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Animal drawings and the scenes of break off

A big group of Gamigaya traceries belong to animal images. These images reflect the beliefs of people, which have been forming for thousand years. A walk of life of the ancient people has played a definite role in formation of their clerical and mythological outlooks. The archeological analysis show that starting from the mid of III era before our century (B. D.), a small horned livestock had occupied a preferable place in the cattle breeding. Together with cattle breeding, hunting also kept its own position in the economic life. Cattleman hunter tribes have been observing the animals for many days for hunting purposes; the defense measures of the cattle breeds caused creation of some legends and myths in the imagination of humans. Drawings of goat dominate among the animal illustrations. Goat images have been described as alone, in pairs and in groups and sometimes on their back- on upside down position. Domination of goat images has closely been connected as with human’s beliefs, as well as with their way of life. Such as, the wild goats still exist in Nakhchivan Gamigaya and we have to doubt that in the past period their number was more and it has played a definite role in the human life. Preference to the goats in animal breeding eventually, was connected with its high productivity and easy adaptation to the local conditions. As animal husbandry and development of animal breeding were the questions of life for the humans, their images had also been reflected in the peoples’ beliefs. On one of the images there were described two goats and next to them one kid. Evidently, these describe the beliefs of people related to the productivity. On the other illustration there are described two goats standing opposite to each other near the branch of the tree. One of the beloved motives of Gamigaya is the image of a group of goats. One of the goats is described on the downside standing opposite to each other. Another goat’s horns are tightened in the “B” like image. We often meet “B” sign on Gamigaya traceries, which also symbolizes productivity. On other drawing there is described a group of three goats; there are swastika pictures of the wild animal and the goats shown on the upper side on the left from them. One of the swastika images is encircled, as we mentioned above, V. Aliyev got resembled these swastika pictures with human figures. Here we meet the canonized description of the cosmic world model. A circle inside which was drawn a charkhi-falak picture depicts a Space life and a drawing looking like a human on the right side from it, shows the animals’ God protector; the drawing of goat shows the middle world and at last he wild animal represents another world. On this drawing it is depicted the picture of ousting a chaos and protecting a productivity. We have also met the astral symbols of goats’ drawings. On one of the images there were described two goats on the right side the horns of which were completed in the shape of circle; on the left side from them a goat standing on one leg and on the next one - two goats lying on their back side upside-down. Under the illustration of this picture there is described a picture of bird or a fantastic entity looking alike a human figure. V. Aliyev has interpreted the circle to be goat’s horns, which is related to the ancient totems’ existence to represent the Sun on the Earth. To our mind, this idea is logical. Goats’ correlation with Sun and with spatial World have so strongly depicted that you can very easily find it out. The fantastic entity making an attack towards the goats is representative of another world; it has killed one of the goats and it is going to attack to the next one. On this illustration there is described a struggle of the orderly and cultural world with chaotic beginning world; here is also a depiction of picture that the world is ruled by the God. The horns of one of the goats are described in the shape of curled snake. It is interesting that behind the drawing of this goat, there is shown a picture of kid. The description of goat’s horns in the shape of curled snake shows its connection with snake. The semantic meaning of this correlation has sufficiently been explained in the ancient descriptions. The description of snake, which is connected with chthonic forces, is also a legend of harvest and vegetation world.

     Goats’ description in grazing position or in the position when they have grass in their mouth is connected with definite symbols. We have met these cases on the clay utensils of Eneolith and Bronze period when a goat held grass in its mouth. Goats’ connection with vegetation world is more clearly illustrated in the materials of Mesopotamia. It is already shown that connection of food with productivity and birth is reflected in Azerbaijan folklore. The legend connected with Safavi king Mahammad Khudabandi said that he had no child. One-day dervish gives him an apple. He says him to eat half of the apple himself and the next half to give his wife. You’ll have a child. After the king divided it with his wife his child came into the world. On this period there was a ruler by name I Shah Abbas. The similar episodes are very often met in Azerbaijan tales. As we mentioned above, on one of the Gamigaya pictures the goats were described together with the life tree. The life tree’s fruit is a food belonging only to the God and it provided the animals productivity.

    The existence of goat cult and goat ogonun among Turkic people was also described in the names of takali tribe. In various places of Azerbaijan there are also the villages by name Kechili (“kechi” means “goat”-Transl). As it is known, in previous shumers a goat was also considered sacred and the people also worshiped it. During the analyses of Gamigaya traceries there are apparently seen similarities with the ancient shumer mythology. Without doubt, there exists some kind of connection between the old and current period of beliefs about the goats’ holiness.

    The images of deer are also among the traceries found in Gamigaya. They are distinguished by their highly realistic descriptions; a deer with branching pair of horns. We also meet deer’s description on the colored utensils, which belong to the Medieval Bronze period.  During the archeological excavations in the residential locations there have been discovered a lot of deer bones, findings made out from the deer bones; all these prove that deer occupied a certain place in life of ancient people. These beliefs have widely been illustrated in Azerbaijan folklore. Existence of toponymies like “Maral Dag” (“maral” means-“deer”-Transl), Maral Gaya”, “Maral Bulag”, “Maral Gol” are connected with these beliefs.

    A little quantity of the drawings is description of the birds. The birds’ descriptions are either given in realistic or in schematic style. Let’s note that we have met the birds’ images on the colored and grey clay utensils that belong to the Bronze period. They are distinguished with their descriptions given in realistic, schematic and fantastic styles. We also meet with the traditions of putting birds’ bones into the humans’ graves in Nakhchivan. The illustrations on the clay utensils and putting the birds’ stones into the graves show that bird’s cult was widely spread during Bronze period among the tribes living in Azerbaijan territory. The drawing of swallow found on the southwest part of Gamigaya on a huge piece of cliff of Daligaya Mountain is in realistic style. As the illustration is covered with alga it shows the drawing belongs the old ages. Because here only a few part of the drawings are covered by alga. Description of swallow with a “Y” like tail, without doubt, is connected with image of swallow, which is met in the legend of Nuh, or in other folklore samples of Azerbaijan. In the legends a Swallow is given as a representative of Heavens, rescuer and it is described as an image to defend the people from the evil forces. Beliefs connected with swallow are also widely spread among other Turkic nations. According to the belief existing among the folks a swallow is inviolable. It is considered a sin to drive it out of its jack or to destroy its jack. By expressing various myths, Gamigaya traceries are somehow also connected with hunting and animal breeding. The drawings of partridges are also connected with this belief. A ptarmigan is now also called as a holy bird in Ordubad. The mythological beliefs connected with bird are reflected in the poem “Akil bakil gush idi”. The image, which is connected with hunting, is considered a protector of birds. It has its own protector, as well.

    On some places of Gamigaya we meet the drawings of dog. As it is clear a dog is one of the first animals that are trained by people. The archeological findings prove that beliefs connected with dogs had occupied a definite place in people’s ideology. From one side it shows that a dog was a human’s close assistant, and from other side it assumed a holy meaning. From this view, one monumental work, which was discovered by S. A. Khalilov during his investigations, is worth to our attentions. Here on clay utensil it was illustrated two human figures and a head of dog. A researcher ethnographer, basing the materials, noted that the fact of hanging dogs’ head upon the gate is connected with defense from the evil forces.

    One of the images, which are often met in Gamigaya, is connected with snakes. Most frequently a snake is depicted in a dynamic quick turn position. But some spirals’ completed with snakeheads show that they imitated the curled snakes. There are many beliefs in Azerbaijan folklore connected with snakes. In legends there are the images related to white and black snakes; human beings help a white snake, and it is forbidden to kill the white snake. According to the legends preserved in the beliefs a snake residing at home shouldn’t be killed if you would kill that all the wealth will disappear from that home. The separate snake images depicted on Gamigaya are connected with the ideas of protection of vegetation and defense of productivity. In Gamigaya the image where the snake stands face-to-face with goat shows the relations between chthonic and ground worlds. On one of the drawings there are illustrated a goat, snake and fish. To our opinion, description of fish with snake is connected with water elements. Fish is a representative of water, which is included into a chaotic beginning. In Azerbaijan folklore there are the legends where the owner of the water is described as a half fish creature.

    On Gamigaya the scenes of the struggle among the animals represent a group of drawings containing mythological content. Some of these drawings have been recorded by V. Aliyev and published. There is illustrated a man on the right side with his hands up position and next to it there is described a picture where on the left side an animal with long leg and two other wild animals are attacking to a goat. To our viewpoint, a man described on the right side is the God protector of the animals. On this drawing the representatives of middle world has been put against the representatives of the other world. This is a very universal picture reflecting the cosmic world model; it gives an idea of necessity to sacrifice for the continuity of the world. V. Aliyev’s interpretation of this scene is connected with protection of totem, which looks like to be right. On the other picture there is described a half animal attacking to a deer; eventually there are described the birds images and from them on the left side the opposing tiger and ox images. The illustration, where wolf is standing face-to-face with goat is very interesting. Between them there is described the tightened from the edges wire which is connected with magic of closing wolf’s mouth and escaping from inevitable death. In front of this magic the devil becomes incapable and tries to escape, that’s why in Ordubad region there are still preserved the magic related to closure of wolves’ mouth.

    On Gamigaya during investigations there have appeared three more drawings describing the struggle of animals. On one of these drawings there is described a big horned animal and on the upside of this there is a description of gazelle. Here it is described the ideas of up and down which is peculiar to the ancient mythological thoughts. On the next drawing which is not preserved in very good condition it is described a scene, where a lion is attacking to cow. The drawings are in dynamic moving position. A cow is shown in a position while it runs and a lion has caught from its bosom. Let’s note that this illustration is in realistic style and it is performed on a high masterly level. There is no doubt that, for its drawing some metal instruments had been used. The masterly level depiction of the details on this picture made a testimony that a professional, who had gat a high level of skills, performed the drawing. Although the last drawings differ from iconographic viewpoint, it reminds the illustrations of Mesopotamian break offs. The likely illustrations have also been met in Azerbaijan monumental works, which are found during archeological researches.

    On Gamigaya we also encounter a description of animal figures standing back-to-back. On one of the drawings there is described a goat standing back-to-back, on the next one a goat is standing back-to-back with deer. The likely animal figures are widely spread on the Southern Caucasus archeological monuments.

    A group of inscriptions on the rock consists of signage, which reminds the animal horns. To our thought, the animals’ horns symbolize the animals themselves. It might be possible that as the drawings are performed by various categories of people it had not always been possible to describe them as a whole. 


Nakhchivan  - 2004

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