The Identifying Importance of Tilaka & Face-branding Slave Marks etc. in the Ancient Mediterranean


For my Master’s Thesis (back in the 1980s) I used the religious, family and slave marks of the ancient world’s free and slave cultures as an introduction to the practices of manumission (redemption from chattel slavery) in the Heliopolitan Asyla Federations. Eventually various portions of my otherwise unpublished writings on this, and many other related subjects, were used without my knowledge, permission and/or proper full citation on the web. Below is an excerpt from my writings on this subject, which I recently found on the web. The first part, between ******** and ******** appears to have been re-written from my text references, by whoever copied the latter part from my writings (see below these references).

The Holy Shroud of Turin: Did Jesus wear a tilaka?
Scientist Paul Vignon, an official examiner of the Shroud in 1930′, noticed in the Byzantine painting, a mosaic of the Holy Shroud of Turin, a “V” mark down the center of the forehead.

“Researcher Paul Vignon, noticed “on the forehead between the eyebrows of this work a starkly geometrical |_| shape….When he turned to the equivalent point the Shroud face, there was the same feature, equally as geometric, and equally as unnatural because it appeared to have noting to do with the image itself… (Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin – The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?, 1978)

“Artists have copied certain characteristic details, technically known as Vignon markings, after the scientist who analyzed fifteen of them, such as a transverse streak across the forehead of the Shroud image, a V-shape at the bridge of the nose, two curling stands of hair in the middle of the forehead, a hairless area between the lower lip and the beard, and so forth. In some of the earliest copies…as many as thirteen of the fifteen details are discernible.” (Noel Currer-Briggs, The Shroud and the Grail – A Modern Quest for the True Grail, 1987)

It seems that early pictures of Christ were much different than the ones that began to circulate in the 600’s. Before that time Jesus was shown as young, clean-shaven. Then suddenly they changed to show a grown man with long hair, beard, and eyes that were abnormally large and round. This “new” face was remarkably similar to the traditional Christ-type pictures seen on many ancient icons, the religious paintings of early Eastern Christianity.

Checking the icons in the museums and libraries of Paris, Vignon discovered dramatic evidence that the shroud face and the face on the icons had more than a casual link. Not only did the eyes, nose, and mustache seem the same; but strange marks that were not facial features also appeared on both the shroud and the icons. There’s a V with a three-sided box on top of it that appears between the eyes just above the nose. One other mark that isn’t part of the image is a line that crosses the throat of the man. This line has no relation to the image, and yet appears on many icons. In fact, of the hundreds of Byzantine icons Vignon examined, 80 percent had the identifying mark between the eyes. [Note: So even if the Shroud is of late origin, the Byzantine icons were its inspiration.]
This U and V mark together look very much like a Vaisnava tilaka, especially its Gaudiya Vaisnava type:

References to a sign of God on His servants’s foreheads in the Bible, Book of Revelation:

7:3 Saying: Hurt not the earth nor the sea nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads.

9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree: but only the men who have not the sign of God on their foreheads.

14:1 And I beheld: and lo a Lamb stood upon mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty-four thousand, having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads.

22:4 And they shall see his face: and his name shall be on their foreheads.


Bhakti Ananda Goswami:

Tilaka was also worn in the Mediterranean Heliopolitan Asyla Federations and was especially associated there with MANUMISSION or the REDEMPTION OF A SOUL FROM CHATTEL SLAVERY, AND THEIR DEVOTION TO ASCLEPIOS THE ‘SON’ OF HELIOS, OR TO HELIOS, THE GOD OF MANUMISSION. For the best brief summary of sources on the subject of manumission, see GREEK AND ROMAN SLAVERY by Thomas Wiedermann (sp?), and search for manumission, redemption, asyla / asylum, cities of refuge, refuge or sanctuary, sanctuary laws of asyla federations leagues or alliances, chattle slavery, slave trade, religious ‘slaves’ devotion and vows, slave prices and purchase, religious cult marks, slave marks brands scarifications and tatoos, marks of crime sentence (Greek Biblical KRIMA / KRINO is God’s Judgement KARMA), cattle brands, treasury seals, Heliopolitan and Asclepiadean plastic surgical treatment for the disfiguring marks of slaves and krima-nals, religious and kinship and heraldic devices, peerage and the history of nobility and divine right, shield and coat-of-arms symbols, Rhodons and other Deity temple city-state and alliance symbols on seals, coins, amulets and temple foundation deposits (which might also be used voluntarily or involuntarily on humans), specifically women’s symbols, Jewish symbols, the circle as a Heliopolitan cult mark, the V or triangle as a Jewish or Serapean or Platonic or Pythagorean cult mark, the band or ladder mark of Dionysos and the (Left Hand Tantric) Maenads or Bacchants, the Seraph or Serpent tattoos of the Spartoi Anguipeds Erechtids and those from Warka (DVARKA). For Biblical reference to the regional and Jewish uses of cult marks, read both the Old and New Testament for the NAME OF THE LIVING GOD, HIS MARK OF JUDGEMENT AND PROTECTION, AND THE MARK OF THE BEAST ON BOTH THE FOREHEAD / BROW OF THE FACE AND ON THE HANDS. There have been some scholarly studies done on the Biblical Deity’s mark of protection. Most of these may be located by searching for books or papers on THE MARK OF CAIN.

Unfortunately the subject has generally become hopelessly muddled in the popular modern mind of Neo-Gnostic Aryo-Sophists, New-Agers and Protestant Fundamentalists due to nonsense speculations about the mark of the beast, thought-control human or alien brain implants, occult teachings about ‘the third eye’, etc. All these fanciful interpretations of the Biblical body-marks ignore the real-world use of voluntary tilaka and forced (slave or hereditary) body marking in the ancient world… practices which appear to have been prevalent in nearly every region at one time or another.

I once did an indepth study of tilaka and other forms of body marking, tonsure and religious dress, comparing Mediterranean practices to those in the Indian Regional Complex of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Buddhism and Devi Worship. Again there are significant parallels between Heliopolitan and Vaishnava symbols and Baal-Dionysian and Shaivite symbols. The V, U, Y or Triangle Glyph for TOBA-YAHU or WASU-THEOS (VASU-DEVA) in the Mediterranean Complex (MC) of Vaishnavism is paralleled in the Indian Complex by the ‘URDHVA’ or ‘UP-RIGHT’ general form of Vaishnava tilaka. The comparative study of these marks is an entire vast field of research waiting to be explored, which could keep many scholars busy for lifetimes, and still not exhaust the subject. The conclusion of my own study is that the ‘up right’ form of tilaka in the Mediterranean and Indian Complexes is associated with the Heleno-Semitic-Egyptian HELIOPOLITAN ASYLA FEDERATION worship of ASU / YAHU or WASU and the Eastern Vaishnava worship of VASUDEVA or VISHNU. In the Mediterranean region this vertical ‘V’ or “u” etc. symbol invoked the Name of the Transcendent and All-pervasive Cosmic Deity POLIEUS (PURUSHA). It was regarded as the aniconic or self-revealed signature or Name of the cosmic and omnipresent Person of the Godhead, the Vedic ASHURA, Who is the Zoroastrian AHURA-MAZDA or PURUSHA, Who is POLIEUS to the Greeks, ASARU Marduk to the Babylonians, ELI-AZAR and ASARI-YAHU to the Jews, and the Egyptian ASU/Wasu as ASAR / OSIRIS. Thus the ‘V’ signiture of God was seen written in the sky by the Creator in passing flocks of His sacred Geese or Swans, or in retreating patterns of water on the shoreline’s sands, on leaves and flowers, mountain ranges and forest skylines, on the face ‘blazes’ of many species, and generally pervading nature everywhere.

Related to YAHU’s sacred Trinitarian triangle was the HEXAD (SHAKTI) symbol or ‘Star of David’ of Jewish YAHU-SHEKINAH Bridal Mysticism. This is the Vaishnava SRI YANTRA or the Pure Land Buddhist TARA-Lokeshvara star or lotus, which figures in these traditions in their mystical sciences of geometry. (For an interesting comparison see Pythagorean Mathematical Mysticism and modern Fractal studies). The HEXAD was a pictorial pun / hieroglyph for the Shekinah (Shakti) of Helios Kouros named HEKATE (HEKATE = HEXAD = SHAKTI). The triangle, V, U or Y mark was was especially sacred naturally occurring on the faces of animals. Thus domesticated animals were bred with a preference for the ‘blaze’ or V mark on their foreheads, which was considered auspicious, to say the least.

The circle or dot form of tilaka was associated with ELI, HERI, HELIOS or SOLEUS etc. and often confused with a ‘third eye’ because of its prominent location in the middle of the brow or forehead. In THE GREEK MYTHS Robert Graves has speculated about the widespread use of the ‘solar’ circle glyph as cult mark. As the universal hieroglyph for the HOLY NAME SOLE (SOLEUS) / SURA (SURYA) / HERI (HORUS) / HARI (HARYEH) / HELI (HELIOS) / ELI (ELIYAHU) / ALI (ALLAH / ELOAH) or HRIH (the mantra name of the PL Adi Buddha) etc. the HARI CHAKRA (cakra = kyklos in Greek) makes a perfect identifying body-mark for the devotees of the Supreme Lord.

Actually there are as many ancient associations of this Deity name with LOVE and the HEART as there are with ‘solar’ associations. HARI was and is preeminently GOD-WHO-IS-LOVE, THE LORD OF ALL HEARTS. The triangle (or V or U) and circle marks were the two most prominent marks of Serapis and Helios. Experts judging the antiquity and authenticity of early Christian icons of Jesus and the Saints have used the presence or absence of the V type face marks, which they call Vignon Marks (which look just like Gaudiya or Nityananda Vamsa urdhva tilaka marks!) in their process of authentication. Ian Wilson in his study of the SHROUD OF TURIN discusses this practice of authentication of icons as it relates to the mark on the Face of the Shroud. When I studied early icons in Athens, Greece, the icon experts there could not explain the nature or meaning of this mark. Similarly in Nepal, the Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhist icon experts could not explain the similar marks on the earliest icons of their Pure Land related Buddhism. The remnants of Indian-related tilaka marks survive today in Japanese theater where they identify various characters and deities on traditional masks. I probably have collected enough material for several volumes on the subject of religious, military, criminal, slave, and hereditary body marking, which is one of the many interdisciplinary ways that I have confirmed my findings regarding the connections between Mediterranean Complex and Indian Complex Krishna-Vishnu worship.

Again, the Catholic practice of anointing on the forehead, significantly in the Confirmation Rite of Catholic Initiation, and related anointing rites, is directly related to the Proto Catholic Heliopolitan Serapean and Jewish tilaka traditions and through these to Vaishnavism, Shaivism, PL Buddhism and other Eastern traditions. As the Savior Deity of Manumission, Jesus-Asclepius cannot be separated from this ancient salvific practice. Any treatment of the ‘Historical Jesus’ which ignores or minimizes the role of His Saving Grace in the ancient practice of manumission is fundamentally flawed.

The ancient Greeks were divided between the mundane polytheists who sanctioned chattel slavery and those transcendental Monotheists who worshiped Helios (Egyptian Heru-Asu, Biblical Eli-Yahu and Eloah/Allah, Eastern Hari/Hara-Vasudeva and Buddhist HRIH). Through the centuries the struggle continued between these two groups in the various regions. The racists and materialists preyed upon other human beings, cruelly oppressing and exploiting them, while the worshippers of the one True God, the Lord of every compassionate Heart, of Free Will and of Love, struggled to free and empower the oppressed and exploited.

Manumission was the practice and rites associated with redemption, or the religious and civil practise of freeing chattel slaves or other prisoners. Throughout the ancient world it was known that Helios Kouros (KRISHNA) and the members of His Asyla Federations, Alliances or LEAGUES OF DEVOTEES never sanctioned chattel slavery or human religious sacrifice, and in fact that they were mutually sworn to liberate slaves and set captives free, even at the potential cost of their own lives and wealth. The Heliopolitan celebrations of this setting-free were rites of manumission.

Today the Catholic Rite of the Mass, is still an Eli-Yahu Asclepian Rite of Manumission. Before the Advent of Jesus Christ, foremost among the practitioners of the redemption, care and healing/restoration of former slaves, abused women/wives, abused children and prisoners of war were the devotees of Asclepios (Jesus), the Second Person of the Heliopolitan Triune Godhead, in His appearance as the Great Physician. Asclepios in India was Ananta-Caraka, Lord Baladeva as the Great Physician. Baladeva IS Sri Krishna’s Prasadam, and so Jesus Christ IS the Prasadam of Eli-Yahu!

The earliest Hekate is the maiden ‘Kore’ expansion of Helios Kouros. She is associated with the Moon, menses and female fertility, the HEX/SIX/SEX Hexad Sri Yantra and the Star, Lotus or Rose/Rhodon hexad symbol of the mystical union between Eli-Yahu and His Shekinah, the Greek Helios Kouros and Rhoda Kore. This earliest Hekate is NOT the hag or crone-witch form of the polytheist’s Goddess worshiped by the Left Hand Tantrist heretical kali worshipers, the Muslim Hashshashins, or the Greco-Roman Maenads or Bacchants.

Please see the awesome Six/Hex point Laxmi-Padme and Tara Star Yantras of Mary, which adorn the Dome of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception! Her Shrine also contains 5 pointed Durga Yantras and Rhodons and many other Eastern and Western Forms and symbols of Radha-Shakti. See Her great Rose Window of Mary the Mystical Rose/Rhoda! If you can visit once in a lifetime, do not miss the chance to make a pilgrimage to this astounding Marian/Narayani Shrine, which is the world’s largest modern Devi Temple!


About Collected Works of Sri Bhakti Ananda Goswami

This site is a repository of the written work of Bhakti Ananda Goswami managed by one of his students, Vrndavan Brannon Parker. Bhakti Ananda Goswami is a practicing Catholic Hermit under private vows, and a Vedic Monk in the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya-Vaishnava Lineage Tridanda Sannyasi and Siksha (Instructing) Master. His research provides the evidence proving that at the ultimate source there is only One Religion and Divinity yet there are multiple expressions of that religion and Divinity. Read the various collected articles on this site revealing that ancient Humanity was highly evolved and motivated by transcendent and life affirming impulses leading to High Civilization. (Please Note that this site is not maintained and updated by Bhakti Ananda Goswami himself but is managed by one of his students. Though he does scan the site he is not always able to respond to messages or comments.)

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