Georgian literary tradition credits the first king of Kartli, Pharnavaz I of Iberia (assumed to have reigned c. 302-237 BC), with the raising of the idol Armazi – reputedly named after him – on a mountain at his capital, and the construction of a similarly named fortress. The 9th/10th century hagiographic work Life of Nino describes the statue of Armazi as "a man of bronze standing; attached to his body was a golden suit of chain-armour, on his head a strong helmet; for eyes he had emeralds and beryls, in his hands he held a sabre glittering like lighting, and it turned in his hands." The same account asserts that its subject, a 4th-century female baptizer of Georgians Saint Nino, witnessed the celebration of a great feast of dedication for the idol, and as she began praying, by the grace of Jesus the idol was burnt by lightning.
Beyond the medieval Georgian annals, and the toponym Armazi which has survived to this day, we lack contemporary records about pagan Georgian pantheon. However, the word "Armazi" itself suggests a connection to the Iranian and/or Anatolian cultures. Modern scholars are divided as to the origin of Armazi. It would appear to be connected to the Zoroastrian supreme god Ahura Mazdā (Middle Persian Ohrmazd, Armenian Aramazd) and contemporary archaeological evidence does suggest the penetration of Zoroastrianism in ancient Georgia. On the other hand, the Georgian historian, Giorgi Melikishvili, has advanced a theory identifying Armazi as the local variant of Arma, the god of the moon in the Hittite mythology. Academician Ivane Javakhishvili has earlier demonstrated that early Georgians venerated the moon as their chief deity, and this cult subsequently fused with the Christian St. George, which has been regarded as Georgia’s patron saint since the Middle Ages. Thus, Armazi might well have been a syncretic deity representing a combination of local Georgian, Iranian, and Anatolian elements.
- Rapp, Stephen H. (2003), Studies In Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts And Eurasian Contexts, pp. 277-278. Peeters Bvba, ISBN 90-429-1318-5.
- Gvelesiani, Mariam. To Interrelations of Georgian Armaz, Armenian Aramazd and Iranian Ahuramazda. New Alliance Foundation.
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