MIHR: God of Sun and Light

Modern depiction of Mihr with Garni temple in background

Long before Armenians would accept Christianity, they were Hellenist. Every phenomenon had its God. Mihr, for example, was the God of Sun and Light. Mihr, with his character, was more like Greek Apollo. He was the son of Aramazd, the father of all Gods. Armazad’s character was like Greek Zeus. Mihr’s main temple was in Derjan province’s Bagaharij village. Garni temple, preserved to this day and located in modern Armenia’s territory, was devoted to Mihr.

Every 8th day of the old Armenian calendar was dedicated to Mihr, and the 8th month (February following the current Gregorian calendar) was fully dedicated to him. The month was named after him, Mehekan. Mihr’s name and details about his appearance were mentioned in the Armenian epic “Daredevils of Sasun.” The name transformed and became Mher, currently a popular name for boys. In the epic, there are book chapters dedicated to Great Mher (Davit of Sasun’s father and Sanasar’s son) and Mher Junior (Davit of Sasun’s son).

Great Mher was only 15 when hunger started at Sasun, and prices grew. The reason behind it was the lion that would keep Sasun in a blockade, closing all the roads, killing the travelers, and not letting the food or other goods enter Sasun. Right on the next day, after figuring out the reason for the hunger and high prices, Great Mher would fight the lion. When the lion saw him coming, it hit the ground with the tail, and a massive cloud of dust rose. During the fight, Mher, with one hand, took the upper jaw and with the other hand the inner jaw. He pulled them and cut the lion into two pieces. One piece he put on the one side of the road and the other on the other side.

Mher is recommended to go and marry Akhjakhla Yaller’s king’s daughter, Armakhan. When Mher reaches the king’s city, he sees that everyone is in black mourning something. It turned out that there is a dragon in the cave close to the city from where the water that flows to the city originates. The dragon closed the spring and cut off the water. To give some water, every time, the dragon would require sacrificing one girl to him. On that day, it was the turn of the king’s daughter to be sacrificed. Mher went and stood close to the cave. They brought the king’s daughter for the sacrifice, and when the dragon took out his seven heads to take her, Mher, with his sword, cut all seven heads and killed the dragon. When the king figures out who saved his daughter’s life, he gives the blessing, and they got married.

The Narrative About the Sun

In ancient Armenian mythology, the Sun is young and beautiful. As Mihr was the God of Sun and Light, it is interesting to know the narrative behind this character.

Sun lives with his mom in a place that is very far away. He lives in a palace fully made of blue marble. The palace is located in the middle of 12 circles. All the circles are arched from all sides, and in the center, there is a pool and a sparkling fountain. There are no trees, animals, birds, or any other beings. There is a total silence. Under these arches, thousands of stars are sleeping, waiting for the Sun to return so that they can go up. Mother of the Sun waits for him to feed with her breast.

It is believed that the pool of the Sun is the lake Van. After twilight, when Sun is below the horizon, he goes down to the seafloor where his bedroom is. The world is covered with darkness. Sun would rest and eat from his mother’s breast to get more energy for the next day. Before Sun comes up again, 12 black Arab guards would whip the giant mountains situated in the West with ray-like cords. It is also believed that Sun rises sitting on a lion who has a sword in his hands to protect from devils.

Reference

Սարգիս Հարությունյան (1987), Հին հայ վիպաշխարհը, <Արևիկ> հրատարակչություն, ԳՄԴ 84Հ7

Concentrating on Armenia, I share my though about books, movies, literature, history, and culture. My research touches political issues as well.