Notes: Horse figurine art traditions of Eurasia

Horse figurine of the Western Han Dynasty, China

Western Han dynasty

Ferghana “Heavenly Horse”, Western Han dynasty

In the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Wudi (141-87 BC) started to pursue an aggressive strategy to expel the Huns from China. During the early campaigns, the emperor found out that his slower troops had no match to the Hun horsemen in the open terrain beyond the Great Wall. To build up a mobile force, he sought for more horses and, importantly, for swifter horses. He thus sent envoys to Bactria to buy breeding stocks of Turkestan and Fergana. The horse trade flourished between the Central Asian nations and the Han Dynasty for several years. Then, the ruler of Fergana killed an envoy of Emperor Wudi and suspended the trade. In 104 BC, Wudi sent a large expedition force of over 40,000 soldiers to Fergana to take the needed horses by force. In the end the Han’s army obtained several thousands of horses. Among these horses, there was a herd of tall fine horses that were known as Heavenly Horses and excreted bloody colour sweat or bloody sweat. This puzzling phenomenon was often seen on the shoulder and the back of the Fergana horses. One easy answer might be the sweat mixed with the blood from saddle sores or caused by a heavy saddle. Now, the scientists have unanimously agreed to a consensus that the bleeding is caused by a subcutaneous parasite on the skin of the upper body of the horse.

Horse figurine of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Eastern Han dynasty

Eastern Han dynasty

See also Eastern  Zhou horse burials and Horse art of the Chinese 

From “Horse Sense”:

“…Each dynasty has a unique style of production. Knowledge of the historical development of firing and glazing techniques gives even the novice the means to identify Chinese ceramics. For example, the earliest Chinese pottery is the unglazed earthenware of the Neolithic culture of northern China, produced in the early part of the second millennium BC. Neolithic pottery displays striking beauty in its primitive geometric painted designs, which are remarkably similar to works produced much later by the Navajo tribe in the southwest of the North American continent.

The Shang dynasty (1750-1045 BC) saw the introduction of glazing, but the period is best known for the beautiful bronze vessels illustrate the power and vitality of this epoch in Chinese history. They range in height from a few inches to more than four feet and are valued for their short inscriptions.

Poetry and music flourished during the Chou dynasty (1045-22 BC) – the age of Confucius – and bronzes were made with elaborate inscriptions. Intricate, interlacing patterns were used to represent animal forms. Bronze “spade” money appeared in the Warring States period (480-22 BC) and the rich adorned their furniture and carriages with bronze fittings inlaid with fold, silver and malachite. The fashion had an effect on ceramics as artisans tried to replicate bronze shapes and patinas. Han vases are exquisite in their magnificent reddish brown and deep green glazes.

During the Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) pottery figures of dancers and court musicians and amber-glazed hill jars were produced. The fascination with horses in Han culture resulted in a varied of pottery horse figures, both glazed and unglazed, with detailed painting to reveal saddles, saddlecloths, reins, and trappings.

In 439, north China came under the rule of the To[u]ba Wei. During this period, Buddhism profoundly influenced Chinese culture and art, and Buddhist stone sculpture and painting flourished. Some of the best ceramic grave figurines have an almost fairy-like elegance, while the horses are no longer the tough, stocky, deep-chested creatures of Han art; they exhibit a heraldic grace of form.

The Northern and southern dynasties (429-589) and the Sui dynasty (581-618) set the stage for the glorious period in Chinese arts that would be the Tang dynasty. While the Sui dynasty was short lived, the ceramics produced in these years are prized among collectors. It is worth comparing Sui horses, with their heavy bodies and long tails, to the highly stylised form of Tang horses.

Chinese culture proposed in the Tang dynasty (618-907). The famous Tang horses and their riders come in a wide variety of shapes and poses. Tang artists ably captured the movement of the beasts, portraying gaping mouths, extended tails, raised legs and bent heads. Riders run the gamut from court officials and traders to foreigners with beards. Representation of the extensive trade along the Silk Road is found in beautifully crafted camel figurines. Tang craftsmen also perfected horses and camels in Sancai glaze (three colours).

Northern Wei horse figurine

Westerner beating drum seated on horse, Northern Wei, Shaanxi

Westerner beating drum seated on horse, Northern Wei, Shaanxi

From “Horse Sense”:

“…Each dynasty has a unique style of production. Knowledge of the historical development of firing and glazing techniques gives even the novice the means to identify Chinese ceramics. For example, the earliest Chinese pottery is the unglazed earthenware of the Neolithic culture of northern China, produced in the early part of the second millennium BC. Neolithic pottery displays striking beauty in its primitive geometric painted designs, which are remarkably similar to works produced much later by the Navajo tribe in the southwest of the North American continent.

The Shang dynasty (1750-1045 BC) saw the introduction of glazing, but the period is best known for the beautiful bronze vessels illustrate the power and vitality of this epoch in Chinese history. They range in height from a few inches to more than four feet and are valued for their short inscriptions.

Poetry and music flourished during the Chou dynasty (1045-22 BC) – the age of Confucius – and bronzes were made with elaborate inscriptions. Intricate, interlacing patterns were used to represent animal forms. Bronze “spade” money appeared in the Warring States period (480-22 BC) and the rich adorned their furniture and carriages with bronze fittings inlaid with fold, silver and malachite. The fashion had an effect on ceramics as artisans tried to replicate bronze shapes and patinas. Han vases are exquisite in their magnificent reddish brown and deep green glazes. During the Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) pottery figures of dancers and court musicians and amber-glazed hill jars were produced. The fascination with horses in Han culture resulted in a varied of pottery horse figures, both glazed and unglazed, with detailed painting to reveal saddles, saddlecloths, reins, and trappings.

In 439, north China came under the rule of the To[u]ba Wei. During this period, Buddhism profoundly influenced Chinese culture and art, and Buddhist stone sculpture and painting flourished. Some of the best ceramic grave figurines have an almost fairy-like elegance, while the horses are no longer the tough, stocky, deep-chested creatures of Han art; they exhibit a heraldic grace of form.

The Northern and southern dynasties (429-589) and the Sui dynasty (581-618) set the stage for the glorious period in Chinese arts that would be the Tang dynasty. While the Sui dynasty was short lived, the ceramics produced in these years are prized among collectors. It is worth comparing Sui horses, with their heavy bodies and long tails, to the highly stylised form of Tang horses.

Chinese culture proposed in the Tang dynasty (618-907). The famous Tang horses and their riders come in a wide variety of shapes and poses. Tang artists ably captured the movement of the beasts, portraying gaping mouths, extended tails, raised legs and bent heads. Riders run the gamut from court officials and traders to foreigners with beards. Representation of the extensive trade along the Silk Road is found in beautifully crafted camel figurines. Tang craftsmen also perfected horses and camels in Sancai glaze (three colours)

Northern Wei(?), Musée Cernuschi in Paris

Northern Wei(?), Musée Cernuschi in Paris

[Comment: The hairstyle suggests Hunnic or Eastern Scythian/Saka and is similar to that seen in the haniwa funerary ceramics of the tumuli of Kofun Japan. Strong trade and cultural connections are known to have been established between the two peoples as many of the early Buddhist bronze statues of Wa and Yamato Japan are in the Wei style and early bronze mirrors of the tumuli were Wei mirrors.]

Ancient Chinese Highway: Tea Horse Road Source: ChinaCulture.org

Ancient Chinese Highway: Tea Horse Road Source: ChinaCulture.org

Horses with bells on the ancient tea road see The ancient tea-horse Silk Trade road

Dreams on an Ancient Road-Sequel I

Hearing the bells of the coming horses,
My heartfelt happy but flustered,
In my hurry I picked up a milk-pail
Walked out of the tent as if nothing was happening.
Parents asked–Why’s the dog barking ?
Just the animals coming back to the village, said 1.
Parents asked—Who were you talking to?
Just to the larks flying over the sky, said I.

This love song, popular along the ancient Tea-Horse Trade Road, describes the happy surprise that a young man in a passing horse caravan brings to a young girl. The song is sweet and romantic.

..

For thousands of years, there was an ancient road treaded by human feet and horse hoofs in the mountains of Southwest China, bridging the Chinese hinterland and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Along the unpaved and often rugged road, tea, salt and sugar flowed into Tibet, while horses, cows, furs, musk and other local products came out. The ancient commercial passage, dubbed the “Ancient Tea-Horse Road”, first appeared during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and lasted until the 1960s when Tibetan highways were constructed. Meanwhile, the road also promoted exchanges in culture, religion and ethnic migration, resembling the refulgence of the Silk Road.

The road stretched across more than 4,000 kilometers mainly in Southwest China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Just as the Silk Road, the Ancient Tea-Horse Road disappeared with the dawn of modern civilization, but both routes have played very important roles in the development of China. Different Chinese ethnic cultures, such as the Dai, Yi, Han, Bai, Naxi and Tibetans, have met, fused and developed along the historic road.

The road ran across the Hengduan Mountains and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau — an area of the most complicated geological conditions and most diversified organisms. Besides its cultural and historic value, the road was also highly appreciated by adventurers and scientists.

From the Tang Dynasty (618-907), an important trade road, just as famous as the Silk Road was prosperous in southwestern China. Later to be known as the Tea-Horse Ancient Road, this road moved through Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Thousands of years of changes has resulted in the disappearance of the road. The exception is Lijiang Old Town, which was a vital commercial distributing center. The town including its original commercial pattern centering round the Square Street is in service to this day. Popular souvenirs include the Bunong Jixiang Bells and Naxi murals. Bunong Bells draw their inspiration from the bells of the horse caravans that once traveled the Tea-horse Ancient Road. Local handcrafts show the romantic horse caravan culture from years ago. The Jixiang Bell, known as the lucky bell, was a sacrificial utensil of the Naxi Group. The Naxi Mural is praised as the gem of Naxi culture reflecting the kind and intelligent aspect of Naxi people. A piece of Naxi mural, with its elaborate pictures and use of pastel colors provides a wonderful decorationt to family and friends.

Two kinds of mild wine produced in Lijiang are favored by visitors. U Wine’s history can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Sulima Wine is specially brewed by Mosuo people who live in Ninglang Yi Autonomous County, northeast of Lijiang City. It is important to check your country’s Customs restrictions prior to purchase if you intend taking these wines out of the country.

Some researchers think that the Heavenly Horses were the descendents of horses brought by Alexander the Great into central Asia while Alexander’s horses were cross-bred from imported stocks. The King Philip of Macedonia had imported 20,000 Scythian mares [3] to cross breed the local stock of Thessaly. Then his son, Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), imported another herd of 50,000 Arabian horse from Persia. One of these cross-bred horses was the legendary Bucephalus, the mount of Alexander. The name of horse means ox head referring to the broad forehead and slightly concave profile The pictures below show a stocky breed for riding and a slender breed for chariots. The horses of the Amazon Archer and the Greek chariot both have a long shallow body, a long thin neck, and a small head. The pictures also show the straight mane on one of the four chariot horses and the Scythian horse.

Reproductions of the Heavenly Horse abound in China. One of the greatest painters was Han Gan of the later Tang dynasty, whose most famous painting is of a groom and two horses. The animals are spirited with strong necks and powerful haunches. Another artist from the Tang (618-906 A.D.) dynasty captured forever a beautiful palomino in ceramic. This very well could be the same horse immortalized on a Tang emperor’s tomb.
[Han Gan, Tang Dynasty. Groom and Two Horses. Photo by permission]….

Ceramic plaque depicting Scythian archer mounted on horse

Ceramic plaque of a mounted archer British Museum, London (WA 1972-2-29,1 /135684) Photo by Chris Hopkins

Ceramic plaque of a
mounted archer
British Museum, London
Photo by Chris Hopkins

….
Second Lecture | Buddhism and the Sakas: Nomads of Central Asia in Greek, Persian, Indian, and Chinese SourcesSecond speaker: Prof. Meiji Yamada
A nomad group called Sakai or Scythai in 5th century BCE Greek sources, and Saka in Persian sources, as well as Sai in 2nd century BCE Chinese sources, appeared in the Indian subcontinent after the 2nd century BCE, and played a central role in the spread of Buddhism. They probably introduced a sort of non-doctrinal Buddhism to Southern China. Some strange Buddha images are found in Chinese graves along the Yangtze River from the 2nd to the 4th centuries. It seems that the Sakas introduced these Buddha images to Southern China. Their presence in China however appears in few written historical accounts. Using these accounts along with archaeological sources, Prof. Yamada will try to trace their movements in Central Asia, India and China.

SOURCE: BUDDHISMANDSOCIALJUSTICE.COM

The Scythians reached their apex in the 4th century BC under King Ateas, who eliminated his rivals and united all the tribal factions under his rule. He waged a successful war against the Thracians but died in 339 BC in a battle against the army of Philip II of Macedonia. In 331 BC the Scythians defeated one of Alexander the Great’s armies. Subsequently they began a period of decline brought about by constant Sarmatian attacks. They were forced to abandon the steppe to their rivals and re-established themselves in the 2nd century BC in the Crimea around the city of Neapolis. There they regained part of their strength and fought several times against the Bosporan Kingdom, and even managed to conquer Olbia and other ancient states on the northern Black Sea coast. Continued attacks from the Sarmatians, however, further weakened the Scythians, and an onslaught by the Germanic Goths in the 3rd century AD finished them off completely. The Scythians subsequently disappeared as an ethnic entity through steady intermarriage with and assimilation into other cultures, particularly the Sarmatian

Greek Black Sea Crimean Scythians around Lake Maeotia sacrificed horses, goat and sheep to the god Ares, human sacrifices to Poseidon and Thagimasadas source: Art of the Scythians

p. 56, the tale of Herakles and the cave half-woman, half-snake creature who had his mares, and who took his bow and belt to test his three sons, from whom would descend the Scythians

Pazyryk gold imagery of horseman

Kurgans of the lower Kuban have horse sacrificial interments see Greco-Scythian Art and the Birth of Eurasia: From Classical Antiquity to …
By Caspar Meyer

The Origin of the Indo-Iranians tells us that horse-raising terms in Mittanian was found among the manuals of the Hittites, attesting to the role of the Indo-Ranians in raising horses in the Hurrian world.

The real Scythians of Mesopotamia by Fred Hamori

The real Scythians, however lived first in Anatolia before the 7th century BC, then moved in large numbers to the Kuban Region in early 6th century BC, then to the Pontic Steppes and later to eastern Europe and to Turkestan. Before this time they must have conducted long term trade with the region also. They greatly influenced the culture of the peoples they interacted with including the so called Finnougrians in the north and also the Hunic-Turkic peoples in the east and probably also some Indo Europeans. The important question which we may never be able to answer with absolute certainty is, were they the real ancestors of the common language strata found in Uralic and Altaic? This can only be partially true unless their influence was from a much much earlier time then their northern migration. The reason I even mention this is that it appears that the decoded words I have found in Scythian is often found in these languages also, as well as their late descendants in the Kartwelian Languages of the Caucasus. Following this historical introduction a systematic review of the Scythian language remains will be introduced using early Anatolian languages as comparison, based on the linguistic researches of Gyula M�sz�ros (Hattic and Pakhy languages), with some addition from my own review of Hurrian and Sumerian.

We know relatively little of the early Scythian language, except that it came from ancient Anatolia and therefore it may be related to the languages of that region such as Hattic, Hurrian, Subarian. Indeed if these are used as a guide much of the language of these “real Scythians” from 6century BC to the 2nd century BC can be decyphered, whereas they cannot be understood with the help of Iranian languages. Only the later Sauromata and later pseudo Scyth language remains can be understood with Iranian. To make the confusion more complete, the conquering Sauromata also must have absorbed large Scythic elements which often kept many of their old customs, but were forced to change their languages. Therefore outwardly they must have seemed to be the same people. The explosion of Scythic peoples in the east could not just be a population explosion of one people but the whole conquered patchwork of peoples.

First of all a comparison of early Scythian customs, art forms, religious beliefs and even their first historic mention is all from Anatolia and Northern Messopotamia. First in Assyrian documents. The early Greek writers confirm this also. Therefore they were not a northern people at all ! Nor an eastern one from Central Asia. Plinius writes of their origins “Ultra sunt Scytharum populi, Persae illos Sacas in universum appellavere a proxima gente, antiqui Arameos.” They came from an area in Northern Messopotamia often called Arameos, which is but a name of Urartu whose first king was called Aram. Later the term was also applied to Syria where another colony of Scythians & Hati-Hittites (2000BC to 714BC) settled after the collapse of their old empire in Anatolia. Indeed this was but one of the reasons for the spreading of Anatolian people to the north also. Both Assyrian and Mede attacks forced them to look for new lands to settle./Meszaros

Herodotus also tells of the origin of the Scythians from the area of eastern Anatolia watered by the Araxes River (modern Turkish Aras) and not the Amu Darya which the historians of Alexander invented to enlarge their own conquests. Herodotus writes: “The nomad Scythians living in Asia (once only the near east) were attacked by the Sarmatians and were forced to cross the Araxes and wander to the land of the Kimmerians.” I can only surmise that the Kimmerians were the aboriginals of eastern Europe, who based on the stories of Homer are of far nothern descent. They also were both farmers, herdsmen and horsemen just like the Scythians.

This is but one late version of a confused story, other early Greeks tell it differently that the warlike Scythians crossed over on their own account. The Sarmatian attack was a later event, but they must have been a long time thorn in their side because Herodotus mentioned them living to the north of the Scythians of the Black Sea regions and not close to their old homelands along the Araxes.

Hesiod, 7th Century BC, writes: The inventors of bronze working were the Scythians. The early Messopotamian name of the metal Zubur, indicates that the northern Messopotamian Subartuan’s or a people of the region were indeed the inventors of the process. The Scythians also of this region were therefore but a different designation of such people that the Greeks associated with them.

The Greeks also associated the invention of iron working with the Scythians. This again is a northern Messopotamian and Anatolian invention and being Anatolian in origin the Scythians also had some great iron working tribes like the Kalybs tribe which gave steel its name in many early European languages. In time they became absorbed by the Sarmatians and Yazig. They must have also been remembered by the Yazig cavalry taken by the Romans to early Britain and were the foundation of the King Arthur myths of Ex-Calibur, and the sword myths which are all early Anatolian traditions. These traditions were also found in Hun and Magyar traditions and mentioned by Herodotus amongst the early Scythians.

Besides bronze and iron they are credited by the early Greeks to have invented the bellows used for metal smelting. The invention of the pottery wheel and the boat anchor. Products of a very early civilization.

Therefore when Justinius II writes that the Scythians are one of the most ancient races in the world, older than the Egyptians, He cannot be talking of simply the late Scythian immigrants to the Pontic steppes but the early northern Messopotamian cultures. Similarly he cannot be talking of the Iranian tribesmen which spread into Central Asia. Nor is he talking of the later Hun tribes for sure, since they were hardly known for a such a long time in the west.

It is Deodorus Siculus who talks of the death and disappearance of the true Scythians at the hands of the Sarmatians, who could not have been their relatives, and therefore not real Scythians. The early Scythian art style is an extension of Messopotamian art, a fact which cannot be denied any longer. The illustration of early Scythians also looks like a branchycephalic Anatolian race, which from early times has also been slowly spreading into Eastern Europe (K�r�s Culture). They absorbed some northern dolycephalic peoples also but these represented less then 10% of their population. Today in Europe the territory of Old Hungary is the center of branchycephalic types. This type is growing throughout Europe and dolycephalic types last remnants are in England and the northern Germanic areas. Looking at early Scythian representation one may as well be looking at the representation of a Hurrian or Assyrian, minus the curly hair.

One of the main introductions of the Scythians is iron weapons and horse riding. Both of Anatolian origin. Current research however has found that horse riding originates from the early Yamna Culture of eastern Europe, and more likely originated in te area of later Kimmerian (western) and Scythian (eastern) areas flowing past the Ural Mountains.
The earliest charriots are also found to be from eastern side of the Ural Mountains, from the Andronovo Culture complex.

Representation of horse soldiers from the Mitani-Hurrian state from 12century BC and Hittite reliefs from the 14th and 12th century show its early sporadic use, just waiting for the right equipment to be developed.

The horse is utilized mainly to pull a chariot rather than an unstable back of the horse, until basic saddles are invented by the scythians and much better saddles and stirrups are invented by the Hunno-Turkic peoples. (1AD Hun stirrups). The name of the horse, warhorse and charriot in Hungarian are all from northern Messopotamia. Horse riding equipment like saddles, reins, strirrups are from Hunno-Turkic languages. None by way of any Indo European language, which are claimed to be from the Scythians, by way of the early Alanic language in the area. There were of course many other languages in the Scythian areas of eastern Europe.

The Scythians were famous above all because of their horsemanship and great knowledge of raising and riding horses. This comes from their old homeland as is shown by the documents of Sargon (722-705BC).

North East of Urmia-lake in Urartu, there was a Sangi-buti land with two cities famous for its horses.
The Chaldi (Urartu) signs from the 8th century BC also talk of the land between the Transcaucasian Kura and Araxes River area and often mentions their horses. From a military expedition they obtained 10,000s of horned cattle and 100, 000 s of sheep, and 100s of horses. /Mescaninov, Leningrad (Chaldi …?)

After this introduction I have used the pioneering work of Gyula Meszaros, into a comparative study of the language of the Scythians. Introducing basic words and their application in recorded Scythian names and titles which remain in many examples. Unfortunately no large textual remains are found today making it difficult to validate all of his comparisons. Even so this is a great lurch forward in a long stalemated study which up to now were utilizing simplistic associations with sound alike names, that could be described in many random ways, but forming no cohesive system.

Before the end of this sections let me at least give a few examples of what will follow in a later report.

Sco-lo-et-i =the name of the ruling Scythian people
Sco-lo-pi-t-(us) = a Scythian kings name /Justinius II

1)Sco =rule, chief /Scyth
�xa =man, sir /Pakhy
sha =chief /Hatti
i�ha =sir /Hittite
sag’ =head, isag=chief /Sumer
sang =head, peak /Ugrian
2)lo =people, folk, (army-large group)
lu-lu =people /Sumerian
la =army /Hatti
?lo-fu =chief -head ruler of the late Huns near China
3) et =to be/being

They believed that they originated from the son of the sky/weather god, called TAR
Hence the name TAR-gi-ta or more correctly tar-xu-ta =HIGH/WEATHER God.+son’s+ land./Meszaros.

His children therefore are TAR-XU, which can be compared to the name TURK also, however the name of the sky/weather god in Lapp and Ugrian is Tor-em/tiermes.
History has also shown that the Magyar term is generally found in early references in association with Scythians rather than in the north and the Hungarian Chronicles state their Scythian links. But these are different branches of a once related group to which Scythians serve only as a later offshoot. Each group with languages that have somewhat different phonetic characteristics, but often with similar terms and an agglutinative language structure, no gender in pronouns, and so on. The following sections will cover the proposals of Gyula Meszaros written in the 30s and ignored ever since.

M�sz�ros claims that the Scythians had a triple kingship system, which is symbolized in their legend of origin and also at times when under attack three leaders arise to rally the people against the invaders. This is like the Khazars and Magyars, who each ruled a special area of society. One, the theocratic king or the ruler of the royal house, which is Leipoxis is much like the Hungarian Kende, who had no power outside of his area. There was the ruler of all the armies, the Scythian Arpoxais, who wielded considerable power over the free men, the nobles and army, this was the Gyula title whose name was �rp�d, who was the Jula in Kazaria. Then there was the last ruler Kolaxis in Scythia and the Hungarian Horka, who was the ruler over the common people. The Hungarian Horka was the chief judge also. He ruled over the “black heads”, the common workers, farmers, craftsmen etc. Horka? Kara= black in Turkic. The common people were called the “Pa-ra-la-ti” in Scythian. Pa-ra= land-black-people, but this also means dust, sand in Sumerian “par-im”, Hungarian “por” and Turkic “bar” also. The “Para-szt” are the lowly peasants in Hungarian. The only strange thing with this explanation is that the legend seems to emphasize the importance of Kolax(is) as the chose one of god, which indicates that he should be compared also with the title Gyula. He alone is able to lift the various tools of gold that god rains down from above. Perhaps these too just represent the tools of the workers, which the warrior king and the theocratic king cannot and must not touch! But not so, only the first two the golden plow and yoke are work tools, the sword should be for Arpoxais and the golden goblet generally used for prayers should be for Leipoxais.

12 horses found sacrificed in Scythian burial by Bernadette Arnaud

A dozen horses sacrificed nearly 2,500 years ago in full dress regalia have been recovered frozen in a Scythian kurgan, or tumulus, near the village of Berel in Kazakhstan’s Bukhtarma Valley. Sealed in a chamber with a sarcophagus containing the remains of two nobles, the horses are expected to yield vital information about the Scythians, a bellicose nomadic culture famed for its horsemanship that flourished on the steppes of Ukraine and Russia between the seventh and second centuries B.C. “A discovery like this occurs perhaps twice a century,” says Henri-Paul Francfort, director of the French team excavating the horses, which were preserved with their skin, hair, harnesses, and saddles intact. This is the first time a Scythian kurgan in central Asia’s Altai mountains has yielded such a massive sacrifice of horses.

 

The Scythians are known to have invaded Syria and Judea and sacked Nineveh and Babylon, yet their tumuli, scattered across the northern Black Sea Steppes and central Asia, are the sole monuments attesting their ancient might. “Even the most humble Scythian was buried in a kurgan,” says Francfort. “To be sure, he would have been accompanied by only one horse, or sometimes only its head or horse figurines.” The horses were found buried side by side on a bed of leaves and birch bark next to a funeral chamber containing the pillaged remains of the Scythian nobles. The horses appear to have been left undisturbed. Their bits are made of wood and sculpted with animal figures, while their saddles are decorated with gold leaf, leather, and felt and rested on red saddle blankets. Each horse appears to have worn ornaments relating to an animal commonly represented in Scythian art. Ibex horns fashioned in wood were discovered near one horse and appear to have been worn on its head, while a griffin sculpture in the round with horns of leather was recovered near another pair of false horns.

Horse-riding woman in apparel created in Pazyryk culture style. El-Oiyn - national festival of Altaic people. Russia  The headgear was recreated in ancient Pazyryk manner. The original clothes were found in the spectacular burials (kurgans) in the Ukok Plateau, near the border between Russia, Mongolia and China

Horse-riding woman in apparel created in Pazyryk culture style. El-Oiyn – national festival of Altaic people. Russia
The headgear was recreated in ancient Pazyryk manner. The original clothes were found in the spectacular burials (kurgans) in the Ukok Plateau, near the border between Russia, Mongolia and China Photography: Pavel Pilatov

 

Symbolism of  Scythian gold 

Scythians wore long jackets, long trousers, and soft leather boots Warriors wore helmets, belted tunics, and ankle-high boots. If the things they wore in real life were anything like what was found in tombs they also wore gilded armor. Nomads made impotent by the constant up and down motion of riding on horseback reportedly wore women’s clothing. Herodotus wrote that the Scythians took vapor bathes instead of washing.

The Greeks were really impressed by the Scythian tattoos, the mostly brilliantly colored and artistically adept tattoos of antiquity. See Pazyryk Altai “Princess Ukok”‘s mummy and what the tattoos tell:

“The ‘princess’ is from the Pazyryk people. These nomads were described in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus – and the colourful body artwork on her body – and those of two warriors found in nearby graves – are seen as the best preserved and most elaborate ancient tattoos anywhere in the world.

Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled, her spiritual escorts to the next world, and a symbol of her evident status, perhaps more likely a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman than an ice princess.

There, too, was a meal of sheep and horse meat and ornaments made from felt, wood, bronze and gold.  And a small container of cannabis, say some accounts, along with a stone plate on which were the burned seeds of coriander.”

Scythian Art

Scythians were not great craftsmen. The pottery they made was rather crude and primitive. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t appreciate good art. Plenty of good stuff has been unearthed at Scythian sites. The thing is that for the most part they didn’t create it themselves. The great art associated with the Scythians is made mostly by Greek craftsmen who lived around the Black Sea. The Scythians appeared to make a comfortable enough living from trading and plundering to purchase art from other civilizations. The Scythians became quite wealthy and were able buy a lot of art.

Much of their art was small and compact or worn. It had to be to be carried on horseback. Art objects included jewelry, decorated weapons, ornamental tent pieces, and gold objects in a variety of forms. Because their wealth had to be portable. Small decorative but strong objects made more sense than large delicate ones. Some horsemen had gold plaques the size of postage stamps sewn into their clothing.

Much of their art was on functional objects. The cheek pieces of harnesses found on horses in the kurgan in the Altai area of Kazakhstan were carved with animal figures while their saddles are decorated with gold leaf. Each horse was adorned with ornaments related to an animal commonly represented in Scythian art. A griffin sculpture was found near one horse. Ibex horns carved from wood were worn by another horse.

Most of art has been found in tombs. Like the Egyptians, the Scythians believed the could bring their wealth with them to the afterlife. The full extent of Scythian art will never be known. Most of the tombs have been looted. A few large or delicate objects such as massive stone sculptures and Greek ceramics have been excavated at Scythian sites.

Book: Scythian Gold: Treasures from Ancient Ukraine by Ellen Reeder (Harry N. Abrams). Reeder is an archaeologist.
1)Sco =rule, chief /Scyth
�xa =man, sir /Pakhy
sha =chief /Hatti
i�ha =sir /Hittite
sag’ =head, isag=chief /Sumer
sang =head, peak /Ugrian
2)lo =people, folk, (army-large group)
lu-lu =people /Sumerian
la =army /Hatti
?lo-fu =chief -head ruler of the late Huns near China
3) et =to be/being

They believed that they originated from the son of the sky/weather god, called TAR
Hence the name TAR-gi-ta or more correctly tar-xu-ta =HIGH/WEATHER God.+son’s+ land./Meszaros.

His children therefore are TAR-XU, which can be compared to the name TURK also, however the name of the sky/weather god in Lapp and Ugrian is Tor-em/tiermes.
History has also shown that the Magyar term is generally found in early references in association with Scythians rather than in the north and the Hungarian Chronicles state their Scythian links. But these are different branches of a once related group to which Scythians serve only as a later offshoot. Each group with languages that have somewhat different phonetic characteristics, but often with similar terms and an agglutinative language structure, no gender in pronouns, and so on. The following sections will cover the proposals of Gyula Meszaros written in the 30s and ignored ever since.

M�sz�ros claims that the Scythians had a triple kingship system, which is symbolized in their legend of origin and also at times when under attack three leaders arise to rally the people against the invaders. This is like the Khazars and Magyars, who each ruled a special area of society. One, the theocratic king or the ruler of the royal house, which is Leipoxis is much like the Hungarian Kende, who had no power outside of his area. There was the ruler of all the armies, the Scythian Arpoxais, who wielded considerable power over the free men, the nobles and army, this was the Gyula title whose name was �rp�d, who was the Jula in Kazaria. Then there was the last ruler Kolaxis in Scythia and the Hungarian Horka, who was the ruler over the common people. The Hungarian Horka was the chief judge also. He ruled over the “black heads”, the common workers, farmers, craftsmen etc. Horka? Kara= black in Turkic. The common people were called the “Pa-ra-la-ti” in Scythian. Pa-ra= land-black-people, but this also means dust, sand in Sumerian “par-im”, Hungarian “por” and Turkic “bar” also. The “Para-szt” are the lowly peasants in Hungarian. The only strange thing with this explanation is that the legend seems to emphasize the importance of Kolax(is) as the chose one of god, which indicates that he should be compared also with the title Gyula. He alone is able to lift the various tools of gold that god rains down from above. Perhaps these too just represent the tools of the workers, which the warrior king and the theocratic king cannot and must not touch! But not so, only the first two the golden plow and yoke are work tools, the sword should be for Arpoxais and the golden goblet generally used for prayers should be for Leipoxais. Source: Scytha

 

The predecessors of the Gold and bronze-smithing Scythians of the steppes were perhaps the nomads of Arzhan and Central Asia, according to Esther Jacobson, see The Art of the Scythians

Parthian Horses Bibliography

Altimira, Rafael (trans. By Muna Lee). A History of Spain (Toronto: D. Van Co., 1949)

Arribas, Antonio. The Iberians. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963)

Ashberry, A. J. The Legacy Of Persia. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953/1963)

Browning, Robert. Justinian and Theodora (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1971)

Culican, William. The Medes and Persians. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965)

Forte, Nancy. The Warrior in Art. (Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Pub., 1966)

Haussig, H. W. (trans. by J. W. Hussey). A History Of The Byzantine Civilization. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966/1971)

Hopkins, Edward C. D. The Parthian Empire (web site)

McNulty, Henry. “The Horses of Jerez”, Gourmet, June 1983

Ogata, Osamu. The Origins of “Yabusame” (Horseback Archery), 10 Jan 95 (web page)

Payne, Robert. “The Parthians” in The Splendor of Persia. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957)

Rice, Tamara Talbot. The Scythians. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1957)

Roux, Georges. Ancient Iraq. (New York: The World Pub. Co., 1964)

Varley, Victoria. President, The Tiger Horse Registry (web site)

Wild, Oliver. The Silk Road (web page)

Yabusame, or Japanese horseback archery (web page)

Zuelke, Ruth. The Horse In Art. (Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Pub., 1965)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s