PURANA QUILA (OLD FORT), MATHURA ROAD, NEW DELHI, INDIA.

The mysterious hexagram.

The hexagram is a curious symbol with an origin that remains deeply embedded in mystery. Prior to it gaining universal acceptance as the emblem of Israel in the 19th century, the six sided star was used by cultures separated by time and distance with interpretations ranging from the occult to union of sexes and from astrological mapping to man’s relation with the all mighty in the grand scheme of things, as well as witchcraft.

The Afghan and Mughals, who dominated much of North India during the middle ages made extensive use of the hexagram as an architectural element (like on the gate of the old fort in New Delhi, India in the photo). The actual purpose the symbol is supposed to have served on fort and tombs is mostly speculative guesswork.

Specially when it was used in the subcontinent both by the subjugated Hindu populace (who constituted a large part of the work force and contributed native elements to Islamic structures – a process that led to the genre known as Indo-Islamic architecture) and the middle eastern raiders turned settlers themselves.

What the Hindus related to their god Shiva and his consort Parvati (interpreting it as the union of man and woman), their Islamic rulers knew as Najmat Dawud or the star of David (the high king of Israel, seen as a prophet by Islam).

One possibility is that the symbol was used as a divine charm to ward off the evil eye, and implemented on large scale since both cultures visibly recognized it, though looked at it in different ways.

  • File Fact

The Sanskrit word Shanmukha literally means six faced. It is one of the many names of the Hindu deity, Karthikeya – the son of Shiva and Parvati. The name directly stems from the six side star highlighted in the snippet that in Hinduism refers to the union of a man and a woman through coitus. The Hindu version of the hexagram is more commonly known as the Shatkona, and other than its middle eastern version Najmat Dawud is also known as Khatam Sulayman or the seal of Solomon, son of David. In associated legends the seal in the form of a ring endowed Solomon with the power to control the Djinn – good and bad spirits of Arabian and Islamic mythology.

1 COMMENT

  1. The symbol in the picture could be The star of David or the Hindu Shanmukha but I think it is the Buddhist Lotus symbol. The arms of the star can represent either the petals of an open lotus flower. India and much of South East Asia was mostly Buddhist before the Islamic invasion and hence it is possible that the local artisans drew the lotus symbol in such a fashion as not to offend the invador kings.