Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hexagram - Designs and Meanings

Otto Friedrich August Meinardus was a German Coptologist and pastor (1925 – 2005). He wrote an article titled The Hexagram or the Magen David in Byzantine Art (in the Bulletin of the Christian Archeological Society 8 (period IV)(1975-1976) p. 97-100). In this article he claims that the current meaning of the hexagram as representing the House of David or the Jewish heritage in Christendom is too dominant and leads to misconception. In the past the hexagram acceptance was wider than today, and its main function was ornamental.
Meinardus mentions several hexagram designs
a-     The Capernaum Synagogue type with straight lines which eventually became the symbol of the state of Israel.
b-     The Eshtemoa Synagogue type with curved lines [1], which is most frequently found on Byzantine ornamentation.
c-     The six rayed star [2] influenced by the I for Jesus and X for Christos
d-    The  six rayed star which "clearly signified the heavenly body, as, for example, in the case of the upper part of the Barberini Diptych in the Louvre"
[1] My teacher, Ze'ev Goldmann, thought that this Tri-loop symbol (which appears twice on the Capernaum Lintel) is frequent Samaritan one, but appears also on a Jewish Massoretic design in micrographic writing that has in its center a piece of paper with text of the Tri-partite blessing of the Cohanim. It appears also on Neo-Paphos Mosaic Floor along with Crosses and the Swastika sign. 
About 40 years ago Dr. Asher Eder took a picture of this Tri-Loop symbol on a relief in the ruins of an Herodian building in Beth-El, north of Ramallah.
 [2] G. Scholem claimed that this type ("six radiuses which come fron a single point") is not a Star of David at all.  G. Scholem mentions the appearance of this sign on Assyrian, and later Phoenician and Israeli seals. (Magen David, Toldotav Shel Semel [Hebrew] p. 29.
a.       Capernaum - straight lined star -4th century C.E.
Credit: Gabi Goldman

b.       Capernaum - curved lined star -4th century C.E.
Credit: Gabi Goldman

c.        Constantinople Christian sarcophagus with XI monogram, circa 400 C.E.
Archaeological Museum in Istanbul
Source: CC image, English Wikipedia entry: Sarcophagus

d.       Barberini Diptych in the Louvre  -6th century C.E.
 Source: CC image, English Wikipedia entry: Justinián_I.

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