Friday, September 23, 2011

A Legendary Priest-King and a Geometric Design

I marvel at how people simply "buy" into the most preposterous rubbish, and it would seem they actually relish being led by the nose. I have lost count of the number of times correspondents have tried to convince me of the verity of the most blatant nonsense, by informing me that "it is the absolute truth" since they have seen it written "in black and white." In the current instance it was on Wikipedia, which my correspondent maintained is "a most reliable resource." As it is, Wikipedia certainly offers information but can hardly be construed trustworthy. In numerous instances this resource is dishing up the biggest boloney as fact.
I am presently specifically referring to the ramblings of an individual who styles himself the direct descendent of the biblical Melchizedek, and who claims grand galactic origins, and an equally grand design for himself. Of course, this character is certainly not the first amongst a number of 20th century would-be "messiahs," who have commandeered and abused the identity of the legendary biblical Priest-King. However, he is apparently the first to have misappropriated an ancient, simple, and very popular geometric design, newly styled the "flower of life," to which he assigned a lot of browbeating pseudo-scientific twaddle. It would seem that subsequently all and sundry are satisfied to dance merrily to the crazy rhythms of this off-beat tune!
Now, the image in question is generally known as the six-petalled rosette, a most popular geometric design employed in legal documents like Jewish Ketubot [marriage agreements]; Hebrew amulets; etc. In fact, it is the simplest geometric design which can be drawn with any flat circular object. I constructed it when I was six years old with the aid of a lid of a canned fruit bottle, and was very proud of my "discovery" only to be later greatly disappointed at my lack of originality, when the very same image was shown to me in published format.
As it is, the design in question is widely used in traditional folk art, some even calling it a "hex" sign. It was also extensively carved on ancient Middle Eastern ossuaries, as well as employed in a variety of Hebrew amulets, and as a decorative design in illuminated manuscripts, etc. It appears in both the most simple format, and in more complex and expanded versions as shown in the examples below: or or
As hinted at above, throughout the ages the popularity of these designs is due to the fact that the basic image is easily drawn with any circular object, i.e. the edge of a cup, etc. Researching its inclusion in Hebrew amulets, I have recently perused various examples of its uses in the arts and crafts of Kurdistani Jews, including in magical items like amulets. These people refered to this item as a Chabusa, i.e. a "quince" design. The Hebrew for the quince-fruit is chabush, which the Kurdistanis thought this image represented. Others referred to it as an "apple" design, and others still thought it representative of a lily, the six-petalled Shoshan on which it has been claimed the "Magen David" (Shield of David) is based. In fact, the design in question and the hexagram often complemented each other on the walls of ancient synagogues, like the famous one of Kfar Nachum (Capernaum); or the synagogue of Kfar Shura near Rosh Pina in Israel; etc.
So, in contrast to the many fanciful notions regarding the derivation of the six-petalled rosette, its origins are really quite simple and far removed from all the fictitious "extraterrestrial" jabber.

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