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The article deals with the problem of coexistence of traditional beliefs and monotheistic religions on the territory of the Caucasus in medieval period. The author takes as an example the motif of bull’s head. In the facing of some Christian churches of the South Caucasus (mostly in Armenia and Georgia) in medieval period the representations of bull’s heads appeared. To understand their meaning it is supposed to fi nd the same images in the non-Christian context of the same period (archaeological fi ndings, burial complexes, burial mounds etc.). Then the appearance of this motif during earlier historical periods is traced. Finally, by means of ethnographic witnesses deriving from the most archaic societies (mountainous Dagestan, Svanetia), a hypothesis is proposed that the images of bull’s head could be used as apotropeia both in the Christian and as in secular milieu. When the image of bull’s head is represented near the sacrifi cial vessel, it could be interpreted in Christian sense as an illusion to the idea of sacrifi ce and redemption.


Medieval architecture, bull’s head, architectural decoration, the Southern Caucasus, churches

Ekaterina Yu. Endoltseva - Institute of Oriental studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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