Friday, 6 August 2021

Falling on his head

A really weird carved chlorite(?) jar with high-relief image of two oxen tied to a tree, inverted nude male between them. 222 grams, 64mm (2 ½"). Mid-third millennium BC. Sold at auction...

These kind of vessels are believed to have been originally made by people of Jiroft culture from Zagros mountains in Western Iran. 


Anyway, no one knows what this scene means. Who is the dude falling on his head? I don't know. But it is important that he is falling on his head between two water buffalos...



Why is it important that these are buffalos? Because different animals represent different things, depending when they mate or give birth in relation to the local climate...They are different calendar markers...Water buffalo bulls are symbol of winter...Oct/Nov-Jan/Feb

Because, wild water buffalo are seasonal breeders in most of their range, typically in October and November...Domesticated buffaloes also breed mostly during the winter...Which makes them an ideal animal calendar marker for Oct/Nov, beginning of winter...And winter in general...

I talked about water buffalos as animal calendar marker in my post "Mahishasuramardini"... 

This is the beginning of winter and the rain season in Jiroft culture area...

I talked about two other Jiroft vessels with weird (read complex) bull scenes which turned out to be complex animal calendar markers...

You can read about them in my posts "Khafajeh vase" and "Jiroft flood vase"...

On both of these vessels we see zebu bulls, which are calendar markers for the annual snowmelt flood which spans the whole of summer, season symbolised by a bull, flood which peaks in Apr/May, in Taurus...

Summer is the season of the bull because Wild Eurasian cattle calved at the beginning of summer, Apr/May, and mated at the end of summer, Jul/Aug...

I talked about this in my post "Ram and bull"...Interestingly, Zebu cattle could once have had mating peek in Apr/May...I talked about the mating habits of zebu cattle, and their use as animal calendar markers in Indus Valley civilisation, in my post "Kharif and Rabi seasons

But as I said, buffaloes are different. They mate during the winter rain season...Is this why they are tied to a green tree? Because it is the rain (and snow and subsequent snowmelt), which start during the mating season of water buffalos, that turn plants green...

BTW, when I first saw water buffalos on this vessel, I was like, in Iran? But it turns out there are buffalos in Iran...This is a map showing the distribution of buffalo breeds in Iran

You can read more about it in this paper: A genome-wide scan for signatures of selection in Azeri and Khuzestani buffalo breeds...

And according to this paper "Buffalo breeds and management systems": "There is some evidence that buffalo were raised in Lorestan (Iran) in the 9th c. BC. since six engraved buffalo heads have been found on a bronze stick from this period." 

Well add about 2000 years to that now as these buffalo look like domesticated buffalos to me...

This is seriously cool right?

So...why would a male figure be falling down between the buffalos? 

Well there are indications that in Iran, the rain season was linked to the goddess of water since Bronze Age...It was she who ruled the cold, wet, dark (Yin), but also fertile, part of the year...

Here she is in the early centuries AD

Here she is in the in the 8th century BC


And I think here she is again in the mid 3rd millennium BC...


A girl holding a rainbow...

You can read more about this in my post "Jiroft flood vase"

She ascends to the throne at the beginning of the rain season, between the mating (fighting) buffaloes...Well after kicking the sun from the same throne...Sun which rules the other part of the year, the hot, dry, bright (Yang) part of the year...

So maybe the falling male figure is the symbol of the end of the rule of Sun, Yang and beginning of the rule of Rain, Yin...I really don't know 🙂 What do you think? Just an acrobat? 

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