The Ibex that stole the Sun.
According to a belief in Central Asia, from the Neolithic time, a volcanic fireball tossed from earth into the sky created the Sun. The underworld then perceived as the sun home from where it rose and set. The Ibex hunting scene, in Negev Rock Art, attempts to explain the mysterious Sun journey, its daily birth, and death. The rock art deciphered this imaginary hunt by relating it to a known myth circulated in Central Asia. A. Golan captured the myth essence in his book (Myth and Symbols ):
“A deer, an earthly creature, stole the sun maiden from the underworld and escaped with her to the sky; the furious lord of the underworld, the hunter, chased the deer, struck him down and got his sun maiden back.”
Fig. 1 Examples of an ibex, carries the sun from Asia. Left to right: Negev Desert, Persia, Pakistan, Tibet, and Siberia.
In the Negev Desert and Asia, there are many examples of the ibex hunting scene carrying the sun. The sun shape varies it may be a circle, dot, cross, as illustrated in Fig.1 and Fig2.
Fig. 2 Examples, from Negev Desert Rockart, illustrating the Ibex carries the sun. The sun is represented by a circle or a cross.
The hunt myth rock art
The drama protagonists are the Earth God, the underworld God, and the Sun. The hunt symbols are the Hunter, the Sun, the Ibex, and sometimes dogs. Fig. 3 shows two rock art scenes, from the Negev Desert, which are a classic myth illustration. In the left scene, it shows a struggle between the ibex and the hunter. The hunter, a figure with a beak, a symbol of the god, chased and caught the ibex by the horns and thus releases the sun. He brings the sun safely back to the underworld and the daily harmony is restored.
Fig.3 Examples, from Negev Desert Rockart, illustrating the hunting scene. The sun represented by a circle.
The right scene illustrates a hunting scene with the dogs. The scene contains four symbols, they are the hunter, the ibex with the sun between his horns, the two dogs and the fire of the underworld beneath the ibex. The hunter, the archer, is the underworld god. With the help of his dogs, he brings the sun home to the underworld.
There are artistic similarities in the hunter figure in both illustrations. The imaginary scene reveals the hidden intent of a staged hunt. The trapped ibex, between the hunter and the dogs, seems calm and not alarmed as wild animal suppose to behave. He looks at hunter calmly and even surrenders to him graciously. The artist could illustrate motion, or fear, as we can see in the hunter and the dog’s diagonal postures.
The myth promise is the assurance of cyclical order. Mysterious forces act in nature that asserts the Sun but they also guarantee the sun orderly behavior every day. The cosmic order is maintained!
More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.
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