Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Post2 Clare Scythian / Pazyryk Tattoo

Scythian region approx 100BC.
Scythian mummies RH, tattooed.

The Pazyryk & Scythian Tattoo Culture

The Sythian people were a nomadic people originally of Iranian stock, who migrated from Central Asia to southern Russia in the 8th and 7th centuries BC. The Pazyryk were the ancient horse-riding pastoral nomadic people who lived in the Altai Mountains and steppes lying in Siberian Russia.

Horseman, Pazyryk felt artifact, c.300 BC.

The amazing burials preserved in permafrost of the Pazyryk culture closely resemble (some say they are the same as) the Scythian people to the west. The burial sites (Turkic: kurgans) some found by archeologists beginning in the 1920s, are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Siberian animal style tattooing is common of the Scythian tattooed mummies found among the Altai steppes, with wood ash believed to be used as the colourant, as in similiar cultures.

A gilded wooden figurine of a deer from the Pazyryk burials, 5th century BC

The most striking discovery among the kurgans was of a Pazyryk chief, fully tattooed, as pictured below. An unconfirmed report from one Russian archeologist is that even his penis was tattooed.

The best preserved tattoos were images of a donkey; a mountain ram; two tylised deer with long antlers; an imaginary carnivore; griffins; two deer; mountain goat; fish; monsters; and four running rams. Also the chief's back is tattooed with small circles in line with the verterbral column, seemingly for therapeutic reasons. As pictured above.
The chief's right shoulder.
Another startling discovery was that of a tattooed young maiden, well-preserved, her hair still blonde. The animal style tattoos on her skin were preserved: creatures with horns that developed into flowering forms. Her thumbs and fingers were also tattooed.

Dubbed the "Ice-Maiden" - believed to be a Ukok Princess


Much information of these mummies is closely guarded, and few have seen them as countries quibble over ownership. What can be gathered is that like tribes and cultures around them, they were a horse-worhsipping, nomadic race of mixed descent. The tattoos were probably, like cultures of similiar eras, a mark of their warrior status. The Ukok maiden is though to be a warrior-priestess, given that she was buried as to resemble Epona, the Euro-Celtic horse-goddess.
One of her tattoos is so similar to one of the chieftan's as to have been applied by the same artist, or one working from the same pattern.
The same fine needles used for their felt-work are believed to have been used for their art of tattoo.

1 comment:

  1. CLARE! great post, heaps happy i got to actually hear about this one! because at the start i wanted to research them. its heaps weird how they had mythical and mystic creatures as their skin markings. heaps cool.
    from chris.