Incidental: Minoan Bull Leaping



I was on the phone to my brother who mentioned he may paint one of the inside walls of his house with a Minoan type design. I doubt very much that he will (sorry Harley), but Minoan art is amazing. The Minoans were a Bronze age civilisation in and around the island of Crete. Among the many beautiful motifs archaeologists have identified in Minoan artwork, there is significant iconographic evidence of a ‘game’, ‘sporting activity’ or ritual that involved men and women leaping and flipping over running bulls.

Apparently this motif of (middle) Bronze Age figurative art is also found in Hittite Anatolia, Bactria and the Indus Valley. According to Wikipedia (sorry), the ritual consists of an acrobatic leap over a bull; when the leaper grasps the bull’s horns, the bull will violently jerk his head upwards giving the leaper the momentum necessary to perform somersaults and other acrobatic tricks or stunts. And I thought horse riding was risque.

1 Comment

Filed under Incidental

One response to “Incidental: Minoan Bull Leaping

  1. D.

    You think the acrobatics were risque, read Ovid’s interpretation of Pasiphae’s behaviour with the bull.

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