The Goddess Combs Her Flaxen Hair of Nettles. The Problem

January 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

The Goddess Combs Her Flaxen Hair of Nettles

The Problem.

A life-long fascination started for me when I discovered that miniature combs have been unearthed at prehistorical sites all over the world, in tombs and in temple deposits.   Why?  When I found that people had made combs in stone, amber and pottery and that they combed the vases and decorated them with combs, I simply had to try to find an answer. Did people really believe that the dead combed their hair?

I have also discovered that in early Medieval times the Christian ritual prescribed a liturgical combing of the bishop’s hair before he went up to the altar. I suspect that there is something hidden in this ritual. Something that was understood then, but that we  nowadays have forgotten.

Pottery statue of a goddess with a comb in her necklace. Greece, ca. 700 BC

As I searched for answers, I began finding more and more evidence of the combs. I noticed for example, that a pottery statue made around 700 B.C. has a comb in her necklace and the same is true of a several thousand-years-older Neolithic figurine from Ukraine. I was surprised that miniature combs were placed as offerings in Artemis Ortheia’s temple outside Sparta in Greece and to learn that many centuries later the two important godesses Athena and Artemis still received combs from their devotees. What were the goddesses supposed to do with all those small combs that their devotees had given to them?

Twelve thousand years ago the ancient potters in Easter Siberia, South China and Japan combed their pottery and this technique appears seven thousand years later in the Harappan villages in Pakistan. 2000 BC the potters in the Jordan valley used a five-toothed comb on their vases and one thousand years later, we find it on the funerary urns in Italy. If it had been because it was easy, why did not everybody use it all the time? Furthermore, no comb  has ever been found in tombs that contain combed pottery, as if the technique and the object exclude each other.

I mused on these questions for many years. I was stuck because social history, social geography and anthropology offered me very limited information.  At this point, I began studying symbology and turned away from the established academy and began searching for answers in C.G. Jung’s work. In my academic world Freud was accepted, but Jung was considered a mystic  and an archaeologist could not commit a worse sin than looking for answers in his psychology. But I reasoned that if it is possible to understand the deeper significance of our dreams by the analytical analysis according to Jung, then it ought to be possible to answer the question why the potters combed their vases and ancient people left miniature  combs in the tombs and in temples as offerings  to the goddess.

When I began researching the links between combs and pottery very few people were interested in combs. Now there are so many beautiful, interesting combs published on the web.   However, I’m not interested in the combs themselves, but in their  inner meaning.   To do that I have to present you with two stipulative definitions, that is, definitions that explain what meaning I give to two important concepts in the present work. The first one is religion. With that  I mean a concern that is more important than anything for the person or community involved. It is also a way of life, not divided from the daily affairs. The second word is symbol. That stipulative definition needs much more space.


Entry filed under: Combs.

What is a symbol The Beginning

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