Portakars – Gates to Another World – Legends of Armenia

Portakars – Gates to Another World – Legends of Armenia“Umbilical stones” or portakars (պորտաքար) are ritual stones in Armenia, associated with the cult of the goddess of fertility and motherhood (most likely, Anahit).

Probably, the well-known myth about the birth of Mithra (in the Armenian mythologyMher) from stone also influenced the formation of traditions about the portakars. In this regard, the portakars were also considered the gateway to the other world.

In a pre-Christian ritual ceremony, women who wanted to become pregnant laid down or pressed themselves to the portakars with their stomachs, which promoted pregnancy. A part of the ceremony was lighting candles and the fumigation of a portakar with incense.

If such a rite resulted in the birth of a child, a sacral sign-mark was put on the portakar. Accordingly, the more signs a portakar had, the more powerful it was considered and the more popular it was among the population.

Photo from the late 19th century from www.headheritage.co.uk

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