|<< Previous||Figures portrayed by stars in the night,
by nature "dramatic" figures
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A very special couple:
The ass and the ox
We have seen the religious importance of the constellation that marks the entry of the Hyades triangle and Aldebaran’s red eye into the brilliant sector, where it is posted on the path of the moon. This prestigious "No. 1 sign" could not avoid having the same sort of dual reading as that mentioned above.
However, the opposite nature of the two seasons when this inaugural figure appears is echoed in an opposing movement of the figure:
The rock carvings of the Tamgaly Gorge in Kazakhstan - a sort of Central Asian Delphi – contain an extraordinary collection of calendar ideograms that date from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. Amid festivities marked by song and dance, we see a horse wearing the horns of a Buffalo on its head. (Taurus in its helical rising): a "Horse with a buffalo mask" said Kzika, the archeologist who discovered it. The same image with a double meaning is found in the tombs of the Scythian kings: we find horses sacrificed with 'golden bulls' horns attached to their foreheads…
This set of ideographic symbols gives us a glimpse of two major and complementary seasonal ceremonies that occur six months apart, and that are obviously connected with vital energy passing through realm of Death.
The milk-white bull uses his gilded horns
to open the door of the New Year"
Closer to us, that is the way Virgil expresses it in the Georgics
If these celebrations were conceived in prehistory, some 26,000 years ago, the nocturnal passage in the Autumn and helical rising in the Spring would situate us. In his long experience with cave paintings, Leroi-Gourhan had the intuition that the ideographic value of the complementary couple of the Bovine and Horse was connected with notions of masculine and feminine. Our study has led us to look at this combination of images in terms of a set of more complex religious manisfestations: there is always a relationship to survival through fecundity, but an essential role is played by the seasonal path of vital energies traveling through death towards reincarnation.
We still see engravings in China and in the Indian Ocean of the couple Mia Men, "Horse Head" and Niu Tou, Buffalo Head armed with trident, conducting souls of the dead on their path of purification through the Domain of the Dead.
In Europe, the Ass and the Ox appear together in the Museum of Saint Germain on the altar of the Celtic god Cernunnos, who is portrayed with closed eyes (passage through the domain of the Invisible). These images come down to contemporary Christians as the couple in the cavern-manger watching over the birth of the divine enfant at the Winter Solstice.