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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Saint Bartholomew & Astyages

Reading the legends of Saint Bartholomew I came across the legend of him being in Armenia.

The legend has him converting a king of Armenia, by the name of Polymius, to Christianity.

Polymius' brother Astyages then had Bartholomew executed, the account has him flayed alive then crucified.

Saint Bartholomew is said to have lived in the 1st century A.D.

So no later than 100 A.D.

There are no records of any Armenian King of the Arsacid dynasty, ever, with the name Polymius, be it before Saint Bartholomew was alive or after his execution.

Surely they had records of the names of the kings of Armenia in Armenia?

Movses Khorenatsi wrote in the 5th century A.D.  about King Tigran II, of the Artaxiad dynasty which predated the Arsacid rule in Armenia, in the 1st century B.C.

So there clearly were records even of Kings who predated the Arsacid rule in Armenia in Armenia.

So how can the King Polymius and his brother Astyages be explained?

Polymius would be a Greek name that has been Latinised.

So it would have been "Polymios".

Polymios equates to "Great Strength", and is more likely to have been an epithet than a birth name.

There is no Arsacid King of Armenia that can be equated to this epithet for the era of
Saint Bartholomew.

King Tigranes VI, 59 - 62 A.D. is not recorded having Saint Bartholomew at his court.
King Tiridates I, 66- 88 A.D. is not recorded having Saint Bartholomew at his court.

King Sanatruk, 88 - 110 A.D. is also not recorded having Saint Bartholomew at his court.

The name Astyages is similar to the legendary evil king Azhdahak recorded in Movses Khorenatsi's story about King Tigran II.

Can only assume that "Polymios" (Great Strength) and "Astyages" were invented as a "good, hero Christian king" versus evil man (Azhdahak), that Azhdahak became the eternal evil ruler in Armenian legend.

This has a dualistic, even Zoroastrian, notion about it, Good versus Evil.

Paradoxically, Movses' legend of Tigran II must be based on the legend of king Cyrus and the Median king Astyges written by Herodotus in the 5th century B.C.

A monastery complex, still existing in ruins, in what was the south-west of the Armenian province of Vaspurakan, was said to be built over the site that Saint Bartholomew was executed.

However, there is also a legend of a king Polymius and his brother, also a king, called Astreges and is set in India, where Saint Bartholomew is also said to have been.
More on this can be read here.

As far as Armenia is concerned, there never was a king Polymius or a king or prince of the name Astyages.

Most Churches, not just in the kingdom of Armenia, were built upon pre-existing religious sites that had been Temples.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A comparison of the Kalash Gandau and remains of pre-Christian idols in the Republic of Armenia.

Further to the previous two posts on comparisons between the religious art of the Kalash and Armenian people, I post this, comparing the "Gandau" statues used in Kalash funery art and remains of pre-Christian idols in various museums in the Republic of Armenia.

Some examples of the "Gandau" of the Kalash people:
Kalash "Gandau" wooden statues, photo taken circa 1929, from the website:
Modern Kalash "Gandau" tend not to have the elaborate Turban:
From the website:
Visiting the city of Etchmiadzin in the Republic of Armenia in November 2010, I went to the Museum and saw this fragment of a pre-Christian idol:
Before this, I had visited the ancient ruin of Erebuni, east of the capital city of the Republic of Armenia, Yerevan, and saw this fragment of a pre-Christian idol in the Erebuni Museum:
I had visited the National Museum of Armenia in Yerevan as well, but photography is not allowed there, so I did some sketches of the artifacts inside:
Note also my sketch of the "Altar Slab" from the ancient city of Dvin, Republic of Armenia, we will see this "head arrangement" in later photos...
Note my sketch of an "Idol from Shamiran", note the cross (+) on the side of the head. Republic of Armenia dated to 1100 BC
20th century wooden Kalash Gandau, note the cross (+) on it's chest. From the website:
In October 2011 I visited the cave of Anapat. It has numerous heads carved into the rock face. The purpuse of the creation of the cave and its carvings is not known.
There is a narrow chamber, to the right of the entrance, that could have been for entombment of bodies. To the left was a stone door, now gone. There is a further chamber in that direction.
Most of the faces resemble those seen on the "Dvin" Altar slab, though there is one main carving featuring four women with a Lion beneath them.
Steps that lead to the above of the cave.
Face of Lion with its front paws.
"Ibex" type Goat head.
Compare the above photo with the detail of a Goat head carving (with a female figure clasping its horns) from a Kalash wooden carving:
From the website
A Lion, six female figures are above it.

Compare with the photo below of a Nuristani wood carving:
From the website

Monday, 28 April 2014

Other similar symbols of Armenia and the Kalash people

Saw this photo, of a detail from the inside of a Kalash mens Temple, from the website

Kalash Shrine (Malosh) dedicated to the God "Mahando", with wooden Horse heads, from the website:
Shutter panels from a Verandah, in the "Nuristan" (formerly Kafiristan) region of Afghanistan, from the website:
 Compare with my photo of the base of an early medieval Khatchkar, outside a Chapel, near the ruined Cathedral of Talin, Republic of Armenia.
Detail from the base of an early Medieval Khatchkar, near Talin Cathedral, Republic of Armenia.
A wooden Ram sculpture, on the exterior wall of the Kalash mens Temple, from the website
A stone Ram carving, one of many elaborate relief sculptures on the exterior of the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross, on the island of Akhtamar, now in the Republic of Turkey.

The "Eternity" Symbol used in the Armenian and Kalash cultures.

Being of Armenian parentage, I had got used to seeing this symbol used in medieval Armenian art.
On a Khatchkar, Etchmiadzin, Republic of Armenia

Gandzasar Cathedral, Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh
Outside of a Church in the Kanaker district of Yerevan, Republic of Armenia
Noravank, Republic of Armenia

Noravank, Republic of Armenia

Saint Gregory Cathedral, ruined city of Ani, Republic of Turkey

Tatev monastery, Republic of Armenia

Outside of a Chapel, Yeghegise, Republic of Armenia
I recalled browsing a book that featured a plate of a sarcophagus, in "Kafiristan", Afghanistan, that featured the "Eternity" symbol.
However, recent attempts to find any images online brought nought.

Being a member of the British Museum, I get their quarterly magazine.
For the Spring/Summer issue of 2014 they featured a section on the "Gandau" statues used by the Kalash people, living in the Chitral valley of modern-day Pakistan.
Below is a  photo from the said issue of the magazine, page 51, the photo is by Luke Rehmat:
Notice the similarity of the symbol used on the Gandau statue on the right, to the "Eternity" symbol used in medieval Armenian funerary and Church art.
Another example of this pair of Gandau, from the website
Another pair of Gandau from the same website:

Below is from the website, showing a an image that features sarcophagii of the Kalash people:

Compare with another look at my photo of the outside of the dome of the Cathedral of Saint Gregory, in the ruined city of Ani, today in the Republic of Turkey:

Below is from the website
The Goat Sacrifice to Sajigor-Shura Verin-Indra, the "kafir" God of Power, Wealth and Fertility
View of the inside of the Temple for Kalash men, from the website
The Kalash tribe, around 2,000 strong, survive in the remote Chitral valley of north-west Pakistan. Formerly sharing much in common with neighbouring peoples in the "Kafiristan" region of Afghanistan, until those people were forced to convert to Islam in the late 19th century by the Emir of Afghanistan, who renamed the region "Nuristan". 
Also in the 19th century came about the myth that the Kalash people come from "Alexander the Great". 

Up until then, they had never claimed such descent, it was the British Scholar, G. S. Robertson (An Inquiry Into The Ethnography Of Afghanistan, 1891, by H. W. Bellew & G. S. Robertson) who made the link to Alexander the Great. 

Recent genetic testing has shown that the Kalash people have Indo-Iranian, rather than Macedonian or Greek genetic ancestry.

If there is any remote link between the Kalash people and Armenia, it may derive from Armenians being deported to the remotest parts of Khorasan (Afghanistan) during the era of the Sasanid Persian Empire, for example during the reign or Shah Yazdegerd II, or from a far older Avestan connection.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Visiting the British Museum on the 25th or April, saw a defaced bust of Germanicus and a fragment of a Sardonyx Cameo of him.
Below are the photos and also a photo of an AE Dupondius of his I sold last year.

AE Dupondius, Germanicus, Rome, attributed to the reign of his son, Emperor Caligula, 37 - 40 AD.
R.I.C. 57, B.M.C. 94, A metal detecting find at about 3 miles from Chinon, France, by Mr. Murray Jemison in 2010.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The "Crosby Garrett Helmet" at the British Museum

Went to see this amazing find, known as the "Crosby Garrett Helmet", on display in room 37 at the British Museum, until the 27/4/2014.