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Gods and Drinking Serpents Author(s): Carl Hentze and Joyce Adams Reviewed work(s): Source: History of Religions

, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Winter, 1965), pp. 179-208 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1061957 . Accessed: 27/10/2012 00:23
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Carl Hentze

GODS AND DRINKING

SERPENTS

More than a half-century has passed since the Leipzig sinologist Conrady stated that the achievements of research in ethnology should be included in sinology, and today we take his claim for granted. In his time it aroused attention and opposition. Sinology at that time was a discipline which was attempting anxiously to construct a wall isolating the culture of ancient China from every other culture. The fiction was to be maintained that there had originally taken place in China a cultural development which was incomparable to any other in the world. However, as Conrady challenged preconceived ideas, even he had not considered that not only those cultures which can still be understood through direct contact, but also those which have long since perished are ethnological entities. In short, it is not possible to construct a new Great Wall of China between ethnology and archeology. Unawareness of the discoveries and excavations outside China no longer excuses foolish errors either in the evaluation of objects found on Chinese territory or in textual research in sinology. If the ethnological and sociological observations made and conclusions arrived at outside China must be referred to for the understanding and decoding of textually verifiable occurrences in ancient China, as Marcel Granet did almost forty years ago, then objects found outside China can also contribute much to decipherTranslated from the German by Joyce Adams. 179

Gods and Drinking Serpents
ing the meaning of objects found within Chinese territory. In certain cases, archeological finds from ancient Oriental high cultures even provide the keys to the understanding of objects excavated inside China. Some objects from the earliest cultures of the Near East, the discovery of which has been made known only recently, will prove the correctness of these methodological demands. I shall begin with well-known objects. Figures 1-4 show a late Neolithic Chinese ceramic representation with a human face. For years I have continued to reproduce and discuss this extraordinarily important find in almost all my books because every time something new could be said about it.1 I need to repeat my earlier conclusions only briefly. What is decisive, however, is the additional result of comparison with new finds from the TigrisEuphrates Valley. The Neolithic ceramic group comprised under the name PailShan, Kansu Province, contains only funerary ware.2 Thus it is certain from the outset that these must have religious significance. The head of an anthropomorphic god with a pair of horns is represented. On the back of the head hangs a serpent in such a way that the serpent's head appears on the crown of the head between the hornlike growths and in the very center of the head above the nose. The head itself rests on a star-shaped base divided into nineteen sections. Six sections are filled out with two lozenges apiece, making twelve lozenges in all. Each of the other thirteen sections contains one undulating line. The numbers 12 and 13 indicate a lunar calendrical system. The god's face is flat like a disk and somewhat indented as well, so that it is almost plateshaped. On this slightly indented disk, only the nose and eyebrows are in faint relief. Stripes run across the entire face of the god. These particulars are especially significant due to their correspondence to sacred images inside and outside China. We must not overlook any of these details, for only in this way will we perceive that they all belong together and that they are, moreover, regarded from one object to another, flawlessly meshed and dovetailed in their meaning. There is first of all the star shape of the base. Since this shape is duplicated in two more ceramic grave figures from Pan-Shan,
1 The latest summary is found in my Tod, Auferstehung, Weltordnung (Zurich, 1955), pp. 176 ff. 2 J. G. Andersson, "Prehistory of the Chinese," BMFEA (Stockholm, 1943), Bulletin 15. N. Palmgren, Kansu Mortuary Urns of the Pan-Shan and Ma ch'ang Groups (Peiping, 1934). 180

Kansu (Figs. 5, 6), it is not at all arbitrary. Were these figures at the same time star-shaped lids of vessels ? This remains uncertain, though there are comparable objects of this kind from primitive America.3 The stripes on the face are common to all these figures (Figs. 1-6); on one of the figures they form zigzag lines (Fig. 5) which are intended to portray a weeping god over whose face the water flows as tears and as saliva. This can be easily recognized in the numerous primitive American parallels (Figs. 7-9), in which the water flows not only over the face but also, as saliva, over the lips.4 The painting of the face indicates only one of the characteristics of this figure, and we must not draw the premature and one-sided conclusion that we have before us nothing more than a god of water and fertility. Only more thorough-going investigations can give us an accurate picture. It is generally advisable not to form an oversimplified conception of the historically early religions. This is also true of those so-called primitive races which we have actually been able to investigate. Moreover, the religions of a Neolithic age already in decline are, in view of their advanced level of development, not at all comparable with those of primitive races. The oversimplification of prehistoric forms of religion and thought merely serves to constrain a historical development into the shortest possible span of time. For this is a basic approach which was common before 1900. Even if it is still employed occasionally, it is and remains outdated. Such an attitude was possible when almost nothing was known of a Neolithic age, nothing at all of a Paleolithic age, and, concerning primitive races, only what could be made more or less compatible with prejudiced systems of research. It makes an antiquated impression for a discipline to ignore its own development and progress so that it may continue to support a standpoint which was customary seventy years ago. The god with the tear marks appears also in a find from earliest Mesopotamia (Fig. 10). We need only place this ceramic from the Tigris-Euphrates Valley next to those from China (Figs. 4-6) to comprehend immediately that we have before us the Chinese version of an older Mesopotamian prototype: it is the same weeping god. Moreover, it too has under the neck the points converging in a star shape (Fig. 10). In this instance the points of the star are
3 M. Izikowitz, "Calabashes with Star-shaped Lids in South America and China," Compar. Ethnogr. Studies, IX (Goteborg, 1931), 130. 4 See further comparisons and evidence in my Objets rituels, croyances et dieux de la Chine antique et de l'Amerique (Antwerp, 1936). Figs. 13-19. 181

Gods and Drinking

Serpents

painted on and the entire figure is the upper portion of a sacred vessel. Comparison with the Chinese objects (Figs. 1-6) proves to us that the painting of the vessel (Fig. 10), and thus especially the star points, are more than arbitrary decoration, and that they originate in a fundamental meaning. The conjecture that the Chinese heads (Figs. 1-6) were once lids for vessels is somewhat reinforced. The close and frequently emphasized relationship between the Neolithic Kansu pottery and the ceramic products of the earliest Mesopotamian cultures is probably nowhere else as evident as in the present instance. And indeed, any questioning of this relationship was always undertaken unmethodically, that is, without any valid reasoning whatever,5 and was only intended to separate Chinese culture from its very beginnings rigidly from every other culture in Asia. We shall now examine the striking fanlike decoration on the star-shaped base of the Chinese Neolithic pottery (Figs. 1-4). I have already said that in the arrangement of the decor, the twelve lozenges lie opposite thirteen undulating lines. In view of the painted traces of tears and saliva and the intended star or ray form, the division of the total number of nineteen sections into two adjacent, basically different groups is not to be dismissed as aesthetic frivolity. It is moreover obvious that one motif, let us say only undulating lines or only lozenges, could have been employed throughout. However, this was not at all what was intended. As will be further verified below, the numbers 12 and 13 are used in the lunar calendar; the number 13 indicates the epagomenal adjustment. This intention in regard to the lozenges and the undulating lines can be demonstrated on the basis of other examples, first of all from China itself, and indeed from the same Neolithic discovery site. On the Pan-Shan vessel (Fig. 11), the lozenge system is drawn within a circle, which itself is inclosed by an S-shaped spiral. In the center of each lozenge a lunar crescent is painted. We count ten crescents for each circle. Since the circle with the lozenges is repeated only three times on the rounded surface of the vessel, we arrive at a total number of thirty crescents, making a month of thirty days. The S-spirals curling under in opposite directions indicate movement in opposition, which we find in unmistakable form in China in the Yin-Yang symbol. It can also be encountered
5 Cf. Werner Miiller's pertinent comments in Die heilige Stadt (Stuttgart, 1961) p. 258. 182

In a fourth circle are the raindrops. and shall refer to the earlier work. 15). 183 f Report on the Excavations of the Relics in the Wei-district (1956) (Chinese). 9 I have already treated these interrelationships elsewhere. specifically.7 Then let us recall the 6 x 2 lozenges on the back of the head (Figs. Here we pause for a moment to reflect: what is the moon-god with its traces of tears and saliva." as a very recent excavation proves (Fig. the very character for shui (water) which is familiar from Chinese paleography. 130. 13). my Das Haus als Weltort der Seele (Stuttgart. Figure 14 is a PanShan vessel seen from above. 12).in objects from the period of the "Contending States.6 The number 3. still from the same discovery site. we also find these lozenges with drawings at their centers on bronze vessels of the Shang period (Fig. 11). II. This fact is still more pertinent when we single out another vessel from the funerary ware of Pan-Shan (Fig. 135. Chia ku wen pien. their inherent designation. 1961). which is expressed in the three circles with lozenges as well as in the number of crescents (Fig. 1924). are examined. with the serpent on its head and back. corresponds to epagomenal calculation. with the numbers used in calendrical reckoning. Takada Chushu. with the water marks. 8 Cf. .9 The bronze vessels belonged to a death-rite (Totenritus). Sun Hai-po. an arrangement which. The idea of the decoration as accidental or as aesthetic frivolity is not a possible working hypothesis. The serpent sheds its skin and symbolizes renewal. 141. In addition. Three circles contain three lunar quadrants with a total of twelve crescents. Schultz. 75110. Ku chou p'ien. Here we see that the spiral incloses a circle. Again the count indicates calendar numbers. 7 W. pp. but rather results from faulty observation. in the middle of which are found undulating lines and. XI. which provide the setting for four circular fields. They must not be regarded apart from this. has epagomenal significance. doing among the dead? The moon is a visible symbol of death and renewal. but also in almost the entire world. There are two S-spirals. not only in China. 1-4) from the same discovery site.8 It could be objected that the crescent-shaped marks of Figure 11 came about purely by accident in the decoration of the vase. 1. 1. Cf. as already stated. Zeitrechnung und Weltordnung (Leipzig. It is well known that water belongs to many moon-gods. pp. there can be no objection and no doubt: the decor is quite consciously differentiated. In the face of such evidence. Such an objection is proved invalid when additional vessels. and the thirteen sections with undulating lines.

Many scholars in the humanities are somewhat perplexed at this necessary reversal and participate in it only hesitantly. Both must submit to being combined in a way which is never completely satisfactory in the attempt to satisfy the longing for a "whole truth. it is sometimes possible for the humanities to fail in the very task to which they have been called." and the serpent are visible things. That is the attempt to bring the abstraction into the image. This was probably inevitable. The Moon. Time is an abstraction. It is significant that today. Calculable. it is part of ancestor-worship. Pictorial representations serve to make it comprehensible. this way of analytical cognition must be combined with what Goethe called "anschauende Urteilskraft. particularly from the modern natural sciences. and that is recurrence.sand Drinking Serpents And the calendar? Again and again for millenniums man has tried somehow to take hold of time. today the natural sciences are seeking the way back from and out of the rationalistic-positivistic past. Time can only be overcome when it is taken hold of. in the course of milleniums. Here begins a road of analyzing and abstracting which can never again in the history of mankind be abandoned. They enable us to take possession of time. "discernment through beholding" must not be forgotten if a total view of life is to be obtained. In short. determinable time is a shield against chaos. the character for "water. on the circular. star-shaped base of the head (Figs. However." The "whole truth" cannot be deduced from analytical abstracting knowledge. Coming to grips with time is a fundamental problem. Here the quantitativecausal tendency exists alongside visual perception. it revolves in a circle. It is a yearning for knowledge about the lawful order in nature. This survey was necessary to summarize the results to which we have been able to advance thus far." or "discernment through beholding. The investigation of the significance of such phenomena must not be underestimated. to put it at our disposal. it can be calculated. and thus of cognition. then. Somehow. From this background of 184 . Time is painted on the circular or square vessel.God. it is cyclic. We are confronted with a development in which the humanities have lagged farther and farther behind the natural sciences for well over a century. the warning is heard: in the pursuit of differential-causal regularities in nature. How could it be otherwise? Time extends in all four directions. 1-4)." We touch upon an essential characteristic of the religions and the history of religions. and in view of the cyclic concept it concerns the dead perhaps more than the living.

others are only partially gone and can still be identified. thus at a number used in lunar calculations. In the squares are dots.insights already attained. 1-4)? Why is it located just there? I have already said that it sheds and renews its skin. and to the Shang bronze vessels with lozenges and central dots (Fig." Illustrated London News (January 19. 1-6). The decorationis damaged here and there. Crete. are brought into the investigation. which until then had been barely known. But this does not exhaust its significance. Figures 17-19 belong together. We arrive at a total of thirty dots. In our reproductions of both figures. we must make clear what animal is involved. The decoration of the vessel is shown clearly to be related to the cult and the stars. now we can also perceive its correspondence to the ceramics from the Pan-Shan group with their lozenge decoration (Fig. But what is the serpent doing in the very center of the god's head (Figs. and Figure 20 is the second version. Before we proceed to the meaning of the animal sculptures. I have already shown that the weeping god with the flow of saliva in China goes back to far older Mesopotamiangods. which broaden our horizon. we count twenty-four dark rays and twenty-four light ones. was a clay figure of a ram. One of these dots has disappeared completely. and this can only be achieved when new data. To comprehend combinations of ideas one must proceed more thoroughly. as does a Germanone from the exhibit in the Hiigel 10 Doro Levi. It was represented in two versions from different collections. we find a center encircledby rays (Fig." which originated in Paris and was shown afterward in various other European cities.10a ceramic vessel from the Middle Minoan era was found there (Fig. The two dots in the far left in the third or fourth row from the top must have correspondedto two dots in the same rows on the far right. what about the calendar lozenges ? When excavations were undertaken beneath the palace of Phaistos on Crete. 16). 1952). Included in the exhibit "7000 Years of Art in Iran. The inner circle is divided into squares. As on the Chinese heads (Figs. In the same way. 16). The decorationis a circle surrounded by rays. 11). If the inventory of decor motifs and symbols of Neolithic painted ceramics arose under Western influence. The Paris catalogue refersto a bull. those now to follow will emerge more clearly. "Discoveries beneath the Palace of Phaistos. 15). 1* 185 .

it is because the serpent does not drink from the horns. To be sure. 1962. the well-known symbols of the sun-god Samas. also with a horn curvature of the type under discussion. And now we know why the ram's horns are somewhat forcibly bent into the shape of a crescent. horizontal convolutions. If it is meant to be a species of cattle. the serpent insures its eternal transformation and renewal. it is not referred to as a bull. Now the thread of the discovery which we have just made can be easily unraveled to some extent. since the horns of water buffalo are usually angular and never round. Perhaps he should be concerned with both from time to time. 186 . 22). This time it is again a ram. Thus there is an arbitrariness in the representation which must not be overlooked. The archeologist does not always have a handbook of mammal zoology on his desk. in darkness. it must shed its skin. Vol. Thus. 21). If sheep's horns are not round.). Fig. 397. are reproduced with all possible clarity. I have also found the serpent drinking from the dish between the crescent horns on a pottery fragment from the proto-Elamitic period (Fig. only those with a pronounced sideward flattening. Essen.ll 11 Memnoires de la delegation en Perse. Round bull's horns with knots and horizontal convolutions do not exist. XII. so like a lunar crescent. which means that it first crawls off. they are at least less flattened and they also have horizontal ridges. it is important. Its horns are authentically provided with gilded knots. The symbol of the moon-god Sin is a serpent that drinks from a lunar crescent. but then slips out of the old skin and begins a new life.Gods and Drinking Serpents Villa. as on the two sculptures. it could only be an Asiatic water buffalo. but this designation proves impossible. Between the ram's horns. there is in Iran neither a species of cattle nor one of wild sheep whose horns bend upward so abruptly. Thus. appearing to die and stiffening. for it is after all an earth-bound creature that lives only upon or under the earth. In this catalogue. a serpent raises its head. but from the crescent which they form. or more accurately knottings. What can its purpose be ? On a Kudurru (a boundary-stone) of the time of Nabukudrossor I (500 B. from the dish containing the light of the new moon. On the animal's horns.C. and I will give the reason now. in the very center. One may ask whether this question of designation is so important ? Yes. the Venus-like goddess Istar and the moongod Sin are united (Fig. nor is he always a frequent visitor to zoos. On the colored cover illustration of the Essen catalogue is a bronze ibex from ancient Iran.

The face becomes the dish. The lozenges are aligned on a band and form a light contrast to the two sides of a dark border. Moreover. The excavation was not scientific. 23). again in the form of lozenges with a central dot. death to life. in this dish. But the more fundamental reason for this order. perception. is immeasurable. The number of lozenges on the left side is uncertain. The measurable and abstracting element and the immeasurable lying beyond it must meet and be condensed to a unity. traversing space. some forty lozenges could still be counted. the condition at the time of excavation is unknown and restorations have been undertaken. the serpent is drinking from the lunar crescent.From Tepe Mussian comes a clay animal figure which I cannot identify more exactly because I am not familiar with the object itself. I would have had to hold the other figure in my hand as well. 187 . Again the serpent is drinking from the dish of immortality. The serpent licks at the water. which causes streaks of water to run across the god's face. That is the measurable element which leads to the act of abstraction. It belongs to the realm of experience. In this face.12 Therefore I cannot say whether the horns have been broken off on the side of the head or whether perhaps a horse is to be portrayed (Fig. but only with the reproduction. 17-20) the calendrical reckoning. a number from the lunar calendar. I was able to hold one of the two Iranian ram's figures in my hand. 1923). In order to reach a better conclusion. why and whence death and life came to be. and even the very good photographs sent me do not facilitate an accurate count. moon water is gathered. I could only look at it through the glass of the display case. Thus. The serpent appears just above the indented plate-shaped face. On the right side are forty-two lozenges. Wilke. Religion der Indogermanen (Leipzig. 136. and because this heavenly body wanders. Between light and darkness there is a passing of time and a temporal problem. At any rate. 12 G. because there are partial or total eclipses of the moon. First there is a spatial problem. and reflection. and could thus count the lozenges. 1-4). especially as this piece was also restored in large measure. because the moon as heavenly body wanes. p. and it drinks from this plate. the animal figure is intentionally painted black and white in order to indicate the transition from darkness to light. Only now can we say that this image is no different from the Neolithic Chinese figure (Figs. The result is not guaranteed to be correct since the figure has suffered during such a long period. we find on the flanks of the ram (Figs.

the conclusion must also be drawn that in the high cultures of Mesopotamia-starting with the oldest representation (Fig.Gods and Drinking Serpents The results which we can obtain from the consideration of the two ram's figures are not yet at an end. We have seen the serpent in the middle of the head and between the two horn-like growths of the Chinese anthropomorphic god (Figs. Here too. and surely existed a body of thought set continuing subsequently-there in transmitted and down images. 1-4).. Precisely such rays form the base of the Chinese god (Figs. symbols which in themselves are different have been welded into a unity. the sun-god. Only one thing cannot be disputed: that everything I say can be seen clearly and that it can be proven in detail for that reason. If with this finding as a starting point we again regard the rays and the fanlike decoration on the base of the Chinese head (Figs. this time laid flat and brought into relief under the head. 21). belong to the sun-god and. on the other. up to 500 B. My explanations may be surprising. and we found the very extensive correspondence of this Chinese head to its much older Mesopotamian predecessor (Fig. The finding of the two clay figures of the rams has enriched to an unusual extent our possibilities of gaining deeper insights into ancient complexes of religious ideas. and on the left beside it the symbol with eight rays for Samas. the time of the three gods on the Kudurru (Fig. to the moon-god are related. We also found there the lozenges as calendrical elements. because they are new. 10). 21). 10). They are the symbol of the sun-god Samas which is chiseled into the stone of the Kudurru (Fig. about 3500 B. as has already been presupposed. the Venus-like goddess. The symbol for Samag consists of many pointed rays. 1-4). on the one hand. 10). because we also find the circle of pointed rays under the neck of the very old Mesopotamian god (Fig. Here the circle of our investigation is already flawlessly joined.. Therefore.C. then.C. we can understand better the numbers 13 and 12 (for sections with undulating lines and with double lozenges): the lunar and solar symbols have blended into a unity and the different numbers actually indicate the necessary corrections of the lunar calendar through epagomenal calculation. 1-4). 21). and on the right that of Istar. even irritating. Thus the symbolic elements which. We want to utilize these possi188 . There can be no doubt of the Mesopotamian origin of this astral symbolism. But we have also just seen the symbol of the Mesopotamian moon-god Sin (Fig. that is.

time is renewed. In the exhibition catalogue the term "vessel" is used. the zigzag lines on the front of the ram's breast have their owni meaning as well: they are the water lines with which we are already familiar. there are many rhyta in animal form. the serpent drinks the water of life from the dish of the lunar crescent. I am anticipating a step in the chain of reasoning and shall explain the connection of the ram to the west with more certitude. That is a further reason for the blending of abstracting elements with purely objective ones. A4. Ghirshman. completely corresponds to the serpent drinking from between the horns. and surely there were very many more versions. XXV. that is. to be sure. that the serpent is renewed. cautiously securing each step before we dare to take the next. The symbol for Sin.13 In fact.ie. that this calendar belongs to the crescent horns and the drinking serpent. It can only be a scriptlike depiction coming from an era still without script or an era during which script was still completely dependent on pictorial representation. we have said nothing as yet concerning the form of the rams. Vol. We have already recognized that the lozenge system corresponds to a calendar. "Le Rhyton en Iran. We have observed the zigzag lines which formed the flow of tears and saliva on the faces of the god. so that the formal element is the determining one. Thus. it was possible to unearth two versions of the ram at once. the calendar is renewed. Yet we did not want to leave the ram's figures without considering them as thoroughly as possible. The west is evening. We can prove one more important fact by comparing with the ram the three divine symbols on the Kudurru. 10. from between the horns. 189 . Nothing. no detail stands for itself. 1 (1962). then it is no longer possible to dismiss the remaining decoration as merely aesthetically ornamental and unrelated to any meaning.bilities still further. and we can agree to the inclusion of all Oriental vessels in animal form under a common denominator. in that we proceed step by step." Art. No. Why are these zigzag lines located on the ram's breast? Because it stood facing the west. the moon is renewed. Fig. For this. Facing the west. the moon-god. But ought one to refer to these sculptured rams as vessels merely because they are hollow and have a round opening in front like 13 R. and an article by Ghirshman even refers to a rhyton. Moreover. inspection of completely different objects is required. In that case. The clay figures of the ram were ritual objects (Kultobjekte). But if the main element of this portrayal can only be understood in terms of the cult.

like the large ram's head above. We would then have a small replica of the large ram's head: the small ram as newmoon light. probably horns. not its head. has been broken off. If it were a vessel. but was made in the clay while it was still soft. in the very back and below. 17-19) has in my estimation been inauthentically restored. the 190 . Moreover. and runs over chin and clothing. 20). there is on the opposite side. Thus the object cannot have been used for a ritual drink at all. It is to be expected that a serpent's body would be visible in the hollow. but in its actual form it can hold no liquid. for there is really no occasion to represent a reptile by means of its head. However. I was able to hold the clay sculpture from the Mossadek Collection in my hand and study it thoroughly. cannot reach the mouth at all. it could be filled with a liquid which was at once allowed to run out. This hole has not been bored as an afterthought. the serpent's head between the ram's horns has been broken off. a sculptured animal's head emerges from this opening. although it looks like one. the large ram as the main subject. this head has been preserved (Fig. it is probably not a serpent's head. but there is only a head. It is precisely the serpent's body. a small hole. The ram is not a drinking vessel in the sense of a rhyton. For symbolic purposes it is crucial that the serpent's body shed its skin. then on the handle. On the other vessel. shining forth from the hollow. One can drink from every rhyton.Gods and Drinking Serpents the rim of a vase ? At the very front. If in a ritual act the priest lifted up the ram with the head turned upward and closed off the rear hole with one finger. which would seem essential to the observer. This is especially true here. This interpretation of the small head seems to me possible in view of the incontestable meaning of the main representation. it would be horizontal. that is. But whoever wanted to drink from this vessel would inevitably realize that the liquid divides inside the opening to the left and right of the small animal's head. in the case of the clay sculpture from the Mossadek Collection the head in the opening is square. on the rear part of the ram. Why then the small animal's head in the front at the rim of the opening? What kind of animal is it intended to be ? In spite of first impressions. while on the other hand. pours out in two streams. On one side of the small head in the opening are small scars where something. from the Mossadek Collection in Frankfort. It gains probability when we note a similar representation on an animalshaped Shang ritual vessel in China: in front. the vessel. for the serpent lies in its entire length along the ram's back. The head of the ram from Prince Firdu's collection (Figs.

The catalogue of the exhibition "7000 Years of Art in Iran" dates the sculptures at 1000-800 B. which are dated at around 1400-1300 B. a typical element of the style of Susa II. 1945). To the right and left of this frame are two black triangles. But since the migration did not go from east to west. Die dlteste Geschichte Vorderasiens und Indiens (Prague. 26). I would have reservations. Moortgat. To carry out the plan of this investigation. The style is intimately related to that of the painted pottery from Susa. the Iranian ram's figures and. If this representation existed in China alone. 1943). if viewed correctly. 333-51). According to what we already know about double axes and triangles meeting at the vertexes (which indeed in Crete [Fig. 4. p. We would also find in the religious significance of the decoration a link with the ceramics of Susa I and II.15 Now the body of the ram also consists of two similarly joined triangles or. The catalogue of the Munich exhibition gives 3000-2000 B.small ram (Figs. 33. No. in my opinion. Die Entstehung der sumerischen Hochkultur (Leipzig.C.C. An ibex is painted on a goblet (Fig. 25) with its head inclined downward. Cf. 22 and Ill. the Chinese bronzes in animal form from the Shang period. p. 27] are joined without 14 Cf. Hrozny. which spews it forth. 191 . The triangles joined at the vertexes have been identified by Anton Moortgat as symbolizing the phases of the moon. it emerges from the jaws of another symbolic animal. Its picture is framed. a late date for the Iranian figures is incongruent with historical development. on the other. 24. my "Lichtsymbolik und die Bedeutung von Auge und Sehen im iltesten China" (Studium Generale. I am inclined to believe that the ram's figures must be dated about 1000 years earlier. in my opinion. More decisive. with the ram among them. an intimate iconographic relationship obvious to everyone can be proved between. on the one hand. XIII.14 Something should be said in addition about the style and dating of the clay ram's figures. as the date. would be a further reason for an early date: as will be seen below. 15 A. of a double axe. I must discuss the vessels of Susa I and II somewhat further before proceeding to the Chinese figures. also B. 6 [1960]. The parallel angles above the decorative band with the lozenges are. as proven by other examples collected for this article. But that is not the case: in the three bronzes from the Nezu Collection the large skull masks are repeated in reduced size on the legs. the vertexes of which meet. They are said to have been found in Tepe Giyan.C. Liberated from darkness.

We do not intend to discuss all the details of this decoration from Susa. We are here only concerned with proving that. That is the well-known ancient Sumerian written character for plant. P1. The Chinese animal sculpture is of bronze. but rather what A. Religion im altesten China (Antwerp. my Bronzegerdt. this nevertheless is nowhere as evident as among owls with their frontally fixed eyes. 1951). 17-20). probably not a reptile. 292-297. The ram. In front of the eye (in the photograph [Fig. as a series of parallel M's or as double undulating lines. the ibex can be seen again. on the right and left sides. for instance some species of pheasant. The disk of feathers around the bird's eye allows us to determine what kind of bird is intended. occurs in China (Fig. Kultbauten. 1914). Les Civilisations prehelleniques dans le bassin de la mer Egee (Paris. to the left of it) is a bird's beak. 29-30). 28). there is an eye in high relief. Moortgat calls the "magic symbolic value" of painted ceramic decoration. 25). 17 In this case. behind it and to the right. in which the serpent lies between the crescent horns with its head on the crown of the ram's head and drinks there (Figs. 29]. 192 . is renewed. Inside the circle formed by the crescent horns of the ibex. Above the front limbs of the Chinese bronze (Figs. This is still more apparent in the case of a naturalistic owl's figure which also appears under the ram. The owl's facial disk is a striking phenomenon.Gods and Drinking Serpents differentiation to the bull's head16). The intention is the same as for the serpent: it must always be a creature that sheds its skin. there is no sense of style involved. but a salamander larva. The entire figure of the bird is portrayed in highly ornamental "baroque" style. CIII. that is. the eartuft of a horned owl stands out in high relief. this time characterized by his small beard. in subordinate position (Fig. changes. 29) with exactly the same characteristics as in earliest Iran (Figs. Beneath and between the animals is painted the character for water. 22-23). cf. Between the markedly crescent-shaped horns of the Chinese ram appears a serpent-like creature. there is a row of obtuse angles connected by a thin central line. Fig. 245. The beak appears in sharp profile. the ibex with its curved horns is an element of lunar and aquatic symbolism. 17-20. It is executed so that it faces the same direction as the ram. Even when a disk of feathers is found around the eyes of other birds. like the ram. Figs. namely an owl.17 Without a doubt we are confronted with the same iconographic conjucture as in Iran. On another Sumerian bowl (Fig. and at the foot 16 Ren6 Dussaud. both as three-dimensional sculpture and as sacred vessel. as I have observed elsewhere.

the goddess with the serpent and goblet on her head (Fig. Figs. or in which they hang down the goddess' back and creep upward (Fig. 388. According to everything we have been able to discern. Vol. in that the paleographicsymbol for ch'uan (flowingwater) appears on it (Fig.' Why those must be goblets instead of a dish (i. a creature which. and the goblets filled with water which appear as horns can only be the dark of the moon. but apart from this. first the crescent horn as a dish (Fig. 32)? The solution to what is only apparently a problem is not very difficult: the horizontal moondish (lunar crescent in the Orient) is the light of the new moon. in the other. The group of Chinese ritual vessels just described. 33). the miraculous water of renewal and immortality. It may be assumed as 18 Memoires de la dedlgation en Perse. but rather two goblet-shaped horns. sheds its skin and is transformed. crescent) is explained naturally by the following facts: In the primitive culture of Susa18 originates the representation (Fig. A serpent-like creatureis again stretched out between the horns of the Chineseram (Fig. 25) and across its back. In addition. As a typical representative of this second group let us discuss Figure 31. 382. a serpent is stretched out over the animal's back. which resembles that of ritual bronze goblets of the type Tsun and Ku. from the horns in goblet shape. b). 3 la. Why then. 17-20). 31). are just as easily understood. This confirms a statement which we have already made concerning the Iranian ram (Figs. 34)..e. XII. 33) in which the serpents drink from the goblet which the goddess carries on her head. is connected closely enough with the group of ritual vessels now to be discussed that the following assertion may be made: these two groups are so tightly meshed that they can be understood only when viewed together. 31. the caterpillars and serpents drink from the vessels. 29) and then again the goblet horns (Figs. an animal figure with a serpent or caterpillar on its head and back (Fig. on the Chinesebronzes. like the serpent. 32). That they are really goblets is evident not only from the form. The alternatives: in one case. the main representation of the bronze ram's figure faces the west. Between these horns in goblet form lies a butterfly caterpillar (Fig. therefore. 193 . with the ram's head and with the serpent between the horns. that is. The main figure does not have ram's horns. The wings have been formed into serpents.of the bronze is the owl's claw. Obvious logic tells us that the owl can belong only to evening and night.

The Diana of Ephesus appears in anthropomorphic form with the goblet on her head. 482. Vorgeschichte der Kunst. The serpent Uraus between the horns of the bull Apis is.. XXXIX-XL. Cf. 31). 31). it is well known that the bull Apis must have been black and ornamented with definite light dots. the "terrible simplification" fails due to carelessly overconfident neglect of observation. 31) appears with goblets on its head and all conceivable animals creep over its body. One more noteworthy element presents itself alongside the many lines of reasoning which converge here to combine the representations discussed above in terms of cultural history. Hungary. 194 . Vols. Its Symbolism and Its Origin (Oxford. also Schultz. the history of religions. 57. The combination: animal's back+serpent+bird obviously the same as in our Chinese examples (Figs. iconography. On the other hand. just as the figure from Susa with the serpent on its head was decorated (Fig. to be sure. for we find it even in Egypt (Fig. and the study of symbolism. The figure of the falcon Horus or a sparrow-hawk on the back of an animal is not an ox-pecker. cit. All imaginable animals crawl over her body and cloak. It is the symbol of the is sun-god Re. a solar symbol. Cf. 23). However. 35). p. the Alpine countries and later from Western Switzerland. another bird of prey 19 Summary in Hoernes. which also appears on the animal's back. a hawk upon a panther. several bronze animal figures from ancient China have on their heads the figure of a bird. In addition to the serpent (caterpillar). in the Egyptian representation. from Northern and Southern Italy. When and how an Egyptian dogma which arose only gradually led to the association of the serpent Uraus with the sun remains of necessity unclear. The theriomorphic god in China (Fig. the serpent plays a widely varied role in the Egyptian religion. op. either as three-dimensional sculpture or as relief (Figs. On the well-known vases of Maikop we see a duck sitting on a Mouflon (a variety of sheep)."19 It has occurred to some authors that these birds are ox-peckers. "Birds on the neck or back of horned animals have been found in extensive distribution in excavations from the Hallstatt period. and her Der Hallstatt Vogel. in Ipek (Jahrbuch fiir prihistorische und ethnographische Kunst). p. Here too. This combination-serpent between horns + bird on back-is not at all accidental. With this the parallels are not yet exhausted. 482. p. 1933). 29. 29.Gods and Drinking Serpents generally known that Artemis appears both in human and in animal form. In both cases a mother-goddess is intended. 35). also Anna Roes. However. Greek Geometric Art. as in the case of the chthonic serpent Apophis dismembered by Re. the falcon is sitting on the animal's back (Fig.

to a particular bull with a particular number of birds. one author states that Asian influence on the Celtic religions is out of the question. an Asian origin is not improbable. there are very many 35).20 Lambrechts also includes in his book as a matter of course one of the most significant Celtic works of art in existence. in archaic Greek art. After one such random sample we shall detain ourselves no more with this pretentiously titled book. Incidentally. we find in a relief from a Chinese tomb interior of the Han period (Fig. etc. On the basis of these examples-and more of them-it seems to me completely evident why one must not dismiss birds on the animals' backs in every case as ox-peckers. immediately adjacent to it on the right and on the left. for the inscription refers to the bull with the three cranes. the sun-bird of Re. the silver cauldron of Gundesstrup. By way of contrast. We have already stated that the owl as bird of evening and night can only 20 Pierre Lambrechts. Lambrechts' work is the only one up to now which undertakes the task of dealing with the subject in its entirety. 1941). The greatly predominating majority of these representations are those of bulls or rams to which the serpent on the head and the bird on the back are joined. I first remind the reader that our point of departure was a Neolithic anthropomorphic god (Figs. 38). 1-4). on the other side of the stone appears the Celtic god Esu. He shows it in photographs from various sides. one side has remained unknown to him: the very one with the elephants.on a lion. on the back of the bronze. 34) and that it can appear both in anthropomorphic and in theriomorphic form. belongs to the bull (Fig.. we can state that the serpent on the head and the bird on the back do not appear solely among bulls or rams. Unfortunately. The figure opposite the tiger's head. 37)? But then cranes on the back of a bull are a sight familiar to every zoologist! Perhaps they are ox-peckers after all? No. Sometimes in China the serpent also lies upon the crown of the head and between the ears of the tiger. 33. that we also encounter this god in Susa (Figs. 36) the ram's head in the center and. Contribution a l'etude des divinites celtiques (Ghent. Yet without abandoning the meaningful content of the religious images gathered for this article. sun-birds in the form of peacocks. Now to be sure. a Shang bronze. in Hallstatt. Is the same thing not true of a Celtic representation (Fig. Since we meet such symbolic birds on the backs of animals in earliest China. 195 . These birds belong to the ram just as the falcon. I include a reproduction of one of these instances (Fig. is an owl whose wings cover the rear belly of the vessel.

the illustration in my Bronzegerdt . The tiger is still seen in paintings on grave tiles of the Han period. I have been able to confirm the double role of the tiger in almost all my works. pp. 251. painted alternately black and white. and Bronzegerdt . In contrast to other Chinese animal bronzes with a bird on the back. The serpent is renewed. 39a. b) which portrays as the main subject the ram with serpent-like creatures between the horns. It is located on the stag's breast as the most important accompanying element. 25). that is.22 It is probably for this reason that the bird is placed differently on the stag's back than on the other animal figures.. Fig. pp. In every case its head is turned backward. It too is the theriomorphic manifestation of a god. pp. 196 .. The small bird on the stag's back 21 Cf. XCI.. in fact on the lid of that vessel (Figs. Subsequently the tiger becomes a well-known symbol of the west. the bird on the stag's back is turned away from the principal figure. and the stag's antlers are covered with a skin which is then peeled off.21 The gesture and the difference in color are significant. The serpent sheds its skin. but that is a late and limited development.. Nor is there here any incongruence with the bronzes discussed above. It would be superficial to assume in this particular case a lapse in the knowledge of religious inconography on the part of the bronze caster in the Shang period. that the serpent accompanies the tiger is consistent with the iconographic purposes of the Shang representations. each time on the basis of new data. However. P. backward. the owl..Gods and Drinking Serpents belong to the west. The following can also be ascertained: on the belly of the vessel. the bird of the evening and night. On a Chinese bronze portraying a stag I also found the bird on the stag's back along with the serpent (Fig. appears (Fig. on the figure of the ram. 25. right under the stag's head. 210 ff... a large picture of the sun-bird is to be seen. and the stag's antlers are also renewed every year. For we have already found the same thing in the Shang period. 22 Cf. 84 ff.. light) and again on the left side turned toward the fish (lower world. my Das Haus als Weltort der Seele. we see the tiger on this lid twice: once on the right turned toward the bird (upper world. I cannot explain here in detail the particular reasons which demonstrate clearly the association of the stag with the sun in ancient Chinese ritual iconography. darkness). Indeed. This is the only case I have encountered up to now in which the bird on the animal's back turns away from the main figure. 40). just where. 119 ff.

the water symbol is painted in. 40) is turned backward. In view of the large bird on the front. Later the same motif is preserved on a hydria (Fig. 45) of circa 650 B. For that is the very place reserved for the serpents which. 197 .C. In every space between these female figures. Still later the drinking serpent appears on a brown-figured Attic pitcher (Fig. it should be mentioned that the serpent can be seen along with the ram on the handle of a ritual vessel of the Shang period. 41). around the neck of the vessel. If we reflect upon this image and think through the juxtaposition involved. where the serpents also drink from the vessel. There the serpent again winds its way up the handle to drink. Finally. Their posture repeats exactly what I have already been able to demonstrate in the case of Susa (Fig. What the goddess is holding up are the green shoots as on the Greek vessel and corresponding to the Sumerian characters mentioned above. Above this serpent. the serpents wind around the rim of the bronze tripod. The green shoots of the dancers from Figure 44 are replaced in Figure 45 by a full-blown flower. next to the anthropomorphic god. after all. that is most probably the result of evolution. while another reptile glides horizontally around the neck of the vessel and a third lies along the rim. The motif of the serpent that drinks from the vessel and in so doing moves up the handle toward its rim appears also in geometric style on a Greek ceramic (Fig. It is significant that the painting on the belly of the vessel represents a burial scene. 33) is holding up in her hands. Friedrich Matz speaks here of an orientalizing style. Only through comparison with the archaic Greek vessel can we begin to discern what the goddess from Susa (Fig. Unfortunately. 43) from the necropolis of Rhodes. each hand holding a green bough.(Fig. there is no divergence from other portrayals. 46). the serpent creeps toward the rim of the vessel (Fig. extends the picture of a ritual dance in which women take each other's hands. 44). but also in the direction of the vessel out of which it wants to drink. On a Chinese sacred vessel from the excavations at Anyang (Fig. the reproduction from Delegation en Perse is somewhat blurred. 33). 42). The serpent creeps up the handle not only in the direction of the ram's head. Here the reptile creeps toward the ram instead of lying on its head (Fig. The three-dimensionally sculptured goddesses lift up their arms to the rim of the vessel. We see exactly the same thing on a Neolithic vessel of the Pan-Shan group.

32). What can it contribute to the subject at hand ? Quantitatively rather little. IV. For there remains paleography. The androgynous characteristics of the moon-gods should be so familiar that I may simply refer to them here. just as in the character for yang (sheep) described above. LXXXIX. as a mother-goddess. in addition. 21). the concept "horn" as such is emphasized pictographically and then. Figure 48 is a human figure seen from the front. this god can be identified clearly as female. 198 . completely different from the one taken thus far. the spiral convolution. the peculiarity of this horn. The bottle horns. 33. There is still another way. It can be seen that. Ku chou p'ien.. It has horns which. 16. as we already know. The horizontally creeping serpent next to the one crawling upward to the rim of the vessel has already been noted in the case of the archaic Greek vase (Fig. 34). even crucial insights. 44).Gods and Drinking Serpents want to drink from the vessel. Chia ku wen pien. the knowledge of the ancient. the drinking serpent is the symbol of the moongod Sin. op. ending in a point. those iconographic details familiar from other vessels are again combined in the wealth of their symbolic content. the first of our pictographical characters shows a curved horn which is bent in a perfectly flat -shape and ends in a point. first of all. 31. 14 ff. cit. The two loops of the ram's horn are more or less hung on this horn. Thus this is a primary form. the character yang (sheep) is the frontally viewed ram's head with the natural spiral convolutions of the horns (Fig. So also in the case of the bronze tripod (Fig. the painted lozenges. even the most ancient Chinese characters. Takada Chushu. In Susa (Figs. of comprehending on a broader basis the ancient Chinese combinations of ideas in regard to the ram and its crescent or spiral horns. The drinking serpent on the back and crown of the head has been observed among both anthropomorphic and theriomorphic gods both in Susa and in China. makes it possible to decipher another ancient character which until now was understood either incorrectly or not at all. But on the Kudurru (Fig. belong to the theriomorphic god or goddess who carries the drinking serpent between his horns or on his back (Figs. In paleography.23 However. on the Chinese sacred vessel the serpents are located above the bottle horns with the painted water symbol (Fig. and it is certain from the beginning that only a true horn is to be 23 Sun Hai-po. This way of writing the character. but it can still enrich our knowledge with some valuable. with the loop hung on a horn of another shape. 46). are curved upward. etc. Furthermore. 46). 47).

17-20) which combines the horn and the lozenge system. Nakashima. For with him originated the secret of time. 14) or the dish from the period of the Contending States (Fig. we do not want to forget or overlook the fact that the volutes of the ram's horns probably belong to the same symbolic category as the double volutes or double spirals on the painted ceramics (Fig. This "very odd hair arrangement" is something which could perhaps occur. 1-4) and the lozenges on the Iranian ram (Figs. but a circle with a spiral motif. The written character (Fig. 48)! In view of this. 48) also represents a calendar god or the high god t'ien with the calendar mask. also my Gottergestalten in der altesten chinesischen Schrift (Antwerp. in which he is surely correct. XL. 14). one may well say. For him. The interpretation is as far-fetched as it is foolish. 201 verso. 12) and then again on the Pan-Shan ceramic with the lozenges (Fig. In spite of the question mark and the uncertainty thus expressed. this attempt at interpretation may be judged typical of a particular basic approach. this spiral motif is the same one regularly encountered above the bottle horns (Figs. and on the side appear the horns with the spiral motif hung on as described above. standing with legs spread apart. op. II. 1943). Shit ch'i yuan yian [sic]. We call to mind in addition the lozenges on the Neolithic ceramic head (Figs. and with this rational supposition can be avoided any questions concern24 Takada Chushu. refutes Takada's interpretation. This mask is divided into lozenges. which originally indicated a high god (Fig. which is the possibility of calculation. Precisely this combination of horn and spiral motif is the same as that seen from above on the Pan-Shan ceramic (Fig. that is. 32). one adorned with a question mark24) was worded as follows: a man with oddly arranged hair. 11). of abstraction. Part 3. second. 31. complete conformity. Cf. become evident. cit. 24. On the tip of the horn is hung this time not the spiral of the ram's horn.portrayed. 199 . in a special function. those bottle horns on which the character for water is also found. even if only because it overlooks the troublesome question of why the "man with the oddly arranged hair" has a box divided into squares in place of a head. the symbol is either a masked figure or a creature of fable. 48). And now precisely these lozenges are found in the written character (Fig. And between these bottle horns lies the serpent or the caterpillar. A previous explanation (to be sure. two aspects of the large human figure. it is combined with a boxlike mask which has been drawn over it (Fig. However. Beyond this. First. 49). 38 ff. pp. it corresponds in its posture to the character for t'ien (heaven)..

as I shall demonstrate later at greater length. again with the original intention of calculation. I only mention as examples of unexplained details the parallel angles on the ram's back (Figs. To recapitulate and supplement our results.25 The object represented is another 25 Pueblo Bonito. The idea expressed by some authors in the last case that the checkerboard pattern in painted ceramics can have been derived from basketwork is to be refuted completely as the result of faulty consideration of the evidence. "Hunan Effigy Vases from Chaco Canon. such as a window. There is no reason for inserting at some arbitrary spot on a ceramic bowl-an object subject to limitation by color and painted with all kinds of symbols (vide Moortgat)-an image more or less foreign to the material. The alternating black (dark) and white (light) squares would then provide the foundation. Anton Moortgat. In this connection one can expect the pronouncement of an oracle. Yet it is precisely such questions which are of greatest concern for these ancient high cultures. even in the Near East. I have everywhere avoided discussing those artistic details whose wealth of meaning we cannot or cannot yet fathom. Pepper. It is inappropriate to pose riddles. we may perhaps assume a temporal and numerical symbolism appropriate to the other images. 1906). the meaning of which is only comprehensible in light of those clear and easily surveyed results which have emerged in the course of these investigations. The head shown in Figures 50 and 51 comes from the same excavation as Figures 7-9. These are very poorly considered solutions. of abstraction. George H. who speaks of the "magic symbolic value" of colored ceramic decoration. let us examine a few more images. 28). in Mesopotamia. This phrase of Moortgat's ought to be taken all the more seriously since we have succeeded here in sifting out the meaningful content of the images discussed to an extent that makes it irresponsible to regard inexplicable images as the vestiges of a purely ornamental sense of style. In the case of the checkerboard pattern. Such interpretations are obviously conditioned by the need to assert something or other if only investigation of religious questions can be avoided by means of the assertion.Gods and Drinking Serpents ing religious symbolism. and I refer again to the view of the distinguished expert on ancient Sumerian culture. Cf. 17-20) or the checkerboard pattern on the bowl from Susa (Fig. just as chess. an image which at once is assumed to imitate basketwork. In considering the matters here presented. may in the earliest times have been the game of a priestly caste. 200 ." Boas Anniversary Volume (New York.

50-51).an explanation is presented for the two pueblo figures (Figs. the eternal return which has meaning for the entire cosmos and.. iii. 7-9 and 50-51): the love relationship of the old god and the young goddess with the basic idea of divine renewal. arising through the effect of hormones. Thus not only is a single accompanying symbol Ferdinand Anders. the antlers are sensitive. The purpose is not at all concentrated only in fertility symbolism. As long as blood still flows through these knobs. Fig. itching sets in. When the newly formed antlers are rubbed against a tree trunk. they become spotted with blood. while the so-called velvet hangs down in shreds. Das Pantheon der Maya (Prague. The old man has a stag's headdress. But the highly itching indicates that the tissue is still living and thus supplied with some blood. which are covered with fine hair and well supplied with blood. The pedicles (projections of the frontal bone) bleed and seem painful. It is found on the chin and is the same spiral that you see near the drops or dots on the Pan-Shan ceramic (Fig. Actually it belongs to these three heavenly bodies because it is the animal associated with the dawn..26 Ferdinand Anders believes that the relatively prevalent motif of the old man and the young woman is not to be interpreted simply as a profane love scene. 50a. pp. begin to grow from the pedicles. belong together can be discernedfrom the Mayan portrayals and the Central American codices. Ixchel is multivalent and has connections with the moon.the renewal of life. furthermore.. The Pueblo Bonito figure (Figs. Cf. Moreover."plate-face" over the cheeks of which tears are running. but that it has a mythical background. The stag belongs to the sun. Why and how these two figures. Mexico) is regarded as an example of Jaina style. 201 27 26 . 50-51) was preserved in fragments. to the morning star. First the stag loses its antlers. The blood-stained antlers and the drooping shreds of bloody velvet are the red symbols of dawn and renewal. in the form of knobs. further related material in my Bronzeger& . 1963). we have again before us in Figure 52 the serpent on the animal's head. the renewal of the heavenly bodies to which the gods belong. 14).27 Thus. Figure 52 (Campeche. for this very reason. occasionally to the moon.the old hunchbackand the woman. One of the fragments can be attributed to the female sex. And as on this ceramic. p. In the young woman's headdressappears a serpent. New antlers. The stag is a symbolic animal. man as well. 7-9). The animal's body must use up its reserves to force a bony secretion into the socalled velvety knobs. Probably the young woman is intended to be the goddess Ixchel. 210 if. 14). They are reproduced by means of dots like the water on the Chinese PanShan ceramics (Fig. When the tissue begins to dry out. But the other Pueblo Bonito figure is a hunchbacked old mall (Figs. but in a view of the cosmos as an originating and perishing whole. an upward and downward spiral appears on the plate-face (Figs.

The almost twice life-size Artemis of Albi also still wears the old headpiece (Fig. then. the high headpiece is derived from the vessel on the head of the Sumerian goddess (Fig. 53-54). insofar as the animals belong to the goddess at all. but many of those with which we have already become acquainted. there have been thoughts of a creation. there can be added another with regard to the Artemis figure. As a house. In each of these sections are animals. Fuhrer durch die offentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertimer in Rom. 28 Cf. And this goblet is obviously at the same time a house with various openings toward the four terrestrial regions. We see in the case of the Neapolitan figure a structure with four openings.28 Star and calendar symbolism then! This is a direct reminder of the lozenges and squares which concerned us at the beginning of this article and in which the symbolism of the lunar calendar could be ascertained: it consists of framed dots. it represents the whole world: the world as architecture and the goblet as the container of the world's water (Fig. However. W. this headpiece of Artemis corresponds to all those other crowning symbols which in the course of this article have been observed on both anthropomorphic and theriomorphic figures. And the world is open on all four sides. This is true both of the figure from Albi reproduced here and of the one in the Neapolitan Museum.Gods and Drinking Serpents repeated with these new examples. From the belt downward. 33). As a vessel and as a structure. this structure has the curved rim of a goblet (Fig. From the appropriate gates figures emerge. the body is divided into sections. To this confirmation of the facts stated above with respect to other portrayals. 53). the following observations are to be made. In summarizing our results and adding to them what can be understood only now. The reference is to the Artemis replica in the Vatican. from the Museum of Naples (Fig. 522. Surely. Such an interpretation is refuted by the too-narrow base with the powerfully rising superstructures. As a vessel. 54) consists in masonry. and as a vessel. Helbig. 4th Printing. Whoever looks at it attentively must recognize that what was assumed to be a crown actually has the form of a goblet or cup. No. 202 . There are several versions of the so-called Artemis of Ephesus. On the other hand. the framed animals are also signs of the zodiac. Yet it would be unreasonable to imagine here something like a tower. 53). The crownlike headdress of the most famous one. This very high headpiece must not be described as a crown.

I find no parallel to this interpretation and do not regard it as sound. 53) are better explained by the fact that Artemis can also appear in animal form. which is our chief concern here. Eggs in this location are a still greater abnormality. To complete the present discussion of certain complexes of mythical-religious conceptions. 57).30 The Kore of Erechtheion carries the vessel on her head and at the same time the house. we have introduced a vessel from the earliest school of Grecian vase-painting (Fig. this base is painted as masonry. is decorated above with the repeated image of Nike bearing the thyrsus (the staff of Dionysus). 203 . Again the goddess with the serpents can be seen. I will write in greater detail concerning the figures of the Erechtheion. it is Oriental. Perhaps the many breasts (Fig. The base is a house with window-openings. On her head the goddess carries the dish which became a large headpiece for the figures of Artemis (Fig. On the smooth bodice beneath the pearl garlands various zodiacal signs are introduced. the temple of the cult. I mention in addition the well-known figures of the Erechtheion (Fig. as they do not come from the breastJ The whole spirit of these Artemis figures is not at all Greek. the water symbol is painted. Everywhere on the underside of the vase (Fig. 55). I include a bronze statuette from the earlier Luristan finds (Fig. The heads of two serpents look from under her arms with strangely human faces. In connection with our findings. owned by the University of California. In an essay entitled "Die Gottheit mit dem Haus auf dem Kopf" in Antaios (1965). 53). The Erechtheion was a shrine of spring water and also the oldest shrine of Athens.The goddess' undergarment (Fig. which encircles the throat with a high neckline. 32) on the horns of the god. 53). One possible interpretation of it as a perforated pediment would be invalid simply because on a similar ceramic. 56). A more thorough study of these problems in this article could make more difficult the survey of the entire subject. which are at once vessels and houses.29 Miltner is of the opinion that the multiple breasts of the goddess are an abnormality inappropriate to the spirit of Grecian sculpture. 57). 30 29 Franz Miltner. Their heads do not support capitals but rather vessels. Ephesos (Vienna. Erechtheus was a serpent. 1958). Similar horns have also been referred to in the literature as "mushroom-shaped horns" because the upper part is often I have only touched upon the entire problem of the Erechtheion as a shrine of serpents and spring water in order to point out the interrelationships. He considers it much more likely that rows of eggs were added to the garment as another fertility symbol. The breasts of the Luristan figure are especially emphasized. As a counterargument. It appears as we find it in China (Fig.

and protohistorical times. In this article. IV (Basel. spring water and earthly dwelling are united in one symbol. For this vase obviously represents simultaneously a house and a dish. seen. By cherished theses I mean those upon which for decades so much acumen was concentrated that scholars forgot that even the constant repetition of unproven and poorly constructed hypotheses does not make them more correct. 57) is increased. One can also maintain that such evidence holds up because it actually meets the scientific demands which are made whenever comparisons are made and natural groupings perceived. This combination can thus be neither accidental nor a question purely of style. at least where the Shang period is concerned. In this way. Only what can be correctly observed. If we completely ignore for a moment the philosophical-religious impetus. my Das Haus als Weltort der Seele. I mean here a clear language spoken by the objects themselves which is a purposeful statement on a religious-philosophical plane. 204 . Here Asia ends. Auferstehung. The vast extent of the Chinese Pacific coast is the reason for this orientation. China continued to be bound to the west by numerous ties. 1964). it must not be denied in regard to later developments." in Symbolon. To be sure. I have been forced to upset concepts which have been cherished due to their familiarity. Thus. then consideration of style leads to the conclusion that in pre. Even Maspero spoke years ago (if I remember correctly. and my "Die Wanderung der Tiere um die heiligen Berge. that ties with the West are broken in favor of a sense of style which turns almost completely to the Pacific. my Tod. in his book La Chine antique) of a "fenetre ouverte sur 31 Cf. as in some earlier ones. the similarity to the archaic geometric style of the Grecian vase (Fig. and any one-sided advance in this direction undertaken by an author remains at the halfway point. One may then refer to a failure of method because this approach can barely penetrate to the periphery of the problems. Weltordnung. These are: that the earliest Chinese culture can be understood only in terms of China31 and that it is a product solely of Chinese thought and of the Chinese spirit.Gods and Drinking Serpents spread out like a mushroom cap. and ascertained can also be perceived later by another once his attention is brought to it. It is the sole determining factor in the combination of ornamental elements. Representations have their own powers of expression both as stylistic phenomena and as the product of religious-philosophical thought.

" Eliade points out both the on-going development of primeval mythical traditions up to modern times and. such as "Myths and Rites of Renewal" and "Time Can Be Overcome.le Pacifique. from which their sculptured or painted representations arise. In one chapter. From ceptions-and concentrated in a few images heavy with content. English trans. the article at hand would remain incomplete if I did not add a few words about the nature and structure of the myths themselves. if we avoid a one-sided statement on styles and again consider what ought to be stated. present-day recastings of bizarre mythical materials which are completely unrelated to the archaic world-view of the early myths ("mentalite 32 Mircea Eliade. "Survivals and Camouflages of Myths. at the same time. as in the Mesopotamian Orient. 205 . Yet these are questions which I can merely indicate. experienced pernot clumsy attempts to explain nature. I mention them because a consideration of style limited to Chinese territory remains sterile. There appeared recently a noteworthy book by Mircea Eliade on mythical structures. Moreover. the mythical elements discussed here can be divided into different groups. in which the greatest knowledge of the gods themselves resided. Aspects du mythe (Paris: Gallimard. New York: Harper & Row. He held this position because he was the master of knowledge and culture. and much later as well. previous time and the origins are addressed. mythical knowledge could also be exchanged and disseminated.32 If we follow his chapter headings. the cosmogonic factor which Eliade discusses under the chapter heading "Magic and Prestige of 'Origins'" is also significant for our discussion. By priests I mean the ruler-priests. Obviously the highest position in human society in the Shang period. For the reader must have noticed by now that the mythical subjects discussed here involve knowledge-that is. and the expert on the calculation of time. then a strong influence of Western thought can be perceived even in the Shang period. 1963. was that of the priest. However. as it would be inappropriate to treat them here. On this very elevated plane. a experiences and rich art arises! remarkably vast For this reason." Very much could be said on this subject because these undeniably rewarding investigations have up to now barely passed the initial stages. 1963).." The latter title involves precisely what I have several times referred to as that which can be abstracted and calculated. because with the knowledge of time.

even art of the greatest kind.Gods and Drinking Serpents archaique"). a reversal has occurred. it need not concern us here. No one dares challenge this myth because everyone is counting on permission to join the elite. Let us by-pass the political myth of universal salvation. for instance. Eliade's exposition is of some concern here because this article makes it evident through the use of clear examples. the ram's figure (Figs." refers to a variation which originates with a sometimes minute elite but can easily be extended. I emphasize only one deliberately chosen example so that I refrain from any aesthetic statement on the development of art. how archaic myths of experience in their condensed form contain artistic value and thus in their representation bring forth art. on page 187. Eliade introduces only factual material. but only to call attention to it and recommend that it be read. We are much more interested in the false myth in its modern development as opposed to the myths of experience with religiousphilosophical content which arose in earlier epochs of the human race ("mythe camoufle"). according to Eliade. 206 . He makes no value judgments. but afterward covers it as with a cloak. I do not want to review his exposition. which can be veiled in myth by an extremely small elite. In preserving the distance provided by unemotional reflection. he brings an original standpoint to the present-day consideration of art. comprehensible to everyone who is willing to follow the details. Eliade discusses it. Such a statement has no place in this investigation. when a disguised myth ("mythe camoufle") does not provide as a fundamental source the initial impetus for creating a work of art. For man. However. "Myths and mass media. particularly Far Eastern culture. This tendency may attempt to satisfy a longing for the enigmatic and mysterious which are so readily associated with ancient Asian. and I shall not venture to do it in his place. And here. For the tendency described by Eliade in his book has long since been carried over into the consideration of Asian and especially of Far Eastern art and culture. Then we are faced with a mythical novum because here art has been inverted into an obligatory manner of regarding art. Thus in the end what has been truly experienced can no longer be distinguished from what is merely disguised. he comes to speak of modern art. One of the subtitles in Eliade's book. remains a being who forms myths. At least the mention of modern art in this essay is perhaps justified insofar as the best contemporary movements in art and style coincide with what was attained in astonishing perfection in. 17-20).

for then it would not exist at all. The example which I cite occurs by no means as an isolated one in the literature of art history. from the standpoint of philoart. with no background. Is this not a case of reversal as is the pseudo-myth in the above-mentioned work by Eliade ? First of all there is an utterance which we assimilate optically: namely. Thus. Buddhistiche Kunst (Stuttgart. for example. it is misleading. but it demands only to be believed. At the very moment when. a figure of Buddha cannot be the expression of the absolute. art-all attained the absolute. symbolically. The existence of illusionary knowledge cannot be recognized. Thus it is expected to make an impression of depth in the sense of a pseudo-myth. One could speak here of a myth without experience. for it is tangible. On a lower level. that is. a goal which indeed is usually attained when we refuse to admit that it is incomprehensible. in a book on Buddhist art33 that the entire Buddhist art of the Mahayana should be understood as a single effort to represent the absolute by means of the void. This is also what the archaic myth attains. 1957). On a higher level. But each time man must begin anew to take this step. and which are understood in part as the most profound wisdom. this longing is satisfied and nourished by mediocre films and other tools of propaganda of the same level. The individual's own reduced cosmos is constructed so as to represent the entire cosmos. Thus we read. For the magnificent experience which is art consists precisely in its leading us up to boundaries. 207 . a magnificent attempt to transcend human limitation through a creative attitude on the part of the individual.and with Far Eastern man. it would necessarily cease to exist. everywhere in the world-had sophical theory. What does it mean for a figure of Buddha to be the representation of the absolute by means of the void ? In every country of the world. and every piece of sculpture appeals not only to the eye but equally to the sense of touch. in part as impenetrability. Then follows in addition a cryptic explanation. In each case. Formal explanations claiming universal validity are a limitation of the horizon. This explanation should point the way to the work of art. this seems to occur differently. 33 Dietrich Seckel. the work of art itself. perhaps precisely through a certain point of view with regard to art. there is an accumulation of errors in reasoning which appear before us in a garb embellished with myth. as a step towards the immeasurable. art is a longing. And neither is it the expression of the void.

uncorrupted. In this way the unfathomable can be approached intuitively but never apprehended for all time. It is actually the account of an experience. yet within the frame of reference assumed by the myth. comprehensible. and the history of religions-a genuine. 34 Faust II." 34 Certainly it is of the innermost essence of art and of myth to contemplate the absolute. For that would of necessity be tantamount to eliminating all possibilities of expectancy. The mythical account is not concerned with setting up logical relationships in our sense of the term. or restored when it has been lost. Bayard Taylor renders the line: "Life is not light." 208 . Goethe's Faust says: "Am farbigen Abglanz haben wir das Leben. Act I. although it appears in a form which seems strange to us today. ethnology. ideas are consistently interwoven. but the refracted color. The archaic myth contains no errors in reasoning.Gods and Drinking Serpents The object of our efforts is that-by combining research in sinology. and direct relationship to Far Eastern culture and to the archaic myth be preserved as a real experience. Scene 1.

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