The Mountain and Faith of Orpheus | CredoBonum

The Mountain and Faith of Orpheus

The Credo Bonum Foundation presents an exhibition about the Thracian singer Orpheus and the Rhodope Mountain, the place where the spiritual reform took place which harked back to the cults of the Sun and the Earth. This is the second in a series of shows at the gallery devoted to historical milestones of how spirituality and culture originated and developed in the Bulgarian lands. The opening exhibition explored the knowledge available to the most ancient pre-historic civilisation which populated the Bulgarian lands between the 7th and the 5th centuries BC.

This second chapter offers an account about the mountain singer Orpheus, who was also a poet, healer, musician and prophet. He founded the Dionysian and Eleusinian mysteries and those on the island of Samothrace. It was he who created the heroic metre and astrology. His teaching, known as Orphism, centres upon the immortality of the soul and reaches back to ancient knowledge and ideas about the origin of the world, the gods and Man – ideas which have reached us in the so-called Orphic hymns and other written monuments. In time Orphism spread to southern Italy and Sicily (Greater Greece) and to the Aegean islands and Asia. Orpheus’s reform merged the cults of the Earth and the Sun. Orphism was also the first teaching to be distributed in written form.

Was anything left from the teaching of Orpheus in the lands of ancient Thrace?

Research by Bulgarian archaeologists has shown that significant changes began in the life of ancient Thrace and the entire Mediterranean world during the time of Orpheus (the late Bronze Period, or the last centuries of the second millennium BC). At strategic and picturesque locales, a host of shrines were erected based on knowledge about astronomy; numerous mound necropolises were built which housed burials and hosted rites at which the death of the singer was re-enacted; a specific culture existed as evidenced on Thracian cultic ceramics; the Thracian shrines functioned for a thousand years, up to the adoption of Christianity. All these artefacts and practices are manifested in the Rhodope, the mountain where Orpheus lived and where, it is hoped, the tablets will someday be found that have preserved the singer’s words.

The current exhibition seeks to combine the mythological lore with the written and archaeological data available from the mountain of Orpheus and in the Mediterranean, so that the singer’s immortal teaching could be given material form. The exhibition has no distinct focus but rather serves a bevy of accents: the myths about the origin of Orpheus, his spiritual reform and its relation to the cults of Dionysus and Apollo, the Maenads and immortality; Orphism, which was the first teaching spread in book form; Orpheus’s music, shamanism and the love for Eurydice; the role of the Bessi, who were keepers of the sanctuaries of Dionysus; the Orpheus flower, herbalea; the Orpheus cult in Phillipopolis; Orpheus and Christianity. The exhibits include also specimens of cult ceramics found in Orphic shrines on the peaks of the Rhodope.

The exhibition is made possible thanks to the kind cooperation of the museums of history in Smolyan and Velingrad. Consultant is Prof. Diana Gergova from the Institute of Archaeology with a Museum with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

17.07.2014 - 12.10.2014
Credo Bonum Gallery, 2 Slavyanska str., Sofia 1000