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The double-headed eagle and Kabbalah

In ancient times, people depicted many different monsters: dragons, winged bulls and lions, people with the heads of crocodiles and hippopotamuses, mermaids with fish tails, etc. But it was not the hydra, sphinx, harpy or griffin, but the double-headed eagle that became the symbol of Russia and two of the largest and most influential states in Europe - Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire.

This is one of the most common symbols in heraldry, but still remains a mystery...

Among the Sumerians, the symbol of the double-headed eagle had religious significance. He was a solar symbol. One of the earliest images of a double-headed eagle was discovered during excavations of the Sumerian city of Lagash in Mesopotamia.

The symbol of the double-headed eagle was widespread among the Hittites. Its oldest image (13th century BC) was found during excavations of Hattusa (modern Boghazkoy) - the capital of the Hittite kingdom. A double-headed eagle holding two hares in its paws was depicted on cylinder seals. Archaeologists also found images of the two-headed horde on Hittite buildings.

The double-headed eagle is also found in Hinduism. There he bears the name Gandaberund (“ganda” - strong, “berunda” - two-headed). The Hindu text Vishnu Purana tells that the god Vishnu transformed into Gandaberunda when he needed fantastic power.

Images of a double-headed eagle from the 6th century BC. e. were found in Media, east of the former Hittite kingdom. Images of a double-headed eagle were found both in Ancient Egypt and on Assyrian monuments, where, according to experts, they symbolized the union of the Median kingdom with the Assyrian in the 7th-6th centuries. BC e.

The Seljuk Turks depicted the image of a double-headed eagle on their battle banners. The eagle was depicted above the gate in the citadel of the Seljuk capital of Konya, on the coins of some Turkic dynasties, and was simply mass-produced in fine art.

In the Golden Horde, the double-headed eagle was found on coins from the end of the 13th to the second half of the 14th century. The earliest are considered to be the double-headed eagles on the copper follaries of the Sakchi mint (Danube region) with the image of the tamga of Beklyaribek Nogai (1235-1300).

The double-headed eagle was also present on Tver coins of the 15th century.

For the first time, the double-headed eagle appeared as a heraldic symbol of Russia (then still the Grand Duchy of Moscow) in 1497 under John III. Then the eagle adorned the Great State Seal.

In alchemy, the double-headed eagle is a symbol of transformation.

Historians have information that the double-headed eagle was on the banners of the Huns in the 4th-5th centuries.

The double-headed eagle is the emblem of the Masonic lodges of the Scottish ritual. Masons interpret it as a symbol of the unity of masculine and feminine principles.

Images of a double-headed eagle are found in the paintings of Eastern European wooden synagogues of the 17th–18th centuries (for example, in the Hador synagogue in Galicia). “The heads turned in different directions mean two qualities of the Creator, with the help of which he controls the universe: Judgment and Mercy, Severity and Love.”

Byzantium, contrary to popular belief, never used the double-headed eagle on state seals and seals of emperors.

Images of a double-headed eagle are found in the ornaments of the Indian tribes of North America.

In Kabbalah, the double-headed eagle is closely associated with the concept of tikkun. This is what Kabbalists called the correction of the world, which had lost its harmony as a result of Shevirat Kelim - a cosmic catastrophe, when evil arose in the world. The result of this correction should be the New Adam Kadmon (the Original, spiritual man).

In Byzantium, the double-headed eagle was presumably introduced by Emperor Isaac Komnenos under the influence of legends about the haga, widespread in his native Paphlagonia. These legends depict the hagi as a giant eagle with two heads, which had such strength that it could carry away an entire bull in its talons.

Double-headed eagles “flew” to Europe along with the crusaders. Since the 13th century, they appear in the coats of arms of the counts of Savoy and Würzburg, on Bavarian coins, on the coins of the King of Sicily, they are known in the heraldry of the knights of Holland and the Balkan countries, and then of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.

In the 13th century, the double-headed eagle became the coat of arms of Serbia, and later also of Montenegro and Albania; it was used in the Chernigov and Tver principalities.

The image of a double-headed eagle was established as the permanent coat of arms of the emperor only in the 15th century, under Emperor Sigismund I and Frederick III of Habsburg.

Until 1935, four towers of the Moscow Kremlin (Spasskaya, Borovitskaya, Troitskaya, Nikolskaya) were crowned with double-headed eagles, and until 1918 - the Syuyumbike Tower in Kazan.

Double-headed eagles were depicted on the icons of the Mother of God - on the Azov (XVIII century), "Autocratic" and on the icon "Like an Eagle's Wings" (the last two - from the end of the 19th century).


According to some European historians, the “double-headedness” of the eagle may be associated with Zoroastrian cults. When an eagle was sacrificed, it was divided into two parts.

The symbolism of the double-headed eagle is common in Sufism. The crowning of an eagle with one, two or three crowns, the main royal attribute, has remained unchanged since Hittite times.

At the beginning of the 15th century, a black double-headed eagle also appears on the coat of arms of the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”; in 1806 it was inherited by the Austrian (from 1867 – Austro-Hungarian) Empire.

The Russian double-headed eagle, like the Palaeologian and Habsburg ones, was depicted either with open paws or holding a cross, sword or orb. Since the 17th century, a new image has been established - with an orb and a scepter.

On the Borovitskaya Tower of the Kremlin there is an ornament with a double-headed eagle. The estimated time of its creation is the 1490s.

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