If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly
Today in history

The most ancient “puzzle”

On the plate of 15 square centimeters the following images were drawn: figure of racing boar, heads of three goats, wolf and deer. All the pictures were made realistically.

Among the most outstanding and memorable display of artistic creativity of tribes of Saka’s period applied arts occupies a special place.

Since 7th century B.C. population of the vast steppe zones of Siberia, Kazakhstan, the Volga River basin and Southern Europe had original and brilliant sphere of art, so called animal style which was realistic in its form and mythological in content. The main theme of this style was image of animals and mythical zoomorphic monsters. Art of animal style had decorative and applied character. Bronze coppers, various altars and weapons, horse bridle and clothes were decorated by imprints.

Felicitous combination of functionality and figurativeness, amazing synthesis of utility and creativity put Saka’s art on an equal footing with the best samples of material culture of the mankind.

Creation of ancient artists was in vivid and varied interaction with particular images of fauna. The most frequently the images of the following animals of Kazakhstan’s fauna found: argali, mountain goat, tiger and wild boar, maral and camel, steppe eagle and less often — saiga, wolf and hare.

Artistic realization of the initial images was various as well. They were embodied in round sculpture, bas-relief, silhouette and linear drawing. On some of that objects animalistic motives were created by the combination of two or even three techniques.

Besides artistic objects made of metal bone and horn caving, applique work, mosaic sewing of many-colored felt and leather were widely distributed.

During excavation of the Tasmola burial place a small figured buckle made of maral’s horn was discovered. At first glance this object belonged to the category of common ancient items.

In actual fact the buckle appeared to be rare beautiful and perfect work of artist who lived in Kazakhstan 2,5 thousand years ago. On the surface of the buckle reminding conventionalized head of fantastic eagle multi-figure image of fauna was engraved. It was made in such unbelievable and tangled form that even nowadays the item could serve the example of very complicated puzzle which would be published in magazines on the theme of “during leisure time”. On the plate of 15 square centimeters the following images were drawn: figure of racing boar, heads of three goats, wolf and deer. All the pictures were made realistically. However, it is so difficult to understand its meaning. The deal is that all these figures can’t be arranged in a one understandable for everybody order. The size of the buckle is too small. Ancient artist made the only possible decision. He placed them at different degrees and combined in a way that the line confining one image was the beginning of the next picture. Thus the surface of the buckle was covered by dense web of lines, spots and deepenings which form intricate patterns. Perhaps, we would never learn what ancient master wanted to tell.

Agapov P., Kadyrbayev M. (1979) Treasure of ancient Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata: Zhalyn. 252 p. (in Russian)