Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ancient Seals, Symbols & Coinage of Bactria

Bronze Ax Head from Bactria, ca. 2000 BCE.....Bird-headed , boar and dragon, c.2300-1900 BCE.....A Magnificent and Highly Important Bactrian Silver and Gold Foil Shaft.....This shaft-hole axhead is a masterpiece of three-dimensional and relief sculpture. Expertly cast in silver and gilded with gold foil, it depicts a bird-headed hero grappling with a wild boar and a winged dragon. The idea of the heroic bird-headed creature probably came from western Iran, where it is first documented on a cylinder seal impression. The hero's muscular body is human except for the bird talons that replace the hands and feet. He is represented twice, once on each side of the ax, and consequently appears to have two heads. On one side, he grasps the boar by the belly and on the other, by the tusks. The posture of the boar is contorted so that its bristly back forms the shape of the blade. With his other talon, the bird-headed hero grasps the winged dragon by the neck. The dragon, probably originating in Mesopotamia or Iran, is represented with folded wings, a feline body, and the talons of a bird of prey.......Source: Shaft-hole axhead with a bird-headed demon, boar, and dragon [Central Asia (Bactria-Margiana)] (1982.5) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ancient copper bronze seal from Bactria...Eight Petals

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE

Kanishka's coins portray images of Indo-Aryan, Greek, Iranian and even Sumero-Elamite divinities, demonstrating the religious syncretism in his beliefs. Kanishka's coins from the beginning of his reign bear legends in Greek language and script and depict Greek divinities. Later coins bear legends in Bactrian, the Iranian language that the Kushans evidently spoke, and Greek divinities were replaced by corresponding Iranic ones.

The Buddhist coins of Kanishka are comparatively rare (well under one percent of all known coins of Kanishka). Several show Kanishka on the obverse and the Buddha standing on the reverse, in Hellenistic style. A few also show the Shakyamuni Buddha and Maitreya. Like all coins of Kanishka, the design is rather rough and proportions tend to be imprecise; the image of the Buddha is often slightly corrupted, with oversize ears and feet spread apart in the same fashion as the Kushan king, indicating clumsy imitation of Hellenistic types.

CYBELE plate.....Plate found at Ai Khanum, in a temple, depicting Cybele, a votive sacrifice and the sun God.....

"One of the most powerful and resonant words in pre-Buddhist Tibet was yungdrung (g.yung drung). It was a the key terms for the old royal religion, the mythological backdrop to the kingly lineage of the Tibetan Empire. For example, the inscription of the tomb of Trisong Detsen has the line: “In accord with the eternal (yungdrung) customs (tsuglag), the Emperor and Divine Son Trisong Detsen was made the ruler of men.” I discussed how to translate that term tsuglag in an earlier post. Here, as you no doubt noticed, I have translated yungdrung here as “eternal”. Eternity seems to be the general meaning of yungdrung in the early religion. In addition, the word was associated with the ancient Indo-European swastika design, which in Tibet was the graphic symbol of the eternal.".....http://earlytibet.com/2008/04/30/buddhism-and-bon-iii-what-is-yungdrung/

Karmay, Samten. ‘A General Introduction to the History and Doctrines of Bon.’ In The Arrow and the Spindle. Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point.

Thraco-Macedonian Tribes, The Bisaltai AR Oktodrachm. 475-465 BC... horseman, in chlamys & petasos, & holding two spears, leading horse right; EM monogram on horse's rump

Following the transition to the Bactrian language on coins, Iranic and Indic divinities replace the Greek ones:
ΑΡΔΟΧϷΟ (ardoxsho, Ashi Vanghuhi)
ΛΡΟΟΑΣΠΟ (lrooaspo, Drvaspa)
ΑΘϷΟ (adsho, Atar)
ΦΑΡΡΟ (pharro, personified khwarenah)
ΜΑΟ (mao, Mah)
ΜΙΘΡΟ, ΜΙΙΡΟ, ΜΙΟΡΟ, ΜΙΥΡΟ (mithro, miiro, mioro, miuro, variants of Mithra)
ΜΟΖΔΟΟΑΝΟ (mozdaooano, "Mazda the victorious?")
ΝΑΝΑ, ΝΑΝΑΙΑ, ΝΑΝΑϷΑΟ (variants of pan-Asiatic Nana, Sogdian nny, in a Zoroastrian context Aredvi Sura Anahita)
ΜΑΝΑΟΒΑΓΟ (manaobago, Vohu Manah )
ΟΑΔΟ (oado, Vata)
ΟΡΑΛΑΓΝΟ (orlagno, Verethragna)
Only a few Buddhist divinities were used as well:
ΒΟΔΔΟ (boddo, Buddha),
ϷΑΚΑΜΑΝΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ (shakamano boddho, Shakyamuni Buddha)
ΜΕΤΡΑΓΟ ΒΟΔΔΟ (metrago boddo, the bodhisattava Maitreya)

"Numismatics also suggest that some technology exchanges may have occurred on these occasions: the Greco-Bactrians were the first in the world to issue cupro-nickel coins, an alloy technology only known by the Chinese at the time under the name "White copper" . The practice of exporting Chinese metals, in particular iron, for trade is attested around that period. Kings Euthydemus, Euthydemus II, Agathocles and Pantaleon made these coin issues around 170 BC and it has alternatively been suggested that a nickeliferous copper ore was the source from mines at Anarak . Copper-nickel would not be used again in coinage until the 19th century."

Kamsabhoga and Bahilika country......In Kamsabhoga, the prefix 'Kamsa'- implies that the country was noted for its Bronze or copper. If this is correct, then Kamsabhoga may have been so-called because it was noted for its copper or Bronze metal. According Professor Lokesh Chandra, Kamsa or Kamsabhoga country is identified with the area now known as Balkh; and the country got its name after the metal Kamsa (or Bronze) for being the place of its origin. He further suggests that Bhallika is a kind of copper enumerated under the eight kinds of Pisakalohani or the metals coming from the Pisaca country, as described in the Vibhaga Athakatha. He further suggests that Bhallika became the name of a metal after the town Bahlika or Balkh. It is also suggested that 'Bhalluka' or 'Bhallika', the name of younger brother of Tapassu may have derived from Bhahlika or Bahlika (Balkh).

The Oxus civilization was a Bronze Age Central Asian culture dated to ca. 2300–1700 BC and centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus). In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BC, corresponding to level V at Namazga-Depe. This Bronze Age culture is called the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC).



John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….December 2012


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