Resurrection Scene on the Mones Diadem

Fascinating narrative scene on a Celtic gold diadem from Mones in Asturias (Spain). The narrative features the themes of resurrection/ rebirth and the transformation of men into birds – a key element of the metempsychosis process and a common theme in Celtic art. 

(4/3 c. BC)

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THE CELTIC BUDDHA – Stucco Portrait of an “Enlightened” Celt from the Greco-Buddhist Monastic Complex at Hadda in eastern Afghanistan

 

Thus philosophy, a thing of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations”.

 

 

The long and winding road from Kabul to the Khyber Pass follows the River Kabul through a rich and fertile valley with Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan as its centre, and there, for centuries around the beginning of the first millennium, lived large communities of Buddhist monks. Hadda was one of the most sacred sites of the Buddhist world dating from the early part of the first millenium AD to the 7th Century. Countless pilgrims came from every corner of the earth to worship at its many holy temples, maintained by thousands of monks and priests living in large monastery complexes.

Hadda Blown B

The Larger Bamiyan Buddha at Hadda, before and after demolition by the Taliban in March 2001. The Gandharan period saw the earliest figural depictions of the Buddha.

 

Almost entirely destroyed by religious extremists during the recent civil wars, throughout the period of Buddhism’s great flourishing, from the Kushans (1st–3rd century AD) into the 7th century AD, Hadda was a popular pilgrimage destination where, according to the accounts of famous Chinese pilgrims such as Faxian and Xuanzang, various relics of the Buddha’s body and belongings were preserved, each of them enshrined in a stūpa (a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics typically the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns that is used as a place of meditation) – a bone of the Buddha’s skull and uṣṇīṣa (cranial protuberance), an eyeball, the monastic robe and the ascetic staff.

Archaeological exploration of the site in the modern era began in 1834 with Charles Masson of the British East India company, who discovered Graeco-Bactrian, Indo-Scythian, Hunnic, Roman and Byzantine coins inside 14 stūpas in different sacred areas. The most important of these, Tapa Kalan, also yielded fragments of stone and stucco sculptures. Further minor investigations followed, until J. Barthoux of the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan (DAFA) carried out extensive excavations on various sites from 1926 to 1929.

 

Hadda Budd 1

Detail, central section of arcade on façade. Hadda. Monastery of Bagh-Gai. Painted stucco. Barthoux Expedition 1927-1928. 

 

From a 21st century perspective the plundering of such an important archaeological site by the British and French during the imperial period may be frowned upon. However, in light of its recent destruction by Afghan forces the fact that many of the treasures had already been transported to the west means that much of the archaeological evidence from Hadda has survived, thus providing invaluable information on the exchange of cultural and spiritual ideas during this period in history.

Hadda Monk

Monk. Hadda. Monastery of Tapa-Kalan

(Barthoux expedition 1927)

Over 23,000 Greco-Buddhist sculptures, combining elements of Buddhism and Hellenism, have been excavated at the site. Although the style of the artifacts is typical of the late Hellenistic 2nd or 1st century BC, the Hadda sculptures are usually dated to the 1st century AD or later, which is explained by the preservation of late Hellenistic styles for a few centuries in this part of the world. However, it is highly possible that many of the artifacts were actually produced in the late Hellenistic period.

Hadda Buddha loc

Buddha Shakyamuni. Hadda. Monastery of Tapa-Kalan

 

 

THE CELTIC BUDDHA

 

In the present context, one of the most significant artifacts to be discovered at Hadda was found during the French mission led by Jules Barthoux in 1926-1927. Among the ca. 15,000 artifacts recorded by Barthoux was the stucco head of a Celt (“Gaulois”) found at the Tapa-Kalan monastery. 

Hadda authen - Louvre

Head of the ‘Barbarian Gaul’ from Hadda.

(Stucco – Height 0.1 m. Length 0.06 m; Depth 0.069 m.)

 

 

It is perhaps not surprising that an individual of Celtic origin may have found his way to such a famous place of spiritual learning; countless pilgrims came from every corner of the earth to worship at its many holy temples, maintained by thousand of monks and priests living in large monastery complexes. The fact that eastern philosophies had spread into Europe by this stage is also testified to by many ancient authors. For example, in the 2nd century AD the Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria (Stromata), recognizing Bactrian Buddhists (Sramanas) and Indian Gymnosophists for their influence on Greek thought, writes:

Thus philosophy, a thing of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations. And afterwards it came to Greece. First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians; and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Sramanas among the Bactrians (“Σαρμαναίοι Βάκτρων”); and the philosophers of the Celts…”.

Indeed, also in the 2nd century AD, Origen in his Commentary on Ezekiel states that the teachings of The Buddha had spread as far west as the British Isles, and that Buddhists co-existed with Druids in pre-Christian Britain:

“The island (Britain) has long been predisposed to it (Christianity) through the doctrines of the Druids and Buddhists, who had already inculcated the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead”.

 

However, actual archaeological confirmation of this phenomenon has hitherto been very sparse, rendering the evidence from Hadda even more important. Notable about the portrayal of the “Hadda Celt” is that he is depicted in a naturalistic fashion, indicting that we are most likely dealing with a portrait of an actual person of Celtic origin who lived and studied at Hadda during the period in question. Perhaps most remarkable is that the man is depicted with elongated earlobes, which are of particular significance.

On both ancient and modern statues of The Buddha in all cultures the ear lobes are depicted in such a fashion, a powerful symbol in Budhist religious belief, and an intrinsic part of the portrayal of Siddartha Gautama as The Buddha, or “Enlightened One.” The fact that the Celt from Hadda is also depicted in such a fashion would therefore appear to indicate that, in the eyes of the monastic community, this man, as the Buddha himself, was perceived to have reached spiritual enlightenment.

Haḍḍa 1 is a Greco-Buddhist archeological - Bigger -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

FACE OF THE LORD – The Celtic God Esus in Iron Age European Art

UD: April 2019

The Celtic deity Esus (aspirated Hesus) has hitherto been known only from a small number of images and epigraphic material dating from the Roman period and later…

FULL ARTICLE:

https://www.academia.edu/37459609/FACE_OF_THE_LORD_The_Celtic_God_Esus_in_Iron_Age_European_Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Gruesome Secrets of Bull Rock Cave

 

Probably the most enigmatic and mysterious archaeological site in Europe, the Býči Skála/Bull Rock cave in the Křtiny Valley (Czech Republic), was first investigated in 1867 by a local doctor, Jindřich Wankel, who initially discovered traces of a Paleolithic settlement.

 

FULL ARTICLE:

 

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/the-secrets-of-bull-rock-cave/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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METEMPSYCHOSIS AND THE CELTIC FESTIVAL OF SAMONOS (HALLOWEEN)

UD: October 2018

 

In order to explore the origin and significance of Samhain, the Celtic “Festival of the Dead”, it is necessary that it be viewed in the context of the wider Celtic belief system, the central tenet of which was metempsychosis

 

FULL ARTICLE:

 

https://www.academia.edu/34915810/SAMONOS_SAMHAIN_HALLOWEEN_ON_THE_CELTIC_FESTIVAL_OF_THE_NOT_QUITE_DEAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A GOD BY ANY OTHER NAME – Cernunnos, Christ, Buddha and the Oseberg Bucket

UD. Feb. 2020

handgriff-eines-kubels-vom-oseberg-schiff-vermutete-keltische-herkunft-undatiert

 

One of the most sensational discoveries of the Viking Age, the ship burial uncovered in a tumulus or haugr at Oseberg farm, Norway at the beginning of the 20th century consisted of an astonishingly well-preserved Viking ship containing the remains of two women along with a wide variety of associated burial goods….

 

 

Full Article:

https://www.academia.edu/30935667/A_GOD_BY_ANY_OTHER_NAME_Cernunnos_Christ_Buddha_and_the_Oseberg_Bucket

 

 

 

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TO THE 3 ALMIGHTY MOTHERS – On The Celtic Cult of the Nutrices (Nursing Mothers)

UD: Feb. 2019

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/nutirces-toulon-sur-allier-auvergne-mould-gallo-roman-period.jpg

 

 

In a world where the average woman was not expected to live beyond her 20’s, and death in childbirth was common, it is little wonder that one of the most widespread cults in the Celtic (and Romano-Celtic) world was that of the Nutrices – the protectors of maternity and motherhood.

 

In Britannia and Gaul the Nutrices/Matres are often represented in a triad on votive reliefs such as those from Circencester (Gloucestershire) where the central Goddess is holding the baby in her arms, or Vertault (Côte d’Or) where 3 nursing Goddesses are depicted.

 

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The Aufanian Matronae (detail) from the Gallo-Roman temple site at Görresburg, Nettersheim

(Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn)

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/circen-vertault.jpg

Above Left: Terracotta relief of the Matres from the Gallo-Roman settlement of Vertillum (Vertault, Côte d’Or).

(Museum of Châtillon-sur-Seine)

Above Right: Depiction of the Nursing Mother Goddesses from Cirencester, England. (Corinium Museum, Cirencester)

 

mothers

Hoard of silver jewelry from Backworth (Tyne & Wear), England ( 1-2 c. AD). The silver pan, which was probably the container for most of the objects, has a  decorated handle with a gold-inlaid inscription in Latin MATR.FAB DVBIT – a gift from Fabius Dubitatus to the Celtic Matres

 

Altar dedicated to the Matrones discovered under Bonn Münster (church) – 2nd c. AD

 

 

Other depictions of the Nutrices are found on white terracotta figurines discovered across Europe, depicting seated Matres wearing a diadem and long garments, feeding 1 or 2 infants at their breast. The Celtic Nutrices should also be related to the Roman Dea Nutrix, who was venerated especially in North Africa, either alone, or together with Saturnus, and is also represented breast-feeding babies, or as protector of children.

 

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Five statuettes in white terracotta of nursing Matres discovered in a well in Auxerre (Yonne).

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Statuettes of the Matres from Morlanwelz (Hainaut), Belgium

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/nutirces-toulon-sur-allier-auvergne-mould-gallo-roman-period.jpg

Mould for the production of statuettes of the Matres from Toulon-sur-Allier (Auvergne), France

 

On the Balkans, the largest center dedicated to the Nutrices was that at Poetovio in Pannonia (Ptuj, eastern Slovenia), where 2 sanctuaries and numerous inscriptions have been discovered. In Poetovio the Nutrices are always venerated in the plural form and, as in the case of sites such as Cirencester (Britannia) and Vertault (Gaul), are often portrayed as a triad.

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/ptv.jpg

Representation of the Nutrices from Poetovio

(LIMC, vol. 6.2, p. 620, n°4)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/between-birth-and-death-celtic-graffiti/

 

 

Noteworthy is the fact that, although dating to the Roman period, a significant number of dedicators to the Nutrices/Matres at Poetovio and other such sites still bear Celtic names (Šašel Kos 1999). This fact, and the use of a separate Celtic alphabet/script in this region as late as the 3rd c. AD, indicates a remarkable continuity of native religious and cultural tradition throughout the Roman period.

 

https://balkancelts.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/roman-period-altar-dedicated-to-the-celtic-matres-from-duratc3b3n-segovia-spain-1st-2nd-century-the-invocation-matribus-termegiste-to-the-three-almighty-mothers-alludes-to-the-typica.jpg

TO THE 3 ALMIGHTY MOTHERS

Roman period altar dedicated to the Celtic Matres from Duratón (Segovia), Spain (1st-2nd century). The invocation Matribus Termegiste (To the Three Almighty Mothers) alludes to the typical Celtic trinity concept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail