The genealogy of the eight-pointed cross and the eight-pointed star – From Armenia to Europe.

Drawings 9-11 depict petroglyphs and other stone monuments with images that illustrate known mythological motifs of hunters and early farmers, and stages of cross-transformation.

A characteristic symbol among them is the eight-pointed star, which implements the semantics of the idea of divine love, the union of the male and female principles – the direct and oblique crosses into a single family, which is a manifestation of the divine covenant, the meaning of human life on Earth, the image of life in Heaven.

The interpretation of the eight-pointed cross and the etymology of the oblique cross by the authors does not contradict the known opinion of M. Gimbutas. Moreover, it extends the geography of the spread of such a form of the cross, which covers not only the Neolithic of Southeastern Europe (Old Europe) but also the late Paleolithic of the Ararat Mountains (old Armenia).

The sign of the oblique cross with a straight cross with a single intercross center is, in the opinion of the authors, the emblem of the Great Father – the first man.

His image implements, according to the “Armenian interpretation” (Virmenian), the son of Vaagn, who was revered in the Armenian and Georgian oral tradition (pre-language, and then in the pagan) as the solar deity and the image of the Great Mother in the form of Vaagn’s bride, known in the Armenian tradition under the name of the goddess Asthik (Venus).

About the amazing love of Vaagn and Asthik and the spread of this archaic story writes academician Marr N. (Armenian culture, Ayastan, 1991).

Fig. 9. Petroglyphs. Crosses and eight-pointed stars, the World Wheel (a). Heavenly and earthly thunderbolt (b). Seal from Karmir Blur (g) with an image of a stylized winged deity and a kneeling Shivini (Urartu). An eight-pointed cross in a square (d), a fragment of a petroglyph, Ughtasar, Armenia.

Fig. 10. Image from a Sumerian seal (a) with a symbol of the hearth (in the form of a flame, fire of the earth hearth) and with a straight cross. On the throne (the symbol of the deity) sits Vaagn. Opposite him, kneeling, a woman prays (Vaagn’s bride Asthik).

Between them is the image of an eight-petalled sign (a symbol of love, earthly life and fertility). The straight cross symbolizes the Heavenly Father, XIV century BC (Kassite-Babylonian period).

Eight-pointed stone crosses (prototypes of cross-stones) on the stepped mountain (b, v), Garni and Geghard, Armenia. A royal coin with an image of an eight-pointed star with birds (g), Gandzasar. Decoration with an eight-pointed stylized cross in a solar circle with a mountain range, Armenia (d)

Fig. 12. The heavenly anatomy of unity and love – the cosmic structure with the symbol of the union of Earth and Heaven, the archetype of the first man (Vaagn), who, on half-bent knees, embodies the picture of the world, peacemaking, creation in a triple aspect.

A unique style and image expressing the idea of the cosmic tree, a petroglyph, Gegham mountains, Armenia (a). A stone figurine of a deity in the form of a tree of life, trinity (trident), Armenia (b).

The drawing of the god Shivini (according to B. Piotrovsky) from the Urartian belt, Karmir-Blur, Armenia (v). Stele (Vaagnakar) from Yervandashat with an image of Vaagn (g), Armenian cross-stone with a winged cross under the sign of the heavenly vault (d), Southeastern Anatolia, Lake Van, Turkey (Uyanik M.).

Cross-stone with an image of a large eight-winged cross with many small eight-winged crosses. Below the large cross is a human head, Yervandashat, Armenia (e)

The symbolism of the unity of the male and female principles was transformed into a legend, into an ancient Armenian mythological story of the union (love) of the first man (Vaagn) and his bride Asthik, which passed into the Christian tradition in the form of the love story of biblical characters – the first man Adam and his bride Eve, who, having known the tree of life, the tree of good and evil, were expelled from Paradise.

Unity and love, as the source of heavenly and earthly life, are at the heart of the idea of immortality.

Various images of two crossed or overlaid crosses with plant motifs, with grape fruits have been identified on unique Armenian vishapakars, huge vertically and horizontally arranged basalt stones with images of dragons and fish (fig. 13 a, b).

The enduring tradition, having passed through millennia, has been preserved in the motifs of paganism, in the images of the family, the union of clans, tribes, houses, in the form of eight-pointed crosses and has become the basis for the symbolism of Armenian Christian cross-stones.

Fig. 13. Vishapakars with eight-pointed crosses with plant motifs, Ulguni Monastery, Armenia. Sacred colored painting ornamentation of the period of the Van Kingdom, Urartu, Erebuni fortress, Armenia.

The central place in the composition is occupied by the eight-winged cross (with a combination of two red and blue eight-petal rosettes, symbolizing unity, and the union of two principles – earthly and heavenly).

The cross inside the four-cornered house with spheres – symbols of fertility. It is guarded by two mighty lions. Eight-pointed Armenian Christian cross, Echmiadzin, Armenia (g)

The upper band on the ornament (fig. 13b) depicts stylized figures of humanoid deities with trees of life on their heads with five blue petals and four red ones. The next row depicts a ribbon of stepped pyramids, volcanic MOUNTAINS with the red color (the color of lava) of ziggurats, ghkhatuns of heavenly and earthly houses, hearths.

Under this band, a band of trees with guardian angels stands out. Two huge lions symbolize the strength and power of the defenders of the main symbol – a four-cornered house, a kind of tree of life and the coat of arms – the main rhombic symbol of the country with “fruits” – spheres, symbolizing regions, cities.

In the center of the solar disk is the image of the capital (the main city), from which eight blue and eight red petals originate, crossed eight-pointed rosettes – symbols of heavenly and earthly life in the cycle of eternity. The lower row of the ornament represents a ribbon of trees of life with angels – guardians.

Fig. 14. Rock drawing with an image of the tree of life, eight-pointed cross (a), Armenia. The Papal eight-pointed cross (b), Vatican. Three crossed lines symbolize power and the Tree of Life. Pre-Christian cross-stones with eight-pointed crosses (c), Areni, Armenia. Eight-pointed cross-stone (d), Armenia.

Fig. 15. Early forms of cross-stones, Armenia and Javakhk (Georgia), Village of Parvana (a). Unusual relief “chains” of small equilateral crosses from the Southern Cave of the medieval city of Ani, Armenia (b). Image of a “chain” of crosses from the 7th century, The Book of Durrow (c), Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland.

Fig. 16. Relief images of the winged cross on the chest of Assyrian rulers, as well as eight-pointed stars in a circle above the right hand (a, b). Image of Ashurnasirpal II (a), Ashurnazirpal, lit.

“Ashur protect the heir” – king of Assyria, 884-859 BC. Son of Tukulti-Ninurta II. In 882 BC. Ashurnasirpal undertook a campaign to the southern outskirts of the country of Nairi (Van Kingdom, Armenia). Detail of the stele of Shamshi-Adad, British Museum (b)

Table of cross-shaped pictograms from the Aparan district (compiled based on the publication of Muradyan F.M.)

Carving crosses in caves, on stones and on the walls of church buildings was common in Armenia. By their drawing, they are usually quite monotonous: wings are straight or with widening at the ends, sometimes having a bifurcated shape, simple or with “kidneys” (N. M. Tokarsky. Architecture of Armenia).

The Igadzor cave crosses (on the facades of tombs) attract attention not only with a composition rarely found in Armenia, but also with the structure of the wings, representing unusual “chains” of small equilateral crosses (fig. 14b, copy from the sketch of D.A. Kipshidze).

During the survey of the “Underground Ani” caves in 1915–1916, 945 underground objects were counted. During the heyday of Ani, the number of caves was significantly more than one and a half thousand. In the southern cave, the rocky facade, like in the northern cave, mainly on the sides of the entrance, is cut with crosses, formed by picturesque combinations of small crosses (fig. 14b).

Almost all Ani materials sent to Tbilisi in 1917 were lost on the way. According to I. A. Orbeli, in the earliest images of the Christian emblem, it was typical to have equal upper and lower wings (Bell with Aryan ornamental motifs XII-XIII centuries. Records of the Eastern Department. Imp. Russian Archaeological Society, vol. XX, issue 1 (1910) St. Petersburg, 1912.).

According to N. M. Tokarsky, by the sixth century, this equality gives way to a ratio of 4:5, at which the cross acquires the most harmonious outlines (Jervesh II. Vohdzhaberd), which are held until the XII-XIII centuries, after which the lower part begins to increase excessively, disrupting the successfully found ratios.

Such an evolution of the form of crosses is observed in Byzantine art, and according to M. K. Krager, in Russian art. In Armenian rock paintings (7-5 thousand BC) this equality is also accompanied by successfully found ratios and their violations.

Prof. Vaganyan G.A., cand. art. Vaganyan V.G.

Read Also:

  1. The cross in the rock art of Armenia – The etymology of the sign
  2. “Baptism in the cradle” – Prototype of the biblical motif of baptism

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