Tuesday, December 1, 2009

History of SPHINX

Sphinx is a creature with the body of a Lion and the head of a man/woman. It is believed to be a Greek word. Most of us might have heard of the Great Sphinx of Giza. Ones who are reading about Sphinxes for the first time read on I promise you it is pretty interesting. For those of you who have only heard about it, you would be surprised to know that the concept of Sphinx is not just in the Egyptian mythology it also exists in Asia. For those of you who know both the facts I have a surprise for you in the end.
The Sphinx is said to guard temples or tombs (depending on where it is placed). The Great Sphinx of Giza is the most famous of the Egyptian Sphinxes. It is believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians in third millennium B.C. But still things like on whose model is the face built, exactly when and who built it is still a mystery. Many people have different arguments. Many Egyptologists believe that it was during the period of Pharaoh Khafra that the statue was built. But then later there was an argument that the statue was buried in the sand and that it was Khafra who excavated it. So that meant the Sphinx was there even before the reign of Khafra; probably a lot earlier than that. So who exactly built the Sphinx? A few people believed it was Pharaoh Khufu who built it. The first documented attempt at an excavation dates to 1400 BC, when the young Thutmose IV gathered a team and, after much effort, managed to dig out the front paws, between which he placed a granite slab, known as the Dream Stela. This contains the story as to why Thutmose started the excavation. He was resting in the noon near the Sphinx when in a dream he was promised the kingdom if he excavated the Sphinx. Ramses II also did an excavation later. The entire Sphinx was finally excavated only on 26 Dec 1925. Surprised? Continue reading. Sphinx was considered as the talisman of the Nile. The locals believed that the flood cycle depend on it. The Nile listened to the Sphinx according to them.
The original idea of a Sphinx is said to be Greek. According to Greek mythology the Sphinx is a lady with the head of a women and the body of a lion who stood guard to the city of Thebes. Anybody who crossed her had to answer her riddle. If they failed to answer it, she would eat them up. ( That was one intelligent Sphinx and a hungry one too!)

The concept of Sphinx exists in the South and South East Asia as well. Purushamriga depicted on the Shri Varadaraja Perumal temple in Tribhuvana is the Indian Sphinx. It is said to guard the temple. According to legend, it is said to take away the sins of the devotees when they enter the temple and to ward off evil in general. It is therefore often found in a strategic position on the gopuram or temple gateway. Male purushamriga guarding the entrance of the Shri Shiva Nataraja temple in Chidambaram is another example. Sphinx earns a place in the Buddhists beliefs a well. In Burma, the sphinx is depicted on the corners of Buddhist stupas, and legends tells how it was created by Buddhist monks to protect a new-born royal baby from being devoured by ogresses. There are sphinxes in many palaces as well. Sphinxes are also found in medieval churches.

Now comes the best part. Did you know that the sphinx has been associated with the U.S. Army Military Intelligence since 1923, when it was adopted as the insignia of the Military Intelligence Officers Reserve Corps. Since Sphinx depicts great wisdom and strength they chose it. Now how many of you all knew that? Interesting isn’t it? Now if you are telling me that you know that also then you are one big Sphinx fan.