ox and bull cults

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  • Paleolithicdepicted in many European cave paintings such as those found at Lascaux and Livernon in France. Their life force may have been thought to have magical qualities

  • MesopotamiaThe Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh depicts the killing of the Bull of Heaven, Gugalana, husband of Ereshkigal, as an act of defiance of the gods. Guglana is the basis for the constellation Taurus.

    From the earliest times, the bull was lunar in Mesopotamia (its horns representined the crescent moon and its footfalls caused earthquakes).

    The death of Guglana represented the start of the Agricultural Season (when the constellation Taurus is obscured i.e. killed- by the light of the sun).

  • Anatolia (Turkey)Bulls appear in Hittite mythology as Seri and Hurri ('Day' and 'Night') the bulls who carried the weather god Teshub on their backs or in his chariot, and who grazed on the ruins of cities.

    Teshub He is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown.

    The impressive and dangerous aurochs survived into the Iron Age in Anatolia and the Near East and was worshiped throughout that area as a sacred animal.

  • Teshub, depicted as riding on the back of a bullThe Hurrian (later Hittite) myth of Teshub's originhe was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu's genitalsis a likely inspiration for the story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod's Theogony.He is believed to have been the basis for the gods Zeus and Thor.The British myth of St. George and the Dragon is also believed to be derived from him.

  • Bull heads from Catal Hyk in Angora (Museum of Anatolian Civilization)

  • Indus ValleyThe Hindu God Shiva's steed is Nandi, the Bull. Nandi the bull can be traced back to Indus Valley Civilization, where dairy farming was the most important occupations. The bull Nandi is Shiva's primary vehicle and is the principal gana (follower) of Shiva.

  • Egypt

    In Egypt, bulls were worshiped as a god called Apis.The Apis bull was considered to be a manifestation of the pharaoh, as bulls were symbols of strength and fertility, qualities which are closely linked with kingship ("strong bull of his mother Hathor" was a common title for gods and pharaohs).

  • EgyptApis is associated with Ptah, god of creation (Memphis), & Osiris, god of the Underworld.Occasionally, the Apis bull was pictured with her sun-disk between his horns, being one of few deities associated with her symbol. When the disk was depicted on his head with his horns below and the triangle on his forehead, an ankh was suggested.

  • Worshipping the Golden Calf

  • CyprusIn Cyprus, bull masks made from real skulls were worn in rites. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and Neolithic bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus.

  • Enkomi, Cyprus

  • Minoan CivilizationThe Bull was a central theme in the Minoan Civilization, with bull heads and bull horns used as symbols in the Knossos palace. The palace was the inspiration for the story of the Minotaur and the Labyrith.

    Minoan frescos and ceramics depict the bull-leaping ritual in which participants of both sexes vaulted over bulls by grasping their horns.

  • Minoan bull from the palace of Knossos in Crete

  • Bull LeapingBull-leaping is a motif of Middle Bronze Age figurative art, notably of Minoan Crete, but also found in Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley. It is often interpreted as a depiction of a ritual performed in connection with bull worship.

  • Bull Leaping (2006)

  • Bull FightingBull Riding