The Migration of Symbols, by Goblet d'Alviella, , at sacred-texts.com
Those familiar with the delightful papers contributed in recent years by the Count Goblet d’Alviella to the Bulletin de l’Académie royale de Belgique on "le Triçûla, ou Vardhamâna des Bouddhistes," "l’histoire du Globe Ailée," "la Croix Gammée ou Svastika," "les Arbres Paradisiaques," and other allusive types of the ancient religions of the Old World, warmly welcomed the publication, at Paris, in 1892, of his collective work on La Migration des Symboles, setting forth on a more systematic plan, and with fuller references to original authorities and illustrations from authentic examples, the matured and permanent results of the learned and accomplished author's examination of the enigmatic subject of which he is now everywhere recognized as the greatest living exponent. It had been treated by others in a similar comprehensive spirit, but never before in the same thoroughly scientific manner; and thus, while the writings of Dupuis and Creuzer have, in spite of their immense erudition, but served to discredit it, and are already obsolete, the Count Goblet d’Alviella, by pursuing his investigations on a severely inductive basis, at once, and, so to say, single handed, raised the inquiry to its proper position as a department of archæological research, producing a work destined to exert an abiding influence on the whole future of the study of symbolism, and also, I would fain hope, on that of the decorative designs of the artistic industries of the West. One, indeed, of Messrs.
[paragraph continues] Archibald Constable and Company's special objects in publishing the present English translation of the Count Goblet d’Alviella's alluring book has been to bring it within the reach of the Schools of Art throughout the United Kingdom: the other being to make it as widely accessible as possible to archæological students in India, where so much of the symbolism of antiquity still survives as a quickening religious and æsthetic force, permeating the entire mass of the Hindu populations,—like that idealizing thread of scarlet which runs through the ropes used in the British Royal Navy, "from the strongest to the weakest,"—elevating it by the constantly felt presence of the unseen realities of human life, and the diffusion throughout it of a popular spiritual culture; and where, consequently, the clues to the mystery of so many historical emblems may be successfully followed up on every hand, even among the humblest and the most illiterate.
Of course, the way had been prepared for the Count Goblet d’Alviella by the remarkable discoveries made during the passing generation of the rich remains of ancient art in Egypt, Phœnicia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Phrygia, and Greece, and by the wide interest created on the continent of Europe in the ancient arts of India by the French International Exhibition of 1878. All this the Count Goblet d’Alviella frankly and generously acknowledges; but none the less is his merit in having applied the true Baconian principles of observation and comparison to the classification of the bewildering mass of materials thus placed at his disposal, and elaborating therefrom, in the laborious processes of his most patient analysis, a volume that will always remain the locus classicus on the various transcendental types constituting the materials of its seductive theme.
The general conclusion arrived at by the Count
[paragraph continues] Goblet d’Alviella is, as the superscription of the volume indicates, that the religious symbols common to the different historical races of mankind have not originated independently among them, but have, for the most part, been carried from one to the other, in the course of their migrations, conquests, and commerce; and his specific achievement is to have demonstrated the fact by an overwhelming induction of ancient and modern instances. The imprint of "the Feet of Buddha" on the title-page further indicates the Count Goblet d’Alviella's tentative opinion that the more notable of these symbols were carried over the world in the footsteps of Buddhism, or rather of that commerce of the East and West with Babylonia and Egypt, promoted by Nebuchadnezzar III. and Psammetichus I., respectively, out of which, through the internationalization of Hinduism, Buddhism arose in India, as later on, under the influence of the continued intercourse thus initiated between the countries of the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Christianity and Islam were successively developed from Judaism.
One of the most remarkable instances of the migration of a symbolical type is that afforded by the triskelion ["tripes"], or, as we more familiarly know it, "the Three Legs of Man." It first appears on the coins of Lycia, circa B.C. 480; and then on those of Sicily, where it was adopted by Agathocles, B.C. 317–7, but not as a symbol of the Morning, Mid-day and Afternoon Sun [the "Three Steps of Vishnu"], but of the "three-sided," or rather "three-ended," or "three-pointed" ["triquetrous"], land of Trin-akria, i.e., "Three Capes," the ancient name of Sicily; and, finally, from the seventeenth century, on the coins of the Isle of Man; where, as Mr. John Newton has shown, in the Athenæum of the 10th of September, 1892, it was introduced by Alexander III. of Scotland, when,
in 1266, that prince took over the island from the Norwegians; he having become familiar with the device at the English Court of Henry III. [1216–72], who for a short time was the nominal sovereign of Sicily. 1 The triskelion of Lycia is made up of three cocks’ heads, a proof added to that presented by the cock sculptured on the "Harpy Monument" at Xanthus, that in the fifth century B. C. 2 this exclusively Indian bird had already reached the Mediterranean Sea. But on the coins of Sicily and the Isle of Man the triskelion consists of three human legs of an identical type, excepting that those of the latter island are spurred. This form of triskelion is borne on the armorial coats of several old English families, and
it was in all probability first introduced throughout this country between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries by Crusaders returning from the East by way of Sicily.
The triskelion is but a modification of the gammadion, or "fylfot-cross," a type formally identical with the swastika of the Hindus. The latter was long ago suspected by Edward Thomas to be a sun symbol; but this was not positively proved until Percy Gardner found a coin of the ancient city of Mesembria, struck with a gammadion bearing within its opened centre an image of the sun,—"Mes-embria" meaning the city of the "Mid-day" sun, this name being stamped on some of its coins by the decisive legend . Such a discovery makes one of the "fairy tales of science," and inspires the sequestered student of "the days of old, the years of ancient times," with the perennial enthusiasm that is the true end and highest recreation of all labour. 1
The gammadion or swastika, for we may now absolutely identify them, has travelled farther afield than any other sacred type of antiquity; and from Iceland, which it reached in the ninth century A.D., and Thibet and Japan, between the third and eighth, and China, Persia, North Africa, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and the British Isles, between the second century A.D. and the second B.C., and India 2 and Sicily between the
third and fourth centuries B.C., and Asia Minor and Greece between the sixth and twelfth centuries B.C., the Count Goblet d’Alviella traces it back on the monuments to the Troad, some time anterior to the thirteenth century B.C.
Then there is the strange eventful history of the migration of the imperial type of the "Double-headed Eagle." It is now borne on the arms of Austria and Russia; and as a form of the Garuda bird [cf: the Assyrian Nisroch, and Etruscan Tuchulcha] is to be found everywhere in Southern India,—on the temple sculptures, in wood carvings, on embroidered, printed, and woven cloths, and on amulets. Also the cherubim guarding the "Tree of Life," on the modern Syrian amulet presented by me to the Count Goblet d’Alviella, and figured by him at page 249 of his original volume, and page 202 of the present translation, are distinctly modelled on the traditional type of the "Double-headed Eagle." It first appears on the so-called Hittite sculptures at Eyuk, the ancient Pteria, in Phrygia. In 1217 it is seen on the coins and standards of the Turkman conquerors of Asia Minor; and H. de Hell, in his Voyage en Turquie et en Perse, reproduces [Plate XII.] a variant of it from the walls of their old fortress at Diarbekr. Now it was in 1227–28 that the Emperor Frederick II. set out on the sixth Crusade, landing at Acre on September 7th in the latter year, and being crowned King in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem on March 18th, 1229; and within thirty years from these dates we find the type struck on the coins of the Flemish princes, Otho, Count of Gueldres,
[paragraph continues] Arnold, Count of Looz, Robert de Thourette, Bishop of Liège, and others. In 1345 it for the first time replaced the Single-headed Eagle on the armorial bearings of the Holy Roman Empire, represented, since 1806, by the dual state known, since 1868, as the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It first appeared as the cognizance of the Russian Empire in 1497, on a seal of Ivan [John] III. [1462–1505], the first of the Grand Dukes of Moscow who took the title of Czar of Muscovy, ten years after his marriage  with Sophia, niece of the last Byzantine Cæsar, Constantine Palæologus.
The "Winged Globe," "the Sun of Righteousness with healing on its wings" of Malachi iv. 2, is another sacred type that has wandered under various modifications into every part of the Old World, until it appears over the doors of the Secretary of State's rooms at the India Office, reduced to a meaningless circle, with two appended flowing ribbons, representing the two uræus snakes of the original Egyptian "Winged Globe," the urim-thummim jewel, attached to the divining zodiacal "breastplate of Aaron." 1
One of the most unexpected results of the critical study of these symbols is the establishment of their essential paucity. They undergo, alike by
devolution and evolution, and a sort of ceaseless interfusion also, infinite permutations of both type and meaning, but in their earliest monumental forms they are found to be remarkably few.
They were at first but the obvious ideographs of the phenomena of nature that made the deepest religious impression on archaic man, such as the outstretched heavens above him, and the outspread earth beneath; both of which he naturally divided into four quarters, the east "fronting" him as he watched anxiously for the returning sun, the south on his "right" hand, the west "backing" him, and the north on his "left" hand; and this four-fold heaven and earth he signified by a circle, or a square, divided cross-ways; from which he was led to conceive of a "heavenly garden," watered by four rivers, and of a foursquare "heavenly city" with its four went ways; and gradually to model more and more in their similitude the four-square cities of antiquity, and those four-square well watered "paradises" ["far—i.e., heavenly—country"], the ground plans of which yet survive in every part of India. Then came the observation of the daily renewed miracle of the phenomena of vegetable, animal, and human reproduction, expressed at first, as still in India, by the most directly realistic types, and afterwards by the lotus bud and flower, the date palm, and other conspicuously phallic flowers and trees: and that the symbolical "Tree of Life" of the Chaldæans, Assyrians and Babylonians, is indeed but a conventional representation of the date palm is sufficiently proved by the description given of the adorning of King Solomon's temple in 1 Kings, vii. 29–35:—"And he carved all the walls . . . round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees [tamar, the 'date palm']. . . . And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree . . . and he carved upon them carvings of
cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims and upon the palm trees. . . . And the two doors of fir tree . . . he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers:" and, again, of the adorning of the visionary temple of Ezekiel, chapter xli. 18:—"And it was made with cherubims and palm trees, so that a palm tree was between a cherub and a cherub;" and chapter xl. 26:—"And there were seven steps to go up to it, and the arches ["propylons," toruns or gopuras of the four cardinal points] thereof were before them, and it had palm trees, one on this side, and another on that, upon the posts thereof." These are exact descriptions of the architectural decoration of the temples and palaces of Nineveh and Babylon, and they should satisfy anyone of, at least, the proximate botanical source of the Sacred Tree of the "Nineveh marbles." The Syrian brasses which have recently become articles of regular import into Europe, however, place the question beyond dispute. The so-called Saibis, the people who make these articles, call themselves mando Yahya, or "disciples of St. John," and are generally referred to by western writers as "Christians of St. John," and Mendæans. By their neighbours they are called sabiun, literally, "washers," i.e., in the ritualistic sense, "Baptists." They are, and they are not, confoundable with the Sabæans,—not the people of that name in ancient South Arabia, but the Chaldæan worshippers of the "Host [saba] of Heaven." 1 The Saibis of Mahomet were not idolaters in any form, but their modern representatives combine with pseudo-Christian and pseudo-Zoroastrian doctrines, the whole remaining body of ancient Chaldæan astrolatry; and how this carne
about is a matter of the utmost importance to the students of the history of the arts of the East, and of their applied symbolism. The Saibis of Mahomet's time were recognized by him as believers in a revealed religion, and were always treated by his followers with toleration. But their sword was unsparing against the still surviving star worshippers of Syria and Mesopotamia, and particularly against the handicraftsmen among them, who, in their several ritualistic arts, perpetuated the familiar "types" and "motives" of the obsolescent idolatry of Nineveh and Babylon. These Sabæans of the Haran and Valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, to escape extermination, sheltered themselves under the name of the Saibis, and introduced all their own pagan practices among the latter sect, which is now really idolatrous. Its members are nearly all artizans, and most of the metal-work from the neighbourhood of Mosul, and Damascus, and Hillah, sold in Alexandria and Cairo, and now largely imported into Paris and London, is fabricated by these "Saibis." The "Tree of Life" appears everywhere on their brass dishes and bowls, and on a dish presented to me by the Count Goblet d’Alviella, and figured in his original volume and in the present translation on Plate V., letter l, the Sacred Tree is realistically rendered by the date palm. The conventional "Tree of Life," under the name of satarvan is an object of still living adoration among them, and as its worship has been traditionally handed down by them from the remotest Chaldæan period, the dish figured by the Count Goblet d’Alviella conclusively proves, so it seems to me, that the ancient Mesopotamian "Tree of Life"
was indeed none other than the date palm of "the
waters of Babylon,"—associated, at times, with the half mythical homa plant of the Iranian Aryas, the soma of the Vedic Hindus, as the source of the earliest intoxicating sap known in Persia and India. 1 In The Industrial Arts of India [Chapman
and Hall, 1880], I traced this type through all its marvellous metamorphoses in the arts of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and of the Islamite Saracens, and the mediæval and modern Europeans; and that it was received by the latter not only through the intermediation of the Greeks and Romans and Arabs, and as modified by them, but also, at different unascertained dates, in its crude forms directly from Mesopotamia and Syria, is suggested by a silver coin of Ceolwlf II., King of Mercia, A.D. 874, bearing on its reverse a nine-branched "Tree of Life," standing among the "Host of Heaven," or "Host of God," between two cherubim, or other acolytes, the whole overshadowed by the "Winged Globe," with wings as of palm branches, and the globe marked like a face. The coin is figured  in Edward Hawkins’ Silver Coins of England [Quaritch, 1887], and its reverse type is there described as follows:—"Two figures seated, holding a globe between them; above Victory with expanded wings; unique."
But beside the sun and moon the others of "the seven planets" of the ancient astronomers came slowly into the observation of archaic man, and the whole universe was perceived to be full of moving life, and was now symbolized by a "Holy Mountain," with its cosmical palm, deep rooted in the earth, the "Garden of Eden" of the Semitic races, and lifting up its laden branches of clustered dates to the highest heavens; and again by a "Virgin Mother." Everywhere he saw creative force in operation, and everywhere adopted the most homely and personal implements of that force as the visible and material symbols of the invisible and spiritual Creator, or Creators, in whose express image he postulated that the worlds were made. It was in this ingenuous unaffected spirit that the Semite nations named their phallic stone, or phallic tree, beth-El, the "house of God," or simply El,
the Godhead's self. Ashtoreth was symbolized by the phallic Cupressus sempervirens, one of the original "arbores vitæ" [asherim] of Anterior Asia; and from it are derived not only the pyramidal images of the goddess in Phœnician sculptures, but the stiff cypress-like representations on the talismanic jewelry of Southern Europe of the Blessed Virgin Mary; to whom we have also consecrated, since the sixteenth century, the American "Arbor Vitæ," Thuja occidentale. It is under the impulse of the same naïve and artless temper of mind that the Hindus everywhere set up the lingam, and the yoni, and combined lingam and yoni images, and bow down to them and worship them as the supreme symbols of creative deity; and the inability of English people, and of Europeans generally, to enter into their mental disposition in this matter is a most pertinent illustration of that ubiquitous antagonism between Eastern and Western ideas, or between the ancient pagan world still left to us in Southern and Eastern Asia and the modern world of Christendom and Islam, which constitutes one of the greatest difficulties besetting British rule in India.
Only three years ago I recorded in the Times 1 the flogging, by order of the Police Magistrate of Black Town, Madras, of a Hindu boy "for exhibiting an indecent figure in public view." What he had explicitly done was to set up, in accordance with universal custom, a phallic image before a house that was in course of erection by a Mr. K. Streevanasa, who was first tried under the indictment, but was acquitted, he, the owner, not having been the person who had actually exhibited the image. It is the fact that the image referred to is often very naturally fashioned in Southern India, a most fortunate fact in relation to the
history of art; but even so it conveys no more idea of indecency to a Hindu, than do the words "fascination," "testimony" [cf. Genesis xxiv., 2, 3, 9; xxxii., 2 5; and xlvii., 29], "Lord and Lady" [Arum sps:], "orchid," et-cætera, to ourselves. It has indeed for the Hindus a significance of the highest sanctity, of which only the remotest trace remains in the words "fascination" and "testimony," and of which there is no trace in the word "orchid" or "orchis," the "testiculus" of the Romans, unless possibly through its Greek synonym σατύριον. The image was indeed set up before Mr. Streevanasa's house as a symbol of the Deity in whose strength alone can any work of man be surely established, and as a devout and public acknowledgment that, in the words of the Hebrew Psalmist:—"Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it." The pillars Jachin and Boaz set up by king Solomon before the porch of his temple at Jerusalem [1 Kings vii., 21] had exactly the same significance, and their restorations by Chipiez and Perrot, although they disclose none of the offensive realism sometimes observed in similar phallic presentments in the Madras Presidency, are not nearly so severely conventional as those to be everywhere seen in Northern and Western India. 1 The ultimate
artistic form of the symbol, as I have been able to trace it, step by step, from India to Greece and Italy, is the conventional "Tree of Life," or "Symbolical Tree," guarded by affronted beasts or cherubim, that is, "the Two Witnesses." 1
At every page we have similar exemplifications of "the long results of time," 2 worked out with rare
scholarship, conscientiousness, and enthusiasm, and with that lucidity of literary expression for which the Count Goblet d’Alviella is distinguished. His book is, therefore, likely to be as welcome to the general reader as to the specialist in archæology. I wish, however, to emphatically recommend it to the earnest attention of the students of ornamental art, for it is a book which, like Husenbeth's Emblems of the Saints in Art, should ever be with them. Beauty in decoration ought not to be sacrificed to symbolism, but it is always enhanced by being symbolical; while to employ
these sacred ancient types irrespective of their significance is to make nonsense of an artistic composition, and is, in reality, as distressing a solecism as the use of fine words by pretentious people ignorant of their etymological derivation and full meaning.
I am in no way responsible for the present translation; but having read it through from beginning to end I have found that, although it cannot be said to in any degree reflect the literary quality of the original French, it is perfectly accurate, and this is what would above all else be desired of the translation of so strictly a scientific work as La Migration des Symboles, alike by its English readers, and its author,—who, I have, in conclusion, to gratefully add, has been good enough to completely revise the text where it has occasionally been found necessary to adapt it to the discoveries made since the first publication of the Count Goblet d’Alviella's profoundly fascinating volume.
7, Apsley Terrace, Acton, Near London, W.
Saturday, 7th July, 1894.
x:1 Cæsar, De Bello Gallico, v. 13, describes Britannia as: "Insula natura triquetra;" and one of the coins of Edward I. has the king's head in a triangle, such as is seen on the Irish money of the time, but here its symbolism, if there be any, is probably Christian: yet some coins of Henry III. have the Persian sun and moon, "Crescent and Star," above the king's head. Beside the instances of the classical triskelion given by the Count Goblet D’Alviella, I may here add that it occurs on the shield of Memnon in the scene of his contest with Achilles, painted, in black, on an archaic Attic vase, figured in James Millengen's Peintures antiques et inédites des vases grecs [Rome, 1813]; and that a similar triquetrous cognizance, resembling a triple-headed hammer, is seen on the shield of one of the warriors in the well-known sea fight painted by Aristonophos, in the seventh century B.C., on a crater from Cervetri [Cære, Agylla], now in the Museo Etrusco Capitolino, Rome.
x:2 We find the cock also blazoned on the shield of one of the young men assisting Herakles in capturing the herd of Geryones, as the myth is painted by Euphronios on a cylex by Chachrylion, now in the Munich Pinakothek; and two cocks fighting furiously in the scene representing Amphiaraus with Euriphyle and her child [Alcmaeon] on another Attic vase of the same period, now in the Berlin Antiquarium; and if the Corinthian vase painted, in black, with fighting heroes, of whom one bears a cock on his shield, figured in the Monuments inediti dell’ Institute Correspondenza Archæologica [Rome], is correctly dated by Arthur Schneider [Der troische Sagenkreis, Leipzig, 1886], the Indian cock was familiarly known in Greece even so early as the seventh century B.C.
xi:1 "Das Beste, was wir von der Geschichte haben, is der Enthusiasmus, den sie erregt."—Goethe.
"Omnia quæ gerebam ad aliquam animi mei partem pertinebunt."—Cicero.
This last is a distinct reflection of the Buddhist doctrine of karma, with the hope of immortality for a difference.
xi:2 At the close of Chapter III. the Count Goblet d’Alviella would seem to imply that the swastika had now almost disappeared from the symbolism of India. But this is by no means the case. It is universally found worked into the mats, and cotton rugs, and finer textile fabrics of Assam; and in Western India always appears on the wooden ladles used in p. xii the worship of Agni, and at the head of every Hindu invoice of goods and book of accounts. The fact of its being carved on the ladles with which the libations of ghi [clarified butter] are offered to Agni is surely some proof of at least a congenital connection between the swastika and the arani.
xiii:1 See my remarks on the "Breastplate of Aaron," in the Journal of the Society of Arts for March 18th, 1887; and with reference to "the Hand of Providence" sometimes associated with the Winged Globe, see my letters on "The tughra of the Turks" in the Journal of the Society of Arts for September 4th and 25th and October 9th, 1891. This "Hand" is represented on the reverse of some of the coins of Eadweard the Elder, A.D. 901–25, appearing out of a cloud in the formula of benediction; and again on a "St. Peter's coin" of the same period, A.D. 900–50, but so rudely that numismatists have never yet identified it, and, indeed, it is only identifiable by the representation on others of these "St. Peter's coins" of the bow [with an arrow here] seen in the Hand associated with the Winged Globe of the Persians.
xv:1 The name of the Joktanite Sabæans is spelt with the letter samech, and that of the Cushite Sabæans with a sin.
xvii:1 It is difficult to determine the ultimate botanical source of the homa of the ancient Persians, the soma of the Hindus. The proximate source of homa in Persia was the vine, and, later, the date palm. In India the plants identified with the soma plant are Sarcostemma brevistigma, and other species of Sarcostemma, but it may be questioned whether these plants were the ultimate sources of the Vedic soma juice, or the Indian substitutes for the grape and date palm. The Parsis of Bombay import from Persia as homa the stems of the jointed fir, Ephedra vulgaris, and they use also the twigs of the spurge-wort, Euphorbia Neriifolia. It has been argued against the identification of any Sarcostemma as the source of homa or soma that the juice of no Asclepiad could be voluntarily drunken as an intoxicant by man; but in Western India an intoxicating beverage, called bar, is prepared from the juice of Calotropis gigantea, and drunk with relish by the hill people about Mahabaleshwur; and we know from Pliny, xiv. 19, that the ancients made intoxicating drinks from the juice of all sorts of unlikely plants. Beside this the homa or soma twigs may have been added, like hops, merely as an adjuvant to the intoxicant prepared with it. They were gathered by moonlight, and carried home in carts drawn by rams, and mixed, after fermentation, and straining through a sieve of goat's hair, with barley wort and ghi [or clarified butter]; and the enjoyment of the brew was sacramental:
[paragraph continues] As a libation to Agni, soma is now superseded in India by ghi.
Soma means not only the juice of the soma plant, Sarcostemma brevistigma, and Siva, as identified with its intoxicating juice, but the moon, as in somvara, Monday, which gave its name to the soma plant and juice. Soma-yaga is the rite, in Vedic times the sacrificial rite, in the celebration of which soma was drunk; soma-yagi and soma-devi are the celebrants of the rite; soma-pa are "soma drinkers," i.e., Brahmans; soma-varga-tili are a caste of oil millers, the members of which worship Siva as Soma; and soma-vati, the ceremony observed by the women of Maharashtra by circumambulating the sacred fig-tree [Urostigma religiosum] whenever the new moon falls on a Monday.
xix:1 Of Sept. 3rd, 1891.
xx:1 These closely resemble the omphalos of Apollo Pythius at Delphi, which, as we learn from the accounts of Pausanias [X. 16] and Strabo [IX. iii. 6], and various Greek coins and fictile paintings, was simply a beth-El or lingam. In the same way in India "the navel of Vishnu" is identical with "the lingam of Siva;" and it is a Brahmanical saying that "those who think they differ err." On the marble bas-relief from Sparta, figured in the Mittheilungen der Deutschen Archaologischen Instituts in Athen [vol. xiii. plate xii.], and on a stater of Cyzicus, figured by Canon Greenwell in the Numismatic Chronicle [3rd series, vol. viii., plate i., No. 23], the Pythian omphalos is represented between two eagles, of which Strabo relates: "A fable, referred to by Pindar, was invented, according to which two eagles or, as others say, two crows, set free by p. xxi Jupiter, one from the east, the other from the west, alighted together at Delphi. In the temple is seen a sort of navel wrapped in bands, surmounted by figures representing the birds of the fable."
These "bands" are none other than the rosaries and garlands with which the lingam in India is hung on high Saivite holidays, while the "supporters" of the naturalistic lingams to be sometimes seen in Southern India leave no doubt as to the significance of the "two eagles" or "two crows," which in the Spartan bas-relief point as clearly as these Southern Indian lingams to the ultimate origin of the symbolical "Tree of Life":—
Delphi itself providing the counterpart of the yoni, [δελφύς, cf.: ἀδελφός, ὁμογάστριος, ἐκ νηδύος], the ultimate "Garden of Eden."
In the scene of the murder of Neoptolemos, figured in red on an amphora of the fourth century B.C., found at Ruvo in Apulia, and now in the Caputi Collection, the elaborately garlanded omphalos is represented rising up from an eight-divided base, closely resembling the eight-petalled "Lotus Throne" of some of the Saivite combined lingam yoni images: the yoni and the symbolical Lotus being in India one and the same matrical emblem.
xxi:1 One of the most interesting of the Mediæval Christian Trees of Life was the "Arbor Perindex," known also as the arbre de Judée. The legend was that it grew in India, and typified the Catholic Roman Church, the doves, cooing among its branches, being the Congregation of the Faithful, and the Serpent, which sought to entice them away from their healing habitation, to destroy them, "that ancient worm the Devil." Not the least interesting point in connection with this Tree of Life is its name, "Arbor Perindex," parinda being the Hindustani and Persian for "bird."
xxi:2 The reader will have understood from the first that the Count Goblet d’Alviella here treats of symbols only after they p. xxiihave become historical, and indeed monumental, and that the symbolism of pantomime, the gesture language of primæval, and primitive or savage man, which survives among civilized men in the current formulæ of salutation and clerical benediction, in thumb "biting" and pointing, making "long-noses," et cætera, is beyond the sphere of his work; as is also the symbolism of colours, numbers, and purely geometrical figures, such as the Pythagorean talisman, known by the various names of pentalpha, Signum Solomonis, Fuga Dæmonorum, Druid's Foot, pentangle, et cætera. * A very piquant form of the archaic, and probably primitive, or, it may even be, primæval practices in which the Greek word symbol originated still widely survives in India; where, when "our Mr. Thomas Atkins" arranges a tryst with a casual Indian sweetheart, the latter breaks a piece of pottery in two with him, each keeping the fragment left in their respective right hands, to be fitted together again when they next meet,—and thus make sure that they are the same couple as met before. In this simple súm-bolon, or "tally," we have the actual chirs-aelychoth, or "sherd of good fellowship," of the Phœnicians, corresponding with the "tessera hospitalis" of the Romans. When I was at school at Plymouth fifty years ago the boys in pledging themselves to any secrecy invariably did so by holding a potsherd between them. If it was a very dark and direful conspiracy to which we bound ourselves we spat on the sherd.
xxi:* It is sometimes identified with the Scutum Davidis, which appears to me to rather be the figure formed by the intersection of two equilateral triangles, one of the symbols of supreme Deity. It is also sometimes denominated the "pentacle," a symbolical headdress, the form of which I have never been able to accurately determine.