Russian version

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

MERMAIDS FROM SCYTHIA

by Sergei V. Rjabchikov

Let us examine a plot depicted on a Scythian sword (Raevsky 1985: 98, figure 8). In my opinion, here a mermaid is riding a horse. I believe that this mermaid is an Amazon; the early Slavonic mermaids were indeed the wounded Amazons (Scythian/Sarmatian naked female warriors riding horses). One can distinguish the symbol of a swan on the figure of this mermaid. This symbol looks like the signs of swans which are represented on Russian embroideries (Maslova 1978: 62-3). On the other hand, swans are one of the incarnations of the Russian mermaids (Zelenin 1995: 178). There are Slavonic mermaids with iron breasts; some live at mountains (Zelenin 1995: 201, 228). I suppose that these data describe the female warriors some of whom were heavily armed; they might live at the foot-hills of the Caucasus (mountains, the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov).

"The Enarees - woman-like men - say that Aphrodite taught them to tell fortunes" (History of Herodotus: Book IV, 67). As the Scythian goddess Argimpasa is equal to Celestial Aphrodite (History of Herodotus: Book IV, 59), these Enarees are connected with the spring goddess Argimpasa indeed. I believe that this statement (perhaps a Scythian myth) informs about the Amazons/mermaids. The Scythian word Enare- (en nar-?) is associated with Greek Nereis 'Nereid', cf. Old Indian ena 'that; he', nara 'man', naraka 'hell'. I think that Scythian Enare- 'Nereid' signifies 'man-like [woman]' ('woman-like man' per Herodotus), otherwise 'Amazon'.

REFERENCES

Maslova, G.S., 1978. Ornament russkoy narodnoy vyshivki kak istoriko-etnografichesky istochnik. Moscow: Nauka.

Raevsky, D.S., 1985. Model' mira skifskoy kul'tury. Problemy mirovozzreniya iranoyazychnykh narodov evraziyskikh stepey I tysyacheletiya do n.e. Moscow: Nauka.

Zelenin, D.K., 1995. Izbrannye trudy. Ocherki russkoy mifologii: Umershie neestestvennoyu smert'yu i rusalki. Moscow: Indrik.


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

Published 24 December 2001.

Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.


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