The Armenian Wheel Of Eternity
Posted 10 March 2012 - 10:53 AM
Crafts, Culture, History, Religion, Science
- March 7, 2012
Marble tombstone of the Armenian Grand Prince Hasan Jalal Vahtangian (1214-1261)
A few months ago, I made a YouTube video about the history of the
Armenian Wheel of Eternity. Maybe the most iconic among many ancient
Armenian symbols. As expected people started to ask questions and post
comments. Among the commentators a keen observer noticed that in some
cases Armenians depicted the Wheel of Eternity inside a six pointed
star. Because of the many questions I received since, I've decided to
finally grant this symbol attention in a manner of a blog post.
Most people today associate the six pointed star (hexagram) with the
JewishStar of David (Magen David), as it is the modern symbol of
Jewish identity and Judaism. In 1948 it was even adopted on the
official flag of Israel. According to Wikipedia: `Its use as a symbol
of the Jewish community dates to the 17th century.' However, like many
other aspects of Armenian culture, not much has been written about the
Armenian usage of the hexagram. Even though its usage in science, art,
architecture, decorations and even for religious purposes has been
extensive throughout the history.
Historically Armenians are skilled mathematicians, architects and
craftsman. As such geometry has always been very special to the
Armenians. The ancient Armenians had a refined knowledge of astronomy
and were able to predict astral events. The oldest known observatories
are located inArmenia. Dated as early as 4200 BCE, Karahunj and the
ca. 2800 BCE observatory at Metsamor allowed Ancestral Armenians to
develop geometry to such a level they could measure distances,
latitudes and longitudes, envision the world as round, and were
predicting solar and lunar eclipses about 1000 years before the
Egyptians began doing the same. Armenian architecture is often
geometrically sound with straight linesconnecting columnsand
mathematical precision.The geometry of the Armenian architecture has
stood the test of time bypreserving many ancient buildings in a
region dominated by war, poverty and natural disasters. The fortress
cities and temples that have been excavated in Armenia (some going
back as far as 7000 years) show a remarkable awareness of using
geometry in constructing sacred buildings, using a complex system of
squares, rectangles, circles, polygons with intersecting patterns.
Geometry emerges from the study of natural laws. With such knowledge
one can build structures, create devices and predict astral events. As
such geometrical shapes have been considered magical by the ancients.
For without geometry, you cannot build anything, and its knowledge was
the key to survival, and believed to be a key to unlocking the secrets
of the universe. This love for creation/construction has enabled the
early Armenians to value geometrical shapes and symbols giving them a
prominent place in the Armenian Culture.
Floor plan of a Medieval Armenian Church of the Shepherd
Among many symbols Armenians used the six pointed star for
architectural purposes. Early Armeniansbelieved the symbol to hold
magical powers and incorporated it in architecture, astronomy and
sacred art. Attesting to that are the numerous Armenian churches that
are constructed in the shape of a six pointed star, the usage of
hexagrams to support the dome or simply as sacreddecoration
protecting the Church like magiccharms.
The first and the most important Armenian Cathedral ofEtchmiadzin
(303 AD, build by the founder of Christianity in Armenia) is in fact
decorated with many types of ornamented hexagrams.Another example is
seen on the tomb of an Armenian prince of the Hasan-Jalalyan dynasty
of Khachen (1214 A.D.) in the Gandzasar Church of Artsakh(see above).
Maybe the most famous example of architectural usage of ahexagramcan
be admired in the12th century Armenian Church, the Cathedral of St.
James in Jerusalem.Where the hexagram shaped arches aresupporting
the dome. Similar dome arches in the shape of a six pointed star can
be foundthroughout ancient Armenia. To name a few; theexcellent
craftsmanship of the Khorakert monastery dome, or the 13th c.
That the Armenians are acquainted with this symbol from the times of
the immemorial became once again clear when the oldest known depiction
of a six pointed star (dating back to the 3rd millennium BC.) was
excavated in the Ashtarakburial mound in `Nerkin Naver'(in
Armenia). This was confirmed by a series of radiocarbon analysis of
artifacts, conducted in laboratories in Germany and the USA.The
handle of a dagger depicts the worlds earliestdecoration of a
six-pointed starburiedin aburialmound containing over 500 graves.
As people who love to build and create Armenians have always valued
science. Geometry in particular has a long history in Armenian arts,
religion as wellas sciences. While the usage of hexagrams (as I have
demonstrated) has been significantthroughoutthe course of Armenian
history, there exist many othergeometrical shapes and symbols
prominentin Armenian culture. Geometry is after all bound to Armenian
culture.The (eight pointed)ArmenianStarfor exampledeservesit's
own entry and will be covered next time around.
In closing the following are a few more examples of hexagram usage in
Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:23 AM
just to repost the new link. the old one doesn't seem to work.
Posted 25 March 2013 - 03:11 PM
Edited by onjig, 25 March 2013 - 03:26 PM.
Posted 26 December 2015 - 09:18 PM
who can tell me where I can buy a the Armenian wheel of eternity nekclase?????
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