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Copyright © 2004 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.

ON THE SCYTHIAN/SARMATIAN SYMBOL 'NET'

by Sergei V. Rjabchikov

As has been shown by the author earlier (Rjabchikov 2004: 5, figure 3; 2002: 233-4), a net is a symbol of fertility and abundance in the Scythian decorative art and in the Slavonic folklore and rites. The wordplay is quite possible, cf. Old Indian sic 'net; to pour out; to emit semen; to water (plants)'. One can offer the meanings of this symbol: 'water', 'semen', 'fertility' and 'abundance'.

Let us consider a part of the wall-painting of a Bosporan crypt (the ancient town Panticapeum; Kerch, the Ukraine) (Rostovtzeff 1913: table XCVII; 1914: 412-6), see figure 1.

eagle.gif
Figure 1.
It is a pattern of the Sarmatian culture. The drawing of an eagle is surrounded by two pairs of symbols: a fragment of a net included in a rectangle and a cross with four dots included in a circle. I believe that the eagle is a symbol of the god-thunderer (Rjabchikov 2002: 33, 155). A net is the symbol of the water, and the cross, the number four and the round are solar symbols (Rjabchikov 2002: 6ff). So here the ideas "water; rain" and "fire; the sun; lightning" are presented.

Let us examine an ornament on a Scythian scoop from the Grigorovskoe ancient settlement (the Ukraine) (Galanina, Domansky and Smirnova 1981: 32-3, photo [12a]). Here I distinguish a wavy sign ('water') surrounded by representations of fragments of a net. Apparently, all the symbols are relevant to the water.

In addition, let us examine a Sarmatian jug from the ancient town Tanais (the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia) (Arsenieva, Bezuglov and Tolochko 2001: 84, Nr 8, table 6 [62]). Here I distinguish the representation of a net as well. I think that it is the symbol of the water.

REFERENCES

Arsenieva, T.M., S.I. Bezuglov and I.V. Tolochko, 2001. Nekropol' Tanaisa. Raskopki 1981 - 1995 gg. Moscow: Paleograf.

Galanina L.K., Y.V. Domansky and G.I. Smirnova, 1981. Skify. Putevoditel' po vystavke otdela istorii pervobytnoy kul'tury Gosudarstvennogo Ermitazha. Leningrad: Iskusstvo.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 2002. Skifo-sarmatskie istoki slavyanskoy kul'tury: Materialy Yuzhnorossiyskoy fol'klorno-etnograficheskoy expeditsii. Krasnodar.

Rjabchikov, S.V., 2004. Remarks on the Scythian, Sarmatian and Meotian Beliefs. AnthroGlobe Journal, 2004: http://www.anthroglobe.ca/docs/Sergei/scythian-sarmatian-meotian-beliefs.htm.

Rostovtzeff, M.I., 1913. Antichnaya dekorativnaya zhivopis' na yuge Rossii. Atlas. Tabl. I – CXII. St. Petersburg.

Rostovtzeff, M.I., 1914. Antichnaya dekorativnaya zhivopis' na yuge Rossii. Text. T. 1. Opisanie i issledovanie pamyatnikov. St. Petersburg.


Copyright © 2004 by Sergei V. Rjabchikov. All Rights Reserved.

Published 7 April 2004.

Sergei V. Rjabchikov, Krasnodar, RUSSIA.


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