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Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism

PLATE XVI

Is a representation of Siva, taken from Moor's Hindu Pantheon, plate xiii. Siva is supposed to be the oldest of the Indian deities, and to have been worshipped by the aborigines of Hindostan, before the Aryans invaded that country. It is thought that the Vedic religion opposed this degrading conception at the first, but was powerless to eradicate it. Though he is yet the most popular of all the gods, Siva is venerated, I understand, chiefly by the vulgar. Though he personifies the male principle, there is not anything indecent in pictorial representations of him. In one of his hands is seen the trident, one of the emblems of the masculine triad; whilst in another is to be seen an oval sistram-shaped loop, a symbol of the feminine unit. On his forehead he bears an eye, symbolic of the Omniscient, the sun, and the union of the sexes.

As it has been doubted by some readers, whether I am justified in regarding the sistrum as a female emblem, I append here a quotation from Socrates' Ecclesiastical History, Bohn's translation, p. 281, seq. In Rome, in the early time of Theodosius, "when a woman was detected in adultery.... they shut her up in a narrow brothel, and obliged her to prostitute herself in a most disgusting manner; causing little bells to be rang at the time.... As soon as the emperor was apprised of this indecent usage, he would by no means tolerate it; but having ordered the Sistra (for so these places of penal prostitution were denominated) to be pulled down," &c. One can as easily see why a female emblem should mark a brothel in Rome as a male symbol did at Pompeii.

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