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 Otto J. Maenchen-Helfen
The World Of The Huns
University of California Press, Berkeley, 1973

SWORDS, MASKS AND BALBALS

From Chapter RELIGION

Selected Quotation

 

Foreword to "Sacred Sword" article

Why this, using O. Maenchen-Helfen's favorite expression, galimatia is posted? To post misleading views is usually counterproductive, except... when demonstrating a falsity, the truth can be approached. The following "analysis" shows how the "ignorance by design", by disregarding available knowledge, leads to the development of most fanciful schemes by a most authoritative and meticulous scholar, bringing about free-wheeling interpretations under a veil of scientific objectivity. The inertia of indoctrination also brings about a completely unrelated "Iranian" influence, ignoring entirely the fact that the "Iranian", i.e. the Persian, for millennia was numerically and culturally predominantly Türkic. Misreading a quotation from Han shu, and combining it with an extrapolation of the Herodotus' description of a cult in one of the seven constituent members of the As-Oguz (aka Ishguza, Scythian) confederation, and then applying this concoction to a completely different era, background and geographical origin, this pseudo-scholarly approach culminates in a declaration of an act of faith: "we may believe Priscus: Like so many peoples, from Mongolia to Gaul, the Huns worshipped the god of war". How arrogant one must be to confuse a swearing by a subject, by a person or by a threat with revering this very subject, person or threat as a supreme god. And this freshly established scientific fact will be a foundation cited and relied upon in an abundance of follow-up conjectures. The foundation scientifically not much firmer that a millet-squash porridge from my grad-grandmother kitchen. We may trust the author's erudition about the worshipping of the swords by Goths, Indians etc., but the Mongolians and Türks are innocent as far as worship to the images is concerned.

SACRED SWORD

278

The Huns are said to have worshipped a sacred sword. Jordanes read this story in Cassiodorus, whose source was Priscus (EL 14219.22.).

All this sounds like the combination of a folktale, transferred on Attila, and Herodotus IV, 62: "The Scythians worship Ares in the form of an acinaces [a scimitar-Ed.], set up on a platform of bundles of brushwood." Herodotus' statement, with slight variations, has often been repeated. It occurs in Eudoxius of Cnidos, Apollodorus, Mela, Lucian, Solinus, and, cited from secondhand sources, in the writings of Christian apologists.

Occasionally newer tribes took the place of the Scythians. Hicesius ascribed the worship of the sacred sword to the Sauromatae, Dionysius to the Maeotians, and Ammianus, in a passage in which he is not above the suspicion of having followed the styli veteres, to the Alans (they "fix a naked sword in the ground and reverently worship it as Mars, the presiding deity of those lands over which they range").

 If, however, Ammianus should actually have referred to the Alans of his time, it could be argued that the Huns had taken over an old Iranian cult.

On the other hand, the Eastern Huns of the Han period likewise worshipped a sword: Cf. Han sha 94b: "[Han] Ch'ang and [Chang] Meng, together with the shan-yii and his high officials, ascended the mountain east of the No River in the country of the Eastern Huns. They killed a white horse. The shan-yti stirred the wine with a ching-lu knife." The various attempts to equate ching-lu with similar sounding Turkish and Iranian words for "knife, sword" somewhat doubtful. The (Chinese - Translator's Note) ching-lu was both a sword, (Chinese - Translator's Note) tao, and a god, (Chinese - Translator's Note) shen, to whom prisoners of war were sacrificed in the same way as to the Scythian Ares-acinaces.

Besides, at least three more "Altaic" peoples held the sword so sacred that they swore by it. The Avar Kagan took an oath after the manner of his people on his drawn sword, the Bulgars swore on their swords, and Suleiman the Great, undoubtedly following an old Turkish custom, took an oath on his sword.

But there were more, neither Iranian nor Altaic, peoples for whom the worship of the sword is attested. The (Gothic - Translator's Note) Quadi, "drawing their swords, which they venerate as gods, swore that they would remain loyal." The (Gothic - Translator's Note) Franks swore by their swords. The warriors in ancient India worshipped their swords.

In spite of the literary overtone, we may believe (but a reader interested in history supported by facts would definitely not - Translator's Note) Priscus: Like so many peoples, from Mongolia to Gaul, the Huns worshipped the god of war in the form of a sword. The origin of the cult cannot be determined.

Foreword to "Masks And Amulets" article

Another article of well-researched sources by O. Maenchen-Helfen's provides a wealth of details about the Western Huns in the western sources, as well as examples of interdependency with other cultures, though it is accompanied with galimatia. Without an objective study of the dating, provenance, and cultural descendancy, most of the speculations in the article are misleading or irrelevant, and are only preserved in this summary to demonstrate the naivete attitude that exists in the Hunnic studies. Confusing Huns as an ethnic group with the Huns as leaders of a confederation (i.e. "Hunnic milieu") leads to indiscriminate attribution of a slew of different traditions to a single titular carrier, not elucidating, but blurring the picture. And in the comparisons, what is called Greek may be totally non-Greek, and likewise what is since the last century called Sasanian or Iranian almost always has its origin in the constituent non-titulary societies, as was so visibly exhibited by W.Culican in his Medes and Persians, London, 1965. The Iranians in the text means attributed to Persians, but actually this art and traditions are completely unrelated to the IE-speaking migrants to Messopotamia whom the author calls Iranians, and no Scythian/Sarmatian etc. nomadic art had ever survived in the IE-speaking segment of the Persians, unlike their continued development in the Türkic societies. These IE allusions are definitely wrong. On the other hand, it is little surprising that after Goths' split from the Hunnic Empire,  post-Hunnic Goths absorbed plenty of Huns and Hun's traditions, and these traditions kept being carried on.

MASKS AND AMULETS

281

Like the Germans and the Celts in the West, the nomads of the eastern steppes took a fancy to the frontal representations of heads, an old and widespread motif in the higher civilizations to the south in direct or indirect contact with the barbarians. In Greek art in the service of the Scythians and other barbarians in southeastern Europe, circular friezes of heads are quite common (cf. Bobrinskoi 1894, 1, 136, fig. 20, pls. 11, 12). Cf. also the masks on the Parthian palace at Hatra (Sarre 1922, pl. 60). Mask-like heads occur on horse trappings, stamped silver and bronze sheets, in Hunnic burials as well as in those which in one way or another indicate a Hunnic milieu; in Szentes-Nagyhegy and Pecs-Uszog in Hungary, Novo-Grigorievka in the southern Ukraine, and Pokrovsk-Voskhod (fig. 13) and Pokrovsk kurgan 17 (fig. 14) and on the lower Volga.

FIG. 13. Mask-like human heads stamped on gold sheet from a Hunnic burial at Pokrovsk-Voskhod.
From Sinitsyn 1936, fig. 4.

Fig. 14. Mask-like human heads stamped on silver sheet on a bronze phalera from kurgan 17, Pokrovsk.
 From Minaeva 1927, p. 2:11.

The wooden and leather masks in the kurgans at Pazyryk in the High Altai, datable to the fourth century B.C., still reveal their foreign prototypes; some are derived from the head of Bes (a statue of Bes was found in the Altai, A. Zakharov, Tsaranion 4, 227-229), others betray in the palmette on top their origin in Greek art (cf. also the head of Dionysus on a white kotyle (aka skyphos, a Greek for drinking cup with two horizontal handles - Translator's Note) in the Ny Garlsberg Glyptothek, American Journal of Archaeology 39, 1935, 479, fig. 4a). The gradual simplification of the heads, their progressive coarsening, whether they were Sileni, Negroes, Gorgoneia, the heads of Hercules or Dionysus, led independently both in the East and West to similar results. On early Celtic masks the hair is done in vertical strokes covering the forehead down to the eyebrows as it is on the masks from Intercisa, Szentes-Nagyhegy, and Pokrovsk-Voskhod. The publication of all Sarmatian objects with masks would be most desirable. Tikhanova (1956, 310, n. 1) mentions a mask from Kobelyak, Poltava province, and a mask-pendant from Inkerman in the Crimea, both unpublished. The masks may have been carriers of apotropaic powers, could (pars pro to to) have stood for god or demons, or may have been merely decorative. The juxtaposition and superimposition of the masks probably had no meaning: They seem to result from the technique of stamping thin metal sheets.

Some of the Hunnic or probably Hunnic masks are of Iranian origin. The Huns, said Ammianus Marcellinus, looked like eunuchs. He exaggerated, as usual. But their thin beards also struck the observant Priscus. The masks from Pecs-Uszog, Pokrovsk 17 (fig. 14), and Pokrovsk-Voskhod (fig. 13), with their luxuriant beards, cannot represent Huns, or their gods.

Although most masks of the barbarians are mechanical and increasingly debased replicas of motifs unintelligible to their makers, occasionally one finds new and unexpected features in them, apparently attempts to make them more like the people who used them. The just-mentioned masks, with their shaved upper lip and the fan-shaped beard, render a fashion which at one time was current among Eurasian nomads. The head of a "Scythian" in the Historical Museum in Moscow (fig. 15), found in Transcaucasia, makes it probable that originally it was the fashion of Iranian tribes. The piece, a stray find, is undatable. The face of a clay figure from a kurgan at stanitsa Charvlennaya in Checheno-Ingushetia, datable to the sixth or fifth century, is quite similar (Gf. Vinogradov 1966a, 300).  See the stone figure from the Terek, datable to about 500 B.C., in Vinogradov 1966b, 43.

Fig. 15. Clay head of a Scythian from N. Caucasia.
Photo courtesy State Historical Museum, Moscow.

To Iranians (i.e. dysphemism for Sarmatians - Translator's Note) point also the curious bronze mountings on a wooden casket from Intercisa on the Danube, south of Aquincum-Budapest (fig. 16). They sometimes have been claimed for the Huns. Radnoti, comparing the heads, or masks, of the figures with those on Germanic buckles, takes the mountings for Germanic; he dates them tentatively to the middle of the fifth century. Now it is true that Germans settled, at one time or another, near Intercisa; however, the masks of the Ostrogothic buckles belong to the last third of the fifth century, are quite different from those on the Intercisa casket. Apart from the higher relief, the mountings are technically identical with the many late Roman pieces found both on the Danube and the Rhine. The man who made them must have been a Roman or a barbarian using Roman techniques. But this is of minor importance, for the figures on the mountings are as un-Roman as possible. The heads are distantly related to the mask-heads from Hunnic burials, but the impressive mustache occurs on none of them. It has some resemblance to the mustache of Turkish stone figures in Southern Siberia and Mongolia, or on Sasanian silver phalerae. Rut neither the Turkish nor the Persian heads have the luxuriant beards of the Intercisa figures, a feature which also rules out the Huns. This leaves only one possibility: The figures must be Sarmatian.

Fig. 16. Bronze mountings from a wooden casket from Intercisa on the Danube
From Paulovics, AE9 1940.

Although from the masks little, if anything, can be learned about the religion of the Huns, some of them point to apparently early contacts between Huns and Iranian tribes, presumably Sarmatians (translation: between Huns and Sarmatian tribes, presumably Iranians - Translator's Note).

Foreword to "Eidola" article

In this chapter O. Maenchen-Helfen gives a list of tombstones and children's dolls found in the Eurasian steppes and dating beginning from 5th c. BC. No supernatural connotations are needed, the rectangular tombstones with rounded tops found today in the cemeteries of New-Jersey carry no more iconic content than the Türkic balbal tombstones of 25 centuries ago. There is enough literature on balbals and their usage to completely cover a good size balbal. The balbals commemorating the diseased could carry his tamga, his name, a discourse on his life. The balbals commemorating enemies he killed are schematic representations. The baby dolls were produced at all times, in all shapes, including clay and wooden heads and limbs, and a suitable, but of irrelevant material body. Until the industrial era, the dolls were made everywhere and by everybody. That is why the discourse does not have any hard facts, only allusions and surmises. Some descriptions of the Türkic religious rituals can be found here and here. No ritual includes any idols, the closest that comes to it is a post marking a special, sacred, or altar section of the ritual field. After completion of the ritual, the marker reverts to its initial status of a wooden pole or stone marker. Thus, the fable about Hun's gold and electrum statuary may or may not involve Huns, but it clearly is describing a phenomenon foreign to the Huns, the worship of a Christian cross or image of Gothic god would describe Christian or Gothic, and not Tengrian rituals. The weird custom of killing enemies to send them to Tangra for recycling, to be returned back as a friend, and thus multiply their own forces, was based on the Tengrian religious beliefs, but was performed for purely practical and not ritual reasons, to enforce themselves and weaken the enemy. In a way it resembles sending to Purgatory, where people are sent temporarily, to be re-born in the same physical appearance, but in a cleansed status. That was the fate of the Rus prince Oleg (Khud), who was killed and suspended on a tree, as a way of being dispatched to Tengri, in expectation that upon return he would join Bulgars instead of the Ruses. The suspension on a tree was a part of operation of sending to Tengri, it had nothing to do with human sacrifices. A ritual sacrifice of the animals was a part of a religious service, and a part was eaten, and a part was set out as offering. Nowhere in the anthropological studies or historical sources was recorded anything close to the Türks ritually eating blood and body of their god, a tradition still  found today in Catholicism. The Türks prayed to the sky that is above all, so they did not need a human or animal image as a substitute. The author's suggestion that Attilanic Huns and their Alanic allies probably worshipped, next to the sacred sword, eidola in human form, does not have any justification.

A separate question, completely outside the author's horizon, is the role of Buddhism in the Hunnic society. That the Western Türks, including Huns and Bulgars and Sabirs etc., remained Tengrianians long after Atilla is a widely known and accepted fact.  However, there are documents indicating their Buddist religion, at least in the upper class, see Khan Diggizikh Dish. Because the Great Khan was at the same time a first cleric, he had to lead all major prayers, and officiate at a multitude of the state religious events. How could they do it if at the same time they respected Buddist canons, is not clear.

The author's references to Shamanism do not derogate Tengrianism, because Shamanism does not exist, it is simply a derogatory label on the same level as "Papism", "Mohameddanism", "Rabbinism" etc. applied by people who know everything, or at least the absolute truth in the area of theology, in respect to others who hold "wrong" views. The basic tenets of the Tengrianism, and the ritual functions of shamans and kams, are cited on this site. The people who still follow these beliefs today, hold their content as much true as do those who follow "Papism" etc., and naturally there are geographical and cultural differences between their beliefs, which are frequently studied in the contexts of ethnographic research, but near always from a somewhat superior stance.

EIDOLA (Greek eidōlon "idol" - Translator's Note)

Translator's Note

Use of stones as depositaries of beings predates our writing, so we do not know where it came from, and what was the initial idea. The tradition came to us as Semitic Beth-al = "House of God", distorted to "baitylos, baetylus", and the like. The tradition of selecting material, appearance, markings etc. comes in colloquial form, it could be a meteorite, basalt, limestone or whatever the ancient imagination preferred; so is the name, it could be Al/El for "God", eidolon for "idol", or balbal for a foe or an ancestor. A choice to name baitylos an eidola describes the hillock in the swamp where the author took position, and should have no baring on the phenomenon, which has its own roots independent of the convictions of the historians. The artistic part also has a colloquial nature, a tamga is no different then a cross, a lily, a parapet, an elaborate enclosure, or a pedestal adopted for the convenience of kissing, in all cases it is a message packaged in a suitable symbolic form. Reading the historical traces with an attitude does as much good as identifying any archeological artifact which utility is not immediately clear to us from a religious perspective, replacing one unknown for another unknown. In many cases the solution lies in front of our eyes, all we have to do is to discard the blinds. Bulgars believed in physical reincarnation, the best of their foes were sent to Tengri to be re-sent back reincarnated as productive members of Bulgarian tribes, this utility of gaining additional strength was accomplished by hanging a candidate for reincarnation on a tree; this procedure had nothing to do with sacrificing; the Scythian Cimbri did exactly the same with their captives, hanging them up as a favor to them, to give them a chance to return as good "us" vs. bad "them". Similarly, the concept for the ancient balbals is better served by examining the connotations for their latest usage, which extended well into the Modern Age. It is admirable that Otto J. Maenchen-Helfen could find genetic analogies for the mute ancient artifacts only in the examples of the Türkic culture of the historical period.

We seem to learn something about Hunnic sacrifices from a short passage in the Getica which probably goes back to Priscus: When the Huns first entered Scythia, they sacrificed to victory, litauere victoriae, as many as they captured. This is the only time the Huns were accused of having sacrificed their prisoners. In Attila's time, and also before him, those captives who could not be sold or who were not ransomed were kept as domestic slaves. Priscus apparently transferred a Germanic custom, of which he knew from literature, to the Huns. Cimbri sacrificed the horses by drowning and the captives by hanging (Orosius, Hist. adv. Pagan. V, 6, 5-6) (This indicates that Cimbri may have followed the Türkic Tengrian beliefs, sending enemies to Tengri to be re-incarnated as friends instead of enemies - Translator's Note). But the Huns may have sacrificed animals to their gods. Did they worship gods in human or animal form?

Throughout northern Eurasia, from Lapland to Korea, the figures of the shamanistic pantheon, in particular the shaman's "helpers," were represented in various ways: painted on drums; cut out of felt; cast in bronze and iron and attached to the shaman's coat; carved out of wood and put up in the tent or glued to the drum. The shamanistic Huns, too, may have had eidola (I avoid the missionary term "idols"). There is, indeed, both literary and archaeological, though circumstantial, evidence of their existence.

According to Malalas, Gordas, prince of the Huns near Bosporus in the Crimea, was baptized in Constantinople in the first year of Justinian's reign, 527-528. After his return to his country, he ordered the αγάλματα (Greek for statuary - Translator's Note), made of gold and electrum, to be melted down; the metal was exchanged for Byzantine money in Bosporus. Incensed at the sacrilege, the priests, in connivance with Muageris, Gordas' brother, put the prince to death.

There is no reason to doubt Malalas' account. Besides, the statement that the figures were of gold and electrum, while the cliche would call for gold and silver, speaks in favor of the story. It does, of course, not prove that the Attilanic Huns, too, had figures of their gods made of precious metals. But the possibility cannot be ruled out, certainly not because of the low level of Hun metal work. The impressive bronze horseman from Issyk in Kazakhstan, datable to the fifth or fourth century .., shows the skill of metalworkers in the early nomadic societies of Eurasia. The Eastern Huns had their "metal men," and the silver figures at the court of the Turk Silzibulos (Menander's rendering of Istemi Yabgu's name - Translator's Note) greatly impressed the Byzantine ambassador. The common Htinnic eidola - provided that they did exist - were probably much more like those of the Sarmatians, about which we are fairly well informed.

The earliest one is of sandstone, about one meter high, a pillar rectangular in cross section, except the upper part, which is rounded to represent the head (fig. 18); it was found in kurgan 16 at Tri Brata near Elista in the Kalmuk steppe. The arrowheads date the grave to the fifth century .. Smirnov lists a similar stone figure from Berdinskaya Gora near Orenburg and two from the trans-Volga steppes which, however, stand closer to the well-known kamennye baby, "stone women." Two more eidola from the lower Don, stone slabs showing human figures in silhouette, may be somewhat later.

FIG. 18. Sandstone pillar in the shape of a human head from kurgan 16 at Tri Brata near Elista in the Kalmuk steppe. (Height 1 m.)
From Sinitsyn 1956b, fig. 11.

Smirnov assumed that these Sarmatian figures were put up on, or near, burial mounds as representations of local gods or deified ancestors. Their similarity to the silhouette stone slabs from the Bosporan kingdom, dating from Hellenistic to Roman times, speaks for the latter interpretation; the Bosporan figures, some of them with the name of the dead written on them, are doubtless tombstones.

From the Early Sarmatian period two chalk eidola are known, both about 13 centimeters high, too small to be erected on a kurgan or on the ground. The one from Bliznetsy, west of Ak-Bulak in the province Orenburg, is a human figure in the round, so crude that not even the sex can be determined; the other one from Zaplavnoe between Volgograd and Elista, one or two centuries earlier, is a slab with the merest indication of the head.

In the Middle Sarmatian period, eidola were made over a wide territory. In the grave of a young woman in kurgan 5/3, in the burial ground at Bykovo on the Volga, oblast Volgograd, a crude chalk figure was found, 8 centimeters high, head, shoulders, and legs barely indicated. Four even cruder eidola from the Kuban area probably are to be dated to the early first century A.D.; one was found at Krasnodar, three at Elizavetskaya stanitsa.

In a sacrificial pit at Neapolis near Simferopol in the Crimea lay unburnt clay figures: the head and neck of a ram, the fragment of a human torso, and two coarsely modeled heads; the building near the pit was destroyed about 200 A.D., the beginning of the Late Sarmatian period when numerous elements of Sarmatian civilization began to appear in the late Scythian civilization of Neapolis. Of about the same time is the clay figure of a seated woman with a hollowed head, 7 centimeters high, found in the town site Zolotaya Balka on the lower Dnieper. Clay figures of the Late Sarmatian period were found in small rural settlements on the periphery of the Bosporan kingdom: The terracottas from Semenovka represent women; a female torso and a head were excavated at Mysovka, and another head at Tasunovo. A limestone figure, 9.5 centimeters high, 3.5. centimeters across the shoulders, comes from a kurgan at Perezdnaya in the uezd Bakhmut, gubernie Ekaterinoslav. It represents a woman with what looks like a vessel in her hands, the body apparently bare, the the head covered. Veselovsky took it for pre-Mycenean; Gorodtsov dated it rightly to the second or third century.

Two chalk eidola have come to light from Alanic graves of the fifth century A.D. at Baital Chapkan in Cherkessia. One is round in cross section, modeled on one side only, the shoulders being indicated by round projections (fig. 19); the other eidolon is merely a cone, somewhat wider in the upper part.

FIG. 19. Chalk eidola from an Alanic grave at Baital Chapkan in Cherkessia, fifth century A.D.
From Minaeva 1956, fig. 12.

This list is incomplete. Many Sarmatian eidola mentioned in excavation reports are neither properly described nor properly illustrated. A few examples follow: a piece of wood with a human head in a kurgan at Susly in the former German Volga Republic; two stone "stelae" in a cemetery at Zemetnoe near Bakhchisarai in the Crimea; wooden statues, 56 inches high, in a barrow in the former okrug Salsk, southeast of Rostov; an anthropomorphic copper figure in a kurgan between Kapustin and Pogromnoe at the border of the Astrakhan and Volgograd oblasts.

Some of the small terracotta, lead, and copper figures in Sarmatian graves in the Kuban area, excavated by Veselovsky, but never published, may have been dolls. A small bronze figure in a Late Sarmatian grave at Ust-Kamenka, district Apostolovo, Dnepropetrovsk oblast, might also be a doll; its leather belt, with a bow at the back, is well preserved; the absence of a loop indicates that the statuette was not carried around the neck as an amulet. The silver figure of a mustachioed man in a short coat found in a grave in the cemetery at Novo-Turbasly near Ufa, datable to the fourth or fifth century, had a loop at the back.

Minaeva compared the Alanic eidola from Cherkessia with the pieces of chalk in Late Sarmatian graves which for a long time have claimed the attention of Soviet archaeologists. In the Early Sarmatian cemeteries at Berejnovka and Molchanovka, no pieces of chalk were found, but many of realgar (arsenic ore - Translator's Note). The same is true for the Don region. From most excavation reports, one gets the impression that the lumps of clay were just thrown into the grave pit. However, there are exceptions. In Susly, kurgan 35, in the grave of a woman with a deformed skull, the chalk lay in a small, round vessel with a hole in its side. In the Late Sarmatian graves at Ust-Labinskaya the pieces were carefully placed next to clay vessels; one was in a bowl and five were in pitchers, intentionally kept away from the corpses they were allegedly to purify. It seems that it was rather the shape of the chalk pieces than their color that counted. Many seem to be merely irregularly shaped cones and pyramids, but others had been worked over. The piece in kurgan 8/3 in Susly looks like the cocoon of a silkworm. In the Late Sarmatian grave of a woman, in Focsani in Rumania, lay a rather remarkable "piece of chalk" (fig. 20). Almost 12 centimeters high, it represents a human being: the round line of the chin separates the head from the body; eyebrows, pupils, nose, and mouth are crudely but unmistakably rendered.

FIG. 20. Chalk figure from a Late Sarmatian grave in Focgani, Rumania. (Height ca. 12 cm.)
From Morintz 1959, fig. 7.

So far, no sandstone or chalk eidola have been found in Hungary. In view of the very small number of Alanic graves in the Danube basin, this is not surprising. A curious find proves the identity of the religion of the Alans in Hunnic Hungary and Cherkessia. At Füzesbonyban, a cone-shaped cavity, lined with polished clay, contained a horse skull. There was no cemetery nearby; nothing similar is known from Hungary. But in Cherkessia, in Baital Chapkan and Atsiyukh, three such small "graves" with only the skull and the fore- and hindlegs of a horse have been found, again unconnected with other burials. If the Alans in Cherkessia put eidola in their graves, those in Hungary almost certainly did the same.

The Alans in Hungary stayed as pagan (i.e non-Christian - Translator's Note) until the end of the Hunnic kingdom as those who in the beginning of the fifth century moved to Gaul. About 440, Salvian of Marseilles spoke about the greedy pagan Alans. In the sixth century a few Alans in Gaul were Christians. We hear of St. Goar from Aquitania whose parents, Georgius and Valeria, had already been baptized (MGH, scr. rer. Merov. IV, 411, this source may have escaped Agusti Alemany in his Sources On The Alans - Translator's Note); they apparently had left their compatriots and moved into a Roman milieu which, however, did not prevent them from giving their son a pagan Alanic name, Goar. In an inscription in Spain, St. Martin is praised for converting the Alans. In any case, by the middle of the fifth century, the Alans in Gaul were still pagans. Their king, Goachar (Goar), rex ferocissimus, was idolorum minister (Vita Germani 28, MGH scr. rer. Merov. 7, 272)  If this is not a conventional phrase, Goachar's eidola were probably not different in shape from those in the Sarmatian graves in the East, though possibly bigger.

In his admirable study of the Sauromatian cult objects, K. F. Smirnov assumes that the small chalk eidola in the burials were replicas of large stone statues like the one in kurgan 16 at Tri Brata. He lists more of its kind, unfortunately mostly undatable. Still, one needs only to compare the piece of chalk from Foesani with the stone figure from Tri Brata to see that the main, if not the only, difference between them is their size. The same is true for a stone figure found at khutor Karnaukhova near ancient Sarkel on the lower Don and a small clay statue, a pyramid with a round head from Znamenka south of Nikopol on the lower Dnieper. Both are Sarmatian. Had the eidola which Muageris melted down been of small size, he would not have received more than a few solidi when he exchanged the metal for Byzantine money. This speaks for the assumption that, in analogy with the Sarmatian custom, the Huns in the Crimea, and and not only there, also had small eidola. This seems to be borne out by two eidola from Altyn Asar in ancient Khwarezm. They are of unburnt clay, the one 8 centimeters high and the other 4 centimeters high. The upper strata of the lower horizon in the "Big House" are datable to the third or fourth century. The eidola belong to the same Hunnoid civilization as the bone lamellae and the clay cauldrons from Altyn-asar. The extremely crudely modeled eyes, nose, and mouth are barely indicated by dots and strokes. The small clay cauldrons from Altyn-asar are, as we saw, replicas of bigger copper cauldrons. Therefore, we may conjecture that the eidola from Altyn-asar stand likewise for bigger ones worshipped by the Hunnoid population in Khwarezm in the third or fourth century.

In her analysis of the pottery from Altyn Asar, Levina found numerous parallels to the Late Sarmatian civilization on the lower Volga and to the west of the river, but neither she nor Tolstov noticed that one eidolon has a typically Sarmatian tamga cut into the clay. Exactly the same tamga is carved on the side of a stone slab at Zadzrost near Ternopol in former eastern Galicia (fig. 21 ). On the front are more tamgas, likewise typically Sarmatian. The slab is no less than 5.5 meters high, and below 1.21, above 1 meter wide. How it got into the northwestern Ukraine, where Sarmatians never lived, is obscure (what's not obscure is how an imminent expert on the subject can be so impervious to the facts outside of his ideological paradigm - Translator's Note).

FIG. 21. Stone slab at Zadzrost, near Ternopol, former eastern Galicia, marked with a Sarmatian tamga. (Height 5.5 m.)
From Drachuk, SA 2, 1967, fig. 1.

Some Polish archaeologists took it for a Gothic monument, others saw in it a Turkish kamennaya baba (stone matriarch, a Rus' ragtag moniker for Türkic gravemarker statue - Translator's Note) with Runic letters; Drachuk, who discussed it most recently, regards it as a symbol of Sarmatian power. Actually, it is an eidolon, the biggest known so far: the upper part, carefully cut and set off the carelessly cut lower part, represents the head and the neck of the figure. It is in large size what the clay eidolon from Bykovo is in a small size. Similar stone slabs, to decide whether the eidola from Altyn Asar were those of Huns under Sarmatian influence or of Sarmatian under Hunnish influence. Because of the Hunnish cauldron and the bone lamellae, the former seems more likely.

The metal, stone, clay, and wooden anthropomorphic sculptures in ancient northern Eurasia must be left to scholars who have access to all museums in the Soviet Union, not just to those in Leningrad and Moscow. A first and promising attempt was made by Davidovich and Litvinskii (Trudy Tadj. 35, 1955, 53). The material presented in the foregoing makes it probable that the Attilanic Huns and their Alanic allies worshipped, next to the sacred sword, also eidola in human form.

 
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9/21/2005
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