From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Uffington: A horse of a different color

Uffington White Horse (NASA satellite photo)
Although England is known for its imposing figures of white horses (e.g. Westbury, Cherhill, Broad Town and Marlborough), the Uffington White Horse is by far the oldest.

Figured by archaeological calculations to date back to the Bronze Age, this 374 foot long "horse" was fashioned from "deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk."  Although some wonder whether the figure is indeed that of a horse (and not some other animal), the Uffington has been called a horse since at least the 11th century.  This is perhaps because of the traditional mystique concerning white horses.

Wikipedia reports that white horses (as well as grey horses with white-haired coats) have played significant roles within faith traditions throughout history.  For example, the Ancient Greeks described Pegasus as a winged white horse that was sired by the sea god Poseidon.  The Welsh goddess Rhiannon has often been
depicted riding a "pale-white" horse. 

Uchchaihshravas is a seven-headed white horse that is said to have served as a varana ("vehicle") for the Hindu god Indra.  In Zoroastrianism white horses have been associated with divine chariots. The white horse Kanthaka was a favorite of Prince Siddhartha's before he became the Buddha.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse include one that is riding a white steed (often interpreted as symbolizing conquest).  Christian Saints James and George are also associated with white horses. 


Copyright November 14, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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