Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Figure 34 is a very ancient Hindoo emblem, whose real signification I am unable to divine. It is used in calculation; it forms the basis of some game, and it is a sign of vast import in sacti worship.
A coin, bearing this figure upon it, and having a central cavity with the Etruscan letters SUPEN placed one between each two of the angles, was found in a fictile urn, at Volaterræ and is depicted in Fabretti's Italian Glossary, plate xxvi., fig. 858, bis a. As the coin is round, the reader will see that these letters may be read as Supen, Upens, Pensu, Ensup, or Nsupe. A search through Fabretti's Lexicon affords no clue to any meaning except for the third. There seems, indeed, strong reason to believe that pensu was the Etruscan form of the Pali panca, the Sanscrit pânch, the Bengalli pânch, and the Greek penta, i. e., five. Five, certainly, would be an appropriate word for the pentangle. It is almost impossible to avoid speculating upon the value of this fragment of archælogical evidence in support of the idea that the Greeks, Aryans, and Etruscans had something in common; but into the question it would be unprofitable to enter here.
But, although declining to enter upon this wide field of inquiry, I would notice that whilst searching Fabretti's Glossary my eye fell upon the figure of an equilateral triangle with the apex upwards, depicted plate xliii., fig. 2440 ter. The triangle is of brass, and was found in the territory of the Falisci. It bears a rude representation of the outlines of the soles of two human feet, in this respect resembling a Buddhist emblem; and there is on its edge an inscription which may be rendered thus in Roman letters, KAYI: TERTINEI. POSTIKNU, which probably signifies "Gavia, the wife of Tertius, offered it." The occurrence of two Hindoo symbols in ancient Italy is very remarkable. It must, however, be noticed that similar symbols have been found on ancient sculptured stones in Ireland and Scotland. There may be no emblematic ideas whatever conveyed by the design; but when the marks appear on Gnostic gems, they are supposed to indicate death, i. e., the impressions left by the feet of the individual as he springs from earth to heaven.