Hittite Ritual Axe; Indo-European Symbolic Explication

Hittite Ritual Axe

“Man, I’ve had this fine artefact in my head for the past day or so – a beautiful Hittite ritual axe. Now, I haven’t *yet* done serious research nor work on Hittite and broader Anatolian Indo-European mythoreligious praxis [i.e. ritual], nor their symbolic lexicon.

 
But I do recall two points from my previous brief delvings in this area. First, that the Hittite [and, for that matter, other Anatolian I.E. peoples’] Striker/Thunderer Deific, often tended to be depicted wielding an axe; and, in a manner that is perhaps resemblant of the way in which the Vajra became an ensign of Royal power in the broader Hindusphere [it’s still used to day by, for instance, the Thai monarchy in such a manner, sort-of], and *certainly* in a manner similar to the more generalized principles of ‘Eternal Recurrence’ and mythic embodiment [i.e. garbing one’s self and one’s own personal narrative and representations thereof in the resonant (oft-symbolic/thematic) language of Myth] – we see relief figures of Hittite kings, posed exactly like, and adorned in a manner very similar, to the Deity in question. Including, of course, the Axe held aloft, in wide open-armed pose for sweeping strike to rain blows down the foemen of the kingdom with the unrelenting fury of the storm.
 
The ‘regality’ of such an instrument may perhaps be further attested by the particular choice of semi-‘heraldic’ beasts which adorn the blade and attachment to the haft-and-handle.
 
In particular, the somewhat stylized yet still easily recognizable horned bull head helps to recall the ‘Bull’ associations prominently found with an array of Near-Eastern Thunder Gods [both Indo-European and Otherwise – and which also percolated back to the Greeks with the Bull associations of Zeus] [while also helping to support the idea that this is a *ritual* blade rather than a serious tool for war-fighting – given the rather thin connection made between head and haft via the horns thereof.
 
The ‘horns’, by which I mean the not-quite ‘points’ at either end of the axe’s crescent shape, are *also* adorned with what appear to be Bulls – they’re hoofed, hided creatures with short, bovine-like tails, and swept-back horns themselves.
 
While on both the mid-portion of the ‘mouth’ of the blade [and really, such a crescent axe-head resembles most strongly a glinting smile – c.f also my favourite Sanskrit visual pun, the mythic blade Chandrahas, given to Sri Ravan by *another* famed Axe-wielder [Rudra-Shiva], the name of said Sword translating, somewhat figuratively as ‘the glinting laughter/smile of the Moon’ due to the curved shape of the blade, the war-head in question, as well as the underlying nature and sense of humour of its inititial wielder. Mahadev, you see, *always* gets the Last Laugh!], and also upon the top rear of the haft ; we find great ‘big cats’, perhaps mountain lions or leopards [there’s a hint of spots upon the blade-mounted figure-in-relief] – the ferocity, bravery, and further regal power of which, are immediately clear – especially in the bellowing, dominating-rather-than-merely-defiant posing with arched back and extended, elongated neck of the rear sculpted figure.
 
As a point of brief interest, the Hittite renditions of Sarruma, the Son of the Storm-Lord [and, in a rather intriguing ‘twist’ on what we usually think of in terms of the mono-myth in question, the Son-in-Law of the Demon-Dragon-Water-Serpent], would feature his wielding an axe, and accompanied by a bull or a leopard.
 
There are also other clear Indo-European resonances that may be further explored in terms of the symbolism of a Big Cat, including the Lion-skin worn by Hercules/Herakles [wherein it is, in no small part, the strength and the skill required to *defeat* such a creature, and thence ‘claim’ its power as one’s own, as a literal ‘mantle’], as well as, and from *completely the opposite direction*, the Vahana of Durga – Dawon, which may also be ‘echoed’ in the prominent associations of Felines with other cognate figures, including the Nordic Freyja [Chariot pulled by Cats – which, given these are the ones the Norse were familiar with … were likely rather closer to Lynxes than what we think of today as a cat; and, on a further brief point of rather relevant etymological excursion, ‘Lynx’ itself derives from the ‘Lewk’ PIE particle from whence we also get notions of ‘Light’, of “Looking”, and of “Loka” in Sanskrit [a ‘realm’ – rule as far as the eye can see, in a political sense, perhaps] ; the theoretical derivation being that when one looks out beyond the camp-fire, one sees the Eyes of the Lynx lurking out there in the darkness, greenly reflecting back at us with power and potency. And, as anyone familiar with the relevant portions of the Rigsthula, as well as a few other sources describing the idealized characteristics of certain Indo-European nobility will be well aware, the “Dragon-Gaze” which seems almost supernaturally piercing, discerning, *disempowering* of that which it lingers upon if hostile, *dominating* nevertheless all up, is very relevant here; perhaps forming a further ‘linkage point’ between larger felinoids and rulership, even before we get into the ‘apex predator’ and ‘rallying roar’ symbolisms we would more immediately conjure in our minds.] , and the later Anatolian-via-geography Phrygian ‘Mountain Mother’ deity, Cybele. For a more detailed description of how these figures link back to ‘Sovereignty’, consult my “BHARAT MATA AND THE INDO-EUROPEAN DEIFIC OF NATIONAL IDENTITY” article. Oh, and while I am on the subject, there are further male Indo-European divinities with such animalistic associations – including, rather prominently, Dionysus, Who was often identified as having came from the East, and Whose chariot was pulled by Leopards. But I digress.
 
The point is, even with only the barest knowledge of the symbols and ‘high culture’ nor politics of these ancient Indo-European Anatolians, we can *still* immediately appreciate the incredible beauty, and dare I say – Majesty – of this fine ritual weapon.
 
It may be only a few centuries shy of four millennia old, and from a ‘convection zone’ of cultural diversification/cross-influencing, where the Indo-European beliefs were met with, and melded with, Hurrian, Urartian, Mesopotamian, Levantine, and other such corpuses pre-existing their arrival there; yet it nevertheless speaks to us in a language – that of power, the bringing together of human artifice, and the intrinsic, immanent symbolism of the natural world, that is therefore, via the exaltant combos of the two, something greater than either .. something Divine!”
 
[-C.A.R.]

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