Re: [tied] Sarmatians

From: george knysh
Message: 17412
Date: 2003-01-05

--- Piotr Gasiorowski <piotr.gasiorowski@...>
> "Tamga" is a word of Turkic origin, meaning 'sign,
> seal, property mark'. Such geometrical badges (not
> yet so called; the word was borrowed much later from
> the east) were known in Poland from the "tribal"
> times, though they evolved into formal heraldic
> symbols about the 13th and 14th centuries, when the
> szlachta constituted themselves as a social stratum,
> adopting some of the heraldic traditions of western
> nobility. The ultimate origin of those marks is
> unknown, but early steppe influences may well have
> been preserved among some of the Slavs.

*****GK: Some of the "tamgas" which evolved into the
"Rurikide" signs (esp. bidents and tridents) of the
10th-12th centuries, are already discernible in the
archaeology of Ukraine for the 7th/8th cs. There are
earlier instances from the Bosporan Kingdom as well
(which was heavily "sarmatized" in the 1rst/3rd c.

> The Sarmatian myth came into existence during the
> 16th century and its influence on the popular
> imagination increased as the golden age the "old"
> szlachta began to decline. It was created by
> Renaissance writers well versed in the Classical
> literature. The earliest Poles would not have heard
> or given a damn about the Sarmatians.

*****GK: The "Sarmatian myth" is also discernible
among the Ukrainian nobility of the 17th/18th cs,
probably under Polish influence. I don't know if the
Polish shlakhta identified with any particular
Sarmatian formation, but the derivative Ukrainian
option was to adopt the Roxolani as ancestors, and
call their country "Roxolania antiqua". This vanished
with the later 18th c. incorporation into Russia
(which AFAIK had no "Sarmatian myth" of its

> influence on the language and culture of the
> Proto-Slavic speakers was real enough, but the
> ancestors of the Poles (that is various West Slavic
> tribes) were exposed to it just like any other
> Slavs, and there's no actual evidence of a Sarmatian
> ´┐Żlite or a specifically Sarmatian ethos among them.

*****GK: I believe that Sulimirski tried to argue that
Sarmatian groups migrated into the later Great Poland
in the first half of the 3rd c. AD and even thinks
that the later term "Poloni" might have derived from
them. But as you say below:
> As regards the possible influx of the Sarmatians
> into what is _now_ Poland in the 4th and 5th
> centuries, that was a cetury or two before the
> influx of the Slavs, let alone the formation of
> anything that could be called Poland.
> Piotr
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <dmilt1896@...>
> To: <>
> Sent: Sunday, January 05, 2003 4:14 AM
> Subject: [tied] Re: caleo was [calendar]
> For those that want a little more than Piotr's
> "Whatever you
> say,Regular Reg", his submission evoked the word
> "tamga" from the
> depths of my memory. A quick Google search found
> what seems to me a
> pretty reasonable account (if not, I'm sure Piotr
> would be willing
> to set us straight), at
> Tamga in Polish Heraldry (or, "What is that Thing on
> Your Shield?!")
> By Leszek z Szczecin
> In the 11th and 12th centuries, as the nobility
> (Szlachta) of Poland
> came into closer contact with the heraldic
> traditions of western
> Europe, they faced, among many others, a challenge
> familiar to many
> SCA members -- "Unique and suitable Arms." Many of
> those early
> Polish armigers used the tamga that their clans had
> carried for
> centuries, doubtless causing great consternation to
> those long-dead
> heralds. Tamga were used as property marks, cattle
> brands, and
> badges by Polish clans (rods) in much the same way
> that the Celts
> use those tacky tartans. Pogonowski sees a Greek
> (Byzantine?)
> influence in these designs. Though tamga may vary
> greatly, most show
> a strong vertical orientation, with a stable base,
> almost as if they
> represented actual objects that might have stood
> like standards
> or "totem poles." (Caveat - this last is a purely
> subjective
> impression, not a scholarly interpretation !) Though
> most tamga are
> symmetrical around a vertical axis, a large number
> are completely
> asymmetrical. I have found no mentions of tamga
> being used in any
> way resembling an alphabet or glyphic system. Thus,
> it is very
> unlikely that these symbols ever had any meanings
> other than their
> recognition as property marks.
> Tamga also found their way into Polish heraldry as
> combinations of
> more common charges that approximated the original
> designs. Common
> component charges are horseshoes, arrows, keys,
> ships, towers, and
> crosses. These "modified tamga" doubtless reduced
> duplications,
> explanations, and heraldic snivelling. The devices
> of the cities of
> Frampol, Ulanow, and Bnin are of the "modified
> tamga" type.
> Of the two sources I've found that address the
> origins of tamga, one
> says that they are unknown, and the other
> (Pogonowski) traces them
> to the invasion/migration of the Sarmatians in
> Poland during the 4th
> and 5th centuries A.D. The Sarmatians were an
> Indo-European people
> who spread widely through Europe and the mideast
> from 200 B.C. to
> about 500 A.D. The largest influx of the Sarmatians
> into Poland were
> probably driven there by the Huns during the 5th
> century A.D. The
> Sarmatian origin of tamga is supported by the use of
> very similar
> marks in Turkey and the mideast as brands, logos, or
> trademarks,
> however an important warning should be attached to
> any theory based
> on the Sarmatians. In the late 17th century, the
> Szlachta, like most
> feudal aristocracies faced an "identity crisis." The
> traditional
> role of the landed warrior aristocrat became
> uncertain in the face
> of mercantilism ("merchant princes") and the rising
> middle class.
> The reaction in Poland was a Sarmatian fad amongst
> the nobility. The
> Szlachta held that their separation from the lower
> classes was due
> to descent from the Sarmatian conquerors of Poland
> in the 5th
> century, and attributed most of their traditional
> status to the
> inherent superiority of the pure noble Sarmatian
> blood. This fad ran
> to a "retro" trend in clothes, and a complete
> rejection of the
> current revolutions in science, philosophy,
> religion, economics, and
> social theory. Due to the propaganda of this
> movement, any theory
> grounded in the Sarmatian influence should be
> examined very
> carefully. Sarmatian or not, tamga clearly date back
> to tribal
> Poland, and appear in the oldest Polish arms.
> Pogonowski, Iwo Cyprian. Poland, A Historical Atlas.
> Hippocrene
> Books.
> Zamoyski, Adam. The Polish Way
> The point is that the tamgas are in no way an
> alphabetic or
> glyphic system.
> By the way, since he mentions the Celt's "tacky
> tartans", can
> anyone confirm something I've read, that clan
> tartans are a 19th
> Century marketing ploy, adopted when the
> manufacturers lost their
> major market with the emancipation of the slaves in
> the West Indies?
> Supposedly "The Royal Stewart Tartan" was earlier
> "Negro No. 1."
> Dan Milton

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