Monday, June 26, 2017
Three legs: Is it a sign?
The symbol for the Isle of Man (in the Irish Sea), is the Tree Cassyn (i.e. Manx Gaelic for three feet). The Three Legs of Mann are thought to represent the sun and its daily passage across the heavens which was used by pre-Christians as a symbol used by pagan sun worshipers.
Three-legged sun-like symbols have been found in the monumental remains of the ancient Mexican and Peruvian civilisations, and on objects excavated from prehistoric burial mounds in North America, China, Japan and Tibet. Three cornered symbols like the Triquetra, or triple knot were used by early inhabitants of central and north America as well as followers of the cult of Shamanism. The triquetra is also found on carved stones in northern Europe and the Isle of Man.
Similar themes are seen in the cross and the fylfot cross, (or four-legged swastika) used by early races of Aryan stock from Scandinavia to Persia and India.
Semioticians believe the three-legged design may have evolved from the four legged swastika and common on Mediterranean pottery and coins from 5th Century BC. The Sicilian legs were always naked and often had the head of Medusa at the central point with wings attached to the heels. The Vikings sailed the Mediterranean and it is likely they introduced the triskelion to the Isle of Man.
The Celtic Legend tells of the 'Three Legs of Man' when the nations first ruler, Manannán repelled an invasion by transforming into the three legs and rolling down the hill, defeating the invaders. Manannán is the traditional ‘ferryman.’
Manx legs are encased in armour with spurs on the heels and first appeared in Manx heraldry in 1310 when Henry de Bello Monte, Governor of the Island for King Edward II of England took them as part of his shield. But there is earlier evidence of the ‘three legs as seen on The Manx Sword of State which is dated to 1230. Later the Latin motto, "Quocunque Jeceris Stabit" meaning "Whichever way you throw, it will stand", was added and the earliest use of the motto appears on Manx coinage of 1668.
The Three Legged badge of the Isle of Man was a popular tattoo, amongst Manx seamen. On the HMS Bounty, Manx midshipman Peter Heywood, was involved in the 1789 mutiny was described by
Captain Bligh, as being,
"Very much tatowed & on the Right leg is tatowed the Legs of Man as the impression on that Coin is".
Captain Bligh was married in the Isle of Man.