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Like the gesture of the Cosmic Man in which the arms are turned to the sky, even the gesture with the arms open and parallel to the ground, which the French esoteric philosopher René Guenon attributes to the Universal Man, is widespread in every time and place.
This gesture is connected to one of the most important symbols of the primordial tradition: the sign of the cross, which is hierarchically governed by the principles of Harmony and Conformity and ordered in the sense of Amplitude and Exaltation.

Leonardo’s Vitruvian man corresponds to the Universal Man of esoteric doctrines. This means that even at the beginning of the seventeenth century a strong symbolic correspondence was recognized between the microcosm (man) and the macrocosm (the universe) (by Robert Fludd, 1617).

Masso di Cemmo nr. 2 (period IIIa of the rock art camuna (2800-2500 BC) The two anthropomorphs are in frontal position, do not perform any specific act and show no distinguishing elements.The absence of a country plan and the coexistence of daggers whose dimensions are disproportionate, it authorizes the attribution of anthropomorphs to a dimension outside the space and time of reality.

Assuming the gesture of the cross the anthropomorph on one side superimposes the arms on the horizontal axis, thus expressing the maximum opening of the body in space (Amplitude), despite the limits imposed by the conditions in which the world manifests itself. According to Guenon, the extension of Amplitude, which is a passive and feminine principle, does not concern only the body, but includes all the modes of the human being, of which the bodily condition is only one aspect.
The expansion along the vertical axis (Exaltation), is a principle (active and masculine) that implies the loss of individual consciousness and, through the overcoming of the multiple states of being, that is, of the various levels of existence, leads to identification with the Whole. This practice consists in arriving at the effective realization of the totality of being, that is, at the attainment of what the Hindu doctrine calls Liberation.

The anthropomorph, wearing a sun hat, shows a triangular bust, open arms with the palms of the hands facing forward and feet facing outwards, unmistakable signs of its frontal position. The figure is part of a more elaborate image in which a ceremony performed by the community in front of the stele is represented. Therefore also the anthropomorph as the one who looks at the stele, is turned towards the same stele.

If in the rock art of Valcamonica the Cosmic Man has been represented only on rocks that emerge from the earth, the Universal Man is represented primarily on horizontal supports like the steles and shares the particular cosmological context of them. In the rock art of the first metal age (Calcolithic, 2900-2500 BC), the Universal Man is rendered in a schematic style that could express, as in the case of the anthropomorphs we encounter in the repertoire of “primitive” art, “a regression to the spirituality and essentiality of the world of the dead “(Neumann, The Great Mother, 1981). In the following period (first bronze age, 2500-2200 BC) the Universal Man assumes a more elaborate form, with the triangular body as the blade of the dagger.
Compared to the pose of the adorant, arranged on the vertical axis that connects the celestial reality to chthonic, the man with horizontal arms shows interesting potentialities and dynamic openings: a) introduces the frontality as a mode of manifestation of the sacred; b) constitutes the basis of the rotation movement on its axis (see the dance of the Whirling Dervishes) which produces vertigo and leads to loss of consciousness; c) is the basis for the simulation of the flight of birds, well known pose and also used in children’s games.

The scheme of the Universal Man is found in a vast area of prehistoric Western cultures. Its most ancient formulation is the cruciform anthropomorphs, more often of female sex, found in the tombs of the Chalcolithic period of Cyprus (in the center). These are objects, perhaps talismans or amulets, that women wore hanging around their necks, which refer to a system of ritual beliefs related to fertility, pregnancy and childbirth (Lukas, 2013). (Left) The Universal Man of Les Oullas (Ubaye Valley, Haute Provence). (Right) Anthropomorph in the form of a cross from Cessero (Herault). The head is rendered by a circle surrounded by dots (solar symbol?), the hand is rendered by three points.

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