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B.A. Litvinsky

The Kang-chü-Sarmatian Farn.

(To the historical and cultural relations
of the South Russian and Central Asian tribes).

Summary

 

The work consists of the following chapters: Chapter 1. Zoomorphical handles. 2. To the genesis of the middle Syr-Darya tribes religious beliefs. 3. Farn in Avesta and in late Zoroastrian books. 4. Farn in the beliefs of Sarmats and Ossets. 5. Farn in the Central Asian peoples religious notions in the first thousand years A.D. 6. The Tadjiks survival of the beliefs connected with Farn. 7.  Conclusion.

 

In the Central Asia, in Tashkent region many vessels with zoomorphical hahdles were discovered during the excavation of settlements and burial grounds of the first thousand years A.D. All regions along the middle Syr-Darya flow and spurs of the Kuramin range enter into the main areal. These sort of vessels were discovered in burial grounds excavated by the author (Mugh-Khona or qurums) in Karamazar mountains. Outside of the main areal the finds of such ceramics are scarce and are connected with nomadic movements. Handles were more often made in the form of a ram, sometimes in the image of goat, wild boar, dog, leopard or tiger, horse etc. Vessels with zoomorphical handles are also discovered on the territories of the East Turkistan and Bactria, but they belong to a different artistic and cultu-

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ral spheres.

 

Below are given data on the spread of zoomorphical handles in the Sarmatian ceramics (since the first century A.C.).

 

According to K.W. [K.M.] Scalon the purpose of such handles was to protect the vessel and its content. They were also connected with totemic survivals and cosmic ideas about the ram. This hypothesis became widely recognized and was adapted to the Central Asian materials. Though V.B. Vinogradov criticises the hypothesis of K.M. Scalon, he still supposes that zoomorphical handles have rather an ornamental than cult purpose, although he did not fully deny the possibility of its magic significance.

 

Nevertheless both attempts to explain the purpose of these handles seem to be unsatisfactory.

 

The author proceeds from the following historical preconditions. After looking through the historical, archeological and linguistic materials the author comes to the conclusion that the Kang-chü is successor of the middle Syr-Daryas Saka tribes where the main body of the Kang-chü tribes was situated. Consequently the author supposes that the beliefs of Kang-chü are genetically bound up with the Sakian ones. The investigation of the given written sources, linguistic, archeological and etnographical materials leads to the conclusion about the existence of religion by Sakas in many respects not only related with the Zoroastrianism, but also influenced by Zoroastrian tradition.

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The author suggests to consider the ram shaped zoomorphical handles as a display of beliefs connected with Farn. Informations about the spread of beliefs In Farn by Sarmatian tribes, with whom the Kang-chü were closely connected in history and culture, as well as by tribes and peoples of the Central Asia in ancient and modern times are closely investigated.

 

The comparative analysis of the Central Asian and Ossetic etnography shows their common layer in beliefs. Archeological finds, iconographic materials and various written sources are investigated, too. The author makes use of the materials on the religion of Iranian peoples written by Soviet and West European investigators in the first place E.W. Bailey and V.I. Abaev and makes a number of conclusions on the history of the Central Asian religions, the outlive of old beliefs (especially in Farn) by Tadjiks and others.

 

Common conclusions come to the following:

 

1. The group of the middle Syr-Darlas Saka tribes (Sakas that are beyond Sogd), apparently were found to be under the greatest influence of Zoroastrian traditions. With their immediate successors, the Kang-chü, the notion about the Farn evolved in the same trend as in Zoroastrian regions and, undoubtedly, under their influence. This favoured the spread of analogous notions with Sarmatians that were in close contact with Kang-chü, though with Sarmatians it was not displayed in such orthodox forms.

 

Consequently it must be supposed than Farn, Verethra-

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gna and other All-Iranian deities, that were in the pantheon of Sarmatians and Kang-chü, suffered considerable internal evolution from the times of All-Iranian unity and greatly differed from synonymous deities of Sogd, Khwarezm, Parthia and Sassanian Iran.

 

2. With Kang-chü and Sarmatians the Farn often appeared in the shape of ram. Judging by Pahlavi Zoroastrian texts, historical sources and iconographic materials, the personification of Farn in the shape of ram was also known to other peoples of the Central Asia (and the neighbouring countries), but with them the ram was chiefly the embodiment and the attribute of the Kings Farn whereas with Kang-chü (and Sarmatians) its field was far wider.

 

3. Why handles of the vessels were shaped in the form of ram symbolyzing the Farn? Here we have to remember some ipostaces of Farn that were mentioned above. Apparently such handles were ment for: a) providing abundance; b) guaranteeing health; c) defence against evil genius. On the other hand, the indubitable connection of Farn with water was already stated above. In Bahman Yašt 2, 1 it was said that Farn means the omniscent wisdom la the form of water which Zoroaster drinks, therefore, first of all the vessels in jugs and mugs forms furnished with such handles in the first place were ment for drinking or keeping water and other liquids.

 

Hence, functions of the Kang-chü-Sarmatian Farn are understood but not on the basis of written sources (the sources narrating about the Kang-chü and Sarmati-

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ans report nothing about this), but on archeological proofs.

 

4. It is difficult to give a definite answer to why Just in the first century of A.C. on the boundary of A.D. and not earlier of later, appears the custom of supplying ceramic vessels with zoomorphical handles. Here some factors can take place specially those indicated by V. Vinogradov. Consequently we can suppose that by this time Farn begins to take a more and more significant place in the Sarmatian (and Kang-chü) pantheon. Simultaneously the notion about necessity of the magic guard for the vessels content and the guarantee of abundance apparently became stronger, therefore, a necessity appears to place the ran on the handles of vessels as an attribute of Farn. The pantheon, however, did not confine to Farn, other deities too could fulfil analogous functions that is because zoomorphical handles are not only the mere images of the ram.

 

5. Apparently, therefore, ceramics with zoomorphical handles steadily remain with direct ancestors of Ossets, i.e. with Alans. With the Scythian and Sarmatian peoples and their ancestors the subsequent evolution on the notion of Farn let to the fact that with the Ossets Farn fully lost its warring functions and began to represent the äxsär the highest valour in war (V.I. Abaev). Whereas in the Central Asia many traits of Bactrian, Sogdian and Kang-chü Farn remained in folk beliefs of Tadjik and other Central Asian nations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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