Scythian goddess Tabiti tattoo Picture
Mythological images in Scythian-Sarmatian culture
As Scythians, probably, had no writing, we are compelled to address to antique sources, most important of which is 4 book of Herodot's "History" where seven deities of a Scythian pantheon are listed and two versions of a legend about an origin of Scythians - the unique Scythian myth kept entirely are stated. The variant of the same myth is given also Diodor Sicilian. "According to Herodot into structure of a pantheon entered seven deities that reflects ancient Indo-Iranian tradition. At the supreme place of hierarchy is Tabiti, on average - Papay and Api, on the lowest -Hoytosir, Argimpasa and two deities, which Scythian names are not named by Herodot. All these gods are identified by Herodot as: Hesta, Zeus andGaia, Apollo, Aphrodite, Heracles, and Ares. As Herodot wrote the most powerful, and numerous of Scythian tribes - Imperial Scythians - worshipped to Poseidon which at them was called Tagisamad. <...> Deities of average and partly the lowest level appear and in 'Legend about an origin of Scythians'. Most full this myth is stated Herodot in the first version. In the uninhabited territory, after received name Scythia, from marriage Zeus and daughter of Borisphen (Dnepr) the first person - Targitay is born. Three his sons become ancestors of various parts of Scythian people <...>. The sky gold subjects - a plough, a poleaxe and a bowl fell. At attempt of two senior brothers to come nearer to them gold is ignited, but with approach younger one fire dies away and Kolaksay seizes sacred attributes. It is perceived as a sign. Kolaksay and his posterity become lords Scythia. Kolaksay
divides Scythia into three empires between his sons, and sacred gold to which Scythian tsars annually make a sacrifice is kept in greatest of them. To these relics it is connected, according to Herodot, any ritual reproduced on an annual Scythian holiday: the person who has slept with them open-air, less than in one year inevitably died. <...> According to Diodor Zeus's wife there is a maiden given birth by the ground having below of a belt a snake body. Their son was named Scyth <...> This myth is stated differently in other versions. The main character identified with Heracles, comes in Scythia after fulfilment of some feats. Then the tired hero falls asleep, and at this time at him horses vanish. Having gone on searches, Heracles finds out a cave in which the fantastic essence - women-snake lives. She informs, that horses are stolen by her, and agrees to return them only on condition that the hero will enter with it marriage connection. From this union three sons - ancestors of the peoples are born. Heracles, leaving from Scythia, leaves the spouse one of two bows and a belt with the bowl attached to him and puts a condition that after achievement maturities they have tried to pull this bow and to be surrounded with this belt. <...> The Winner in this test becomes the younger brother the Scythian from whom conduct the sort. 1997. Scythian kings" (Myths of nations of the world. v. 2, pp. 446 - 447). Identification Kolaksay with Heracles specifies that the ancestor of Scythian kings belongs to type of the Cultural Hero.
Magnificent Scythian art can add the data of references. It has passed some stages of the development. D.S. Raevsky gives such periods of Scythian art: 1) epoch of great campaigns to Forward Asia - 8 - 7-th centuries. B.D.; 2) epoch of independent development - 6 - 5-th centuries. B.D.; 3) epoch of the Greek influence - with 5 -th century. B.D.
The initial stage is characterised by occurrence in art of Scythians of the first anthropomorphic images (under influence of Middle East civilisations). These are ornaments on sword sheath from Melgunovsky barrow - winged geniuses about trees (typically Mesopotamian plot) and Kelermes silver rithon. Last represents for us especial interest. The centaur bearing on his shoulder a tree with adhered to it a deer is pictured there. This motive is present at folklore modern Ossets where ability to bear on his shoulder the biggest tree with body of deer acts as a parameter of physical power of the hero. Amazingly, but we find a similar plot in Etruscan art as an ornament of a vase. There are beside the centaur the hero struggling with a lion (Heracles?) on Kelermes rithon. The person with arrow, probably attacking with rear of two- or free-headed dog (Cerberus?) also is shown on Etruscan vase. Cerberus in its turn whether submits a paw to the centaur, whether attacks him. Another the same centaur behind is tormented with a lion. Both Kelermess and Etruscan centaurs are similar even in details....