Distaff as World Pillar

Distaff as World Pillar

The four, six and eight-pointed stars in the circles are the most prevalent in the decoration of the distaffs (Fig. 1 A, B). We usually associate the six-pointed (segment) star with the traditional divi­sion of space into 6 parts, in which we can distinguish the north and south directions and the four marginal winter and summer sunrise/set azimuths. Similar examples can be found in ancient India (Golan 1994: 150) and Central America (Sosa 1989: 132–135). Thus, the segment star stands for the cardinal phases of the Sun’s rotation around the Earth and it can be interpreted as a symbol of the space-time structure of the Cosmos (Meier-Boeke 1941: 179–186). The ideogram of the Sun’s rotation can at the same time also be interpreted as the symbol of the Sun itself, light and time.

Besides the usual segment star in the distaff designs we can also distinguish symbols for trees (plants), birds, stars, water, ploughed earth, snakes, animals, and people. In the lower part of the plane surface of the distaffs we usually find depicted (grass-)snake-like, S-shaped symbols (Fig. 4) and in the upper part, birds (Fig. 3).

Two segment stars depicted on the vertical axes of a distaff are linked with the Earth and Sky (Fig. 1 A, B). Often these two spheres are connected with vertical meanders of water, the patterns of plants or squares of the Earth, or with the image of the Pole.