KETEVAN ELASHVILI # 6
SACRAL ASPECT OF A SYMBOL AND ITS “RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND”
The hidden, cognizable “divine essence” of a symbol is a form of its existence which acquires wide generalization when transformed into true religious symbol.
A whole row of symbols (church, cross, candle, candlestick, etc.) are established in the consciousness only as religious symbols and thus their early background had been erased over time. For such kind of symbols the sacrality appears absolute and unmistakable reflection the truth due to which their mythological archetypes are partially shadowed. The same can be said about the symbol of the church: “Church is the House of God” – a sacred place, the earthly reflection of cosmic harmony, a sacral bounded area of man’s approximation to God – a symbol of the world itself” (Abzianidze, Elashvili 2007: 64)
According to Mircea Eliade’s interpretation, “a temple represented not only imago mundi (the world’s image) but was a kind of earthly model of a heavenly world” (Eliade 1994:44). Here it should be mentioned that this “sacral concept” of the church has been universally developed during the creation of Indian, Chinese, Egyptian or Mesopotamian temples which has been perfectly represented in the Christian architecture.
Besides universally known religious symbols, a sacral aspect as a ‘super image” of perfection and truth (in case of concrete symbols with more or less expressed) is the most important in symbolism. The sacral character of a symbol is most vividly reflected in its “unconscious aspect” and makes mystical interpretation of esoteric vision.
Any symbol with its mystic and multiple meanings give origin to certain allusions which from the point of view of various ethnocultures is represented in different forms. “A distinctive feature of a symbol is also to express in a laconic way the fundamental essence of being which in different ethnocultures, as a rule, is identical from the structural viewpoint” (Fadeeva 2004: 13).
The most expressive and visual sample of this in symbology is the use of color as a symbol. In the universal language of color symbolism declaration of divine will: effulgent and bright colors create an illusion of the infinity of the world and divine harmony and what is important, from their sacral archetype “super image” is also starting to emerge or “the symbols have such a wide range that they can help to cognize transcendental truths" (verbal formulation of which is almost impossible) (Fadeeva 2004: 13).
It is also interesting to note that the true essence of symbol in spite of its “irreal character” (if we penetrate deep) is never absurd. The same is in case of green color symbol. In Christian tradition emerald green is a color of Christian faith, resurrection and trinity. This color is used to express Calvary cross and sometimes Virgin’s cloth…
Spiritual symbolism of green is of special importance in Islamic world too; green is believed to be a divine color of the prophet Mohammed and divine will. Green is used as a vital color in Buddhism. The same attitude to green color exists in China too, where "green nephritis symbolizes perfection, immortality, mighty and magic action…”(Abzianidze, Elashvili 2007: 83).
Lacklustre green, as a symbol of life and grace, is a universal paradigm in the majority of religious systems which is quite natural as an associated coincidence caused by impressive and eminent natural “portrait"; "it is burst into green of plants and trees in spring time”, that exactly expresses “mythological past” of this color too where green is a symbol of water, rain and fertility. It is also interesting to note that “of numerous forms used in symbolism, myth is one of its private manifestations” (Fadeeva 2004: 31). This color has given the beginning to true association with the tree symbolism. The “tree” is the oldest symbol which is found practically in each world civilization. This symbol unites the world, life laws and man displaying cosmos as a vital organism (“astral world tree”). According to the Bible a tree was believed to be “heaven ladder”. In Indian mythology tree of life which grows from cosmic egg, symbolizes material world created by Brahma. The “Tree of Life” in Heavenly Jerusalem with its fruits twelve in number, exactly the same is in Indian and Chinese mythology where twelve “solar birds” find nests in the branches of the World Tree. It should be noted that similar description of the Tree of Life is repeated in numerous cultural traditions; "it is green leaved tree when symbolizes the Tree of Life and a leafless, dry tree when it stands as a symbol of death" (a Tree of Death) (Abzianidze, Elashvili 2007:152).
A symbol of all-embracing and overflowing green color as a boundless range of its symbolism is mentioned in the “Life of St. Nino” where standing alone tree being cut down to make the worshipful Cross symbolizes newly converted Georgian people .
Such intersection of colors and tree symbols makes more unusual the sacral aspect of symbolism because it is completely universal phenomena of culture.
Abzianidze, Elashvili 2007: Abzianidze Z., Elashvili K. Illustrated Encyclopedia of Symbolism., II “Bakmi” publishing house, 2007.
Eliade 1994: Eliade M. Svyaschennoe I mirskoe (Sacral and Earthly), Moscow University publishing house, 1994.
Fadeeva 2004: Fadeeva T. Obraz i simvol (Image and Symbol) “Novalis” publishing house, 2004