the Magyar girls’ headdress.
Susan Tomory based on Adorján Magyar's work
Adorján Magyar –etnographer, artist, historian and linguist, who spoke eight languages, explained to me in one of his letters during our correspondence which spanned ten years the meaning of the Párta, the headdress of Magyar girls. I am trying to give a close translation of his letter, but since we are dealing with concepts unfamiliar outside the Hungarian cultural sphere, I also will add explanations to facilitate understanding.
The first word of explanation to be addressed is the name Magyar. This is a name by which Hungarians call themselves, their language and their culture and I am using the name Magyar in this context. I will use the word Hungarian only to designate the geographical and political unit which encloses its Magyar inhabitants and their culture.
The second explanation should clarify the meaning of the word párta, a crescent-moon shaped headdress of the Magyar girls, which has far reaching cultural and ethical implications to be dealt with later. Let it suffice at this point that the párta is the symbol of viriginity. It has been adopted by the ancient Greek culture and popularised by the figure and attire of Artemis, the virgin Greek Goddess. At this point the párta has been used correctly. As the párta means virginity, its use – as it can be found these days frequently – by married women is incorrect (and not a glory to their husbands...). The Magyar expression „She remained in the párta” – means, she is an old maid, she did not find a husband.
The third explanation pertains to the very important and extended Magyar marriage ceremony which has very strictly observed stations, which shed light upon the entire Magyar cultural heritage. The importance of this custom is emphasized by the fact that the religious marriage ceremony of the official Church is relegated to the seventh place of importance.
Adorján Magyar’s letter deals with a part of the Magyar marriage ceremony:
„So when the envoy of the „King of the West”, or in other words the emissary of the groom appears at the house of the „King of the East”, which is the house of the bride (these names, King of the West, or King of the East have a Magyar mythological base I will explain at another time and place. The word King, no matter in what context it is used, has this mythological background and therefore even very poor peasants can use it) states that he has been sent by his lord, who got acquainted by the most beautiful treasure of this „royal household”, whom he betrothed, and who is sending now this envoy to ask for this girl’s hand. Then the father of the bride (he is the King of the East) answers, that if this is true he should show a sign that he really is the envoy of the King of the West. The envoy shows an apple which the girl has given to her groom as a token of her love. The apple had to be inspected by the girl who is present at these proceedings, which she recognises that this is truly the apple she gave to him, and into which she even scratched her name. But the father is still not convinced stating that there are many look-alike apples and anyone could have scratched the name into the apple. He asks the envoy if the King of the West can can tell what secret signs can be found on the body of the girl. The envoy answers: „I am sure he can answer this question and I am going to ask him.” With this the party of the emissary leaves. They return the second day and the emissary says: „There are two golden stars and a little silver moon on the Princess’ body.” The father feigns surprise and asks his daughter if this is true? The girl bashfully answers that it is. This is followed by the father’s consent to marriage and the proceedings go on.
In Magyar ancestral traditions the fruits containing one seed are symbols of masculinity, the many-seeded fruits are symbols of femininity. This is the reason that the girl gave an apple, sometimes even a guilded apple, or orange which is called a „golden” apple. It is a fact that the head of the uterus in its virignal state is very similar to a round apple, which has only a very small round opening, whereas the woman’s uterus which already gave birth has signs of healed tears at this place. The Magyar people call the head of the uterus „golden apple”. I have to add that in order to recognise these biological realities Magyar ancestors did not need any invasive procedures like autopsy or technological, medical tools, because among their Táltos priests there were „seers” who were able to see anything they wanted to see from behind their closed eyes. They made use of (as I have already mentioned in the preface) their third eye and with this help they were not only able to see the body’s internal organs, but many other things too. In my younger years I heard people talk about such seers in Erdély (Transilvania), who were able to set broken bones better than the doctors because they were able to see the bones beyond the skin and flesh if they wanted so. (Ref.: Ethnográfia publ. yr. 1914 page 317. under the title „Látók.”, where one can read about that: „... embertársai belső részébe is úgy lát, mintha nyitva volna előtte.” translation: „... he could see into the innards of humans as if they were open before him).
In olden days if a Magyar girl loved a young man and gave him an apple: this was a sign of bethrowel, because its symbolic message was still understood by the people. This is the true meaning of the Biblical „Eve’s apple” of which the Jewish writers of the Old Testament did not know anything and for this reason the story is presented with a distorted meaning. On the other hand, in Magyar folk stories we still have the motif that a Princess has many suitors. The King invites them all into his palace, and during this time the Princess shows whom she has selected as her future husband by giving him a golden apple which she holds in her hand. It is clear that this motif is ancient and is from a time when most societies were matriarchal, in which the women had rights and they were able to select their husbands. The Bible took over similar legends from the Magyar related ancing population of Canaan, but they did not know the meaning of this motif, because our ancestors never talked about the secret meaning of their customs to foreign invaders as they keep them secret even today and never talk about them to the ethnographers who come among them in the hope of collecting these ancient customs...
Not only the girls used to give an apple as a sign of their love, but the young men gave it to the girls too. It would have been a grave insult not to accept the apple from the young man, so if the girl just held it in her hand, it meant that she does not care for the young man. If she tasted the apple it meant that she consents to his company, but nothing else beyond this. But if she tasted the apple and then gave it to the young man to bite into it too, this was a confession of love... The giving of an apple was derived from our ancestors and it still exists among the living customs today. The „apple of Paris” motif in Greek mythology shows that a man is choosing from among three women, which is already a patriarchal concept. The explanation of the „two golden stars” and the „little silver moon” is the following:
Magyar virigns of olden days wore the párta on their heads, which was the symbol of virginity, and which is shaped like the crescent moon. In its most ancient form it consisted of flower pollen the memory of which remained in other parts of the world also in the myrthus-headdress of brides, which was always made of white flowers. But they made the párta also in the shape of the crescent moon out of the white bark of the villow tree. The bark of this tree is white, smooth, pliable with a paper-like upper layer. This was also decorated with lilies of the valley, but its upper edge was always decorated with white berries or the round buds of the lily of the valley, but only in one row. Later they made this párta of silver and decorated it with pearls, but it was always white to symbolize the moon. Only when this symbolic meaning became forgotten did they make it in some other color also. To the lower edge of the párta there was a round disk fastened on each side which helped to hold the ribbons of the párta, which held it on the head of the girls. A star was placed upon each of these disks. These stars were fashioned originally by cutting away the white layer of the birch tree to show the dark red base of the wood. Later when the párta was made of silver, the stars were made of gold.
The párta was not only a symbol of the Moon, but also of viriginity, and the two „golden stars” had a symbolic meaning too. The two stars symbolised the girl’s two breasts and nipple, while the párta was the symbol of her hymen (membrana virginalis), which is small, in the shape of the crescent moon and which is the proof of viriginity because it is impossible to unite in love while this membrane remains intact, without a tear, since it closes almost completely the vaginal opening.
It is well known that in Greek mythlogy the virigin goddess of the moon is Artemis (Diana at the Romans). She was always represented with a diadem on her head in the shape of the Magyar párta. This was inherited by the Romans and Greeks from the Magyar related ancestral cultures of these peninsulas, but the inheritors did not know what the connection is of the moon with virginity simply because the defeated Magyar peoples of this region did not tell them the secret meaning behind the symbols. In Greek the word parthenos = virgin; but the Greeks did not know where this word was derived from even though it is clear (to Magyar speaking cultures) that this word meant someone wearing a párta. This word is isolated in the Greek language,without related words, as is always the case with adopted words. The word párta in Magyar has many related words, which are related in form and meaning. Such are: part, pártázat, párkány, perem (shore, the elevated decorative element, the ledge, the border of something), and the word párta itself means the outstanding edge of something. This brings us to the conclusion that the ancient name of the hymen must have been párta in ancient Magyar. (The Avar-Magyar vocabulary’s párta is the same as the Körös-Magyar word hárta, hártya, which means membrane.) In reality the hymen is a little border, an edge around an opening. Beyond this the párta headdress is an elevated decoration on the girls’ head. All these connections prove that the word párta is an organic part of our ancestral Magyar language.
The two disks of the párta are completely missing on Greek and Roman representations, it was totally forgotton, while the pearls on the upper edge are sometimes still present, but they do not know their symbolic meaning even though the Magyar peoples still know their secret meaning. The pearls mean first of all the dew. Beyond this many folk traditions bring the dew in connection with the Moon; the natural connection between the two was their observation that on cloudy nights, when the Moon is not visible there is no dew, while there is dew on moonlit nights. The dew is wet and so it symbolizes moistness too. The female sexual organs, and so the hymen too is always slightly moist. The morning dew settles on the plants, especially on their leaves, and their larger drops settle around the edges of the leaves and appear like tender, tremlbing pearls which drop off at the slightest touch. The same happens with a girl who cannot take care of herself, she looses her virginity just as easily. The dew is really the symbol of untouched purity, and it is for this reason, that in the Magyar language the word „dewy” has a secondary meaning of untouched purity, and so also of virginity. There is a folk song on this subject:
Harmatos a babám pártája széle, The edge of my girl’s párta is dewy
leverem én minden csöppjét estére. I’ll knock every drop down by this evening
This was sung on the wedding night, but never by the groom, since this would not have been nice, but by his friends in his place in a jesting manner. The girl wore her párta on her wedding day for the last time and after that the could use only a bonnet. Since the hair will never be seen again, the girls are called „hajadon”, which word has a meaning of a state of showing hair.
The largest dew-drops form around sunrise, especially on the upper edges of the petals, since these places cool down the most during the night; dew drops also form on the surface of the petals and the leaves but they are much smaller. It is for this reason that in some regions, like in Kalotaszeg, Hungary even today people sew larger pearls along the upper edge of the parta, and smaller ones on the body of the párta.
I must remind ourselves that to observe the dew, and then bring it into a delicate connection with an untouched state, with virginity and the párta is possible only among people with a very tender and poetic spirit. Rough, rude people will not even notice such things, they are not attuned to the observation of such states and their poetry – if they have one – also writes about only rough, bloody, awful happenings and without these they would consider them boring. Even more spiritual state of mind is needed to preserve these as a secret, which were discussed by the people among themselves in hushed tones and only with those people with whom they had a long standing, close and trustful relationship.
It is certain even today that all these could not have evolved in only a few hundred years, not even during a few thousand years, but only in thousands of years, since the traces of these can be found in ancient Greece, with their meaning already forgotten, since the Greeks did not know the meaning of their word partenos, nor the meaning of the párta or a diadem and placed these upon the heads of the married women; they had even less knowledge of the disks of the párta, or its stars, or the meaning of the pearls on the párta.
I talk about these many other things in my book Az ősműveltség (translation: The Ancient Culture), and here I also have left out the motif so frequent in folk tales concerning the secret signs of the girl’s body, „the two golden stars and the little silver moon”, about which it is also frequently said that „behind her two ears there are two golden stars, and on her forehead a silver moon” which pertain to the párta. I especially have a lot to say about the meaning of the pearls and the sheaves of wheat on the upper edge of the párta, which were sometimes also placed behind the pearls...”
Can all the gold in this world give greater glory to a girl than this dewy life under the párta which prepares her to absorb and accept the blessing of God? And can be there greater glory for a young man than to nurse, to protect this beauty and thus help to fulfill her dreams in this knowledge? When God’s blessing are awaited in such a Magyar spirit and grow thus into parenthood, they will be fully aware of the fact that a truly royal child will be born to them and who will live his or her life within this knowledge. (Susan Tomory)
Adorján Magyar’s sketch concerning the párta.
On the upper left you can find the sketch of the „golden apple”, the uterus, below it the virgin Diana with the párta.
On the right side is the párta with the golden stars, which always have to be behind the ears.
On young girls’ grave stones you will find these signs: two stars and below them the crescent moon, in a boat-like position.
 such as the peach