Dragon (vishap)

In the mythological beliefs of many people around the world water is closely connected with dragons. As the incarnation of chaos, dragons protected the newborn cosmic ocean and fought against the gods of sun, the bringer of harmony. The dragons (or demons) then came down to Earth from the cosmos and turned into the guardians of springs and water. Since the water availability has depended on dragons, our forefathers propitiate the dragons worshipping and offering them sacrifices, thus giving material form to the dragon cult. The fish-like obelisks of worship discovered in the Geghama Mountains and on the slopes of Mount Aragats in the basin of the River Tchorokh, are of note because they are unique to the Armenian plateau. Their sculptures portrayed “dragons” with fish-like bodies and heads of animals, birds and snakes. More frequently we see the image of a bull, which is also closely connected with the cult of water. One of the Armenian epic heroes Lion Mher, who has the attributes of divine Mihr-Sun, kills the Black Ox, which is closely guarding the source of water, before he kills the White Demon. Gilgamesh, the hero of the Sumerian saga, also kills the celestial bull that is draining the River Euphrates by drinking its water.
The stone obelisks were first named “dragons” by the well-known Armenologist Nikoghayos Mar. In his turn, the scientist Manuk Abeghian believed that the stone obelisks were the statues of the water goddess Astghik, styled in the form of a dragon. Georgy Melikishvili, a Georgian orientalist, argues that in the religious beliefs of the Armenians and Georgians the “dragon” is the divinity “Vishashapn,” which was worshiped by the Khurian tribes that lived on the Armenian plateau from the 4th to the 2nd millennium B.C. The scientist Armen Petrosian, who has studied the old Indo-European roots of the words “dragon” or “snake,” recently came to the conclusion that the Armenians used the term “gegh.” Therefore, it is evident that the real name of the stone obelisk “dragon” in Armenian was “gegh.” This is borne out by the fact that groups of such obelisks are found in the Geghama Mountains, around the peak Gegh, and near Geghi Fortress.

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