The icons of Christopher “with the head of a dog”, along with some other “controversial” iconographic subjects, were officially banned by the Synod’s order of 1722 as “contrary to nature, history and truth itself.” But it would be naive to assume that this figure appeared “by mistake” …
This is the most mysterious of all the saints, and the icons with his image are still in disgrace by the church. They depict Saint Christopher with a dog’s head. This may seem like blasphemy to some. But the Greeks, creating these icons, did not even think to desecrate the holy feelings. It was such people that the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called described after his missionary journey through the lands where the Pakistani-Iranian border is now located.
There are many references to the life of this unusual saint with the head of a dog in church literature. According to them, Saint Christopher looked so fierce that the Roman emperor Decius Trajan, who ruled in the 250s, upon seeing him for the first time, fell from his throne in fear. Giorgi Alexandru, a Greek writer, collecting facts about the life of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, about whom he wrote the book “Raised the Cross in Ice”, found many references to cinocephalus, a tribe to which St. Christopher could belong.
As the writer assures, the Apostle Andrew visited the north-east of Pakistan. There he met people with an unusual and even terrifying appearance. The traveler Marco Polo also mentioned these tribes. He called them cinocephalic. Describing these creatures, he said that they look like mastiff dogs. They allegedly achieved an intimidating appearance by cutting their cheeks, sharpening their teeth and ears. For babies, they pulled the skulls in such a way that they took on an elongated shape. And all this in order to intimidate enemies.
There are different versions of how Christopher with a dog’s head became a saint. This is what the legend says. During the time of Emperor Decius Trajan, he was a warrior and robber of gigantic stature, who terrified all of Palestine. Christopher said that he would agree to serve the one who is more terrible and more powerful than him. Then he realized that there was no one in the world more terrible than the devil, and decided to bow to him. However, after learning that the devil was afraid of Jesus and flees from the sign of the cross, he left him and became a zealous servant of God, converting many people to Christianity.
According to another version, the giant Christopher agreed to carry Christ across the river and was surprised at his severity, and he said that he bears all the burdens of the world. What convinced Christopher that there was no one in the world more powerful than Christ!
Trying to baptize the population of Lycia, Christopher met with fierce resistance and died. The church honors him as a great martyr. True, in 1722 the Holy Synod decided not to paint Saint Christopher with a dog’s head …
However, there is no agreement on the birthplace of Saint Christopher among historians, both ancient and modern. The medieval chronicler Paul the Deacon wrote that the Germanic tribe of the Lombards, which is famous for the first crusades, had friendly relations with the cinocephals. Why were they afraid of dogheads? They say that, killing, they greedily fell to the wounds of their enemies and drank blood.
Researcher Adam Bremensky expounds the legend that cinocephalics are the children of the Amazons, whose fathers were some unknown monsters that lived in the North. There are many legends about them, some of which were recounted by the poet Nizami in the poem Iskander-Nam.
It says that the tribes of the Rus, who fought with the army of Alexander the Great, released a monster into battle, which tore off the arms and heads of the enemy’s soldiers and even chopped off the trunk of a war elephant. The monster, according to Nizami, was no different from an ordinary tall person. From the total mass, only the horn on the forehead and tremendous strength stood out. Nizami calls the birthplace of monsters the mountains on the way to eternal darkness – the polar night. It is possible that this is the modern Subpolar Urals.
Until the 18th century, the north of Russia was a reserve for creatures known to the rest of the world only from legends and myths. Nikolai Karamzin mentioned that they liked to talk about the mysterious mountains on the ocean coast in Moscow in the 16th century. Moreover, among the inhabitants of the Polar North, Muscovites mentioned people with dog heads. And the traveler Herberstein, who left his testimonies in the Russian road book of the 17th century, wrote that people with dog heads lived in the upper reaches of the Ob River.
In the 20th century, the Ob River was mentioned by the French philosopher Rene Guénon. In addition, the witnesses who saw the Pseglawites called them inhabitants of the highlands. But these regions are also considered the habitat of Bigfoot. True, when describing him, they say that he looks more like a monkey and, in particular, a baboon. Meanwhile, baboons in Egypt were called cinocephalic, that is, pseglavets, because of the similarity of their heads to the heads of large dogs. So, the tribe from which Saint Christopher came out could have been the tribe of the snowmen?
But Christopher has another twin image – the Egyptian Anubis, the god of death and rebirth of all living things, in fact, a normal peasant god of spring. Anubis is also dog-headed, and most importantly, in his hands, just like Christopher, a blooming staff. This is the victory of spring over winter, and of life over death, which is observed every year by all farmers. Grain – dry and dead, being buried in damp ground, resurrects in the same way as the staff of Anubis, or like the staff of Reprev, Offero or Christopher. These allegories are extremely closely connected with the idea of the Resurrection of Jesus.
It remains to find out what the dog has to do with it, and in Eurasia the answer cannot be found: the dog is taboo by the largest religions, as one of the faces of the Unclean One. The answer was preserved by the Aztecs. A dog, from their point of view, is an excellent guide to the next world, and while the soul that has flown out of the body trembles, not knowing what to do, the dog leads it exactly to the ancestors’ cave. Therefore, the Indians always killed and put the dog in the burial. The common roots of cultures are especially visible here. Under the guise of a civilized Christopher lies a somewhat older Charon, then an even more ancient Anubis *, and if you scratch more intensively, an ordinary Indian dog will begin to peep, which was put into the grave of each departed relative.
* In Christianity, the day of veneration of Christopher Pseglavets – July 25 – a day “out of time” according to the Mayan calendar, the day of transition from one time period to another, the beginning of the New Year, in fact, is the Gate of the Transition. In Egypt, the guardian of such a Gate of Transition is Anubis.
The head of Christopher, by the way, is kept in one of the temples of France. In the event that this is a dog’s head, the relic must be old, before the reform of the 17-18 centuries.
SOMETHING ABOUT RIGHTEOUS PSAS
All “real” churches were well aware of the sacred meaning of the dog. The Dominicans (Domini canis – the dogs of the Lord) tattooed a dog’s head with a torch in their teeth on their wrists – at least that’s what they think. In my opinion, in the dog’s teeth there was a blossoming spring branch – a symbol of resurrection, a symbol of new life that wakes up in the hands of Anubis every spring, and in the Church of Jesus – every Palm Sunday. The oprichniks have the same symbolism: a dog’s head and a broom – in fact, a bundle, a bundle of twigs with foliage, at the same time a symbol of unity. And there is no need to be surprised that giaur and Christian are synonyms, and knight-dogs are just dogs. I think the term “cop” did not grow out of nowhere. At least the dog-headed Christopher is the patron saint of people with risky professions, including policemen.