also known as Tamfana
was a goddess once known in the regions of Western Germany
or the Netherlands
, 1st Century AD. The name Tan is believed to be of German extraction while Tanfana and Tamfana are her Latinized names. Only a few records exist: She was mentioned by Tacitus
(ca56–ca117) as having a temple dedicated to her, by the Germanic tribes the Cherusci
known as the templum Tanfanae
. Tacitus also noticed the Marsi
tribe worshipped her. In addition one stone inscription exists to her saying "Tamfanae sacrum" ("an inscription found in Neapolitan territory," per Grimm). According to folklore
, she was the moon goddess until married, when she became a mother goddess.
Jacob Grimm theorized the Latin designation Tanfana suggests she was like a nymph or like a mother goddess. He notes the inscription has a similarity to the inscriptions to the goddess Nehalennia in the region of Zeeland.
Several theories for Tanfana's name and original purpose exist: Tan
in the early Germanic languages means water.
However the name may have come from the Proto-Germanic word *tanhuz
meaning tough, but also could have derived from the Germanic words for hills and mountains. In Old Dutch "tange" means a sand ridge, in Icelandic tangi
means mountaintop. Tanfana could be a local variation of a number of ancient Germanic deities Perchta
. She is thought to be a moon or mother goddess.
Grimm suggests Tanfana came from the words tanfo, truncus, and may be "the name of a grove occupying the site of Eresburg. He also notes that -ana is the ending of other feminine proper names of the region, such as Hludana, Bertana, Rapana, Madana.
In "Geesten en Goden in Oud Oldenzaal", De Bruijn proposed Tanfana may be a form of the North African Carthaginian goddess Tanit due to the similarity of name and associated symbols.
A few Dutch legends of Tanfana exist in the area of Overijssel
, where a large stone "de Groote Steen te Oldenzaal" (the Big Stone in Oldenzaal) is thought to be associated with the worship of Tanfana. The Big Stone was originally located on "Tankenberg" - a hill and the highest point in Overijssel (85 m) in the municipality of Losser
. Tankenberg may mean "Tan's hill". The Big Stone was later moved into the city.
A stamp found near Ommen dated 1336 although pre-Christian design, shows a female thought to be Tanfana (Tan) holding a fir tree (den Tanne), flanked with a sun symbol and a catlike creature and a bird. The stamp illustrates the marriage of Tan as a moon goddess with the sun. In this myth, once married Tan changed from a moongoddess to a mother goddess. This image may be a variation of the Carthaginian goddess Tanit, who was often pictured her with a sun symbol, a half moon, a serpent staff in her hand. The serpents mean the orbit of the sun and moon in the sky.
The name of the fir tree is named den Tanne in Old Dutch. The word evolved into "Denneboom."
The Dutch given name "Tanneke" comes from the name Tan. There is an old Dutch saying that is really about Tan: "Anneke Tanneke toverheks" (translating as "Anneke Tanneke magic-witch").
- Grimm, Jacob (1835). Deutsche Mythologie (German Mythology); From English released version Grimm's Teutonic Mythology (1888); Available online by Northvegr © 2004-2007: Chapter 4, page 5; Chapter 13, page 3; Supplement 2, File retrieved 05-20-2007.
- Reginheim. 2002. Forgotten Gods (Online). File retrieved 05-20-2007.
- Reginheim. 2002. A summary of A.G. de Bruijn's "Geesten en Goden in Oud Oldenzaal (Online). File retrieved 06-02-2007.
More literature (Dutch): Tanfana, de Twentse Godin; haar mythen, legenden & Heilige plaatsen. Rudi Klijnstra, Hengelo, 2007