'. Two spirals which surround this word are symbols of solar eclipses and darkness. I suppose that the word mara denotes Morana (Marana, Mara), the personification of winter, the sea and underworld. The upper tier of this "tower" depicts the sacral hut of Baba-Yaga (Tabiti) standing on two chicken legs. A triangle is inserted in this hut. Number three is included in the sacral numbers tridevyaty (three-ninth) and tridesyaty (three-tenth) of Russian fairy-tales. Perhaps this triangle is a special sacral mark, maybe it is the sign of a hearth (the wordplay is quite possible: cf. Russian ugol 'corner; angle', ugol' 'coal') (70). The roof of the hut has an opening. It is known that the roof of a temple of the goddess Makosh' had an opening, too (71). The sign of the sun is represented above the hut. I conclude that the hut on the chicken legs belongs to the sun/fire goddess Tabiti/Makosh'.

The parallel is preserved in the Greek mythology that has the Indo-Arian origin as well. The god Poseidon of the sea and the monster Gorgon Medusa (the Greek variant of the Scythian goddess Argimpasa (72)) created the winged horse Pegasus associated with the ideas "fountain, source"; the hero Bellerophon rode Pegasus and killed the Chimera (73). This Chimera (Greek Himaira), a creature, resembling a lion, a goat and a serpent, is apparently originated from Old Indian hima 'winter'. Based on these data, one can suppose that the (Pro-)Slavonic mermaid may be a creature (daughter) of the god Thagimasad and the goddess Argimpasa.

On an early Slavonic artifact discovered in the buried treasure, the village Martynovka, there are Scythian/Sarmatian signs (Rybakov 1953: 77, figure 17 [7]), see figure 10.

FIGURE 10

figure10.gif

Sign 26 ru and a curved line have normal and inverted forms. The word ru is comparable with Old Indian ru 'sound, noise; to make any noise or sound; to cry aloud; to sing (as bird); to break; to break to pieces; cutting, dividing'. It is a certain symbol of the mermaids (see above). A week that preceded the feast Kupala was called a "green" one; it was devoted to the mermaids in Ukraine (Sokolova 1979: 189). During the Russian rite of the waving of the birches sometimes their tops were broken (Sokolova 1979: 190-1). I suppose that the curved line denotes a broken branch of the tree; it is another symbol of the mermaids and fertility. Interestingly, the curved lines (the >-shaped signs) are inscribed on a Scythian bracelet; the >-shaped signs and crosses (ay 'life; the sun') are inscribed on another Scythian bracelet (74). The wordplay is quite possible: cf. Old Indian nita 'to bend', nitya 'eternal'; vandh 'to bow down', vanda 'worship'; ru 'to break; to break to pieces; cutting, dividing; sound, noise; to make any noise or sound; to cry aloud; to sing (as bird)'.

Let us examine a Proto-Slavonic calendar inscribed on a vessel from Hungary (Rybakov 1994: 323, figure; the analysis in pp. 320-4). The sign of April is a pitchfork (Rybakov 1994: 324). The wordplay is quite possible: cf. Russian vily 'mermaids', vily 'pitchfork'. In this calendar a cross (cf. Old Russian kres'' 'solstice; equinox') and the word 59-59 ta-ta 'fire; the sun' denote the vernal equinox (March). Another Proto-Slavonic calendar was discovered on a vessel from Ukraine (Rybakov 1987: figure 32; the analysis in pp. 171-5). The sign of April looks like a pitchfork (tree) together with a rhomb (ay 'life; the sun'). This compound sign is associated with the mermaids, too. The sign of February is a pitchfork (tree) turned towards the ground/water, cf. the Russian expression eto eshche vilami na vode pisano 'it is still in the air' (literally 'it is still written by the mermaids on the water'). There is reason to think that this sign denotes the Slavonic feast of Maslenitsa. It is known that this feast symbolises the victory of spring over winter; it was called Morany as well (Sokolova 1979: 13, 18, 35, 88). The common sign of May and July is akin to an inverted double letter V. Perhaps it is a designation of rain. A sign looking like a V of figure 10 may be a sign of May and rain. Moreover, the curved signs may be compared with sign P18 ga/ka of the inscription of the Phaistos disk performed by the decorative version of Linear A, cf. Old Indian go 'bull; ox; cow; cattle; herd of cattle' and kha 'sky'. Perhaps these signs describe celestial cows. Let us examine signs depicted on a Scythian censer (2nd-1st centuries B.C.) from the Scythian Naples, the Crimea, Ukraine (Dashevskaya 1991: 28, 102, table 46, figure 11). The sign of the sun is surrounded by << and >>-shaped signs, and five dots are engraved between the curved lines. I believe that it is the sign of April. Different variants of the curves lines may denote the cattle (the dates are April 23, June 30 of the Russian folk calendar) or rain, sometimes hail, dew (the dates are April 23, May 11, July 5, 12, 20 of the Russian folk calendar).

The names of a branch of the Kupala feast are Kupala, Kalynonya, Kalinitsa, Maryna, Maryna rizova/rezova, Mariya in the Kuban area (Bondar 1999: 144-5). The terms Kalynonya and Kalinitsa derive from Ukrainian kalina 'guelder rose', kalinon'ka 'guelder rose (dim.)'. I think that red berries of this plant compare with fires of the Kupala feast, cf. Russian kalit' 'to heat', Latin caleo 'to be hot, warm', calor 'summer heat', Old Russian kolo 'round; wheel' and Old Indian kara 'ray of light'. On the other hand, Russian and Ukrainian kalina 'guelder rose' may come from Old Indian kali 'bud', kalilam 'dense forest'. The terms Maryna and Maryna rizova/rezova is indeed a female name, Marina ('The divided [branch] by the name Marina'). The name Marina comes from Latin marinus 'marine'; this name takes the place of the term Marana.

The archaic rite is preserved in the Russian fairy-tale Marine Mar'ya. Ivan Tsarevich (Prince Ivan, the personification of summer) married Mar'ya Morevna (Marine Mar'ya). Koshchey the Deathless was situated in a store-room. He was in twelve chains (it is a calendar mark). The water is an attribute of Koshchey. So this personage is the sea god. He flied away and took Mar'ya Morevna with him. From these facts it transpires that Koshchey the Deathless denotes the water, sea and winter, and Mar'ya Morevna (Marana) denotes the water, sea and winter/spring.

4. A Scythian/Sarmatian stone relief with the representation of three human beings was discovered at the Crimea, Ukraine (Choref 1975: 261, figure 1). The inscription is written down under the middle figure (Choref 1975: 262, figure 2). The signs read 33 55 26 Ra nuru. Sign 55 nu resembles sign P14 nu of the Phaistos disk. In my opinion, the plot depicts three brothers; the personage Trita is presented in the centre. Trita is an Old Indian deity; both his brothers threw him into a well (the water) (Toporov 1992c). Moreover, Trita corresponds to the Russian fairytale character Ivan Tretey (Ivan Vodovich) (Toporov 1992d). According to the Russian fairy-tale Prince Ivan in the Underground Kingdom, both brothers of Prince Ivan threw him into the Underground Kingdom where was a brook. Trita is connected with the sun and fire (Toporov 1992c); Prince Ivan personifies the summer (see above). The record Ra nuru signifies 'The sun is thrown into the water' (75).

NOTES

1. Cf. Hittite eia 'the World Tree', Old Indian ayus 'life; vitality; vigour; long life', Russian yaytso 'egg' and German Ei 'egg' (Rjabchikov 2001a). Cf. also Ukrainian yaytse-raytse 'magical egg' (Pankeev 1992: 297).

2. I translate Scythian ta as 'the sun; fire', cf. Old Indian tejas 'fire; heat; intense heat; brightness', Greek teko 'to smelt', Russian tayat' 'to thaw'.

3. See Shilov 1995: 508; Rjabchikov 2001a.

4. See Rjabchikov 2001b.

5. Cf. Old Indian bhati 'to shine', bhanu 'the sun', Russian banya '(Russian hot) baths'.

6. See Butovsky et al 1997: plate 19.

7. Cf. a fresco of the cathedral of Saint Sophia in Kiev: see Salko 1982: photo 29-34.

8. See Rybakov 1971: 101, photo 144.

9. According to the Russian fairy-tale Vasilisa the Beautiful, the red, white and black colours are symbols of the sunrise, dawn and night respectively.

10. See Rjabchikov 2000b: 5, 42, figure 23.

11. The name Sol is comparable with Russian solntse 'the sun'. Ancient names of the Crimean town Sudak Ц Surozh and Soldayya Ц contain roots sur- and sol- 'the sun', too (cf. also Old Indian ruh 'growth; rising', Old Church Slavonic rog'' 'strength; advantage', Russian rog 'horn', Old Indian dayini 'giver').

12. See Rybakov 1972.

13. See Maslova 1978: 163, 165, figure 81b; Rybakov 1994: 237; Shilov 1995: 202; Toporov 1991a; Toporov 1991b.

14. Cf. Old Indian pancatapas 'person exposed to the heat of five fires (fires of the four cardinal points and the sun)'.

15. See Rybakov 1897: 128-9.

16. See Diachenko 1993: 1029; Ivanov and Toporov 1992a.

17. See Rjabchikov 1999b.

18. Cf. Rybakov 1987: 703, figure 132.

19. See Ivanov and Toporov 1992b: 455, figure.

20. See Ivanov and Toporov 1991: 529, figure.

21. See Efimova 1989: photo 57.

22. See Klimova 1993: 14, figure 1.

23. The Old Russian letter kh resembling a cross and named her'' is a reflex of a certain sexual symbol.

24. I registered Russian petukh 'cock' which is used by some inhabitants instead of the proper name Petya (Petr) 'Peter' in Taman'.

25. See Toporov 1992a: 310.

26. See Chistov and Chistova 1984: 115-6.

27. Cf. Scythian/Sarmatian so 'bright; look; eye; heat; shine; to shine' (Rjabchikov 2001b).

28. Cf. Old Indian maya 'full', Russian maykoe vremya 'intense heat', mayny, mayky 'hot; burning'.

29. Cf. the fresco of the cathedral of Saint Sophia in Kiev: see Salko 1982: photo 29-34.

30. See Butovsky et al 1997: plates 22, 44.

31. See Tsarevskaia 1999: photos 66, 70.

32. See Vasmer 1987: 615, 600.

33. Cf. the fresco of the cathedral of Saint Sophia in Kiev: see Salko 1982: photo 29-34.

34. See Popova 1972: 281, photo.

35. Cf. the following graffiti of Tmutarakan': see Rjabchikov 2000b: 46, figure 70; 2001d: 6; 2000b: 47, figure 89. Besides, a graffito of Tamatarha (Rjabchikov 2001d: 11, figure 18) may correlate with the Russian fairy-tale Divo-divnoe, Chudo Chudnoe (The Wonderful Wonder, the Marvellous Marvel). Cf. also the symbols of trees represented on Russian stone crosses (Rybakov 1975b: 33). It is known that one of incarnations of the mermaid is the swan (Belyakova 1995: 56). A girl with swan wings (a negative symbol) mentioned in a masterpiece of the earliest Russian literature, Slovo o polku Igoreve (The Song of Igor's Host), is in my opinion the mermaid; she lives in (near) the sea of Azov. A goose (swan) and a tree (Rjabchikov 2001d: 11, figure 18) may represent the mermaid and a tree of the Semik (Yarila) feast.

36. See Afanasyev 1993: 137, figure 4 [16].

37. See Toporov 1992b; Raevsky 1994: 205. Cf. Russian step' 'steppe' < *s tep 'near the heat'.

38. A wound in the head may cause the falling sickness (epilepsy). A loud laugh is an important feature of this sickness. Perhaps the wounded Amazons (Sarmatian naked female warriors riding horses) are the prototypes of the Slavonic mermaids who laugh loudly.

39. See Pomerantseva 1975: 75.

40. See also Rjabchikov 1999c, 1999d.

41. See Trubachev 1978: 36-7. The same root (cf. also Old Indian da 'giving; giver; wife; heat') is preserved in an archaic Slavonic word which denotes the female sex.

42. Some Russian words might substitute Sarmatian ones. Cf. Old Indian mi 'to go; to move; to destroy', tyaja 'to leave', kali 'bud', kara 'ray of light', nu 'quickly', Russian au 'hi', noga 'foot; leg', idi 'go!', yak 'yak', byk 'bull', sidi 'sit!', Greek bous 'bull; cow'. Sarmatian Kuto compares with Old Indian kuta 'house; family', Old Church Slavonic kut'' 'place of house', Russian zakutok 'chimney-corner'. On the other hand, Sarmatian Kuto may be compared with Old Indian kuta 'peak of mountain', Russian kutit' 'to enjoy oneself; to entertain; to booze'; in this instance the god Kuto may be either Kupala or Yarila.

43. Cf. Old Indian vas 'to live; to dwell; to pass the night', vasaki 'night; dwelling', vasanta 'spring'. Perhaps the initial names of the Russian fairytale characters Vasilisa the Beautiful and Vasilisa the Wise meant 'Spring'.

44. See Losev 1992: 323.

45. Cf. Old Indian hima, Russian zima 'winter'.

46. Cf. Old Indian sad 'to sink down; to place down', Russian sadok 'fishpond'.

47. The mermaid is also identified with spring (Sokolova 1979: 220).

48. See Rybakov 1987: 584-5, figure 102a; Bocharov 1969: 101, figure 89.

49.See Rybakov 1987: 582. Old Russian tur'' 'bull' corresponds to Old Indian gotulya 'resembling ox' (cf. Old Indian go 'bull; ox; cow; cattle; herd of cattle').

50. See Rybakov 1987: 580.

51. Cf. Russian venok 'garland'.

52. See Afanasiev 1996: 236, 248.

53. See Sokolova 1979: 211.

54. Cf. also Old Church Slavonic venets'' 'garland; crown', veon'ts' 'bull', Old Indian vinasha 'total destruction'.

55. See Sokolova 1979: 220.

56. Cf. Sokolova 1979: 194.

57. See Afanasiev 1865: 97-8.

58. See Rybakov 1987: 516.

59. See Chistov and Chistova 1984: 158.

60. See Rybakov 1987: 357, figure 68.

61. See Bondar 1999: 145.

62. See Chistov and Chistova 1984: 282, 172-3.

63. Cf. Old Indian kalikara 'a kind of chicken', kali, kora 'bud', kara 'ray of light'.

64. The wordplay is quite possible: cf. Russian bereza 'birch', bereg 'coast, bank'.

65. See also Sokolova 1979: 205.

66. See Anikin 1985: 177-8.

67. See Dmitriev 1987: 204.

68. See also Bondar 1999: 146. One can suppose that the ceremonial tree gay of the Western Slavs was associated with a reflex of the Scythian chthonic (sun) deity Goitosir. The term gay compares with Old Indian gaya 'house; household; family; offspring; sky', Iranian (Avesta) gaya 'life', the name Gaya Martan (The Mortal Life) of the ancestor of mankind in the Iranian mythology. Hence the term gay describes the transition from death to life, the spring furiousness of nature, a hypostasis of the pagan gods Yarila/Kupala (spring/summer and the sexual life). Besides, Russian gay-guy 'unruly conduct; hard drinking' is a reflex of an archaic Slavonic (Scythian, Sarmatian) term for a designation of the sexual life.

69. Cf. also the Russian pagan personage kikimora 'Morana (Marana, Mara) with long hair', since Old Church Slavonic kyka signifies 'hair', see Vasmer 1986: 231, Belyakova 1995: 146. Russian mymra 'sullen woman' comes in my opinion from the words "go, death!", cf. Old Indian mi 'to go; to move; to destroy', mara 'death'.

70. An Old Russian silver bracelet (12th century) contains in particular the signs of two crosses which are interpreted by B.A. Rybakov (1987: 692, figure 126) as a symbol of the feast Kupala (June 24). I have distinguished six triangles ('fires') and a rhomb (ay 'life; the sun') in this picture. On the other hand, a triangle may denote the area of the sea of Azov as a possible place of residence of Baba-Yaga (Tabiti, Sol), too (Rjabchikov 2001d: 4, 6).

71. See Rybakov 1987: 124-5, figure 22.

72. See Rjabchikov 1999e.

73. See Taho-Godi 1992.

74. See Dashevskaya 1991: 127, table 71, figures 11, 12.

75. Cf. Scythian/Sarmatian ra 'the sun' (Rjabchikov 2001b); Old Indian nire 'water', Russian nyryat' 'to dive', Bulgarian nuram se 'I am diving', Polish nurzyc 'to dip' (Diachenko 1993: 1061; Vasmer 1987: 89-92).

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Copyright © 2001 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.

Prepared for publication 24 October 2001. Published 13 November 2001.

Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.


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