Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quetzalcoatl: Aztec Serpent-God

Here is my rendering of a well-known image of Quetzalcoatl – the Snake-God of Mesoamerica. As I often did with my “Sacred Symbols” collection of images, four versions of the image were created: Original, Gold, Silver and Turquoise. I was always taken by history and mythology surrounding this deity.

A feathered serpent deity has been worshiped by many different ethno-political groups in Mesoamerican history. The existence of such worship can be seen through studies of iconography of different Mesoamerican cultures, in which serpent motifs are frequent. On the basis of the different symbolic systems used in portrayals of the feathered serpent deity in different cultures and periods scholars have interpreted the religious and symbolic meaning of the feathered serpent deity in Mesoamerican cultures. 

Quetzalcoatl is a mysterious ancient god who took the appearance of a serpent-like figure, whose body was covered with the emerald feathers of the sacred quetzal bird.  Quetzalcoatl was Lord and Master of the wind, science and the arts, a supreme creator god who together with two brothers gave life to man and the universe during the current “fifth sun”.  Quetzalcoatl (the Nahuatl name for the god means “feathered serpent”) is perhaps one of the most ancient gods to exist in Mesoamerica.

In the Maya language, he was known as Kukulcan.  But Quetzalcoatl has even more distant origins than the Aztecs or Maya or even the Toltecs.  Quetzalcoatl probably dates back to the earliest of all Mesoamerican civilizations, the Olmec whose beginnings date back to around 1500 BCE.

Among the Aztecs, whose beliefs are the best-documented in the historical sources, Quetzalcoatl was related to gods of the wind, of Venus, of the dawn, of merchants and of arts, crafts and knowledge. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge. Quetzalcoatl was one of several important gods in the Aztec pantheon along with the gods Tlaloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. To the Aztecs Quetzalcoatl was, as his name indicates, a feathered serpent, a flying reptile (much like a dragon), who was a boundary maker (and transgressor) between earth and sky. He was also a creator deity having contributed essentially to the creation of Mankind. He also had anthropomorphic forms, for example in his aspects as Ehecatl the wind god. Among the Aztecs the name Quetzalcoatl was also a priestly title, as the most two important priests of the Aztec Templo Mayor were called "Quetzalcoatl Tlamacazqui". In the Aztec ritual calendar, different deities were associated with the cycle of year names: Quetzalcoatl was tied to the year Ce Acatl (One Reed), which correlates to the year 1519.

The four different versions of the above design: Original, Gold, Silver and Turquoise -- are available on a limited number of high quality customizable products exclusively from my Sacred Symbols gallery on Zazzle.

The above information provided in part Wikipedia and various printed materials on symbolic systems of Mesoamerica. All images are Copyright © of C.7 Design Studio

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ancient Assyrian Winged Bull

Here is another interesting design from my “Sacred Symbols” collection. Actually, this particular design came into existence in a somewhat unusual manner.  I was working on one of my “Military Insignia” designs at that time, the United States Forces – Iraq emblem to be exact, and this winged bull was a part of the emblem. This prompted me to do more research on the topic, and here is the result. I have created four different versions of design, as I often do with my Sacred Symbols series: Gold, Silver, Art Nouveau and Ancient. The actual known historical Babylonian winged bulls, however, were discovered mostly in various forms of huge stone statues or engraved on clay tablets.

Ancient Assyrian Winged Bull, also known as Lamassu or less frequently – Shedu . It is a protective deity, often depicted with a bull or lion's body, eagle's wings, and human's head.

The lamassu is a celestial being from Mesopotamian mythology. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people. Later during the Babylonian period they became the protectors of kings as well, always placed at the palace entrances. Statues of the bull-man were often used as gatekeepers. The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with Lamassu and the god Išum with Shedu.

To protect houses, the Lamassu were engraved on clay tablets, which were then buried under the door's threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

As usually, the four different versions of the above design: Gold, Silver, Art Nouveau and Ancient -- are available on a limited number of high quality customizable products exclusively from my Sacred Symbols gallery at Zazzle.

The above information provided in part Wikipedia and various printed materials on Babylonian and Assyrian  symbols. All images are Copyright © of C.7 Design Studio

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Aztec version of Mayan Calendar

This was definitely one of the most exciting designs to work with. The imagery is extremely rich, and the number of fine details is somewhat overwhelming.  Very often, this calendar is being mistaken for a Mayan calendar; however this is not the case. Even though it closely resembles the Mayan calendar and is, in fact, heavily based on one, this particular image depicts the Aztec Calendar. I took the liberty of creating several versions of the design: golden, silver, gilded bronze and jade. However, the actual image is based on The Aztec Sun Stone, also known as the Aztec Calendar Stone, which was… you guessed it – made of stone. Make no mistake – all my renderings of the calendar are just artistic fantasies. To the best of knowledge, the only original Aztec Calendars ever discovered were all made of stone. All other popular imagery usually depicts modern time souvenirs. 

Aztec Calendar is the calendar system that was used by the Aztecs as well as other Pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico. The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.

Aztec (Aztecatl) is the Nahuatl word for "people from Aztlan", a mythological place for the Nahuatl-speaking culture of the time, and later adopted as the word to define the Mexica people.[nb 1] Often the term "Aztec" refers exclusively to the Mexica people of Tenochtitlan (now the location of Mexico City), situated on an island in Lake Texcoco, who referred to themselves as Mexica Tenochca or Colhua-Mexica. Sometimes the term also includes the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan's two principal allied city-states, the Acolhuas of Texcoco and the Tepanecs of Tlacopan, who together with the Mexica formed the Aztec Triple Alliance which has also become known as the "Aztec Empire".
In other contexts, Aztec may refer to all the various city states and their peoples, who shared large parts of their ethnic history as well as many important cultural traits with the Mexica, Acolhua and Tepanecs, and who like them, also spoke the Nahuatl language. In this meaning it is possible to talk about an Aztec civilization including all the particular cultural patterns common for the Nahuatl speaking peoples of the late postclassic period in Mesoamerica.
The Aztec Calendar is one of the Mesoamerican calendars, sharing the basic structure of calendars from throughout ancient Mesoamerica, heavily based on Mayan calendar system.  The calendar consisted of a 365-day calendar cycle called xiuhpohualli (year count) and a 260-day ritual cycle called tonalpohualli (day count). These two cycles together formed a 52-year "century," sometimes called the "calendar round". The xiuhpohualli is considered to be the agricultural calendar, since it is based on the sun, and the tonalpohualli is considered to be the sacred calendar.

As I mentioned earlier, the Aztec calendar shares many aspects with Mayan calendar - a system of calendars and almanacs used in the Maya civilization of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and in some modern Maya communities in highland Guatemala and Oaxaca, Mexico. The essentials of the Maya calendric system are based upon a system which had been in common use throughout the region, dating back to at least the 5th century BCE. It also has lots in common with calendars employed by other earlier Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Zapotec and Olmec, and contemporary or later ones such as the Mixtec . Although the Mesoamerican calendar did not originate with the Maya, their subsequent extensions and refinements of it were the most sophisticated. Along with those of the Maya, the Aztecs calendars are the best-documented and most completely understood.

As usually, all four different versions of my design: gold, silver, gilded bronze and jade -- are available on a limited number of high quality customizable products exclusively from my Sacred Symbols gallery at Zazzle.

The above information provided in part by Wikipedia and various printed materials on sumbols of Mesoamerica. All images are Copyright © of C.7 Design Studio

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tree of Life or Yggdrasil

Here you will find a unique design, featuring my take on the Tree of Life - an ancient symbol illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related. The tree of knowledge, connecting heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree.

In Egypt the Acacia tree of Saosis was considered the "tree of life", referring to it as the "tree in which life and death are enclosed". References to The Tree of Life can be found in ancient Assyria, China, as well as in Germanic paganism and Norse mythology, Judaism, Kabbalah, Christianity, Vedic texts of India, sources from Urartu and Mesoamerica.

In Norse mythology it is also known as Yggdrasil, an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology. It was said to be the world tree around which the nine worlds existed. Its name is generally considered to mean "Ygg's (Odin's) horse". Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is central and considered very holy. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to hold their courts. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the wyrm (dragon) Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

It is also a representation of a so-called warden tree. A very old tree (often a linden, ash or elm) growing on the farm lot could be dubbed a "warden tree", and was believed to defend it from bad luck. Breaking a leaf or twig from the warden tree was considered a serious offence. The respect for the tree was so great that the family housing it could adopt a surname related to it. It was often believed that the wights of the yard lived under the roots of the warden tree, and to them, one sacrificed treats to be freed from disease or bad luck. Continuing as late as the 19th century, warden trees were venerated in areas of Germany and Scandinavia, considered being guardians and bringers of luck, and offerings were sometimes made to them. Position of the tree in the center considered to be a source of luck and protection for gods and men.

As always, the four versions of this design; golden, silver, ancient and original -- are available on a limited number of high quality customizable products exclusively from my Sacred Symbols gallery on Zazzle.

The above information provided in part by Wikipedia and various printed materials on Celtic and Norse mythology. All images are Copyright © of C.7 Design Studio

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Eye of Horus

I was always fascinated with mysteries of Ancient Egypt, and especially with vast array of sacred symbols, left behind by this super civilization. As a result, Egyptian collection was a cornerstone of my “Sacred Symbols” project. And the very first design I was working on, was one of the well-known depictions of the famous Eye of Horus. This particular artifact was unearthed by archaeologists in a form of a golden pendant. The image later become very popular, and is being used on numerous modern-day replicas and souvenirs. Here you can find my version of the image. 

The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. The eye is personified in the goddess Wadjet (also written as Wedjat, Uadjet, Wedjoyet, Edjo or Uto and as The Eye of Ra or "Udjat").  Wadjet was one of the earliest of Egyptian deities who later became associated with other goddesses such as Bast, Sekhmet, Mut, and Hathor. She was the tutelary deity of Lower Egypt and the major Delta shrine the "per-nu" was under her protection. Hathor is also depicted with this eye. Funerary amulets were often made in the shape of the Eye of Horus. The Wedjat or Eye of Horus is "the central element" of seven "gold, faience, carnelian and lapis lazuli" bracelets found on the mummy of Shoshenq II. The Wedjat "was intended to protect the king [here] in the afterlife" and to ward off evil. Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern sailors would frequently paint the symbol on the bow of their vessel to ensure safe sea travel.

Horus was the ancient Egyptian sky god who was usually depicted as a falcon. His right eye was associated with the sun Ra. The eye symbol represents the marking around a Peregrine Falcon's eye that includes the "teardrop" marking sometimes found below the eye. The mirror image, or left eye, sometimes represented the moon and the god Djehuti (Thoth).

The Eye of Horus arguably served as a prototype for the well-known symbol of the All-Seeing Eye. The Eye of Providence (or the all-seeing eye of God) is a symbol showing an eye often surrounded by rays of light or a glory and usually enclosed by a triangle. It is sometimes interpreted as representing the eye of God watching over humankind (or divine providence). It also appears in Buddhism, where Buddha is also regularly referred to as the "Eye of the World" throughout Buddhist scriptures (e.g. Mahaparinibbana Sutta) and is represented as a trinity in the shape of a triangle known as the Tiratna, or Triple Gem.

In Medieval and Renaissance European iconography, the Eye (often with the addition of an enclosing triangle) was an explicit image of the Christian Trinity. Seventeenth-century depictions of the Eye of Providence sometimes show it surrounded by clouds or sun bursts.

In the modern era, the most notable depiction of the eye is the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, which appears on the United States one-dollar bill.

As usually, the above design is available on a limited number of high quality customizable products exclusively from my Sacred Symbols gallery on Zazzle.

The above information provided in part by, Wikipedia and various printed materials on Egyptology. All images are Copyright © of C.7 Design Studio


The art and the magic of sacred symbols… They have been fascinating and mystifying us for ages. What hidden message do they convey? What powers do they possess? What are their origins? Why are we so drawn to them? This is exactly what we are going to explore, while following my “Sacred Symbols 3D” project.

For those of you already familiar with my “Military Insignia 3D” project and the blog of the same name, you would know what to expect from this blog. For those of you who are not, this will be an interactive diary, following my “Sacred Symbols 3D” project. The idea of the project would be to recreate and gather under one roof a vast collection of fascinating symbolic images, which manage to captivate human minds throughout the history of our race. As usually, I will be attempting to highlight the true beauty of such images, utilizing my unique Multi-Layer Enhancement & Texturing Technique (M-LETT 2.5D). I have been working on this project for a bit over a year, and managed to accumulate a fair amount of material. I believe the time has come to share some of those images with those who interested.

As always, most of the images you will see here will be available on a limited number of high quality customizable products exclusively from my galleries on Zazzle