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King the Gnostics 6

King the Gnostics 6

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Published by: Farlang on Sep 16, 2009
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12/22/2012

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274
GNOSTICS AND THEIE REMAINS.
ABRAXAS-GEMS, THEIR MATERIALS, WORKMAN
-
SIIIP,AND NATURE.Following the axiom,
"
that the body is more than the
raiment,"
the foregoing chapters have been devoted to the
consideration
01
the notions which our talismans have
invested 
with visible form. .thesevisibleforms, therefore, theirmaterials, and manufacture,nowcome beforeusfor explanation
a wide field forcuriousresearch, and extending into manydivoise regions
01iiiciHooio
0i
)
.The
genuine
Abraxas-gems, that yet fillour cabinets, cameoriginally forthe most part out of Egypt; others, astheirdiffering style shows,from Asia; others again fromSyria,where manyl_>asilidans had established tliemselves atan eaiiyperiod.Amongst these philosophising semi-Christian sectsthefigure of Abraxaswasheld
m
high esteem.
"
They used it
(saysBellermann)
asa
Teacher 
indoctrine,inobedience towhomthey directed their transcendental researches andmysticinstruction
;
asa
Token
anda
Password 
amongst theinitiated, toshow thattheybelonged tothesame fraternity;as an
Amulet
and a
Talisman,
andlastlyasa
Seal
totheir
documentst
Gnosticintagliare almostthesoleproductions of the Glyptic
Art,
duringthe time it wasdying
out,
all through the lasttwocenturies of the Western Emiire, if we excepta fewrudefigures of the goddess Roma, Victories,and Eaglesmade forlegionary
rings.
Asmayeasilybesupposedtheartdisplayed in these designs is at its lowestebb,being itself a degeneratesuccessor to the debased Egyptian schoolofAlexandria. The
*
Their barbarism,however,
isso
rude
a
style that
one
would haveoften
in
advance
of
that
of
their real placed
its
execution three centuriesperiod.
A
convincing example
is
later,
but
for
the
company
in
whichthe
one
found
in the
great treasure-
it was
found. Another point
ot
trove
of
Tarsus, where
the
latest interest
was
its retaimng
me
origiu.ucoins went
no
later than Gordiau
III.
setting
a cable-mounted
frame,
withIt
was a
black hematite, with
a
four- loop,
of
massy gold proof
of
tnc
w
T
inged,
sceptre-holding
Ahon,
reverse value placed upon
its
poten
y.
Venus Anadyomene, with
her
usual (Franks Collection.)
11L1L flru'rlS'rHUIU
]
bCitllcnLU
in
 
THE GNOSTICS AND THEIEREMAINS.275engraving seems to have been entirely executed by means of acoarse
wheel,
like that characterising the Sassanian stamp, thencommonly used in Iorsia, a country which, by the bye, was thesource of many of the ideas expressed in these figures andinscriptions. The choice Indian Sards,Nicoli,and Amethystswhich embellished earlier periods, are replaced by coarsermaterials, the native productions of the countries which hadengendered the new creed, the Jasper of Egypt dark green, orsometimes mottled with yellow and red, the Plasma, usually of
1
y, passing nom a duty olive-green into common
i
ony,and quite as abundantly the fibrous
Hiumatite
moreor less magnetic. Indeed the opaque Jasper and the Loadstone,those special materials for signets at the fountains of the Magic
Art,
Egypt and Assyria, had, from time immemorial, engrossedthe reputation of the most fitting vehicles for talismanicfigures. The former was Pliny's
Malachites,
"opaque,
and ofthe colour of a mallow leaf, of innate power as an amulet
TO
protect
cniluion;
its black variety was his
Antipathcs,
"
recommended by the Magi as a sure defence against witch-cratt of every kmd;
"
whilst the Ilamiatite is the Persian
Kamhahen,
perhaps the true etymology of
cameo,
a word thatcame into Europe in the ages when every engraved stonepassed for a talisman.So constant is this rule of unmitigated barbarism that(jnostic types when found well executed and in fine
stones,
assometimes is the case, will on examination always prove toemanate from the Cinquecento school, a period when anythingpertaining to Astrology or the Kabala was reproduced in vastabundance under the impulse of the revived spirit of mysticspeculation. To this and the following century, must bereferred the authorship of those large jaspers, not unfrequent inCollections, presenting the terminal figure of Osiris, the fieldoccupied witli astrological cyphers and
modern
Hebrew letters.
Ut
these imitations, betraying themselves by their own excellence, the most conspicuous was a large Amethyst, obtained byme at
±
iorence, engraved with an erect figure of the hawk-headed Phre, Priapean, holding the Cynophalus upon hishand, and standing on the coiled serpent, an intaglio in theT 2
 
276 
THE GNOSTICS
AND
TIIEIR REMAINS.best Eoman manner, that
no era of
Gnosticism
had
been capable
u
p
r>*
Antique pastes -with subjects
do not
exist,
and for a
verysufficient reason.
The
material
of a
talisman being quite
as
essential
to
its virtue
as
tlie
sitjil
engraved upon
it.;
the
mysterywhereof the profound Camillo di Leonardo shall hereafter declarein
his own
words. Again,
the
genuine stones were
in
themselves
so
cheap,
and the
work upon them produced
so
expeditiously
and
with
so
little care,
as to
leave small temptation
for
counterfeiting them
in a
baser substance.
The
only exceptionthat
has
come under
my
notice
to the
inferior quality
of the
stones employed
by the
Linostic engravers
is the
a
Garnet tablet
of
the Hertz Cabinet,
of
which
a
description willbe given
in
its proper
place,
when
we
come
to
treat
of
inscnp-
tions.
The
Lettering 
of the
legendsf upon these talismans
has u
peculiarity
of
execution that
of
itself serves
to
identify almostevery stone belonging
to the
Gnostic series.
The
letters
are all
formed
by
straight
lines,
the 0, O, and X,
being quite square,either from
the
rudeness
of the
instrument employed
to cut
them,
or
because want
of
skill prevented
the
engraver fromattempting curvilinear characters,
to do
which neatly requiresthe utmost dexterity
and
long practice, being
m
fact
the
mostdifficult task that
can be
demanded from
the
wheel.
For
it
was
with this newly-invented instrument,
as the
equality
of
theirlines demonttrates, that these ill-shaped characters were faintly
* I had
loup;
suspected Hiat
the t
Stiechel explains
the
niscrip-Cinquecento period produced much tion upon
the
shield borne
by an
Gnostic work in the ruder style
and
Abraxas
 fig
ll
re,
 written
UmS;
I
XVXat length have obtained proof
de
monstrative
of tLe
truth
of
tins
as no
more than
the
customary
form
in
that
position,
the Name
lao
suspicion.
^"'«"o-'
a
""c"
'""
"
.,, ,, S,. , ,, /...tl.Tw.o
coarsely-cut Gnostic
j.ispus
of ven
,„,,,,,
,,.
„,„,_„
„„ ti„,
,„
V
st;p
recent work,
my
attention
was
iM><-«cu
(to
make
up
me
iii^sue
number,
Seven).
He
4uoteB
m
caught
by one
\oxi
inscription
^
OV
nintiiHnn
several lines)
cut
upon
a
tablet
of
support
of
tins acute explanationimes)
cut
uj)onthat streaky agaet paste
so
popular
gem
PuUlished
by
Matter,at that period, but quite unknown to louring
X<t>ENECXHP4>lX,
ex-
tho ancients.
The
piece
had
been Pressingthe sound
of the
.Hebrew
L
»»^
n--
iv
..^.*~.-.. J-
TJ
i
. . « T-J
*
f fl
highly polished
and
then engraven.
1 i »
with the
wheel;
the design probably
lca e
*
co}>ied from
a
genuiuo stone.

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