Dec 16, 2013

Ancient symbols of Illyrian cults

When we analyse the motifs on numerous tombstones we notice that the most dominant symbols are depictions of crosses, swords, axes, hands, crescent moon, circles, etc. which in essence represent the symbols of the astral cult and the cult of fertility. As we all know the crescent moon and the cross are not original Christian symbol but symbols of Islam. Namely, the cross originated from a swastika, ancient symbol of sun and fertility, while the crescent moon belongs to the cult of the goddess Mother or goddess of moon. The circle motif comes from the cult of sun which is analogous to the Illyrian practice of carrying staffs which had a disc or circle on top of it. A raised hand is a classic ancient symbol of supreme gods along the Mediterranean belt and it symbolises demonstration of divine power and strength. Sword and axe as weapons also have their origin in ancient times and they represent weapons which symbolised courage, strength and power. Among the Illyrian tribes numerous axes were known to have two blades which can visually represent the symbol of a moon i.e. the phase of rising and the phase of falling moon which again fully forms a circle which can symbolise a full moon.

Among the ancient Bosniaks (Illyrians) the axe was without a doubt a symbol of the goddess of moon. In support of this claim the legend about the punished son can serve the purpose, namely the son raised his axe on his mother and god punished him immediately by killing him and carrying his body, with the hand still raised holding an axe, onto the moon's surface in order to warn people during a full moon that they need to respect the woman i.e. mother. Illyrian warriors were especially known by wearing their war axe with which they caused mortal fear in their enemies. Probably because of the above mentioned the axe became a symbol of divine protection of the house and family among the Bosnian people, precisely the characteristic which was traditionally prescribed to the goddess Mother or the goddess of the moon. Images of ancient axes on the facades of Bosnian houses could be seen until the Second World War along eastern Bosnia and around Sarajevo. Among the Bosnian Christians a cross regularly replaced an axe.