Georgian mythology

Georgian mythology refers to the mythology of pre-Christian Georgians.

Like many another rich and ancient body of myth, that of the Georgians has been coloured by the belief systems of the many cultures with which it has come into contact over the millennia. The bedrock upon which it is founded is, by definition, the indigenous mythology of the Kartvelian peoples themselves, whose first emergence from the darkness of prehistory is believed by many scholars to occur with the founding of the Kingdoms of Diauehi, Colchis and Iberia. This said, the consensus of scholarly opinion is that the proto-Kartvelians (possibly to be identified with the Mushki) originated in Ancient Anatolia, where their religious ideas would have come into contact with those of the Hattians, the Hittite empire, the Hurrians and Urartu. Later influences include the mythologies of the Ancient Greeks[1], the Vainakh peoples[1] and Iranians - the last-named comprising both the belief systems of the Northern Iranian nomad Scythians and Sarmatians (still preserved to some extent in the mythology of their descendants the Ossetians) and that of the Zoroastrian religion of the Ancient Persian empire, which has left such an enduring legacy among the nations of the Caucasus.[2] (See also Iranian religions)[3]

Georgian myths and legends are preserved mainly as popular tales. Many of them have eventually fused with Christian legends after the Christianization of Georgia seventeen centuries ago.

The evangelizing of Georgia was, however, far from uniform: while the lowland populations embraced Christianity in the fifth century, the highlanders of the mountain valleys in the Greater Caucasus range were converted only ten centuries later - and in a superficial way at that. It follows from this that accounts of pagan practices in the lowland Christian kingdom are poorly preserved in fragmentary form through brief passages in national chronicles and literary classics. Survivals of pagan beliefs and practices in the Georgian plains are thus, understandably, heavily influenced by Christianity, lacking in mythological unity and essentially folkloric.[4][5]

By contrast:

The mountain Georgians, on the other hand, preserved a rich and well-organized [pagan] religious system to the beginning of the twentieth century, with differentiated cults that continued to be productive [thanks largely to the persistence of] a priestly class with an orally-transmitted body of knowledge.[5]

Khevsur / Pshav Creation Myth ( N.E. Georgia )

In the beginning there existed only Morige Ghmerti and his Sister. She made him unhappy, so he cursed her. The sister became a demon. For every good thing that Morige Ghmerti created, the Demon created an evil thing to mar / oppose it. Woman too was a creation of the Demon, as were the lesser demons ( Georgian Devi (დევი) - see below ) , while man and the lesser gods were creations of Morige Ghmerti. The lesser gods grew weary in their unceasing fight with the demons and fled to the upper world of Zeskneli, leaving behind them men. The men however lacked the power to resist the demons, so the lesser gods ( Georgian Ghvtis Shvilni (ღვთის შვილნი) - see below ) hunted down the demons and drove them underground to the netherworld of Kveskneli. The demons left behind them the women who, like them, were part of the evil creation.[5]

Men and women are thus only emanations of, or substitutes for, the gods above and the demons below, respectively. The same principle holds true for all created things : the entities and substances of the universe are divided into two antagonistic series, one wild and demonic, the other social and divine. The only entities or substances that are truly real are those of the upper world of Zeskneli and the lower world of Kveskneli. The middle world inhabited by humans is thus only a place of passage, mediation and meeting and the beings who people it have no essence in themselves, being only emanations of the divine or subterranean worlds, or else their unions.[5]

This mountain Georgian creation myth recalls to some extent that of the Zoroastrians, in that it involves the marring of the good creation of a benign creator by an evil spirit ( compare Angra Mainyu's attempts to mar the creation of Ahura Mazda - see Bundahishn ). It differs radically, however, in its attribution of gender to the principles of good and evil and still more distinctively in its vision of a primordial heavenly harmony of twin creative principles as a brother and sister couple ( - disruption of which incestuous union sets in motion creation, with all its attendant woes).


In pre-Christian Georgian mythology, the universe is perceived as a sphere. It comprises three worlds or levels, known as skneli (სკნელი):

  • Zeskneli (ზესკნელი) - the highest world, and the home of the gods. White is the color of Zeskneli.
  • The Earth - the middle world, home of mortals. Its center is divided into two regions, anterior (tsina samkaro, წინა სამყარო; or tsinaskneli, წინასკნელი) and posterior (ukana samkaro, უკანა სამყარო; or ukana skneli, უკანასკნელი); - beyond which the lands of Earth are divided by seven or nine mountains (or seas), which a hero can traverse only by first undergoing a spiritual transformation ( known as gardatsvaleba (გარდაცვალება - which is also the word for "death" ) and seeking the help of magical animals, such as the Paskunji, the Rashi and others. Red is the colour of this world.
  • Kveskneli (ქვესკნელი) - the lowest world or underworld, inhabited by the ogres, serpents, and demons. Black is the colour of Kveskneli.

These three worlds are connected by a world tree growing on the edge of the universe (or in other accounts a tower, chain, or pillar) - a common theme in the mythologies of many other cultures ( compare, for example, Yggdrasil, Égig érő fa and Iroko ). Beyond them and the universe is Gareskneli (გარესკნელი), "the world of oblivion", an endless void of darkness and eternity.

There are also two bodies of water and two of fire ( each 'element' having both a subterranean and a celestial form ) with unique influences upon human life. The moon (considered a brother) and the sun (considered a sister) traverse these two realms regularly, but in opposite directions.

After Christianization, Zeskneli became associated with Heaven, Kveskneli with Hell, and spiritual travel between these worlds associated with death alone, to the exclusion of older, more shamanic conceptions of the otherworld journey.

Practices of Shamanic Type

The mountain Georgian equivalent of the shaman is the Kadagi, a person ( of either gender ) who has become permanently possessed by one of the class of minor ( i.e. local / specialised ) divinities known most often by the name of Hat'i ( = 'sign' ), but also by those of Dzhuar ( = 'cross' ) and Saghmto ( = 'divinity' ). The Hat'i numbered several hundred at the turn of the nineteenth century and the word Hat'i could designate not only a divinity of this class but also its manifestation ( as image, object or real or imaginary animal ) and the place ( temple / sanctuary ) where it was worshipped. The Kadag would go into trance, both at religious rituals and at events important in individual or collective life, and his or her indwelling Hat'i would foretell the future in a special secret or sacred 'language of the Hat'i '. [5] ( See also Spirit possession ).

A second type of practitioner of shamanic type (exclusively female) was the Mesultane - the word deriving from Georgian suli 'soul'. A Mesultane - usually a woman, although sometimes as young as a girl of nine - was a female who possessed 'the faculty of visiting the beyond in spirit'. At certain times these females would plunge into 'a lethargy broken by mutterings', following which they would awaken and describe their 'journey', communicating the requests of the dead to particular individuals or to the community at large. From their ability to enter these trance states they would derive honours and prestige.[6]

List of Supernatural Beings from Georgian Myth

A list of such beings includes:


  • Adgilis Deda (ადგილის დედა) - A goddess of fertility and livestock revered by the inhabitants of the mountainous areas of northeastern Georgia ( such as Khevsureti ) as the patroness of certain places and of travellers. She is portrayed as a beautiful lady with silver jewellery. She later became associated with the Virgin Mary when the area was converted to Christianity. Her name means "Mother of Locality". ( Compare Genius loci ).
  • Ainina and Danina (აინინა და დანინა) - A pair of goddesses who are mentioned in The Conversion of Kartli and the mediaeval Georgian Chronicles.
  • Apsat (აფსათი) - A male god of birds and animals in Svan mythology.[7]
  • Armazi (არმაზი) - Chief of the gods; central figure in the official religion of ( Caucasian ) Iberia (= Kartli) established by King Pharnavaz I of Iberia (4th century BC). According to the Life of Saint Nino an immense statue of Armazi - along with images of other deities and the temple that housed them - was destroyed by a storm of giant hailstones raised by the prayers of Saint Nino. Armazi is also the name of an ancient fortress near Mtskheta that dates from the same period. [3] Various complementary strands of research suggest that the origins of this deity lie in a syncretism between conceptions of the Zoroastrian supreme being Ahura Mazda (Armenian: 'Aramazd') and a native Georgian supreme lunar deity ( see also Tetri Giorgi below ) - a regional variant of the Hittite moon god Arma.[8]
  • Barbale (ბარბალე) - The goddess of cattle and poultry fertility, the sun, women's fertility, and healing.[9] Worshippers honour her in the Barbalesadmi festival with solar symbols, which occurs at the winter solstice. Her name is similar to the Sumerian and Akkadian epithet "bibbiru", which means "shining, splendour".
  • Batonebi (ბატონები) - Spirits of disease. Their name means "the masters". If anyone is infected by the Batonebi, their family will prepare special food and candies, and place presents under trees to appease the Batonebi. In rural areas of Georgia, "Batonebi" are used as a term to refer to infectious diseases.[9]
  • Beri-Bera (ბერი ბერა) - An agricultural god of fertility, harvests, and animals who is worshipped in eastern Georgia. His festival is held at the end of the year.[9]
  • Bochi (ბოჩი) - Thought to be the patron saint of cattle. The first written documentation of this deity comes from Euthymius of Athos. According to historian Ivane Javakhishvili, the name "Bochi" is related to words for "male goat."
  • Dali (დალი), Svanetian 'Dæl'[1] - the goddess of the hunt. She was believed to have extraordinary beauty, with long golden hair and radiant white skin. She dwells high up in the mountains where she watches over and protects wild animals. She sometimes shares animals with hunters, as long as they respect her rules by not hunting more than their needed amounts or taking aim at animals that are her manifestations. In some myths, she will enter into a sexual relationship with a hunter, while warning him not to reveal their liaison upon pain of death by petrifaction ( compare Medusa ) along with his hounds - the fate also of those who break promises they have made her. Ochokochi (ოჭოკოჩი) is so infatuated with her, that he is forever attempting to have sex with her, but the mortal hunters who visit her forests often thwart his attempts to catch her. She is the mother of the hero Amiran. In Samegrelo, she is named as "Tkashi-Mapa", the Queen of the Forest.[9][10][11]
  • Gatsi and Gaim (გაცი და გაიმი) - Gods in the official Iberian pantheon according to the medieval annals.
  • Ghmerti (ღმერთი) - The supreme divinity and the head of the pantheon of gods. He is the all-powerful Lord of the Universe and its Creator. He lives in the ninth sky, where he rules from a golden throne. His children include the moon (as his son), the sun (as his daughter), and the Ghvtis Shvilni who protect people against evil. He is also addressed as Morige Ghmerti (მორიგე ღმერთი, "God the Director") and Dambadebeli (დამბადებელი, "The Creator"). His name is later used to refer to God the Father in Christian belief.[9]
  • Kamar (ყამარი) The daughter of the god of the sky. She is a symbol of divine fire. Her beautiful appearance caused Amiran to abduct her from heaven.[9]
  • Lamaria, also Lamara (ლამარია) - goddess of fertility, cattle, and the hearth
  • Mamber (მამბერი) - The lord of wolves ( compare Ossetian Tutyr - see below under heading 'Tevdore' ), who was worshiped in Svaneti and other mountainous regions.[9]
  • Michpa (მიჭპა) - The patron god of cattle and other domestic animals who was worshiped in Svaneti during winter.[9]
  • Mindort-batoni (მინდორთ ბატონი) - The god of valleys, fields, and wild flowers. Humans have to ask his permission before exploring or attempting to cultivate the fruitful lands that make up his domain. His daughter, Mindort-brdzanebeli, is the beautiful goddess of flowers.[9]
  • Mindort-brdzanebeli (მინდორთ ბრძანებელი) - The goddess of flowers. She is the daughter of the god Mindort-batoni. She flutters over plants, feeding on their pollen.[9]
  • Ochopintre (ოჭოპინტრე) - A spirit of the forest and protector of wild animals. The first part of his name (ocho, ოჭო) is connected to the ancient pagan god Bochi, the second part (pintre, პინტრე) to the Greek god Pan. Born with the legs and horns of a goat, he assists the goddess Dali in herding the animals. Hunters usually made sacrifice in his name since no one could hunt the animals without his help. The fate of a person entering his forest was believed to be fully in his hands.[9]
  • Tamar (თამარი) - Goddess, was called "eye of the earth" and rode a serpent.
  • Tetri Giorgi (თეთრი გიორგი, "White George"), form of Saint George venerated in Kakheti, variously identified as a reflex of the ancient lunar god, and as a reflex of the ancient storm/weather god (Kopala).[12]
  • Tevdore (თევდორე) - God of agriculture and horses. After Christianization, he became associated with St. Theodore. In feudal times the special festival of Tedoroba was organised to honor him and ensure a bountiful harvest.[9] ( Compare Ossetian deity Tutyr, Lord of the Wolves - likewise based on St. Theodore ).
  • Tskarishdida (წკარიშდიდა) - A mermaid-like goddess of rivers, lakes and fish, in Mingrelian folklore. She uses magic powers against humans.[9]
  • Zaden (ზადენი) - God of fertility in the official pantheon established by Pharnavaz I. He was believed to be as powerful as Armazi. He was added into the official pantheon by Parnajom in the second century BC, and had a statue of him erected at a fortress near Mt. Zedazeni, near Mtskheta. His statue was said to have been destroyed with the statues of other gods through the prayers of St. Nino. The worship of him declined after Christianization.[9]

Demigods, heroes, and notable people

  • Amiran (ამირანი) - Mythic hero and titan, son of Dali. Equivalent of the Greek Prometheus.[9]
  • Iakhsar (იახსარი) - A mythic hero who aided Kopala in his adventures to slay demons and monsters, and was deified and venerated as a popular deity.[13]
  • Ghvtis Shvilni (ღვთის შვილნი) - A group of demigods who protected humans, assured good crops and milk yields, fought against devis and kudiani witches. Amiran, Giorgi, Iakhsar, and Kopala were among them, and they fought alongside Iakhsar and Kopala to drive out the devis from the land, and to help Giorgi to raid the impregnable fortress of the kajis to plunder their treasures, cattle, and women.[9]
  • Kopala (კოპალა) - A mythic hero, mighty warrior, and demon-killer - also a lightning god.[14] He and Iakhsar lead a campaign to drive underground the devis who are persecuting humans in the middle realm. His weapons include a mace and an iron bow made for him by the blacksmith god Pirkusha (პირქუშა) ( with whom compare Ossetian divine smith Kurdalægon and Circassian Tlepsh[15]). He alone has the power to defeat the most stubborn demons, believed to seize a person's soul and cause madness, and, by this means, he cures those afflicted by insanity.[9] Revered by the inhabitants of the mountainous areas of Khevsureti and Pshavi. ( Compare Indra, Fereydun, The Dagda and Thor ).
  • Kviria (კვირია) - A hero and a son of the gods who served as a mediator between Ghmerti and humanity. He is invoked as the protector of human society and an instrument of divine justice. In some regions of Georgia, he was also believed to be a deity of fertility and the harvest, while in the mountains of western Georgia he was worshiped as the supreme deity. The festival of Kviratskholovba (კვირაცხოვლობა) was celebrated to honour him, [9] as also (Marshall Lang surmises) were the erotic and orgiastic cults and festivals, such as the Berikoba and Murqvamoba, celebrated regularly until recent times among the Pshavs, Khevsurs, Svans and other mountain Georgian tribes. The curious ithyphallic figurines discovered by G.D. Filimonov at the settlement of Kazbek on the Georgian Military Highway may also (Marshall Lang further surmises) relate to erotic aspects of the cult of Kviria. Such figurines have been the subject of much debate among archaeologists and anthropologists and examples continue to come to light in various parts of Georgia, as far east as central Kakhetia, in association with finds of bronze daggers of specific 'Kakhetian type', dating to between the thirteenth and eighth centuries B.C.E. Some of these ithyphallic figurines had been designed to be hung from drinking horns.[3]
  • Natsiliani (ნაწილიანი) - Humans who received magic gifts or divine signs (natsili, ნაწილი) from the gods. Their signs are usually located on their shoulder-blades and glow with magic light, empowering their bearers. These signs must be kept hidden, as their bearers will lose their powers if they reveal them.[9] Certain signs can only be given by their respective gods.

Spirits, creatures, and other beings

H599, tavaqarashviliseuli vefxistkasoani, tarielis shebma devebtan, 199r
"Tarielis shebma devebtan". A miniature by Mamuka Tavakalashvili from the manuscript of Shota Rustaveli's "Knight in the Panther's Skin". H599. 199r. National Center of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Ali (ალი) - A type of Lilith-like demon that afflicts pregnant women, the elderly, and infants who happen to stumble into remote woods, caves, and ruins. Alis can be male or female (the females being known as alkali); male alis generally appear monstrous, while female alis can shift between tempting beauty and hag-like ugliness.[9] Their name may be related to the word for "flame" (ალი). This supernatural being occurs not only in the folklore of the Caucasus, but also in the folk beliefs of Iran, Central Asia and Mongolia and conceptions of its appearance may derive from folk memories of relict hominins ( see also Almas (cryptozoology) ).
  • Devi (დევი) - Many-headed ogres whose heads can regenerate if any of them are cut off (compare Lernaean Hydra). These malevolent giants live in the underworld or in remote mountains, where they hoard treasure troves and keep their captives. In Georgian mythology, they live in a family, consisting usually of nine brothers. Bakbak-Devi (ბაყბაყ-დევი) was the strongest and the most powerful of the devis. To defeat them, heroes would outwit them by means of various tricks and games.[9] Their name (a borrowing into the Kartvelian (language family) Georgian language from Indo-European ) is related to that of the daevas of Zoroastrian and Persian mythology, derived in turn from Proto-Indo-European *deiu̯ó 'god'.
  • Dobilni (translation : 'the ones who became sisters'; დობილნი) - disease-spreading spirits, appearing usually in the form of women, children or animals. Dobilni towers (დობილთ კოშკი, dobilt koshki) were built in Khevsurian shrines to keep them at bay. Some Dobilni are benevolent, such as Princess Samdzimar (სამძიმარი) of Khevsureti legend, who is invoked for an easy childbirth, the birth of healthy children, and women's health in general. Benevolent Dobilni were also invoked at certain shrines in order to bless cattle and also for the protection of travellers.[9]
  • Gveleshapi (გველეშაპი) - Evil serpents[9] that ruled and lived in lakes, rivers, and water sources (compare Nāga). In folklore, they were associated with water-related disasters, and heroes fought against them. (See also Serpent (symbolism).
  • Kaji (ქაჯი) - A race of spirits who are often portrayed as magic-wielding, demonic metal-workers ( compare Sons of Ivaldi ). They lived in Kajeti (ქაჯეთი), and had magic powers that they used against humans. Land kajis were malevolent, while river and lake kajis were friendly to humans. Female kajis were beautiful, and they either seduced heroes or helped them in their quests.[16] They appear prominently in Shota Rustaveli's Vepkhistkaosani ( ვეფხისტყაოსანი ) , in which the Kajis abduct Princess Nestan-Darejan and fight the heroes at Kajeti fortress, although Rustaveli euhemerises them, portraying them, not as a race of supernatural beings, but a tribe of human wizards ( albeit wizards of awe-inspiring power ).[17] The Kajis also feature in The Snake-eater by another celebrated Georgian poet, Vazha-Pshavela, in which they appear as the preparers of a stew of snake-meat that confers occult wisdom on the hero, Mindia[18] ( compare The White Snake ). Their name is related to the Armenian storm and wind spirits, the kaj (Armenian: քաջ, k'aǰ; plural: քաջք k'aǰk').
  • Kudiani (კუდიანი) - A type of hideous hunchbacked witch, having large teeth and a tail, from the latter of which her name is derived (kudi, კუდი, "tail"). Kudianis can disguise themselves as humans in order to bewitch them. The leader of the kudianis, Rokap (როკაპი), often summons them to a special mountain (compare Brocken, Łysa Góra, Lysa Hora (Kiev) and Lysa Hora (folklore)) where they hold a festival similar to the European Walpurgis Night. [9]
  • Matsil (მაცილი) - Evil spirits from the underworld that plague travelers and hunters. Folk tales refer to Kopala's efforts to defeat them.[9]
  • Ocho-Kochi (ოჩოკოჩი) - A forest being in Mingrelian folklore who comes into conflict with hunters. Instead of hair on his chest, he has a protuberance in the form of a pointed bone or a stone axe, which he uses to kill passersby by embracing them. He often chases Tkashi-Mapa, the beautiful Queen of the Forest, out of lust, but his uncouth advances are just as often thwarted by mortal hunters (with the worthiest of whom she prefers, on occasion, to mate).
  • Paskunji (ფასკუნჯი) - A phoenix-like being who helps heroes and humans. He lives in the underworld, and fights the serpents there. Heroes summoned him by burning one of his feathers, and he could transport them to other places and heal wounds and illnesses. In certain other myths, by contrast, paskunjis are portrayed as being hostile to humans and to have persecuted them.[9]
  • Q'ursha (ყურშა) - A legendary hunting dog associated with various mythological figures including Dali and Amirani.[19]
  • Rashi (რაში) - A magical winged horse ( compare Pegasus, Buraq, Tulpar, Chollima and Rakhsh ). There are three types of rashis: land rashis are well disposed to heroes and humans and could perceive the future; sea rashis are more hostile, but can take humans to the bottom of the sea, while their milk was believed to cure many illnesses; and heavenly rashis have wings and can breathe fire, and are difficult to subdue yet loyal to their owners.[9] Kourkik Challaly, a similar magical, fiery, winged horse plays a large part (as the wise and faithful steed of successive generations of heroes) in the Armenian epic poem Daredevils of Sassoun. Like the sea rashis, Kourkik Challaly is first encountered underwater - in this instance at the bottom of an enchanted lake.[20]
  • Rokap (როკაპი) - An evil spirit, leader of the Kudiani (witches). Ghmerti punished him by chaining him to a column under the earth, where he devours human hearts brought to him by the Kudiani . Every year, he tries to free himself, but he always fails.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Tuite, Kevin, The Meaning of Dæl, Symbolic and Spatial Associations of the South Caucasian Goddess of Game Animals, Université de Montréal
  2. ^ Medes and Persians in Transcaucasia: Archaeological Horizons in Northwestern-Iran and Transcaucasia by Stephan Kroll in Continuity of Empire. Assyria, Media, Persia ed. G.B. Lanfranchi, M. Roaf, R. Rollinger (Padova 2003).
  3. ^ a b c Marshall Lang, David, The Georgians, pub. Thames and Hudson 1966 as vol. 51 in the series Ancient Peoples and Places
  4. ^ Charachidzé, Georges, Le système religieux de la Géorgie païenne: analyse structurale d’une civilisation, pub. Paris: Maspero 1968.
  5. ^ a b c d e Charachidzé, Georges : essay : Religion and Myths of the Georgians of the Mountains in Bonnefoy, Yves Mythologies, translated from the original French edition of 1981 (and restructured in more encyclopedic form) by various translators under the direction of Prof.Wendy Doniger, pub. The University of Chicago Press 1991, vol. 1 pps. 308-316 ( in part 3 Celts, Norse, Slavs, Caucasians and their Neighbors ).
  6. ^ Ginzburg, Dr. Carlo Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath, first published in English by Hutchinson Radius 1990 ISBN 0 09 174024 X, page 194.
  7. ^ Virsaladze, Elena Bagratovna, 1976 Gruzinskij okhotnichij Mif i Poeziia (translation : 'Georgian Myth and Poesy of the Hunt') pub. Nauka, Moscow.
  8. ^ Gvelesiani, Mariam. To Interrelations of Georgian Armazi, Armenian Aramazd and Iranian Ahuramazda.New Alliance Foundation.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Georgia: Past, Present, and Future
  10. ^ Protectress of the Ibex
  11. ^ Chaudhri, Anna, The Caucasian Hunting Divinity, Male and Female: Traces of the Hunting-Goddess in Ossetic Folklore, essay constituting Chapter 13 of The Concept of the Goddess, eds. Sandra Billington and Miranda Green, pub. Routledge 1996 ISBN 0-415-14421-3, pps. 166-177.
  12. ^ Tuite (2004)
  13. ^ The Independent
  14. ^ Tuite, Kevin (2000). "Lightning, sacrifice and possession in the traditional religions of the Caucasus".
  15. ^ Colarusso, John, Nart Sagas from the Caucasus, pub. Princeton University Press 2002 ISBN 0-691-02647-5. Tales 16, 17, 20 and 21.
  16. ^ Testen, David. 1989. The kingdom of the Kajes in The Non-Slavic Languages of the USSR: Linguistic Studies ed. by H. Aronson, pps. 158-175. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.
  17. ^ The Knight in Panther Skin, a free translation into prose from the Georgian verse of Shota Rustaveli by Katharine Vivian, pub. The Folio Society London 1977, page 166.
  18. ^ Vaja Pshavela: 3 Poems, translated into English by David Rayfield, pub. Borbalo Group, Georgia 2002.
  19. ^ Bonnefoy, Yves (1993-05-15). American, African, and Old European Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 260. ISBN 9780226064574.
  20. ^ The Saga of Sassoun a retelling in English from the original Armenian text of Bishop Garegin Srvandztiants (and later versions) by Mischa Kudian, pub. Kaye & Ward Ltd., London, 1970.

External links

Adgilis Deda

Adgilis Deda (Georgian: ადგილის დედა) — literally, the "mother of locality" or "place-mother" — is a deity in the pre-Christian Georgian pantheon, especially revered by the mountaineers of northeast Georgia, such as the Khevsurs, as a protective spirit of a place (genius loci) and also as a deity of fertility of humans and livestock alike.

The ancient Georgians believed that each place — mountain, hill, ravine — had a "mother" which they called the "place-mother". She was portrayed as a beautiful lady with silver jewelry who patronized not only the location but also the foreigners who travelled in this area. With the advent of Christianity, this cult became closely associated with that of the Virgin Mary (Mother of God). They share some common features of rituals and Adgilis Ghvtismshobeli ("Mother of God of the Place") is still worshipped as a patroness of the community among the Georgian highlanders.

Ainina and Danina

Ainina and Danina (Georgian: აინინა და დანინა) or Ainina and Danana (აჲნინა და დანანა) are a pair of pre-Christian female deities worshipped in ancient Kartli—Iberia of the Classical sources—as claimed by the medieval Georgian chronicles. Beyond these later records no evidence is available for the existence of these cults.According to the 11th-century History of the Kings and Patriarchs, part of the compiled Georgian Chronicles, the idols of Ainina and Danana were erected by Saurmag, the second king of Kartli, on the road to the royal city of Mtskheta. The earlier, 7th-9th-century source Conversion of Kartli, reports Saurmag was responsible for establishing the cult of Ainina, while his son-in-law and successor Mirvan created the idol of Danina. The reigns of Saurmag and Mirvan are, retrospectively, placed in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.Modern historians presume Ainina and Danina/Aynina and Danana are a corruption of the two names of one and the same deity, Danina/Danana being formed of the Georgian conjunctive particle da + Nana. Nicholas Marr saw in the Georgian names the reflection of the Iranian Anahita and non-Iranian Nan-As, while Michael Tseretheli believed they were influenced by the Sumerian Inanna, a counterpart of the Akkadian Ishtar.


Amirani or Amiran (Georgian: ამირანი) is the name of a culture hero of a Georgian epic who resembles the Classical Prometheus. Various versions of the myth reveal a process through which the myth was transformed over time, but the legend itself is traced between 3,000 and 2,000 years BC at the beginning of the first Iron Age, as in the myth Demiurge

Amirani defies God by introducing to the human kind the use of metal, and just like Prometheus, he is punished and chained on Caucasus with his cursed dog Q'ursha. Similar to the Prometheus myth, an eagle eats his liver in the day, but it heals itself every night.

Apsat (mythology)

Apsat (also Avsati or Æfsati) was a male deity of birds and animals in the mythology of the peoples of the Caucasus of Georgia. His name may come from the Abkhaz language word a-psaåf, meaning "bird", or possibly from the name of the Christian saint with whom he was popularly associated, Saint Eustathios. Some sources regard him as responsible for all hunted game, while others consider him to watch over fish and birds specifically. In some cycles, he is the primary hunting deity, while in others, he is part of a pantheon of hunting deities. A few sources connect him with thunder and lightning.

Armazi (god)

According to the medieval Georgian Chronicles, Armazi (Georgian: არმაზი) was the supreme deity in the pantheon of pre-Christian Caucasian Iberia.Georgian literary tradition credits the first king of Kartli, Pharnavaz I of Iberia (assumed to have reigned c. 302-237 BC), with the raising of the idol Armazi – reputedly named after him – on a mountain at his capital, and the construction of a Armazi fortress.

The Life of Nino (9th or 10th century) describes the statue of Armazi as "a man of bronze standing; attached to his body was a golden suit of chain-armour, on his head a strong helmet; for eyes he had emeralds and beryls, in his hands he held a sabre glittering like lighting, and it turned in his hands."

The same account asserts that its subject, a 4th-century female baptizer of Georgians Saint Nino, witnessed the celebration of a great feast of dedication for the idol, and as she began praying, the idol was burnt by lightning.Beyond the medieval Georgian annals, composed five or more centuries after Christianization, there are no records of the pre-Christian Georgian pantheon.

Modern scholars are divided as to the origin of the name Armazi. It would appear to be connected to the Zoroastrian supreme god Ahura Mazdā (Middle Persian Ohrmazd, Armenian Aramazd) and contemporary archaeological evidence does suggest the penetration of Zoroastrianism in ancient Georgia.

On the other hand, Giorgi Melikishvili proposed the identification of Armazi as a local variant of Arma, the god of the moon in Hittite mythology.

This is in keeping with Ivane Javakhishvili's argument of a pre-Christian Georgian moon cult, which fused with the Christian St. George (Tetri Giorgi), Georgia’s patron saint since the Middle Ages.


Caucas or Kavkasos (Georgian: კავკასოსი) was the purported ancestor of Caucasians. His story is narrated in the compilation of the medieval Georgian chronicles, Kartlis Tskhovreba, taken down from oral tradition by Leonti Mroveli in the 11th century. The legend has it that he was a son of Targamos and, thus, brother of Haos, Movakos, Lekos, Heros, Kartlos (known to be ancestor of Georgian people), and Egros took their origin.

Caucas' son Dzurdzuk is said to be the ancestor of modern Chechens and Ingushetians.

Gatsi and Gaim

Gatsi (Georgian: გაცი) and Gaim (გაიმ; or Ga, გა) were, according to the medieval Georgian chronicles, the deities in a pre-Christian pantheon of ancient Georgians of Kartli (Iberia of the Classical sources). The Georgian hagiographic work "The Life of St. Nino" reports that when St. Nino, a 4th-century female Christian baptizer of Georgians, arrived at the city of Mtskheta, she saw that on the right side of the chief idol of Armazi "there stood another image, made of gold, with the face of a man. Its name was Gatsi, and on the left of it was a silver idol with a human face, the name of which was Gaim." Another passage from the medieval chronicle relates that Gatsi and Ga(im) were believed to have governed "all of mysteries."Beyond the passages from the medieval Georgian annals, we lack contemporary records and archaeological evidence about these cults, however. Both these deities, reportedly brought by the semi-legendary ruler Azoy from his original homeland Arian-Kartli, may have been a version of the Anatolian Attis and Cybele.


Kamar may refer to:

Kamar, Afghanistan

Kamar, Indonesia

Kamar, Tajikistan

Kamar language of India

Kamar (deity) of Georgian mythology


Kartlos (Georgian: ქართლოსი) is the eponymous ancestor of the Georgians (Kartvelians) in Georgian mythology, more specifically of the nation of Kartli (Caucasian Iberia).

Kartlos is introduced in the medieval Georgian Chronicles (Kartlis Cxovreba), presumably recorded from oral tradition by Leonti Mroveli in the 11th century.

The legend has it that he was a son of Targamos and, thus, brother of Haos, Movakos, Lekos, Heros, Kavkasos, and Egros from whom other Caucasian peoples took their origin. Kartlos united his people to become their chieftain and founded the city of Kartli.

The sons of Kartlos are listed as: Mtskhetos, Gardabos, Kakhos, Kukhos, Gachios, Uphlos, Odzrkhos, Javakhos, the respective eponymous founders of Mtskheta, Gardabani, Kakheti, Kukheti, Gachiani, Uplistsikhe, Odzrkhe, and Javakheti.

Kevin Tuite

Kevin Tuite (Irish: Caoimhín de Tiúit; born April 3, 1954) is a full Professor of Anthropology at the Université de Montréal. He is a citizen of both Canada and Ireland. His special interest is in Caucasian linguistics, and he has occasionally published on the topic of Georgian mythology.


Kopala (Georgian: კოპალა) is a traditional hero or demigod revered in the highlands of Pshavi in Georgia. It is said that he once was in a boulder-throwing contest against a number of devebi, or ogres, to see who could throw a boulder the farthest. The ogres' champion picked up a boulder and hurled it across the valley to the mountain on the other side of the Aragvi river. Kopala tested a boulder, but decided it was too light. So he picked up another boulder, pressed it against the first, and threw them both across the valley. These nearly failed to surpass the ogre's throw, but at the crucial moment the god "Kviria" struck the boulder with his whip, causing it to fly further than the ogre's boulder, and it landed on top of the ogres' fortress of Tsikhetgori. As a result of their defeat in an ensuing battle which Kopala fought with his companion "Iakhsar", the surviving ogres retreated underground allowing mankind to settle in the area unmolested.


Lamaria (also Lamara or Lamia; Georgian: ლამარია) is a goddess in Georgian mythology, specifically of the Svan ethnic subgroup. Like many other deities of the Svan pantheon, her name is derived from a Christian figure; in her case, Mary, mother of Jesus. Lamaria is the goddess of the hearth, protector of cattle, and a protector of women – particularly during childbirth. She also ensured the fertility of a village's grain fields. She was also known as a patron of beekeeping, although that function was later assigned to the Svan interpretation of St. George.Lamaria is generally categorized today as a goddess of female functions and spaces. She was venerated by women either inside their homes in the absence of men (the "interior of the interior"), or in small shrines in uninhabited spaces outside a village's boundaries (the "exterior of the exterior"). This was in contrast to religious rituals performed by men for male functions, which were either performed at public rituals inside the home, or within remote churches far up mountainsides (the "exterior of the interior" and the "interior of the exterior", respectively). Offerings made to Lamaria included cloth, jewelry, and beads. Sometimes, portable hearths were used for outdoor rituals involving Lamaria.Lamaria was also sometimes associated with or considered equivalent to Barbol, another goddess of feminine and domestic functions. Some scholars have suggested that both originate from the same pre-Christian deity. The French scholar Georges Charachidzé believed Lamaria was derived from an Indo-European deity, possibly the Ossetians or their ancestors, the Alans. He viewed Lamaria as a hearth goddess similar to the Roman goddess Vesta. In contrast, linguist Kevin Tuite viewed her as a multi-faceted figure displaying Vestal traits as well as associations with remote wilderness, like the Khevsurian goddess Samdzimari.There was a festival in lower Svaneti called the "tower feast" which involved Lamaria. The festival revolved around a snow tower built by participants. A sacred tree would be placed at the top of the tower, and a figurine of the goddess would be attached to the top of the tree. The figurine was given a dagger and a wooden phallus, and its face was covered. A round dance would be performed and the tree shaken until the figurine's face covering fell off. Then the village's children would race to climb the tower and make the Lamaria figurine fall to the ground. Anthropologist Kevin Tuite noted that the ritual had significant elements of liminality.

List of hunting deities

A hunting deity is a god or goddess in mythology associated with the hunting of animals and the skills and equipment involved. They are a common feature of polytheistic religions.

List of nature deities

In nature worship, a nature deity is a deity in charge of forces of nature such as water deity, vegetation deity, sky deity, solar deity, fire deity or any other naturally occurring phenomena such as mountains, trees, or volcanoes. Accepted in panentheism, pantheism, deism, polytheism, animism, totemism, shamanism and paganism the deity embodies natural forces and can have characteristics of the mother goddess, Mother Nature or lord of the animals.


Ochokochi (ოჭოკოჩი) is a figure from Georgian mythology, particularly the Colchian and Mingrelian ethnic groups. Instead of hair on his breast, he has a protuberance in the form of a pointed bone or a stone-axe. He attacks passers by, whom he kills by embracing them.

He is infatuated by the beauty of the Queen of the Forest, Tkashi-Mapa, after whom he chases. However, his attempts to catch her are often thwarted by the hunters who visit her forest.


Q'ursha (Georgian: ყურშა; also Qursha or Kursha) is a legendary dog from Georgian mythology. Although he appears in a number of different stories, he is best known as the loyal companion of the culture hero Amirani. His name means "black-ear", a common Georgian name for dogs. He was said to be born of either a raven or an eagle, and is sometimes depicted as having eagle's wings as a result. Apart from his wings, Q'ursha was sometimes described with other special features: colossal paws, "lips of gold, and eyes as big as sieves". He was attributed supernatural abilities such as a thunderous bark, a leap "as big as a great field" and an infallible ability to track prey.Q'ursha was the subject of the popular Georgian folk song "O my Kursha!", which dates back to at least the 18th century. The Georgian poet Davit Guramishvili, born in 1705, mentioned a desire to hear it in a poem describing his youth.

Tamar (goddess)

In Georgian mythology, Tamar was a Georgian goddess who controlled the weather patterns. Tamar enslaved "Dilis Varskvlavi", the Morning Star, who was master of winter; whenever he escaped, snow began to fall, but annually she captured him and brought summer back to the land.

She was called "eye of the earth" and was an eternal virgin who rode through the air on a serpent saddled and bridled with gold.

Nowadays, many women are named after her as she was such an important part of Georgian culture.


Togarmah (Hebrew: תֹּגַרְמָה) is a figure in the "table of nations" in Genesis 10, the list of descendants of Noah that represents the peoples known to the ancient Hebrews. Togarmah is among the descendants of Japheth and is thought to represent some people located in Anatolia. Medieval traditions variously claimed Togarmah as the mythical ancestor of peoples in the Caucasus and western Asia, including the Georgians, the Armenians and some Turkic peoples (i.e. Oghuzes, Khazars and Bulgars).


Zaden (; Georgian: ზადენი, translit.: zadeni) was, according to the medieval Georgian chronicles, the god of fruitfulness in a pre-Christian pantheon of the ancient Georgians of Kartli (Iberia of the Classical sources). King Parnajom of Iberia (109-90 BC) is reported to have built a fortress at Mount Zedazeni to house the colossus of Zadeni which, along with other pagan idols, are said to have been destroyed through the prayers of St. Nino, a 4th-century female baptizer of Georgians.

Beyond the passages from the medieval annals and the surviving toponym of Zedazeni (from Zeda Zadeni, i.e., "Upper Zaden"), we lack contemporary records and archaeological evidence about this cult, however. Zaden is surmised by several modern scholars to have been a Georgian version of the Luwian Santas or the Hittite Sandon, but the identification with Yazata of Zoroastrianism has also been suggested.

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