Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Griffin and Astragal

Intaglio from Ionia, 5th century BCE, showing a griffin with an astragal. The astragal is the rectangular thing below the griffin. From the Hermitage.

These magical symbols appear all over the place in the art of ancient Greece and the Near East, but an astragal is really just the ankle bone of a sheep. They were used for dice, and for oracles, and from there they became symbols of fate, and thus of divine power.

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