Once upon a time, starting from the second half of the VIII – the beginning of the VII century BC vastness of steppe and forest-steppe, from the Black Sea to the Sayano-Altai, were roamed by mysterious people. Ancient writers and historians called them Scythians.
The name “Scythians” usually applies to all the peoples living on that territory, which had once common origin and have similar features of economic structure and culture. In archeology, all these features are combined in the so-called “Scythian triad”. It includes weapons (bronze arrowheads, iron daggers and swords, battle axes), horse gear (original bridle) and pieces of Scythian art.
Interestingly, of 843 image found among the architectural monuments of the Scythian animal style related to the VII – VI BC ungulates were shown 573 times (mostly stag, but also mountain goats, sheep and horse), wild animals – 103 times (with an absolute predominance of Felidae), birds (mostly – predatory) – 162 times. Taken together, it was about 90% of the total number of found and studied works of art.
What did ancient Scythians mean, depicting different animals on their weapons and ornaments?
Stag (deer) – the most common and at the same time the most studied image. Rarely Scythian jewelry shows ram or moose. Stag figure can be safely assumed as the symbol of the Scythian art in general, the totem of the people. This is confirmed by the fact that many Scythian-related peoples call themselves “Saka” – “deer”. Deer is a symbol of beauty. It’s quick and strong animal with elegant body shape. Scythians always marveled at the beauty of this animal, intricate intertwining of his horns. The image of the deer is very common in Scythian jewelry and pottery.
Panther – a symbol of strength and power, a symbol of the Scythians as warriors. In peacetime, the panther is depicted lying down, sleeping. And during the wartime Panther was depicted grinning on outstretched legs. Image of panther or its parts may differ in different groups of soldiers.
Animals in Scythian art are not depicted at rest but in motion. And this motion is infinite: it does not end but goes into a new time and time again. An example of this was round badges with moving panthers, griffins, stags or doe.
A striking example of Scythian heritage is famous gold pectoral with sculptural images of animals, fight scenes and stories from the life of Scythians found in the Thick Grave Mound(Dnipropetrovsk region). Pectoral (from lat. pectorale «related to the chest”) – decoration which also could be part of a protective ammunition. Pectoral supposedly was made by Greek jewellers commissioned by high-ranking Scythians.
The new collection “Ancient Scythia” TM “Scythian Ethnic” does not clearly define belonging to the European or Asian roots. These decorations can fit any style. Creating jewelry, we follows the famous words of Alexander Benois “Style – is integrity”. And he was a comprehensively developed creative personality!
In our opinion, “integrity” is the word that characterizes Scythian style, animal style. It is different, but there is nothing in excess.
Probably because that’s how the Scythians imagine the beauty and harmony of his world.
Sketches, open a new breath of our new collection “ancient Scythians”, created Novosibirsk artist Victoria Cooper. Her work – a qualitative interpretation of this antiquity.