The Festival of Mar Qardagh at Melqi

Joel Thomas Walker

in The Legend of Mar Qardagh

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780520245785
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932197 | DOI:
The Festival of Mar Qardagh at Melqi

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This brief epilogue considers the annual trading fair at Melqi, where Christians gathered during the final week of summer to buy, to sell, and to honor Mar Qardagh. The saint's hagiographer claims that the “souk at Melqi” was a direct outgrowth of the annual commemoration of Mar Qardagh on the site of his martyrdom. It is shown that the opposite is more likely true: the cult of Mar Qardagh developed around the site of a pre-Christian festival. The story of Mar Qardagh, narrated during the annual festival at Melqi, explained and justified Christian veneration for a site once dedicated to Ishtar, the “lady of Arbela.” Set into writing in the late Sasanian period by a skilled hagiographer, the legend of Mar Qardagh became part of the Syriac Christian literary tradition. This textual account ensured the survival of the Qardagh legend long after the saint's shrine at Melqi had been abandoned and forgotten.

Keywords: trading fair; Christians; Mar Qardagh; souk; martyrdom; Syriac literary tradition; Qardagh legend; Melqi

Chapter.  2278 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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