Russian version

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


by Sergei V. Rjabchikov

One can decode the record on a fragment of a vessel discovered at Malaya Zemlya near Novorossisk (the Krasnodar Territory, Russia) (Onayko 1970: 75, figure 30 [5]), see figure 1.

Figure 1.

This Scythian/Sarmatian text reads 77 72-76 ga (ka) bera (bela) 'the bull/cow - the bear', cf. Old Indian go 'bull; cow', bhalla 'bear', Russian berloga 'lair', German Bär 'bear', English bear.

Let us examine the Kerch slab from the ancient town Panticapeum, the capital of the Bosporan kingdom (modern Kerch, the Crimea, Ukraine), now it is in the Kerch Museum of local lore. Some Sarmatian signs depicted on this slab (Drachuk 1975: table XXXV) are presented in figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.

One can distinguish several words in figure 2. First of all, the names 59-72 80 read Tabe Ma '(the sun/fire goddess) Tabiti-Makosh'', and according to my theory, the Russian fairy-tale personage Baba-Yaga (the old woman Yaga) and mythological personage Makosh' are equal to the Scythian/Sarmatian goddess Tabiti (Rjabchikov 2001). The words 80 80 Ma Ma are another name of Makosh' and mean figurally 'very bright'. Moreover, the word 80 Ma (Makosh') is united with the zigzag symbol ('lightning/thunder'). These features of Makosh' fit certain ones of Baba-Yaga. The words 77 01 read ga da 'the bull/cow - the heat/giver/wife', cf. Old Indian da 'giving; giver; wife; heat'. Word 72-76 bera means 'bear'. It is connected with a round. Several rounds represent indeed the sun. The word 12 so connected with one of the rounds signifies 'bright; look; eye; heat; shine; to shine'. Two small rounds located near to each other denote the motion of the sun. Let us examine some Scythian swords and daggers (Melyukova 1964: table 18, figures 5, 6; table 19, figures 2, 3; table 20, figures 3, 6, 9, 11). Here one can see different rounds ('the sun; fire') and even pairs of rounds (the symbols of the motion of the sun, too). According to the Scythian and Sarmatian beliefs, the sword and dagger are symbols of the fire god Agni. So the reading of the signs "round" is correct. I have distinguished the combination 77-59 77 kata ga 'the herd/army/carriage (1) - bull/cow' near the names Tabe Ma (Tabiti-Makosh') on the Kerch slab, therefore the words Ma kata may be an early variant of the name of the goddess Makosh'. Now I read the expression 77-59 77 kata ga 'the herd/army/carriage - bull/cow' and the word 72 be 'beating' (2). The next word 77-59 kata 'the herd/army/carriage' is united with the word 72 02 bero 'bear'; here the word 80 33 mara is inscribed. The word mara corresponds to Old Indian marana 'death'; it denotes Morana (Marana, Mara), the personification of winter, the sea and underworld in the Slavonic beliefs. The early Slavonic records written in the Scythian (Sarmatian) language report that the hut of Baba-Yaga (with the epithet 72 be 'beating') represents the upper world, and the personage Mara represents the lower world. These records correlate with the record on the Kerch slab. Russian kolyada, Latin calendae, Ukrainian kolyad', Bulgarian kolada, kolyada, kolende, Czech koleda, Serbian koleda contain the root kol associated with the ideas 'round', 'the sun' (Rybakov 1987: 658). This archaic term is also registered on the Kerch slab: it consists of a sign "round" (kol-/kil- 'the sun') and sign 01 da 'giving; giver; wife; heat'. I conclude that the word kolyada and related terms come from the words 'the sun-giver/wife/heat'. In this record the sun deity by the name Kolyada is apparently connected with the day of the winter solstice (December 22). A cow is mentioned in a Russian song related to the feast Kolyada (Chistov and Chistova 1984: 30).

Figure 3 contains the expression 77-59 77 kata ga 'the herd/army/carriage - bull/cow', the word 72 be 'beating', a round ('the sun; fire'), and the expression 01 77 da ga 'the heat/giver/wife - the bull/cow'.

Why do the inscriptions (figures 1 and 2) tell of the bears and bulls/cows? The Slavic god Veles (Volos) of the herd was incarnated in the bear and in the bull; the day of the god Veles of January 6 demonstrated the end of the feasts devoted to the winter solstice (Rybakov 1994: 430). Furthermore, the connection "bride - cow" is registered in a Russian song applied to the day of Spiridon-povorot (December 25); in a Russian fairy-tale cows of Baba-Yaga are bears; in the Indo-European mythology the images of the bear and cow symbolise the fertility and abundance (Tulceva 1997: 94).


1. Cf. Russian kosh 'carriage; military transport' (Shilov 1995: 358); skot 'herd' < *s kot.

2. Cf. Russian bit' 'to beat'.


Chistov, K.V. and B.E. Chistova (eds.), 1984. Russkaya narodnaya poeziya. Obryadovaya poeziya. Leningrad: Khudozhestvennaya literatura.

Drachuk, V.S., 1975. Sistemy znakov Severnogo Prichernomor'ya (Tamgoobraznye znaki severopontiyskoy periferii antichnogo mira pervych vekov nashey ery). Kiev: Naukova dumka.

Melyukova, A.I., 1964. Vooruzhenie skifov. Arkheologiya SSSR. Svod arkheologicheskikh istochnikov. Vol. D1-4. Moscow: Nauka.

Onayko, N.A., 1970. Raskopki poseleniya na Maloy zemle. Kratkie soobshcheniya Instituta Arkheologii AN SSSR, 124. Severnoe Prichernomor'e v skifo-sarmatskoe vremya. Moscow: Nauka, pp. 73-80.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 2001. The Scythian and Sarmatian Sources of the Russian Mythology and Fairy-Tales. AnthroGlobe Journal:

Rybakov, B.A., 1987. Yazychestvo Drevney Rusi. Moscow: Nauka.

Rybakov, B.A., 1994. Yazychestvo drevnikh slavyan. Moscow: Nauka.

Shilov, Y.A., 1995. Prarodina ariev: Istoriya, obryady i mify. Kiev: SINTO.

Tulceva, L.A., 1997. Antropokosmicheskie vozzreniya russkikh krest'yan: den' Spiridona-povorota. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie, 5: 89-101.

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

Published 24 December 2001.

Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.

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