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3.4. Mythological images in slavic culture

Mythological images of slavs.


Svarog is considered as personification of the Sky of East Slavs, (comparing with Indian 'Svarga' - 'the sky'. Studying medieval chronicles and East Slav fairy tales. And. Rybacov connects with Svarog the following plots: Svarog has established monogamous family (Rybacov, 1994, 530), (that, in common, characterised Indo-European God of the Clear Sky as the legislator and the patron of human collective; he has dumped iron pincers from heavens, having granted to people an opportunity to forge instruments of work. Forge function is a little bit unusual to the given image. However, mythological character with a role of the patron of a marriage and simultaneously the first smith is kept in East Slavic folklore under name Kuzmodemyan. In wedding plot there are such words:

"About, sacred Kosmademyan.

Come on wedding to us

Also hold down you to us marriage" (in the same place, p. 541).

The name of this folklore character is connected to names Christian sacred Kosma and Damian which in Russia counted patrons of smiths. Smiths have won the Ukrainian fairy tale great the snake and ploughed by means it furrow to Black Sea.

Son Svarog was Svarojiz - an embodiment of fire. The western Slavs named him Radegast. Russian annals name Dazhbog Svarog's son as well.

The god of Thunder of east Slavics was Perun , like Balt Perkunas though he and was not esteemed by such significant deity. Traces of his existence were kept and between southern Slavs in toponymics. Perun's attributes were a horse, a chariot, an axe or hammer, stone arrows. According to Belorussian tradition, the God of Thunder supported by spirits with shape of predatory birds or warrior babies. Predatory animals also entered into an environment of the god. As wife Perun, probably, was considered Dodola. Her name was kept in southern Slav a ceremony: the girl dressed in green branches and named Dodola, pour water to cause a rain.

In Slavic culture the cult of the God of the Thunder long time did not play the leading part. According to E.V. Anichkova's opinion, promotion of Perun - the princely god was connected to formation of the Kiev state. Wishing to strengthen the government based on force of a military team, prince Vladimir reformed a pagan pantheon, having removed Perun on the first place (it would be interesting to find out, why prince has chosen the God of Thunder, is similar the Balts (Perkunas), the Indians of heroic epoch ( Indra ) and the Greeks and the Romans ( Zeus, Jove) instead of the Hero, as it have made by rulers of Vendel Scandinavia ( Odin ) and as we shall see, the western Slavics. Perhaps, here has had an effect of the Baltic influence, or influence of the Scandinavians of Viking epoch?). In 980 in Kiev the wooden idol of the God of Thunder with silver head and gold moustaches was put and in his honour even have founded human victims. But in eight years Vladimir, having accepted Christianity, ordered to banish Perun from the Kiev mountain and to alloy over Dnepr up to the thresholds.

"In Christian time Perun was replaced by prophet Ilya (Elias), going on the sky in a fiery chariot. By that Ilya day (July, 20) it was very solemnly celebrated on all Russia, and was celebrated with all attributes ancient pagan cult, probably, what exactly this storm day and was in the primordial day of Perun" (Rybakov, 1994, 418). On national representations, during a thunder-storm the Ilya - prophet has driven about on the sky and beat lightnings snakes (or devils), which drop on the ground, being turned off in ball. We shall recollect, that the Ossets named the deity of a thunder Wacilla - Saint Ilya. Identification Thunder god with the antiquated prophet was obviously connected to a detail of a bible plot according to which, Ilya has risen on the sky on a fiery chariot. It serves as powerful argument for the benefit of our treatment of the God of the Thunder extremely as god on a chariot (Thor and Jormungand , Indra and Vritra , Tarhunt and Illuyanka etc.) And, hence, treatments available in the literature of some gods-horsemen as thunder god are wrongful. Last remark especially concerns data for the western Slavs.

Warrior Slavs of island Rugen worshipped god Svantevit. Saxon Grammaticus, Danish medieval annalist and the writer informed: "This god has also on service of the of 300 perfect horses and as much horsemen which all extraction acquired by means war or robbery, consists under supervision of priest <...> Besides it, there are at him (deities) a horse of white colour; sacrilege considers to pull out hair from a mane or a tail of him. Only one priest has the right to look after him and sits on him that from often using the sacred horse has not lost the sanctity" (Slavs and Scandinavians, 1986, 351). Before a campaign priests Svantevit stuck six crossed copies into the ground. The Supreme priest removed from a temple of a horse of the god and how it jumped over spears, was judged, war will be successful whether or not.

Saxon Grammaticus describes Svantevit's temple and a kind of the god. "Outside the temple was decorated with carefully made sculptures <...> For entering the unique entrance was open. The sanctuary is made in two fencings. External, consisting of walls, it is covered with a purple roof; internal, basing on four columns, instead of walls shone with veils <...> In a sanctuary the huge figure surpassing human growth with four heads is established <...> Beards and hair were represented clean-shaven, <...> In a right hand /idol/ held a horn for drink, executed of various metals with which priest annually should fill again that on a condition of a liquid to predict a crop of the future year. The left hand rested sideways, formed an arch <...> Legs based on ground and the basis was latent in the ground. Nearby the bridle and a saddle and other "marks of authority" deities therefrom hung; miraculousness of him the sword of monstrous size, an edge which besides excellent multiplied works. Were allocated with a silver surface" (Slavs and Scandinavians, 1986, 356-357). Well and where here the God of Thunder? On the contrary, the features connected to fertility rush to eyes (especially a horn - we shall recollect Cernunnos , the Thracian Hero, Scythian Kolaxay etc.). Spears and a horse are even more characteristic and deduce us for Sacred George's image - the horseman on a white horse, the Hero. With Svantevit frequently compare Zbruch idol, found in 1848. To tell the truth, his two sides have female attributes. The third side has no specific attributes, and the fourth which contains the image of a horse and a spear of Rybakov considers as image of Perun. But the horse and a spear are symbols of the Cultural Hero.

Certainly, many heads induces on reflections. Many-headed gods are most typical for India (set of heads, hands, an eye allow to transfer the superiority of a deity above mortal). But also in Europe the given attributes took place in the Greek mythology (four hands of ancient Apollo, hundred-handes and fifth-headed ones - "anger", "force", "arable land", three-bodied Geryon ( victory over three-headed monster ); in the Scandinavian legends - many-headed trolls, hero Starkad (he was born with six hands, but Thor (hostilely adjusted to him) has chopped off four hands of Starkad). The western Slavs have kept these features of the gods.

There was in the isle Rugen, in city of Korenitsa there was other pagan temple where there were images of three gods: seven-headed Rugevit, five-headed Porevit and five-headed Porenut. It is known about reverence by the western Slavs also Herovit (Gerovitus) which attribute the gold board was. 'Vit' means 'life' and, according to descriptions, functions of these characters were reduced to war and fertility. Extremely authoritative in major religious centre Retra (Starigard) was Radegast, represented by the young soldier with a spear in a hand (it is interesting that this name was carried by the pagan German leader, unsuccessfully trying to take Rome in 5 c. A.D. - shortly before Alarich). After destruction of west Slavic princedoms, sanctuaries were destroyed, idols were destructed and up to us have reached insignificant traces of the last magnificence. On the one hand, these are the stone relieves found in churches at which construction ruins of pagan temples were used: the image of person with a horn for drink from Arkona; the image the three-headed person from Vergen; 'Stone of Herovit' from Volgast. On the other hand, there are monuments of a wooden sculpture were kept: three-headed figure from Volin; a sculpture, representing two grow together figures (it is possible twins); schematic images from a facade of a temple from the Gross - Raden. At last, in 17 century in town Prilvits the collection of domestic idols of freakish forms from Retra, as though melted off was found out at a fire. On them there are runic inscriptions, meaning names of gods. However there are doubts in authenticity of the given images.

In the East Slav mythology 'the heroic beginning' is not so expressed. The annals speak about Svarog's son - Dazhbog - Tsar (king) -sun. "The fragment about Svarog, the father of the sun, is connected to an insert about Sovius in John Malala's "Chronicle". These both texts, probably, reflect the common cultural tradition connected to tradition of cremation. There are in Baltic Slav culture Svarozich (differently named Radegast, Radigast, Redigost, Riedigost) it was venerated in the cult centre Retra as one of the main gods which attributes were a horse and spears (like Svantevit)..." (Myths of nations of the world, 1998, v. 2, p. 420). "The Tsar-sun" was compared by Rybakov with Scythian Colaxay - "Sun-king" (Rybakov, 1994, 434). He compares a legend stated by Herodot, with popular Slavic fairy tale on three empires. Three brothers-bogatyrs (hero) release princesses, stolen by Serpent or the Whirlwind. They extract three empires: Copper, Silver and Gold, last of which was got by younger brother. (Rybakov, 1994, 578 - 580).

In the Serbian folklore the Tsar-sun is described sitting on a purple throne, and near from him there are two maidens - Morning down and Evening glow, seven judges - planets and the seven emissaries flying in an image of stars. Here is the uncle of him bald month also. (Afanasjev, 1994. v. 1).

It is necessary to note that Dazhbog was considered as a deity of white light, instead of a star. The sun was thought as his crown. In this quality Dazhbog it is similar Mitra. And Hors was considered as a solar disk.

In medieval Russia the legend as Alexander the Great has risen on the sky on wonderful eagles or griffins was popular. It is embodied in decor of a cathedral in Vladimir, on diadems 12 c. A.D., on Russian embroideries. Everywhere it is shown the young man in a crown, on a chariot harnessed by birds or griffins. In opinion Rybakov the name of legendary tsar here covers image of Dazhbog (the image of the legendary king rising to the sky, is known and in ancient Iran mythologies. He was Kay Kavus ("Shahname") who according to some of sacred texts also has constructed seven magic palaces on sacred mountain (mountain Berezan of the Russian plots returning youth (Rak, 1998, 230 - 236).

Sometimes the basic form of this god name considers as 'Dazhbog', deducing it from Indo-European 'burn', that is 'the burning god' turns out. But the majority of researchers bases on other spelling - 'Dazhdbog', that is deciphered as 'granting god'. In this quality the image is similar with Indian Bhaga.

Probably, one of epithets of this Slavic god was 'White god', who opposites 'Black god'. Late White god's expression was Belun in the Belorussian folklore. He was represented as old man in white clothes, with a white beard and a staff in hands. During harvest he is present on fields and helps peasants, and also save people in wood and gives riches. (Afanasjev, 1994. v. 1).

For us the big value takes place in "the Word about Igor's regiment" where ancient Russians are named 'Dazhdbog's grandsons'. He can be treated as the indication of a role of a primogenitor, that in addition confirms our identification Dazhdbog with the Cultural Hero.

Rybakov results norrth Russian an embroidery on which the horseman. "The Horseman is unusual: the head of him is given as romb filled with crosses and a figure with eight beams. His hands were raised to the sky" (Rybakov, 1994, 500 - 501). The scientist considers that this is Dazhdbog and writes that in Russian embroideries such plot a rarity. But in arts and crafts of Ob-Ugrians the horseman with the hands lifted to heavens is the most typical image. This is Mir-Susne-Hum ('Behind the world observing person'), their national hero whom, it is similar Dazhdbog is the god-son.

Mir-Susne-Hum is considered younger son Num-Torum, supreme god of Ob-Ugrians (Ostyak - Hant and Vogul - Mansi) pantheon (and peoples Samodi groups), but frequently are carried out with a role of the defender of people before anger of the father. "Each night Mir-Susne-Hum goes round the ground on winged all-seeing horse with a gold mane and silver hoofs, checking, whether all in the world in the order, and transferring people orders of father Num-Torum. He hears requests of shaman (near to sacral place four metal plates with images of the sun put for hoofs of a horse). Mir-Susne-Hum helps treatment of illnesses, assignment of dangers. To him functions of the Cultural Hero are attributed (he has created abundance, there is no time reigned on the ground; has won essences hostile to people; ordered to birds fly in the summer in northern territories and has trained people in hunting for birds) and the breeding patron of Ostyak - Hant and Vogul - Mansi" (Myths of nations of the world, 1998, v. 2, 153 - 154). The idea of the sacred king charged by divine energy which should not go on the black ground is present at many cultures (and not only so-called "arrested persons in development" but also, for example, Etruscan culture). However there are in image of Ob-Ugrian hero traces of Indo-European influence. It is not occasionally as Ob-Ugrian closely communicated with them in the west (Scandinavians), a southwest (Slavs) and the south (Iranians). Therefore is not surprising similarity Mir-Susne-Hum with Mitra ('Looking all earth'), Dazhdbog and is especial with Odin (eight-winged horse, creation of people, the invention of a network, authority above birds, travel, transformation, a role of mediator).

Yarila is the image belongs to the Cultural Hero type also. He "... is represented extremely close to antique cults of the dying and reviving god of fertility, spring, fructifying force like Dionysus's cult<...> At the Baltic Slavs this god is known to missionaries under name Herovit (Gerovite), his symbol was a brilliant gold shield" (Rybakov, 1994, 420). To the given character it was devoted 'Yarila's day', it is possible June 25" (Rybakov, 1994, 509). Yarila's role was played by the young man in a wreath and rye ears in the right hand, similarity of a human head in left represented (Human head revives in memory the image of the Thracian Hero considered above from Letnitsa). In days of a summer solstice 'Yarila's funeral' was celebrated. "The Essence was that bread already started to ear, the sown grain has successfully executed the function and has caused grains of a new crop. 'Fury' of Yarila was not so necessary, and the doll representing the old man with huge phallus, became buried cheerfully, with laughter and obscene jokes" (Rybakov, 1994, 420). Yarila could correspond with "Jury" - Saint George.

It is necessary to concern with the big care to comparison epic characters with mythological images. Nevertheless, two basic characters of Russian heroic epos - "Bylinas" - Ilya Muromets and Dobrinja Nikitich were repeatedly compared to pagan gods - Perun and Dazhbog accordingly. It is necessary to recognise there are considerable bases. Symptomatically name of Muromets - Ilya. Prophet Ilya (Saint Elias), as it was already spoken, has replaced Perun in national consciousness. Ilya Muromets victory above the Nightingale-Robber (Serpent-Horned-Falcon Belorussian folklore songs) corresponds to a victory of the God of the Thunder agaimst Serpent. Evolution of the God of Thunder in the hero, certainly, is not absolutely typical (usually a prototype of late heroes of the epos our initial type of the Cultural Hero) naturally serves. However sometimes, for example, in the Scandinavian mythology the God of the Thunder has many features of the hero. In "Younger Edda" the myth about Thor and Heyrred is similar to a history of visiting by Ilya Muromets of Svjatogor's father. The Scandinavian myth tells about how Thor has struck artful giant Heirred in his house, having thrown in him the heated piece of iron. In the Russian legend Ilya stretches to the blind father of giant Svjatogor same iron instead of hand shake. Similar similarity can not be casual.

Dobrinya is usually considered late embodiment of Dazhdbog. It proves to be true also some similarity of names, and similarity feat. As we can see, in mythology there are two similar plot about the victory against monster. The God of Thunder wins World Serpent, and the Cultural Hero wins the three-headed dragon. We shall recollect that Saint George was esteemed as the winner of a dragon.

With identification of the Slavic God of Earth Powers there is no problem for east Slav Veles (Volos) likes Balt Vels. He was popular and considered as the god of "all Russia" in counterbalance Perun - to the patron of a princely warriors. In Kiev Perun's idol stood on mountain and Veles's idol down, in the bottom part of city. In ancient Russian sources Veles is the god of cattle and riches. "The Word about Igor's regiment" names legendary poet Boyan (probably, living at court yard Yaroslav Wise) 'Veles's grandson', that reflects connection of the God of Earth Powers with ceremonial and, in genesis - priestly functions.

Veles has left a rich trace in national culture of the Slavs. In winter holidays, taking place from January 7 till January 19, and also on a pancake week April 6 people dressed oneself animal (bull and bear) masks and coats fur outside sheepskin, with cattle bell at a belt. The Bulgarians were kept this custom till second half of 20 century (Rybakov, 1994, 428 - 430). The custom to left last ears in a field, "for Veles's beard" is connected to Veles's cult also.

After christening image of Veles was divided. On the one hand, he was identified with Saint Vlasiy, especially popular in Russian north. Per day of Saint Vlasiy there was a custom of burning of 'the cow death' that reminds burning bones of animals in Balt holiday of vele. In pagan function Veles 'God Volosatik' was perceived as some spirit.

Among names of female deities mentioned in sources are most powerful Ziva, Mokos and Lada . Ziva has got an analogy in Nurystan myths (relic Aryan pagans of Hindu Kush). When gods have suffered defeat in struggle against demons, Nurystan goddess Zhivud has brought the huge bull with which help the gods have got the victory (Myths of nations of the world, 1998, v. 2, 229).

Extremely important character of East Slav pantheon was goddess Mokos (Makosh). Her name connect with a verb 'to become wet'; and with 'mokos' - spinning; treat as 'mother of a happy lot, a crop'. All these values do not contradict each other, and show various sides of a uniform image - "goddesses of fertility, water, the patroness of female works and the maiden destiny" (Rybakov, 1994, 392) and going back to an image of the Great Goddess. Mokos was the unique female character among idols of the pagan gods put by prince Vladimir in Kiev. Rybakov believes, that she is represented on one of four sides Zbruch idol with a drinking horn in a hand. In many medieval sources she is mentioned together with Russian mermaids. Probably, Mokos mean in Russian folklore as 'Mother the Crude earth'.

Long Mokos's character lived in Russian North. In Rybakov's opinion she is shown on embroideries (a high figure in the centre, two horsemen on each side). The composition corresponds to the typical image of the Great Goddess in the Ancient East. Gradually role of Mokos is reduced. Northern legends tells about her as the invisible spinner interfering in female works, secretly cutting sheeps, forbidding spinning in holidays. (Rybakov, 1994, 387).

Many Mokos's features after acceptance of orthodoxy are transferred on Saint Paraskeva, that is expressed in cult Paraskeva-Friday, the patroness of earth and cattle. Per day sacred Paraskeva - November, 10 in church fruits of a crop were born for consecration. (Rybakov, 1994, 388 - 389). Friday in general for the Indo-European mythology is connected to reverence of a female deity of fertility (at German peoples - Freyja, at Romance - Venus.

В. Ivanov and I. Toporov compare Makos with Greek Moirae, Germanic-Scandinavian Nornir spin strings of destiny, Hittite goddesses of the Underworld-spinners, Iranian Ardvisura Anachita (also granting good luck). Scientists believe that she continues the image of female deity - the thunder god's wives in Slavic mythology. (Myths of nations of the world, 1998, v. 2, 169).

Other important female character of Slavic mythology was Lada , the goddess of a marriage, connected with spring ceremonies.

Speaking it is necessary to mention deities of fertility and often images in ancient Russian jeweller art of the winged dog connected to runaways and roots of plants. Rybakov has identified it with. Slav mythology knows it as Semargl , mentioned among sculptures of the pagan gods put by prince Vladimir in Kiev. The scientist, like K.V. Trever compares this name with Persian Simurg - a king of birds and it prototype: ancient Iranian Senmurv . (Trever, 1933). Persians represented Senmurv as winged dog covered with the fish scales, living on Tree All Seeds. It revives in memory Kreta-Minoan and Mikenean the geniuses of fertility (like wolves) serving the Great Goddess. There is a question, in what attitude these images are men-wolves Vendel period of Scandinavia, already considered by us. (above mentioned man-wolf not only carry the weapon and attack 'dancing warriors', but also eat a certain ear, holding it in hands-paws). Whether it is possible to connect peace and friendly Senmurv with Fenrir who murd Odin ? It is known in Zoroastrian representations there was a sharp division between a good dog and the demonic wolf. But whether it is a consequence of splitting there is no time a uniform image? What mythological tragedy stood up for similar division? The question remains open.

It is necessary to note that among Slavic peoples in the most full structure the pantheon of east Slavs is known. To the god of the Clear Sky corresponds Svarog, to the God of Thunder - Perun , to the God of Earth Powers - Veles , to the Cultural Hero - Dazhbog / Yarila, the Great Goddess - Mokos , Lada and others. Thus, especial development worship the Cultural Hero has achieved in western Slav mythology: actually, the majority of their known gods (Svantevit, Herovit, Porevit etc.) can be considered as an embodiment of this type.

Fantalov Alex


Speciality 24.00.01 - the theory and a history of culture

The dissertation on competition of a doctor degree of cultural science


The conclusion.



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