“Baptism in the cradle” – Prototype of the biblical motif of baptism

Figure 3 shows a unique scene from a rock drawing with the composition “Feast of Birth” with the life-giving cross – “Baptism in the cradle” – a prototype of a similar biblical motif (a).

A small cross of different ends lies in the cradle in the mother’s hands. The plot illustrates the motif of the birth of the Son of the Heavenly Father. The father is depicted on the right and has the form of a Heavenly Cross with large wings. A symbol of the Moon is depicted above the cradle in the form of a crescent.

Under the image of the mother’s left leg lies a sign – the ideogram of the female vulva, a symbol of motherhood and birth (a). The mother extends the child to the Heavenly Father for consecration (baptism). Two heavenly eyes look at the newborn (according to N. Marr, “sun and moon”).

To the right of the mother is the Heavenly cow with mammary glands, below is the lyre and a small star. Above in the heavens, a bird and a heavenly snake are soaring.

People are helping a deer give birth (b). The father proudly holds the newborn Son in his right hand in the stylized form of a winged cross, the mother stands next to the father. Under her feet is an image of a birth ideogram.

A bird depicted in the heavens and a Goat symbolize the patronage of the heavens and fertility (c). Figure 4 depicts a wingless cross of equal ends with a heavenly symbol above the figure (this might be a compositional prototype of a typically Armenian cross stone, a unique form of a medieval tombstone).

Fig. 3. Rock drawings with various plots with images of crosses

Fig. 4. Rock drawing with the image of the prototype of a cross stone, archetype of a tombstone with a heavenly cross. Prototype of cross stone. Rock art, Armenia

Figures 5, 6, 7 represent fragments of rock drawings and dragon stones (vishapakars), as well as other stone monuments (khachkars or cross stones) with various images of the cross, including in the plans of ancient buildings, archaic prototypes of temples and monasteries.

In symbolic plots, various schemes of the transformation of the cross are illustrated. There are stylized cross-shaped human figures resembling the number eight or the sign of infinity (Fig. 7a).

Fig. 5. Rock drawings with images of scenes of life and life with crosses in various structures and archaic temples. On the medieval round stone is carved the text “Ter – ter astvats, surb Khristos” – “The Lord is the most high God, holy Christ” (a), Southeastern Anatolia, Van, Turkey

Fig. 6. Equal-ended winged cross of the Creator with four balls, fruits (drops) in the solar life-giving circle with many fruits. Tigranakert, Artsakh (a). Winged life-giving Cross of the Creator in the solar circle (b) with two winged angels. Fragment of symbolism of the Church of St. Cross on the island of Akhtamar (Lake or Sea Van). Winged cross and stylized symbol with fruits – the union of two principles, generations, houses on the relief of the Armenian medieval church, Kars (b)

Before dawn, Angels lift the deity of the “Sun” (Vaagn) – the thunderer, savior, dragon-fighter (whose symbol is a winged equal-ended cross in the solar disk), dress in “fiery” clothes.

The Sun washes its face, and streams of water splash in four directions, mountains and fields are covered with dew. The relief plot illustrates the typical motif of fertility (from Armenian myth, according to S. Arutyunyan). These compositions from mythological and religious motifs are found in relief images of Armenian churches and temples (Fig. 6).

Fig. 7. Rock drawings in the form of an eight, the union of two triangles (a). Vishapakar (about 6 – 5 thousand BC) with an image of a winged straight cross and a man (hero Vaagn from Armenian myth) with a male sign. Above them is a large oblique cross, a symbol of the heavenly mother (b). A large heavenly cross on an early cross-stone (c). In it, a globe is depicted with a winged cross and two pairs of snakes and birds, Armenia. Pre-Christian or early Christian stela with an image of a winged cross in a solar circle, which rises on the pedestal of Golgotha, an earth stepped pyramid (d). Archaic cross stone with a winged cross with four fruits, drops (d), Geghard – Armenia

Among the most common motifs of the transformation of the winged cross is the motif of depicting a human being in a stylized winged solar disk. This tradition has firmly entered the culture not only of Urartu, but also of Sumer, Hittite, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon and others.

Fig. 8. Winged disk with the solar deity (a, b) patron of the Ararat mountains (depicted in clothes decorated with a stylized chain of mountains). Overlay loop of the kettle. Bronze, Urartu (c). According to B. Piotrovsky, on the kettle are figurines of the Urartian sun god Shivini. Two-headed winged angel or two-headed bird with human heads (d) from a bronze kettle, stored in Paris. Possibly a prototype of the Hittite, Aryan and Russian double-headed eagle. Urartian sacred symbolism with the image of the solar deity (Vaagn) in a winged solar disk standing on a bull (e), http://firstlegend.info/thetreeoflife.html. Eight-point stylized cross, manuscript, Gospel of 1484, Van. Winged solar disk with an eight-point cross, Sumer (f). Winged solar goddess Isis/Astkhik, Egypt (g). Assyrian god Ashur inside a winged solar disk with a bow and arrow (h)

Prof. Vaganyan G.A., Cand. Hist. Vaganyan V.G.

The cross in the rock art of Armenia – Etymology of the sign

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