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Kodovi slovenskih kultura - srpski indeks

Agrarian culture

Agrarian culture




1, 1996 PLANTS

Tatyana Agapkina:  Symbolism of trees in traditional slavic culture: aspen
Aleksandar Loma:  Two slavic designations of the black-poplar and Apollo as difine fire
Mirjam Mencej:  Willow as a mediator between this and after death world
Andrey B. Moroz:  Symbolism of apple (fruit and tree) in serbian calendar ritual rhymes
Anna A. Plotnikova:  Bean and pea in symbolism of birth and death style
Biljana Sikimich:  Phytonym's erotic connotations in folk riddles
Deyan Aydachich:  The magic tree in folk poems of Balkan Slavs
Ana Radin:  Plants as protectors against vampires
Marta Bieletich:  Nine brothers' blood - phytonyms and kinship terms
Ljubinko Radenkovich:  Plants in the world model

Tatiana Agapkina, Moscow


Systematic description of plants symbolism containing around 200 differential traces is proposed. This description model, based on trees, is illustrated mainly with Polish and Slovak examples connected with language, mythical, ritual and folklore characteristics of aspen (Populus tremula). The Slavic world is divided in two regions according to nomination types of aspen: East and West Slavic: osina, osika, ocika and South Slavic jasika; and South Slavic trepetljika, on the other side. Myths concerning aspen origin are not numerous, they are connected with the Devil. More frequent are myths with apocryphal elements about malediction of aspen to tremble and to be fruitless. The reasons for this are following: Christ's cross being made of aspen, aspen betrayed St. Mary and Christ running away, aspen did not calm at Christ's birth, and Judas hanged himself upon aspen. Aspen does not appear as a world tree or ritual object. An example of a relationship between human being and the tree is exchange between human being and aspen in folk medicine. Aspen is also used in folk veterinary medicine. The aspen is a kind of mediator, it enables connection with demons. The aspen is involved in folk stories about a musician who wakes up with aspen leaves in hand instead of money. The demons gather round and walk by the aspen, it is used as an instrument in demonic activities. With aspen sticks the area is protected, e.g., cradle of a crying child. The stable, garden, cattle are protected, also. Aspen sticks are used for destroying vampires or walking dead by stabbing their hearts. The author cites folklore text examples with the aspen, such as laments, curses, incantations and proverbs.

Aleksandar Loma, Belgrade


  Serbo-Croatian jablan, a masculine noun meaning `black-poplar', was in Common-Slavic a feminine designating an `apple-tree'. The semantic shift is probably due to the influence of a similar Balkanic word for `black-poplar', the existence of which seems to be testified by Hesychius' gloss apellon `aígeiros', while the change of gender may be due to the fact that Jablan occurs in the South-Slavic folklore as the proper name of a male mythological figure. It is a winged man with long golden hair, riding on a flying horse; his song or music makes the sun shine; trees and stones, and even mountains grow; with his fairy sisters (nine or twelve in number) he has the capacity of healing any wound and even raising the dead back to life. All these features recall the mythology of Apollo and the Muses, and seem to support an old explanation of Apollo's name: it was Arthur B. Cook who, ninety-two years ago, derived Apollon/Apéllon from apellón `black-poplar', and he did not omit to compare the latter with its Serbo-Croatian synonym jablan (Folk-Lore XV/1904, 420; repeated in his Zeus II, Oxford 1925, 484 ff.). In support of his hypothesis the English scholar produced mythological evidence showing a certain connection of the black-poplar with Apollo: the love story of Apollo and Dryope, as told by Nikandros (Anton. Lib. 32), and the myth of Heliades in Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica (IV 596 ff.). The answer to the question why Apollo came to be associated with this particular tree is probably to be found in its technological features: the black-poplar burns slowly and for this reason it is suitable for kindling, especially when fire is to be transported; even today it is used in fabricating matches. Recently I related the Common-Slavic designation of the black-poplar class >*agn >  langd  >*ogn >' d  to OInd. agnídh-, agnim-indhá- `fire-kindler'. In the Rigveda, the word designates a priest who kindles the sacred fire, and there are many indices to suppose that Apollo himself originates from the same Indo-European prototype as the Vedic fire-god Agni, the divine priest and mediator between men and gods. In Serbia Jablan was invoked in a folksong accompaning an archaic rite, which closely resembles the silver coins of Apollonia in South-Illyria representing three Nymphs, torch in hand, dancing round the sacred fire.

Miriam Mencei, Ljubljana


In Slovene folklore texts there is a willow close to the water as a frontier between life and death. Connection between willow and devil's kingdom of death was noticed already in 19th century works by D. Trstenjak. West and East Slavs believe that devil likes to sit on an old willow. At the same time, willow enables communication with the dead. The willow rod in St. George rites can replace St. George (Yuray) itself. The willow plays a similar role in Serbian folk incantation rites.

Andrey Moroz, Moscow


Apple fruit in Serbian calendar rhymes symbolizes love and premarital relations. Different actions with apple were established: playing (throwing), giving, taking, dividing, shooting, all illustrated by 19th and 20th century examples (Antoniyevich, Bovan, Vasiljevich, Grbich, Debeljkovich, Djordjevich, Zlatanovich, Yastrebov, Karadzhich, Milichevich, Milosavljevich). Similarity of apple fruit in non ritual love songs, ritual calendar songs and wedding songs is noted. Ritual acts with apple in weddings are described, also. Some other fruits can replace the apple (sour cherry, orange). Comparing Serbian and Russian folk songs (Efimenko, Bolonieva, Melinikova, Kolpakova, Kirieievski) brings us to the conclusion that the apple tree is more frequent in Russian texts as a rendezvous venue. Russian examples testify about the parallelism: apple - girl. In conclusion, more frequent presence of apple fruit in Serbian ritual spring rhymes than in Russian tradition is noted.

Ana Plotnikova, Moscow


  The article deals with the symbolism of bean plants in the traditional culture of Slavs. The whole line of ritual and folklore contexts reflecting the semantics of conceiving and springing up of new life connected with the conception of the growing bean and pea grain (in wedding and birth rites) has been examined. The analysis of functional - semantic characteristics of the bean cultures in the funeral rites and in performative calendar forms reveals other aspects of bean and pea symbolism. Slavic folk concepts of soul and its transformation from the body into the other hypostases, confirm the interrelationship and logical connection of these, essentially not opposed symbolic meanings. The article offers numerous attestations about bean as a basic funeral food, about feeding souls of the dead with bean and pea dishes, etc. from different Slavic regions. This confirms the basic thesis of the article that bean or pea grain was adopted as a symbol of the end of life and of the beginning of the new one. A similar reconstruction of the bean plant symbolism is possible on the semiotic level at first, but on the level of rite acts' motivation and folklore texts, the examined meanings are implicitly expressed. Areal diffusion of the function and semantics of bean (or common bean) and pea on the Slavic territories proves continuity of the discussed meanings of bean (pea) in the South of the Slavic territory, and of common bean in it's North. At Polesye and the Carpathian Slavic regions the network of isogloses (isodoxes) of the examined ethnocultural phenomena is followed.

Biljana Sikimich, Belgrade


  The phytonym repertoire differs from the Slavic North to the South depending on climate. It is mainly the edible plants, fruits and vegetables, that have obscene connotations. The subject of analysis were the following plants: grape, fig, paprika, cucumber, cabbage, corn, potato, pumpkin, tomato, onion, walnut, bean and hemp. Some of these have masculine attributes (grape, corn, cucumber) or feminine attributes (fig, bean, pumpkin), but some ambivalent plants were registred too (paprika, cabbage, walnut). One of the characteristics of Slavic folk riddles is the text subject anthropomorfisation (anthroponym, anthropomorf apelative and personal pronoun as subject), and stress of sex differencesef (e.g., old man : old woman). Slavic erotic riddles may contain some international motifs  included in different structure texts and different denotatum.   Some riddle types common to both Slavic North and South   were described.

Deyan Aydachich, Belgrade


  Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian ritual and lyric folk poems with the tree as a world axis and a tree of life are analyzed (Shapkarev, Stoin, Iliev, Marinov, Ikonomov, Miladinovci, Yastrebov, Karadzhich, Simonovich, Bovan, Nushich, Hrvatske narodne pjesme, Lahner, Zhganec, Shtrekelj, poems from different reviews). It is pointed at oppositions of symbolic traces of a tree: evergreen : deciduous, fruitful : fruitless, spindle-shaped : with branches, male : female. Cypress and fir   in poems represent spindle, evergreen trees, often with birds on the top (falcon, nightingale, bird) and snake or dragon on the bottom. Three part vertical structure of animal disposition is not present in Balkan Slavs' poems. The apple as a branch fruitful tree often has wedding and fertility symbolism. The oleaster, a sort of a willow, branch fruitless tree, gets some features of a fruitful tree. It is pointed at the examples of replacing some sorts of trees. The second part of the article deals with christianized versions with stressed alegorisation of tree parts. The branch tree is often presented with golden branches, silver leaves and miraculous fruits. Christian apocryphal elements of the Dream of the mother of God and elements of old Slavonic mythology overlap in the poems containing the motif of a dream about the tree growing from the heart or the dream about spilt wine. The fir as a spindle tree appears in Easter poems from the Kosovo region.

Ana Radin, Belgrade


  It is generally accepted that all old civilizations believed in the protective power of plants. This conviction is based on the mystical power of vegetation spirits and on the idea of bewitched plants as the residence of souls, demons and gods. In Serbian tradition, as it is well known, the cult of trees and plants is respected. There are still beliefs that certain plants belong to a dead man's soul, other to good or evil demons, some other to gods, and that, therefore, they can be good protectors from evil. The Serbs protected themselves against vampires by ritual acts, sacred objects, strong words, ritual presents and plants believed to have special powers over vampires. The hawthorn and garlic, thorn, juniper tree, wild teasel, cattail and madder are considered to be the strongest apothropaians. All these plants have antivampire power,   this power being here hierarchically lined. This article only gives a broader description of   the position of plants in antivampire protection having in mind the context of the topic "The plants in folk culture". This article is reduced to a presentation of plants in antivampire protection, but includes three-level coding, in the context of the broader and more complex topic Plants code in folklore". By restricting the semantic field of the notion of numen it comes to the notion of vegetation spirit, by segmentation of its semantic field to the notion of plant. The article also counts on the process of folklore coding, where folk beliefs in the protective power of certain plants are obtained as a message.

Marta Bieletich, Belgrade


  The paper deals with the segment of Serbo-Croatian lexicon that is a field of interaction of kinship and botanical terminologies. Phytonyms that are, from a synchronic point of view, motivated by kinship terms, fall into several groups: 1) Monolexeme terms that contain a noun -   a kinship term, e.g.: bratich , bratichina, djed, machuha, stric, strina, chukundeda 2) Terms - syntagms with the structure: > Adj + N  is taken by a kinship term, and the position Adj  by a qualifying or a possessive adjective), e.g. velika baburina, mali bratich, vrazhji stric, brezov ded, mrazova sestrica, etc b) Adj + N >Adj is taken by a possessive adjective created from a kinship term, and the position N by a noun that usually designates a part of the body, a plant, an abstract notion, etc.), e.g.: babino uvo, babina lulica, babin zub, babin naprstak, djedova brada, materina dubchica, majchina trava, nanin jezik, svekrvin jezik, svekrvina glava, etc c) (Prep) + Num + Ngen + N , e.g.: dva brata krv, od dva brata krv, od devet brata krv. 3) Compound terms: a) imperative compounds, e.g.: visibaba , dremideda, vratimuzh, lezibaba b) agglutinative terms: kriv-ded , majka-lan >, mater-h}era, etc. 4) Indeclinable terms - phrases: krsti kume dete , pusti baba konju krv. According to etymological criteria these phytonyms can be divided into several categories. The first category comprises terms that are probably originally etymologically connected with kinship terms. They are usually phytonyms derived from the terms baba, be they monolexeme terms or terms - syntagms in which the place of determinatum i.e. determinative is taken by the terms mentioned. The second category comprises terms that are not etymologically related to kinship terms, but they are the result of paretymological association with those terms, e.g.:  bratich , stric, chukundeda The third category comprises terms with a different kind of motivation, i.e. those that originated in connection with a legend or a popular belief, e.g.: majchina dushica , machuhica, etc. A separate group could be created for terms with their origins in folklore texts, e.g.   pusti baba konju krv, od dva brata krv, od devet brata krv. Kinship terminology is a more fixed system than botanical terminology, therefore phytonyms have only penetrated the stratum of terms of address. The choice of terms is not arbitrary. The terms used in addressing are those of favourite plants ( bosiljak), of plants with apotropaeic power ( bosiljak, karaviljka, cmilje), of plants used in amatory charms and magic ( bosiljak, jagodica, karaviljka, neve n/ a, ruzha), and plants that are symbols of love and virginity ( ruzha, cmilje).

Ljubinko Radenkovich, Belgrade


  The most general conception about plants, which determined their position in the world model, can be defined as follows: plants incarnate stability and change, places of connection and separation of the human and non-human worlds. The plants are the parts of nature considered as a closest connection between a human being, on one side, and gods or demons, on other. Respect of the so called sacred trees can be the principle motif for temple origin. The plants evidently concretize man's world outlook as of three parts consisted totality. Vegetal period succession of deciduous trees shows rhythm and regularity of the world change, which is an adequate way to express the regularity of the time course. Leaves' growing, blooming, ripening, "dying" and seed germinating, state the idea of a circle time, with endlessly repeated creation - growth - dying - resurrection process. All the plants can be divided into three main groups according to their space location: high (trees), low (bushes, grass, mushrooms) and middle (climbers, creepers). This division was made by analogy to a tree - an entity consisting of three parts, and connected with the conception of the world consisting of three parts. There is a possibility of establishing a plant's disposition on a horizontal basis according to symbolic status attributed, similarly to the disposition of animals. The fruitful trees (fruits) get best evaluation, they are located closest to the human being what can be   compared with the status of cattle. In certain regions there is evidence of not using a fruit trees in fireplaces, baking a bread for them, or ritual inviting for dinner on the New Years Eve; belief that fruit trees can be bewitched, also existed. According to the close/far opposition, fructiferous trees are distributed in the following line: apple, as closest to man, on the edge of "social" and "wild" space - walnut, pear, hazel tree, dogwood, cherry, sour cherry, etc. are located. Of special concern to magic act exhibitions are plants containing some of the following traces: thorns (rose hip, hawthorn, thorn), strong taste (garlic), red or black color; plants collected at a specific time (St. George's Day, St. John's Day, days between the Assumption and Nativity of the Virgin Mary) or at specific places (by spring, from foreign district), crooked, hollow, bushy by shape. There is belief that certain plants have specific magic qualities. Such are: sermountain, eryngo, four-leaf clover, black night-shade, tormentil, etc. The plants that can be transferred from one condition to another - from temporary into permanent - have specific symbolic meanings. Such are grapevine (each year grapevine is trimmed and new sprouts appear, grape is turned into wine), flax and hemp (they die as plants and turn into fiber for weaving canvas). They concretize the relation life - death - new birth and are suitable mediators in the communication with the after death world.


2, 1997 Food and Drinks

Anna A. Plotnikova:  Symbolism of the term karavay in the Balkan slavic calendar
Marina Valentsova:  Kasha in rituals of slavs
Irina Sedakova:  Behavior reglements in the pregnancy-lore: food and drinks
Tatomir Vukanovich:  Holy communion
Ljupcho Risteski:  Sacred dishes of mythical beings from the other world
Tatyana Agapkina:  On the culinary code of spring rites and festivals
Tatyana and Vitaliy Zaykovskiy:  Nourriture de passage
Monika Kropej:  Food and it’s significance in Slovenian folk tales
Miryana Detelich:  Cliché and formula as means of encoding “flesh and bone” motif in oral fairy tales
Biljana Sikimich:  Cat’s food
Ana Radin:  Demon sacrifices in food and drink
Deyan Aydachich:  The food of folklore demons in slavic literatures of the 19th century
Aleksandar Loma :  Wood-eaters
Yasna Vlayich-Popovich:  Scr. Olovina “A beer-like old fashioned drink”
Andrey Toporkov:  Russian drinking: symbolism and ritual characteristics

Anna A. Plotnikova, Moscow


The article is devoted to the names of ritual calendar breads which are cooked in Balkan Slavic regions. The main models of nomination are revealed: ones which are connected with denoting of celebrations, the others which reflect important motives of celebrations and those which deal with terminology of different agricultural spheres of life and activities in the household. Central place in calendar customs in Balkan Slavic regions is the celebration of Christmas. The rituals and customs at this time accumulate all the motives that are significant during the whole year. The names of loaves used at this time (as far as their functions) correspond to the names (and functions) of bread cooked on St. George’s day, at Easter and other holidays. The same models of nomination are used. Some geographical aspects of spreading of the names of festival loaves in the Balkan Slavic regions are also considered in the article.

Marina Valentsova, Moscow


In this article based on the material from nearly all Slavic traditions, the semantics of one of ancient ritual dishes - kasha - is retraced. Kasha is cooked within the framework of the majority of family rites, such as births, christenings, burials and funeral repast ceremonies. It is also prepared for calendar holidays like Christmas, Easter, Witsun etc. and occasional celebrations, for example moving to a new house, folk medicine etc., labour rituals such as sowing and reaping rites. Kasha (cereals) possesses the semantics of fertility, richness, fruitfulness and growth. One of the main symbolic meanings of kasha lies in its use as sacrificial food offering to supernatural forces and mythological personages.

Irina Sedakova, Moscow


The article sheds light on the vast symbolic meaning and various functions of food, drinks in the Slavic pregnancy-lore. The symbolics of food avoidance, eating habits and fortune-telling during pregnancy, correspond to the general semantics of childbirth and the idea of creating the outer and the inner qualities of the baby.

The study reveals that in folk culture energetic or nutritious values of food are often eliminated, while a wide scope of features like colour, form, etc. of edible products are considered as relevant. The food code in these cases coheres with plant and animal codes, time and place co-ordinates are added. The role of language (omonyms, figurative comparisons, other clichés, folk etymology) is very important as well.

Tatomir Vukanovich, Belgrade


In the introductory part of the article, the author lists communion characteristics according to the rules of the Eastern and Western Christian churches.

The verses contained in folk epic poems recorded by Vuk Stefanovich Karadzich in the collection Serbian Folk Poems , depict the holy communion of Serbian Prince Lazar ("Propast carstva srpskog), of Marko Kraljevich (Kajanje i ispovest Marka Kraljevicha ), and of the Serbian army on the eve of a battle with the Turks (Boj na Chokeshini).

Examples of folk belief and ritual rules pertaining to time and manner of communion, persons taking communion, diet preceding and following the communion, etc., are also discussed in the paper.

The antique religious communion as performed by the Serbs in Old Serbia, as a relict of distant past, is described as communion by dogwood buds, by hazelwood sticks, yew tree, and by hawthorn leaves.

The author cites a humorous story from Vuk Stefanovich Karadzich’s Serbian Dictionary (1818) about communion of an ignorant Herzegovinian who is given vinegar and hot paprika by the students in a monastery as holy communion.

Ljupcho Risteski, Prilep


Ritualistic preparation of food and food offerings to mythical beings are, compared to the everyday food consumption, on a higher degree of sanctity. The folk beliefs presented by the author constitute mostly records from locations preserved in the Archives of the Institute for Old Slavonic Culture (Prilep, Macedonia).

Ritual dishes are prepared for the protectors (Dedo Gospod, dedo Badnik, protector of the household - dedo, dyado). Demons are offered food in order to make them lenient toward the people (samovile, sudjenice - fairies) or to drive them away from one’s land (vampire). Ritual dishes are also prepared for the dead predecessors as community protectors.

Tatyana Agapkina, Moscow


The "Culinary code" is followed through the changings of the spring rites cycle: The Carnival - Lent - Easter.

The Carnival is a period of exaggerated eating. Even the adequate chrononyms reflect the meat, cheese and food diversity e.g. mesna, maslana, sirna, mrsna, sharena week, Debelnica, Sirnica.

During the first days of Lent and a Holly week, the food containing fat, meat and milk is destroyed, the dishes are washed thoroughly. Fat food is brought closer to people gradually, e.g. dishes with milk were hung and slowly lowered. Slavs respect certain dates for eating for the first time some fruits in a current year. For South Slavs this date is St. George’s Day; for West Slavs - Holy Wednesday.

When Lent is over, and Easter begins, all food restrictions cease. Easter is symbolically represented through fat food. The food diversity and abundance symbolise all kinds of life activities. Dying of Easter eggs, preparation of bread, and ritual acts.

Tatyana and Vitaliy Zaykovskiy, Athens and Thessalonica


Upon the ethnographic material pertaining to Balkan and East Slavs, as well as Old Greeks, the authors are discussing food from the standpoint of passage functions and as an important part of passage rituals in folk culture. Certain types of food are believed to enable desirable or to prevent undesirable passages from this into the other world. Types of food represent also a marker for certain periods within folk calendar. The authors discuss as well the symbolism of some types of food and reconstruct their antique meaning.

The authors list Slavic beliefs and ritual rules related to pihtije (aspic), pork roast, fried sparrows and chickens, honey, butterfat, fish, bread.

Monika Kropej, Ljubljana


In her paper the author demonstrates that folk narratives reflect the nutrition and the dishes prevalent in Slovenia for the last two centuries, the time when most of the tales and stories were recorded. She also stresses a deeper meaning of the contents and messages of the narrative. The symbolic meaning of these motives has been researched by many experts, among others the founders of structuralism in folklore and anthropology. V.Ja.Propp and C. Levi-Strauss. The latter has established that in mythical thinking or in a system of myths, cooking can have a figurative sense; through cooking man can express himself in all his specific features.

The fact that bread is number one food in folk narratives draws attention to its symbolic meaning. Bread is often perceived as having a deeper meaning. The widespread folk custom of offering bread and salt to a guest is supposed to ward off wicked spirits and evil. Bread also symbolically represents food as a link. Bread and wine, if consumed together, bring people together. The symbolic meaning of bread can be taken over by mush, a staple food in nineteenth century Slovenia. In the tale “The Bewitched Princesses” (AaTh 311, 312) the mother who wants to tame her returning sons must cook mush out of seven-year-old flour on seven-year-old fat; by eating this food, her sons, who were kidnapped at birth, will rejoin the family circle and become “civilised” again.

Some kinds of food which played an indicative role in cults and folk beliefs, as for instance beans and other legumes, that were connected with defined rules of prohibition, have sometimes also a certain signifying role in folk narrative.

Most other foods are only mentioned sporadically. Some foods are linked to particular types of tales or motives. For example, eggs are indispensable in the anecdote about boiled eggs and beans (mot. J1191.2), in which the accused proves that the innkeeper’s bill for the eggs consumed is absurd by planting cooked horsebeans: just as no plant can grow out of a cooked horsebean, no chicks can be hatched out of boiled eggs.

In some types of tales some elements have been preserved illustrating the use of food for cult purposes. In the tale “A Boat Sailing on Dry Ground”, which belongs to tale type AaTh 513, the hero gulps down huge amounts of food and drink in one night. Supernatural gluttony and consumption of huge amounts of food was supposed to bring abundance, prosperity and enhance nature’s fertility. In some tales and stories, motives related to feeding and foods can hide behind their overt contents a symbolic meaning which is nowadays hardly discernible, although it used to be part of their archetypes.

Miryana Detelich, Belgrade


This paper is dedicated to the analysis of efficacy of cliché and formula as means of encoding realia, particularly in case of “human flesh and bone” motif in Serbian and Russian fairy tales. The present approach is founded on several assumptions: 1) that structure of fairy tale is complex; 2) that realisation of this structure is simple; 3) that the former is possible to achieve by cliché and formula; 4) that fairy tale, as well as oral literary texts in general, is burdened by two dominant codes: a real and a literary; 5) that cliché and formula, keeping the same qualities in many different types of application, are successfully used as means of encoding on both levels — the level of realia and the level of literary text. The choice of means and evaluation of their efficacy are specially stressed; cliché offers best results on the level of global organisation of sujet (“roasted children” and cannibalism), and formula is the best choice for multilevel connection between realia and the text itself (“rolling over the bones”).

Biljana Sikimich, Belgrade


The image of cat as a thief is frequently found in the Slavic folklore. The cat is stealing human food, usually meat and milk products. This paper pays attention to some South and East Slavic children folklore texts with this motive. These folklore texts are compared with come South Slavic ritual folklore texts containing the same motive. For the analysis, an ethnolinguistic approach has been adopted. Special attention was paid to the key-words for cat’s food, dishes, and shelf, which were described in their folklore contexts. The cat’s position (sitting with a belt and stick) and mood (sad, crying) were also analyzed as common Slavic folklore formulas.

Ana Radin, Belgrade


This paper is dedicated to food sacrifices and the differences between sacrificing to demons and gods. The main polarisation is concerned with the goal of sacrifice: to gods, food is sacrificed in order to please them and obtain an adequate response; to demons, to mollify them and make them give up their usual mean activities.

According to this polarisation, the argument is mostly based on so called “anti-food” which is - under certain circumstances - offered to demons, but never to gods.

Working with the matter containing sacrificial rites aimed against demons of cattle diseases, enchantments, children folklore, and colloquial jests in everyday life, this analysis leaves an open space for three different options: two regarding food sacrifices and one related to exorcising of demons from human body.

At the end, a parallel is offered between folklore and literature, i.e. between the function and shape of food which is - in those segments of culture - considered as agreeable to demons.

Deyan Aydachich, Belgrade


The author analyses the characteristics of food and drinks of demons in the folklore of the Eastern and Southern Slavs relying on the studies of Slavic folklorists. The food and drinks of the demons of folklore origin is analysed in the stories by O. Somov (Kievskye ved’my), N. Gogol’ (Vechera na hutore bliz Dikan’ki), Bilevich (Ded Denis Grigor’ich), Sen’kovski (Zapiski domovogo), Kvitka (Ot tobi i skarb), Zagoskin (Nezhdannye gosti, Pan Tvardovskij), J. Grchich (Gostionica kod poluzvezde na imendan shantavog torbara), A. Tolstoj (Sem’ja vurdalaka), Chubinski (Upir), L. Kostich (Maharadzha), M. Shapchanin (Deda), V. Dal’ (Upyr’) Sreznevski (O chervenoj mogile), Danilevski (Mertvec-ubiyca), in poems by S. Milutinovich (Raznovidia viteshtva), Katenin (Leshi).

The paper regards folklore demons’ food through the opposition human - non-human food. This includes the following oppositions as well: savage - tame, raw - boiled/roasted, non-spiced/overspiced - spiced, stinking - aromatic, unclean - clean. The following is seen as demons’ food: food for human consumption, enstranged food for human consumption, non-human food of unclean animals, as well as people themselves or human blood as food.

Aleksandar Loma, Belgrade


Wood is not normal human food, but when hungry, our ancestors really used to consume it, mostly in the form of bread baked of its bark and acorns ground into flour. From an empirical phenomenon, wood-eating became a universal folklore motif in the mockeries made by people from the rich regions at their poor neighbours, and so that sometimes several families, clans or tribes were surnamed “Acorn- or Wood-eaters”, “Bark-stripers” etc. The oldest name of the Slavs, Venedi can be explained as such a surname, given to the Proto-Slavic population of East-European woodland by the Scythians and Sarmatians inhabiting South-Russian steppes which abounded in corn, cf. OInd. van-ad- “wood-devourer” and Scythian designations of neighbouring peoples such as “Cheese-eaters”, Am-ad-okoi “Raw(flesh)-eaters”. It seems possible to connect with the “wood-eating” Venedi a more ancient Budini of Herodot IV 108–109, a blue-eyed people with red hair, who also lived in the woods on the northern border of Scythia and are reported to be letter “fir-cone-eaters”. In this regard an assonance between the words meaning “fir” and “eat” in Balto-Slavic is to be noticed, cf. Proto-Slavic edla dial. “fir” beside dlo “nourishment, meal”. The name Budini seems to be related to the Old-Iranian word for “goat” (Avest. Avest. z = Scyth. Ì) and to allude to the worship of Dionysos ( tragos “the Goat”) by the Geloni, the inhabitants of a wooden town in the land of Budini: again a mocking designation expressing Scythian contempt for the bacchic rites (cf. Hdt. IV 79). On one hand, it recalls East- and South-Slave Jarilo, represented as an ithyphallic figure, to which corresponds the West-Slavic Jarovit, both names being akin to Serbo-Croatian jarac “goat”; on the other hand, the Slavic word for “ivy” brst'an (and similar), deriving from the name of Greek colony on the lower Dniepr Borysthenes where ivy, originally unknown in this part of Europe, was implanted by Greeks for use in the cult of Dionysos, indicates an early acquaintance of the Proto-Slavs with this Thraco-Hellenic ritual complex.

Yasna Vlaich-Popovich, Belgrade


The paper deals with the hitherto unknown contemporary attestations of an ancient beer-like beverage of the old Slavs, ol, olovina, which was believed to be presently restricted to Slovenia, some regions of Bulgaria and Russian territories.

Quoted in extenso are ethnographic records of undoubted authenticity from south-eastern Serbia, as well as some literary pieces in which mentions of olovina are probably to be traced to certain learned sources. Shortly discussed is the IE. etymology of P Sl. *ol, olovina (which remains uncertain), and some ideas are contributed to the dispute about the Balto-Slavic folklore formula consisting of two members. Originally they were *med + ol, and in the course of time the formula comprised different couples of alcoholic drinks, inclusive of “vino i rakija” in Serbian epics.

Andrey Toporkov, Moscow


Numerous 16th-18th century diplomats, travellers and historians wrote about consumption of spirits in Russia (Petrey, J. Fletscher, J. Parry, A. Oleari). Early confirmations of the use of alcohol by Slavs are found in Byzantinian and Gothic historians Prisk and Yordan. The Arabian 10th century geographer Ahmed-Ibn-Fadlan describes a Slavic funeral by the Volga river, where drinking takes an important place. The Saxo Grammatic work points to ritual drunkenness of the priest and drink sacrifice to pagan gods.

The author underlines the importance of vine in Christianity, but also both the church and the folk criticism of drunkenness as devil’s influence. According to ethnographic sources, in funeral rites, a beverage is dedicated to a dead, while live participants abuse alcohol. The custom of drinking together with a demon of illness is also described. Russian hospitality also implies drinking: the first glass is drunk bottoms-up by the head of household. A glass has to be full, because it symbolises home. It is not recommended to leave any remains of a beverage in a glass - it shows lack of good wishes.

At the end, the author quotes a part of Moskva-Petushki, by Russian writer V. Yerofeyev, showing behaviour of the main character similar to one described by Saxo Grammatic.


3, 1998 The Wedding

Radost Ivanova: Wedding as a system of symbols
Jan Adamowski: Semantics and organization of the wedding ritual space (area, locations, path)
Anna A. Plotnikova: Child in wedding ceremony of south Slavs
Irina Sedakova: Matrimonial motives in slavic birth-lore
Tatyana Agapkina: Wedding in calendar: pre- and post- wedding rituals in the years' cycle
Tatyana Zaykovskiy: The bride as a bird, 1. flight over other world
Vitaliy Zaykovskiy: The bride as a bird, 2. communio-coitus
Oxana Mikitenko: Ukrainian ritual 'funeral wedding' and its serbian parallels
Danica Djokich: The rite of a posthumous wedding on the territory of the south Slavs
Elena Uzeneva: Secondary ritual usage of Bulgarian wedding objects
Rachko Popov: About a variant of a carnival wedding among the Bulgarians
Ljubinko Radenkovich: Demonic wedding
Biljana Sikimich: Ignorant bride
Zoya Karanovich: Ritual function of the wedding gift and blessing in Vuk's ballad "Wedding of Lazo Radanovic"
Aleksandar Loma: The obstructed marriage and the warrior initiation
Deyan Aydachich: Genres of appeal of wedding songs
Albert K. Bayburin, Georgiy Levinton: Code(s) and rite(s)

Radost Ivanova, Sofia


Wedding as a system of rites regulates the reorganization of- the smallest group of society, e.g., the family. It symbolizes the kinship relations in society in the process of their restructuring. This study intends to explain some of the basic characteristics of the "language" of Bulgarian wedding and its semantic codes. The meaning of wedding symbols is revealed through an analysis of the main rite personages and their actions, the major ritual objects, as well as of the time and space in which these rites take place. The study concludes with an emphasis of the semantic connection between wedding and the "First Celebration" fulfilling the idea of the social and natural roots doomed to eternal perish and subsequent rebirth.

Jan Adamowski, Lublin


This paper shows semantics and the structure of the space in Polish wedding rituals. Three elements characterize the wedding space organization: area - organized around the wedding house and the village as a whole with a church and an inn; locations - where all the important rituals take place, e.g., wedding house, with it's interior structure: main room, additional room, pantry, auxiliary porch. Another important part of the house is door with the threshold. The next location is the church where the wedding ceremony takes place. The third element of the wedding space is the path. The path is characterized by the following parameters: 1. depending on the path concerned (persons - guests, groom, etc., or objects: the path of ritual bread, wreath, etc.); 2. segments - the wedding path is devided into parts with marked beginnings end endings; 3. important element of the wedding path is making obstacles (so called - gates), which have to be paid off; 4. different accidents on the wedding path; 5. constant epithets characterize the wedding path in folk poems. Crossing the wedding path and overcoming its obstacles are the symbol of including the couple into a new group. The wedding path metaphorically means the beginning of a new phase in the married couple's life.

Anna A. Plotnikova, Moscow


The paper represents ritual functions of a child and magic meaning of its role in South-Slavic wedding ceremony. The analysis of the names of ŕ child in wedding ceremony is presented in semantic, geographic and ethnographic aspects. These terms are generally motivated by ritual functions of the bridegroom and a child in different wedding phases. Numerous ritual actions are performed by the bride before she enters the bridegroom s house or in the first moments of wedding in the bridegroom s house (she takes the child up on her horse, lifts him up, swings him, gives him a gift and so on). The bride is the main person who has to undertake a number of ritual acts in order to give birth to a boy while the child' s role is mainly passive. South-Slavic rites of that kind are different in details but common in their semantics of fertility. Simbolic paralels (such as: bread - child, woman - horse, burden - child, and others) are also investigated in this type of wedding rites. The paper includes a map which shows areal spreading of the terms with corresponding ethnocultural contexts. Ethnocultural and ethnodialect zones are revealed and described on the base of ethnolinguistic analysis of the terms and rites dealing with a child in a wedding ceremony.

Irina A. Sedakova, Moscow


This article sheds light on the ideas of the matrimonial future of a newly born which are present in the Slavic birth-lore. Speech clichés - congratulations and proverbs on the occasion of labour qualify the child considering the sex: a boy is described  as belonging to the family and a girl - as somebody's else (name, food, bone, etc.). The fate, given immediately or shortly after the child comes to the world, includes death and marriage first of all. In spite of the fatalistic views, many magic acts are used to help the baby to develop positive qualities, to work out the pattern of a "normal", happy marriage with children and to avoid dissipated life. The South-Slavic ceremonies following the labour (Bogorodichnik, povojnitsa, ponuda, etc.) are a must not only from the point of view of accepting the baby into the socium, but also as an obligatory point in the series of feasts, especially, the wedding. In case of disability of a grown-up to get married, the ritual is performed again. In Eastern and Western-Slavic traditions matrimonial motives are dispersed in half-ritualized everyday care for the baby, beliefs and smaller magic acts.

Tatyana A. Agapkina, Moscow


All the Slavic calendar rituals connected with wedding are devided in rituals connected with before and after the wedding periods in a man's life. Pre-wedding rituals comprise girls and boys showing in annually determined occasions, including sex liberties, magical methods of 'accelerating'  the weddings, girls' initiation - through participation in annual rituals and punishment of unmarried men and women. Post-wedding rituals include Russian carnival snow-rolling of just married couples, and visiting bride's parents on St. Peter's Day. In South Slavic folk culture this type of rituals is connected with St. George's day (attestation of the married woman status) and St. Nicholas (the bride goes dancing for the first time).

Tatyana Zaykovskiy, Athens and Thessalonica


The subject of the article is following Slavic wedding custom - together with the bride, a chicken or rooster was carried toward the husband's house. This is especially known in Ukraine. The author follows the traces of this custom among other Slavs and compares it with some Greek wedding customs. Specific traces of the bird are notified at the bride's specific head cover and with a homonymous kind of ritual bread. A special attention was paid to the connection between bride and chicken from one side and the world of death, on the other.

Vitaliy Zaykovskiy, Athens and Thessalonica


The function of the bird (mainly chicken) as a ritual wedding food in East Slavic and Greek wedding customs is analyzed. Some parts of the chicken are used in baking of ritual bread, or the ritual bread is shaped in the form of a bird. The chicken meat as a typical food for bride and groom can be substituted with an omelette. Other ritual actions with the chicken and rooster, such as stealing and killing, connected with the bride and wedding, are described. Special attention was paid to the sexual connotations of the bird, chicken and rooster in wedding folklore texts.

Oxana Mikitenko, Kiev


The rite of funeral wedding of not married young men and girls is well known in all the Slavic traditions. This paper illustrates this ritual with both ethnographic and folklore evidences of Ukrainians and Serbs. For both wedding and funeral ritual objects are considered wreath, wedding dress, hair styling, wedding tree, bread and flag. For the dead person the bride or groom is nominated, some of the present friends are assigned special roles in the funeral wedding. Some of wedding actions are present in the funeral, also, such as, e.g.,  giving and receiving presents, funeral dancing.

Danica Djokich, Pozharevac


The ritual practices related to birth, marriage and death are mutually and closely linked and conditioned. That means, that the performing of a defined rite practice related to one of the life phases was a condition for passing to the next one. If some part of the ritual is omitted from the previous ritual complex it would be performed later on. When a young man, or a girl, dies, a correct and a complete transfer to the world beyond could not exist without carrying out a wedding ritual. The wedding was a condition for an individual's joining the social community as well as the joining to the world beyond and the community of the ancestors. Contrary to this, the deceased would be left to wander between the two worlds turning into a demon being. So an entire comlex of posthumous rites was developed and their aim was to make up for a wedding ritual which could not regularly be performed because of a premature death. A posthumous wedding and various elements of a wedding ritual included in the posthumous rite belong to this ritual complex and they have the same value as the wedding. The elements of the wedding ritual in funeral rites of the South Slavs can be divided in several groups. They are: burying the deceased in the wedding clothes, the rites connected with the bride's trousseau and wedding gifts (carrying the gifts in a funeral procession, giving the gifts after the funeral, leaving the gifts on the grave and encircling the churches with the linen from the bride's trousseau), then carrying the banner in the funeral procession imitating a wedding procession, carrying a decorated banner branch which reminds of a wedding branch, making and carrying the wedding wreath, including the persons from the wedding ritual, for example the bride, the bridegroom and the brother-in-law in the funeral procession and dancing folk dances during the funeral. We can consider these elements as a reduced form of a complex rite ceremony - a posthumous wedding. The rite of a posthumous wedding contains almost all the mentioned elements united in a unique ritual complex. Besides those elements of the wedding ritual, music and shooting from firearms also appear in the rite of the posthumous wedding as it is always done during the weddings. Earlier with the Serbs in eastern Serbia, as well as with Bulgarians, the "singers" also took part in the ritual of the posthumous wedding. But on that occasion sad songs were played and sung. The posthumous wedding, as a complete ritual, was spread among the Serbs in Srem and southern Banat, among the Serbs, Vlachs and Shops inhabitants in eastern Serbia and among the Bulgarians. The posthumous wedding or "black wedding" is, even today, a vivid ritual among the Vlachs of the northeastern Serbia, thanks to their rooted belief in life after death.

Elena S. Uzeneva, Moscow


The article analyzes the use of wedding properties (wedding standard, tree, bride's clothes, wreath and jewellery) in different spheres of Bulgarian traditional culture: in family customs (birth, wedding, funeral), calendar rituals, folk medicine, cattle-breeding rites, agricultural customs, divinations. The study reveals that in these fields of folk tradition are used mainly details of bride's dressing (because of her high sacral status during wedding ceremonial). Secondary ritual functions are held also in respect of wedding standard, tree and bread. The possibility of such usage is conditioned by symbolic sense of these objects.

Rachko Popov, Sofiya


The study examines the so-called "barren", "bachelors" or "men's" wedding among the Bulgarians from the Veliko Turnovo region. It is held during the first week of the Long Lent, known as " the week of St. Todor" (the Day of St. Todor is on Saturday). The participants in the masquerade are single men and they perform a carnival wedding with its' corresponding ritual personages-a bride, a groom, a best-man, in-laws and a priest. The custom is performed in order that the old bachelors and spinsters be ridiculed and publicly disgraced to a certain degree. According to the author, the custom is an innovation in the local tradition and it is influenced by the assigned to the same calendar period mummers' carnivals and the horse-races at the St. Todors' Day. Along with this it has also its economic background, because the region is well-known for its massive temporary migrations to Western and Central Europe- men worked as gardeners there for a certain period of time. Most of them were in their active age and because of this kind of a lifestyle they used to enter into matrimony later than usual.

Ljubinko Radenkovich, Belgrade


The author has analyzed the structure and mythical basis of the popular tradition concerning human participation in the demonic wedding, common to several Slavic peoples. Some thirty five variants of such tradition, written down in the course of the last hundred years, have been taken into account. The tradition says that in the night-time a man on the road may be met and taken by a wedding party, without being aware they are demons. As he is offered a glass of wine, he crosses himself and at the very moment a rooster's crow is heard and the wedding party disappears. It is only then that he becomes aware that he is sitting in a willow tree above the water and that the demons were intending to drown him. Instead of the wine cup he is holding a horse's skull. The structure of the tradition consists of several concentric circles, getting narrower and narrower. They have been designated here as outline (exposition), encounter, discovery, verification. Although this demonic wedding party is also known as "devil's wedding", we are dealing with demons originating from the souls of boys and girls who, prematurely departed, could not go through the wedding ritual during their lifetime and therefore cannot join the rest of the deceased in the other world. The tradition reflects elements of the wedding rite. The concluding act of pleading suit consists of a ritual offering of a cup of wine to the girl's father who drinks from it and then gives it back to the boy's father. In the demonic wedding, however, the demon himself, transformed into the vine cup is assigned with taking the man's soul out and under the water. In the first case, the girl becomes attached to her new family, and in the second, the man becomes attached to the flock of demons.

Biljana Sikimich, Belgrade


Primarily based on South Slavic folklore texts about the ignorant bride, the article aims at reconstructing the former forms of the Slavic wedding rites. The traces of the wedding usage of the weaving-loom, pumpkins and trash storage are found in different folklore texts and ethnologic data. Partly based on wedding and obscene motifs, the reconstruction of the Slavic texts for greeting a weaver is attempted. From the other side, the possible development of the humorous wedding texts about the ignorant, lazy or aggressive bride, is proposed.

Zoya Karanovich, Novi Sad


The author focuses on the meaning of shirt as a wedding present. Starting point in the analysis is Serbian folk ballad, but the explanation of the motif is searched in ethnological ground. The sudden death of the bride in the mountain - known as wild space - is connected with bride's disobeying main wedding rules, i. e, the bride leaves her native house with her wedding shirt, but without her mother's blessing.

Aleksandar Loma, Belgrade


The fight against a demonic bride-raper and some other epic motifs of the same ritual provenance in the comparative Indo-European perspective. The so-called "obstructed marriage" (zhenidba s preprekama) is one of the most beloved subjects in Serbian epics. It consists in fulfilling several tasks by the bride-groom himself or his (young and unmarried) champion (zatochnik). Similar topics are known elsewhere, e.g. the wooing of Brunhild by the young hero Siegfried on behalf of Gunther in Nibelungenlied, where, however, the last and hardest task is lacking, which is regularly imposed on a Serbian epic suitor: the duel with a three-headed monster, usually described as a dragon breathing fire and could wind, but in number of variants explained to be simply a relative of the bride or her father's servant, disguised in order to frighten the young man. Far from being explainable as a secondary rationalisation of the fire-drake myth, this masquerade reveals the original, ritual sense of the epic motif: there is no question of a real fight, but merely of a symbolical temptation, which seems to have been originally an element of rites constituting the initiation of a young warrior and culminating in his marriage. Actually in Serbian traditional nuptials such elements are present, which correspond to the epic tasks, including the fight against a demonic adversary. The dragon fight motif occurs also in Russian byliny, which seems to testify its Common Slavic provenance, but Serbian songs dealing with the "obstructed marriage" find their closest analogue on the wider Indo-European plane, in an episode of Ferdowsi's Shah-Nama, where Feridun, a heroic personage going back to the Avestan dragon-fighter Thra e taona, disguises himself in a fire-drake in order to tempt his three sons while coming home with their brides. Further some ancient Vedic myths and Old Norse legends are to be compared, which Georges Dumézil cites in his book about the warrior function among the Indo-Europeans: Indra's victories over the (almost passive) demon Vrtra and over the three-headed son of the divine carpenter Tvastr, resp. the sagas of the hero Bodvar Bjarki and his young protégé Höttr killing a winged troll and of Ţrr fighting with his bondservant Ţj a lfi in a double duel against the giant Hrungnir and a clay giant. In these mythic traditions Dumézil saw a reminiscence of an hypothetical Proto-Indo-European rite of the young warrior initiation, but he found to it only a typologic parallel among some North-American Indian tribes, who in their initiation rites used to feign a duel with the marionette representing a mythical two- or three-headed snake. Thus Serbian epic and ritual evidence, together with its Iranian correspondence cited above, may give a substantial support to Dumézil's thesis. Another way of testing bridegroom's courage is, both in the epic songs and in the wedding ceremonies, the "formidable dress" (Serb. strashno odijelo), composed mostly of wolf's and bear's skins and heads, which remembers the bands of warriors (Männerbünde), typical of the archaic societies, who not only practised in their campaigns and rituals the disguise in a kind of beast (or in ghost), but used to experience in such conditions a temporary psychological identification with it (cf. the annual transformation of the Herodotus' Neuri into wolves, as well as the "two-footed wolves" of the Old Iranian tradition, the German and Slavic were-wolfs, the Old Norse berserks). In a Serbian song the young hero who comes to learn "bravery" from his uncle (mother's brother - an archaic Indo-European item!) is "Wolf the Fire-drake" (Zmajognjeni Vuk); he kills his first enemy, "the Black Arab" in the wolfish way, by biting through his throat. The parallelism with Vseslav in Old Russian "Slovo o polku Igorevu", resp. Volch Vseslavi~ of Russian byliny, confirms the lycanthropic hero to be a heritage from the Common Slavic epics. The name vuk "wolf" given to the bridegroom in the West-Serbian area seems to be connected with the custom of the marriage by rape, which was still used in Serbia as late as the early nineteenth century. Some other initiatory motifs are to be recognised in Serbian heroic poetry too: young hero's flaming rage after performing his first exploit; his subsequent disease; the test of endurance in fasting; the restraint from women; the trial by fire etc.

Deyan Aydachich, Belgrade


The paper discusses appelative genres of wedding songs and the relations of the blessings, curses, lamentations, reproaches, etc. to the elements of the wedding code expressed in folklore songs of the South Slavs' wedding ceremony. It points to the parallels and differences in the wedding procedures or objects and in their presentation in the wedding songs as well as to psychological and poetic aspects of the use of the types and codes.

Albert Bayburin, Georgiy Levinton, Sankt-Peterburg


The goal of the paper is primarily taxonomic one, i.e. to analyze the usage of the term code (codes) in contemporary semiotic, ethnological etc. dealing with ritual. Basically the term code, as is well known, was borrowed in 1950s from cybernetics (see first of all Jakobson's works), and come to be synonymous to de Saussur's langue (Vs. parole) or Hjelmslev's system (Vs. text). In this meaning the word is used almost exclusively in singular. The analysis of the usage of the term code(s) in plural as it is applied to the study of ritual reveals four basic meanings. 1. Codes-1 (the 1st. meaning) has been transferred to the study of ritual from Le'vi-Strauss' study of myths. The difference of one code (in this sense) from another lies in the sphere of the substance of the plane of contents (to use glossematic terms) 2. Codes-2 are different "languages" in one ritual, like verbal code, musical code, gestures, objects, movements, etc. these codes differ by the form of the plane of expression 3. Codes-3 are "ready made" codes of a ritual used in another one, like "nuptial code in burial (or spring) rites" or "burial code in wedding". They differs by the form of the plane of contents. 4. Codes-4 are introduced in order to make the system complete. The difference by the form of the plane of expression can be ascribed to poetic (e.g. song) code Vs verbal, choreographic as opposed to gesture code etc. The differences and interrelations of these meanings (sometimes mixed up in present usage) are discussed. There follows the analysis of the character and interrelations of codes-2 within a ritual.


4, 1999 Parts of body

Aleksey Yudin: The structure of human body in russian incantations
Tanja Petrovich: From toast to sacral text: The code of the body
Tatyana Agapkina: Notes on folk anthropology
Malgorziata Dawidziak: Linguistic and cultural image of the head in the polish language
Il'ya Utekhin: Notions about skin among the russians
Tatyana and Vitaliy Zaykovskiy: Tatyana and Vitaliy Zaykovskiy
Aleksandar Loma: 'Cock',  'Firestick', or 'Generator'?
Elena S. Uzeneva: "Barrel without a bottom..." (Symbols of Virginity in Bulgarian Wedding Customs)
Anna Plotnikova: Skirt" and"bed" of a newborn baby
Dagmar Burkhart: The motif of the bottom as a part of the parodic code
Pieter Plas: Some aspects of the symbolism of the wolf's mouth in serbian customs and beliefs
Mirjam Mencej: Wolfs' lameness in the legends about the wolfs' shepherd
Ljubinko Radenkovich: Human and non-human in the appearance of mythological beings
Deyan Aydachich: Animals and demons in slavic literatures of the 19th century

Marta Bjeletich: Bone of the bone: (bodily parts as kinship designations)
Dorota Filar: Tha language images of human body in contemporary polish language

Aleksey Yudin, Odessa


The article presents materials for description of one of the traditional Slavic world picture fragments, "naive anatomy", i.e. the structure of the human body. The author analyzes records of various bodily parts and organs in the texts of Russian incantations according to their names, attributes, functions, influences to which they are subjected, etc. The section "Documentation" includes citations that illustrate contexts in which records of bodily parts are made in the incantations.

Tanja Petrovich, Belgrade


The paper deals with the role of somatic lexicon (human and zoological alike) in the structure of folklore texts which are characterised by optativity on the syntactical, and by directivity to the other person on the actional level. The basis of the analysed material are texts of Serbo-Croatian toast, as an unique folklore form that consists of two semantically opposed parts - blessing and curse. Analysed is the function of somatic terms in the two parts. In the structure of blessing, human body is subordinated to its basic notion of fertility and abundance. On the other hand, as the main idea of the curse is to threaten, negative wishes are often directed to the human body proper. There is a correspondence between the blessing and the curse: the features considered as positive in the blessing, become negative by antiformula - originally positive features (in a zoological context) when; added to the human body, become negative in the new context. Treated, as a semantic counterpart for koleno, is the word pojas (=belt) "generation".

Tatyana Agapkina, Moscow


The paper deals with ritual acts and prohibitions that provide health, longevity and beauty within the rituals of the calendar festivities. The author pays special attention to magical-ritual bathing, water-pouring, sprinkling, purification by water, rolling in dew, actions with plants, etc. The second part of the article points at chthonic and wedding-erotic aspects of legs. The final segment of the paper deals with ideas about closing one's mouth ("You cannot close somebody else's mouth with a scarf").

Malgorziata Dawidziak, Wroclaw


The paper is dedicated to linguistic and cultural image of the head figuring in the Polish language. Analysis is based on presumptions of cognitive linguistics; lexical analysis of phraseologisms shows that there are three basic criteria by which head may be characterised: spatial, physical and functional. In the final part of the paper the author compares cultural and linguistic images of the head. Then she confronts the two notions of the head with the scientific knowledge about this essentially important part of human body.

Il'ya Utekhin, Sankt-Peterburg


The author intorduces general discussion about skin by presenting the viewpoints of Aristotle, Voloshinov (regarding the opposition naked-nude body), and Anzie (about the psychoanalytic understanding of skin). Departing from the Russian proverbs about skin, the author points at notions about its border position, analyzes phrases in which skin is a means of conveying feelings, psychological states. By the way of metonymy skin may serve as a substitute for a man himself.

Tatyana and Vitaliy Zaykovskiy, Athens and Salonica


The fairy-tale motif of unveiling the princess's birthmarks on secluded parts of her body is analyzed on the basis of the Slavic and Greek folklore materials. By the way of ritualistic interpretation this motif is related to popular rites: covering the girl when she attains sexual maturity, inspection of the bride, the ritual marriage. Departing from the symbolysm of the swine and her vulva, denuding in front of the shepherd-priest is interpreted as a ritual marriage with an ancestor /deity /demon.

Aleksandar Loma, Belgrade


COCK', The Slavic languages share no common designation for 'penis' - the two ancients for it, *xuj and *kur (dem. *kur only dialectal distribution. The present paper deals with the latter, currently attested on three remote points of Slavic linguistic territory, in South-Slavic languages, in Kashubian (NW) and, as a petrefact, in Archangelsk Dialect of Russian (NE). Originally the word may have been spread over a larger area, the homonimous name 'cock' is used metaphorically for 'penis' Slavic regions (this ornithonym is, in its turn, for euphemistic reasons almost eliminated from a great part of the South-Slavic territory where its homophone 'penis' has a terminological status). In this metaphorical use, supposedly based on the sexual power of the cock, or, perhaps, on the description of penis as a stopcock (i.e. faucet or a valve), most etymologists are inclined to recognize the true origin of the the male organ. There >many instances of such a metonymy in the Slavic as well as in other European languages, cf. Slovene petel i Slovakian kokot Czech kohout, Germ. HahnHanchena hnl E. cock, Fr Ung Roumanian s (the last two from Slavic). However, departing form the presence of a series of Russian words for similar objects, which are derived form the stem *kur- / chur - , N. I. Tolstoy pointed out that underlying this term there might be an other widespread metaphor, that of 'stick'. An examination of the comparative Serbo-Croatian material allows us not only to corroborate Tolstoy's assumption, but also to formulate it more precisely from the semasiological point of view: it is typical of the objects in question - some of which fertility - that they are intended for insertion into a hole, or rotation in it (peg, pin, axle, churn etc.). In view of the archaic way of making fire& (especially for ritual purposes) by rapidly rotating a dry stick in another similar, but softer, piece of wood prepared to receive it, these terms may ultimately be related to the verb *kuriti churiti 'set fire, smoke', as well as the word for 'penis' itself, since the harder stick used to be designated as male, the other one as"female", and the whole act is comparable to coitus. In the Old Indian rite the verb describing this action is ma(n)th- 'whirl, stir, grind, rub, shake, agitate, churn', and the Common Slavic *kuriti / churiti shows a similar semantic range, from 'kindle' to 'stir, make muddy, trouble'. Consequently, the verb seems to have originally designated the procedure of kindling fire by attrition, and the noun *kur? the male firestick; thus, the nominal meaning 'penis' is probably a secondary one, departing from the sexual symbolism of the object. It is again the analogy of OInd. *manth- with its semantic shift from 'grind' over­ 'kindle' to 'produce, create', that helps us arrange the Iranian facts, and even more, to establish an etymological connection between several words in Ossetian, which are all formally reducible to a common root *kur- / kaur- / chur-, but whose meanings vary from 'to grind, mill' in Iron koyroj,Digor kurojn?s.'mill' (cf. OInd. arani- 'firestick' < I.-E. alh 1- 'grind, mill'), over 'kindle' in Iron koyrd, Digor kurd 'blacksmith' (cf. also Pers. kura 'fornace'), Iron curyn 'warm, reheat', Iron cyrd, Digor curda. 'nimble', to 'bear, generate' in Iron goyryn, Digor igurun (cf. Sogd. wkwry 'family'),'obtain by pleading, ask in marriage' in Iron kuryn, Digor korun and 'seek, look for, demand' in I. aguryn, D. agorun. These verbs could shed some light onto the words for 'penis' in several Iranian dialects: Khot. air kur, which are to be interpreted either in the sense of Lat. (membrum) genitale, or, by analogy to the assonant Slavic designation, as a metaphor originating in the fire-cult. The name of Scythian counterparts of OInd. Ashvins *Kuraka- (Lucian's Korakoi) suggests the latter solution, the divine twins being in Rigveda connected even identified with two firesticks. The ultimate origin of the verbal root kur- on Indo-European level and its basic signification remain uncertain. The close connection between the notions 'procreate' and 'kindle' is manifest in Germanic annual rites of renewing (regenerating) fire, which include a priapic element, obviously as a representation of the "male" firestick. Accordingly, Slavic *Jaridlo (from jariti 'impregnate; inflame'), with a stressed ithyphalic mark, may be connected with the seasonally coinciding St. John's fires (S-Cr. ivanjski krijesovi, Russ. kupal'skij ogon'). Even Greek fertility god Dionysos seems to have originally belonged, together with Apollo, to the same ritual and mythological complex, since his trees, vine and ivy, were prefered in Greece for the "female" firestick, as well as Apollo's bay for the "male".  Thus the Greeks may had have good reasons as they recognised their Dionysos in the Hinduistic Siva with his burnig Phallus (linga-) as a symbol of the cosmic energy, which may be generating, conserving or destroying. As for the Slavic denomination for 'cock', it is to be distinguished from the lexical family considered above. Since the bird stamms from the Near East (cf. Gr. Persikos ornis), its Slavic name may be related to Pers. kur 'blind', cf. the Common Slavic term for night blindness *kuroslep?, literally: 'coc's blindness'. Nevertheless, a paretymological connection between Slavic kur 'cock' and kuriti 'to fire', kur 'smoke' seems to have been established in designating and shaping some objects, as trigger or vane, with the name resp. in the form of cock, if we, bearing in mind Czech provenance of the word pistol, Germ. Pistole, suppose for this wide-spread practice a West-Slavic source, and not, according the communis opinio, a German one.

Elena S. Uzeneva, Moscow


(Symbols of Virginity in Bulgarian Wedding Customs)

The article examines various types of symbols employed in the wedding ceremony: verbal signs (terms), series of actions, files of characters, objects-symbols (sieve, hen, egg, apple) and symbols of natural elements (fire, water). The majority of terms that mean a non-virgin bride in the Bulgarian wedding, have a sense of moral judgement. The other group of terms deals with the Christian symbolism and cult of animals. At the root of most of the analysed signs there are two oppositions: one is the colour opposition (red and gold as symbols of virginity, and their absence or black as messages of non-virginity), and the other one is the whole/non-whole opposition.

Anna Plotnikova, Moscow


The paper is devoted to Balkan Slavic folk beliefs related to the bodily parts of a newborn baby: membrane surrounding it in mother's womb ("skirt", "veil", "hat") and placenta ("bed", "place", etc.). The article is accompanied by a map of names of bodily parts under consideration in Balkan Slavic area. The study shows that in Balkan Slavic regions the unusual childbirth with membrane is regarded as a sign of supernatural or demonic features of the baby which is considered to be a dragon or a witch. People believe it can do harm to other children or cattle. At the same time, such unusual persons themselves are not susceptable to danger in the war; since they are lucky. In the Bulgarian and Macedonian regions placenta is regarded as a part of mother's body, as well as a double of the baby itself, and some magic actions with placenta may be very dangerous both for mother and her baby. So, for the sake of their protection it must be buried or destroyed, for example, by cutting it. In Eastern Serbia and Western Bulgaria many magic actions with placenta are performed with the aim of making a mother childless in future, or to impregnate other woman. In Serbian regions the "bed" is regarded as a part of the baby's body and some ritual actions are carried out in order to make a baby clever, pretty, witty, etc.

Dagmar Burkhart, Mannheim


What all three types of Russian somatic texts discussed in this paper have in common is that for the purposes of parody they: - desecrate the sacral pattern of discourse (Lubok and folly literature), - decanonise the canonised pattern of discourse (futurist poetry) and - deconstruct the conventional, totalitarian pattern of discourse (postmodern texts in the style of Sorokin). As thereby the sublime is always debased, the semantic axiological oppositions sacred/profane, top/below, mythical/stripped of the mythical aura, canonised/decanonised, serious/ridiculous, heroic/stripped of the heroic aura, beautiful/ugly-monstrous, harmonious-ideal/disharmonious, peaceful/violent and conscious/unconscious become clearly marked, which should be recognised as a metapoetic technique and actualised by the ideal recipent. As has been shown, the motif BACK/BELOW, related to the bottom, is of great significance in this process.

Pieter Plas, Gent


The article deals with the wolf's mouth and its parts as bearers of much of the ambivalent meanings and mediating functions of the wolf in the symbolic worldview as reflected in Serbian folk customs and beliefs related to the wolf. The destructive aspect of the wolf's mouth is evident in many calendary prohibitions as well as in calendary and occasional ritual-symbolic actions undertaken against their activity. In dealing with these prohibitions and actions, the author highlights some of the most typical elements in their object-actional and verbal codes and offers a more in-depth interpretation of their symbolism; special attention is devoted to objects and actions related to textile works and the weaving cycle. In folk medicine and apotropaeic magic, the destructive aspect of the wolf's mouth is symbolically turned around and used against demonic forces and diseases; here, the destructive aspect is combined with the wolf's general association with health. The author then goes on to describe the productive aspect of the wolf's mouth as exemplified in the magic act of pulling children through the wolf's mouth in the context of birth ritual and infant care. In doing so he shows that the productive symbolism of the wolf's mouth is connected with the female reproductive organs and associated with female as well as male fertility; confirmations for this connection are found, among others, in the symbolism of objects and actions related to the weaving cycle, in wedding rituals and in folk ideas about mouth and genitals and movements through bodily orifices. In that way the wolf's mouth, which functions as a transformer of symbolic qualities, in an exemplary fashion represents the wolf's ambivalent symbolism and mediating functions, as the wolf appears at the most important transitory moments in the human life cycle (birth - marriage - death) and is associated in general with border periods and states. Finally the author points to some elements which indicate a connection between the wolf's mouth and the wood/ mountain as an important locus in Slavic mythic topography.

Mirjam Mencej, Ljubljana


The author tries to show in this paper the indications that support Chajkanovich's hypothesis about the wolfs' shepherd being lame. She disagrees with Roerich's idea about the wolfs' shepherd as the biggest wolf in the pack - instead she maintains that the wolfs' shepherd must have had divine characteristics. The Old Slavic god with characteristics equal to those shown by the wolfs' shepherd is the old Slavic god of death Veles/Volos. The author offers a hypothesis that the wolfs' shepherd was originally Veles/Volos.

Ljubinko Radenkovich, Belgrade


The paper offers an attempt at setting general criteria for telling the differences between the demonic beings and humans acoording to their appearances. Departing from the South Slavonic ethnographic and folklore materials those differences are established on the basis of opposition of unmarked /marked which may be specified through the following set of oppositons: anthropomorphic /zoomorphic, middle /big-small, whole /mutilated, short /long, single-headed /multi-headed, symmetric /asymmetric, speaking /mute, eyesighted /blind, uncoloured /coloured, aromatic-absence of smell /stinking, visible /invisible. The second part of the opposition may occur as one of the characteristics of the demon.

Deyan Aydachich, Belgrade


The author analyzes the animal characteristics of demons in the folklore and literature of the Eastern and Southern Slavs of the 19th century. The paper regards folklore demons' body (devils, witches, and others) through the opposition human - non-human/animal - non-human/non-animal, cites examples of animal - demon transformations, describes animals as companions or enemies of demons. The relation demonic - animal is analysed in the stories by: O. Somov, N. Gogol', Bilevich, Sen'kovski, Kvitka, Zagoskin, J. Grchich, A. Tolstoj, Chubinski, L. Kostich, M. Shapchanin, V. Dal', Sreznjevski, Danilevski, as well as in poems by S. Milutinovich, Katenin, Njegosh.


5, 2000 Agrarian culture

Liubov V. Kurkina, Moscow


In the Christian epoch, mythological beings change under the influence of various factors. The specificity of these transformations lies in the fact that "the new does not drive out the old, but rather forms a layer over it, is added to the old" (Rybakov). Study of mythological beings in the context of the mutual influences of language and culture contributes to the presentation of the cultural and linguistic situation which created one or another being. Linguistic archaisms preserved in the language provide the basis for discerning certain characteristics, which are essential for cultural denotation. In establishing the original functions of mythological beings it is important to keep in mind the categories which were current for that time's linguistic consciousness and which formed the mentality of linguistic communities. This text develops the idea of the development of some mythological beings in a system of cultural representations based on the conceptually important concepts of "one's own" [svoj] and "the other's" [chuzhoj] The idea of dividing the world into "one's own" and "the other's" became a determining factor in early agricultural culture, when the law of first seizure was in force and therefore there was a need to distinguish what one possessed from what belonged to someone else, what was not one's own. A whole complex of data speaks of the fact that the original mythological function is tightly bound up with the concept of a boundary, especially a forbidden boundary. According to these beliefs, a line once drawn not only divided humans from the outside world, but also gave protection from enemy forces, from mythological beings such as Chert [the devil], Mezhevik [the hedge spirit], Chur [an ancestral spirit]. In the early agricultural system several parcels of land would be worked at the same time; the boundaries were constantly changing between what was owned, cultivated, prepared for sowing, and what humans had not yet come to possess completely. Unlike terra culta, rejected pieces of land or pieces that had not undergone the entire cycle of preparatory work had no immediate interest for ancient agriculturists. According to their beliefs, terra inculta was where unclean powers resided. Lada and Lad are linked with fallow or unclaimed land, which was suitable for clearing and sowing. The culture of early agriculture also holds the roots of one of the fundamental Slavic deities - Veles, "the god of livestock." Trstenjak's hypotheses on the possible link of Veles with the Slovenian velna 'a lopped bush, ready for burning,' velenjak 'a meadow on which livestock has not yet grazed,' are worthy of attention. The Baltic languages offer Latv. velena and Lith. velena, close in structure and in their semantic formation. Rejected land, grown over with grass and bushes, was used for grazing livestock. This sign could have been crucial for the significance of Veles.

Nikos Chausidis, Skopye


This work aims at an analysis of rhombic pictures as traditional pictorial motifs in the culture of the Slavic peoples, and the genesis, evolution, transformation and application of these motifs in textiles, on objects etc. The most archaic representations of the rhomb are interpreted as symbols of fertility, because the vulva and its fruitfulness are identified with pictures of the vulva among Slavic and, more widely, Indo-European peoples, while the rhomb also represents (according to A. B. Rybakov) a pictogram, ideogram of the ploughed or sown field. The author demonstrates that there is a bi-directional transmission - female fertility is symbolically transferred to the fertility of the field, while the symbolic picture of fertility, via rhombic representations on the apron, is transferred from the fruitful field to women. The article is accompanied by illustrations.

Marina M. Valentsova, Moscow


The importance of ploughing, and afterwards of sowing, is significant in the framework of the magic of initiation of the cycle of work in the fields. The ritualization of ploughing and sowing appears in the folk culture of the Slavs before the beginning of work in the fields itself, at the end of winter, most often during Shrovetide, before the time has come for real ploughing. The author emphasizes elements which distinguish real from ritual ploughing and cites examples from a variety of Slavic regions, indicating the names of the rituals, the times when they are carried out, the characteristic acts and the meaning of the acts themselves.

Donat Nevyadomski, Lublin


This text investigates the symbolic use of grain in the cycle of birth and death, on the basis of ethnographic and folkloric field material. A whole series of harvest actions, beliefs connected with the harvest and harvesters, the first sheaf, the harvest wreath, and the blessing of harvest wreathes and grain, are examined within the framework of folk concepts and beliefs. The author indicates which rituals are carried out in the church, on calendar holidays in which the grain appears, as well as on holidays in the life cycle and the symbolic meanings of grain in burial customs and the world of the dead. He concludes that non-harves rituals have a common theme equivalent to that of grain's relation to the future and the constant renewal of nature, and that the functions in which grain appears are quire various - those of rebirth, protection, initiation, summoning fertility, etc.

Tatyana A. Agapkina, Moscow


The Slavic peoples too have, in the framework of the spring and summer calendar cycle, ritual circumnambulations of the fields, most often when the grain is beginning to form ears. The author notes and cites various forms, composition of the participants, their actions in the field, the time at which going into the grain takes place, the linkage of this ritual with holidays, etc. She emphasizes that the West Slavs and the Slavs in the western part of the South Slavic area give priority to collective circumnambulation, while in the East we find both collective and individual or family walks in the grain fields. The range of features of particular ritual actions (e.g. pinning a twig or a small cross, throwing upward, ritual meals with burial of the food, etc.) are noted, with examples connected with walking, looking and measuring. Going into the grain has the significance of drawing a line around one's field and of magical stimulus to the growth and fruitfulness of the grain.

Vanya Nikolova, Sofia


Relying on material from the traditional Bulgarian wedding, the author focuses on the acts of "sowing" the newlyweds with grain during certain moments of the wedding, of carrying sickles and bowls of grain to the bride, or their transfer on the event of her first visit to the parental house or the best man's, and of the young couple's participation in the first harvest. Emphasis is on the symbolism of objects, the time and place of giving/transferring the sickle or of "sowing," the place where they are brought together, the place where water is poured out. These actions are linked with signifiers of virginity and of encouraging the bride's impregnation. The agricultural language uses the fundamental languages of ritual, creating its own plot within the plot of the wedding. The myth of the fertility of the fields with grain corresponds with the symbolism of a woman's fertility: thus the identical rhythm of the wedding and fragments of the agricultural code permits us to reconstruct missing links of the agricultural myth on the basis of detailed development of the wedding ritual.

Olga A. Pashina, Moscow


This work demonstrates the links between harvest rituals and the wedding, primarily on the basis of contemporary field recordings on the Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Belarusan borders. The author notes that the Russians make a distinction between winter grains (rye is sown before the winter) and spring grains (oats), which symbolize the feminine and masculine principle respectively. Actions cited include rituals with the last sheaf of the harvest, marital prognostication for girls, and poetic parallelism with sexual symbolism in verses about the sheaf/grain. Wedding choruses appear in harvest songs, also confirming the mutual inflluence of the cultural texts of the harvest and the wedding. The oppositions of masculine/feminine, old/young, nature/human are pointed out, and the anthropomorphic coding of the harvest is examined.

Tanya Petrovich, Belgrade

"LET CORN BE FRUITFUL" corn, sowing and harvest in the toast

One of the most important points that is expressed by Serbo-Croatian toast is wish for fertility and richness. As agriculture is basic activity of the toast's addressee, and the corn culture and its vegetative cycle take important place in the Slavic folklore, they are constant and significant components in the structure of toast's text as well. Sowing is an activity most closely connected with the idea of agrarian fertility; description of the sowing in the toast begins with peasant who brings corn seeds from house to the field. The ridge (sleme) as the substitution for the house has an important role in this part of text, and very often text is built on the basis of formula sleme-seme-pleme (ridge-seed-tribe). The ability of corn seed to give new and numerous corn plants is strongly emphasized. Further fragments in the text of toast contain description of corn stalk; various language means were used in making this description - comparison, contrast, reduplication, etc. Loci, places referred to the process of corn cultivation, such as field, trashing floor, mill, are often mentioned in the text of toast, with the function of invoking fertility and richness. Bred, made of corn and symbolizing it at the same time, also plays a significant role in the rituals connected with providing agrarian fertility, as well as in the folklore texts that follow them. By this ritual bred, corn brought from house to the filed in the beginning of agrarian cycle, was brought back to the house. In that way, cycle home-field-trashing floor-home becames accomplished. Both ritual bread and toast have function to make sure that the next agrarian cycle will be rich, fruitful and abounding in cornfields.

Elena S. Uzeneva, Valeria V. Usacheva, Moscow


This text is devoted to ritual and magical acts and beliefs connected with flour. In the agrarian code, flour occupies a transitional position as a product belonging to both the sphere of nature and the sphere of culture - it is on the one hand genetically linked to grain, i. e., a creation of nature, but on the other, flour undergoes a long processing which in the end produces bread, the essential food product. The triad of grain - flour - bread is intimately linked with the agrarian code in the ritual practice of the Slavs. The authors examine flour as a symbol of fruitfulness and wealth in the family rituals of the Slavs (wedding, christening, burial, memorial ceremonies) and in some calendrical rituals (giving gifts, summoning rain, sacrificial rituals), and others. Rituals require flour with special characteristics: first, new, just ground, stolen, purchased, and so on. Flour has productive, prophylactic and cleansing functions, symbolizing the ceaseless renewal of life.

Aleksey V. Yudin, Odessa


The article deals with the functions ascribed to some major characters of the Christian cult in Ukrainian ritual calendary winter folk songs - koljadki (Christmas carols) and šcedrivki (New Year's songs), in particular in songs containing the subject of "saints ploughing the field of the master of the house". The author also discusses the problems of correlation of genre between koljadki and šcedrivki, as well as between "ecclesiastical" and "folk" Christmas carols.

Deyan Aydachich, Belgrade


Ethnographic and folkloric material on the traditionally established time for the beginning of agricultural work is linked in this article with the holidays of the yearly cycle and the natural preconditions for carrying out these tasks. Observations about the calendar of the Balkan Slavs are, when needed, supplemented with examples from other Slavic traditions. Although agricultural tasks are linked with certain holidays (all peoples know the symbolism of the first furrow, the first seeds, the first ear of grain or first fruit, etc.), these are nonetheless movable, depending on the geographical latitude and altitude. The factors determining holidays in the folk agricultural calendar and in the Christian calendar are examined.

Andrey B. Moroz, Moscow


Folk beliefs, prohibitions and recommendations, and rituals connected with the raising of vegetables represent a relatively uninvestigated field, despite a highly developed system of folk concepts. The author examines the concepts of the East Slavs which define the time and manner of proper planting, cultivating and harvesting, which guarantee protection from animals and bad weather, and which stimulate the growth and quality of vegetables. Gardeing magic has, for the most part, an imitative character, and with the help of a variety of codes it "summons" a desired or "rejects" an undesired result. Individual attention is devoted to the codes of time, the body, animals, plants, objects, actions and words.

Aleksandar Loma, Belgrade


A grassy, good watered and partly with pins covered plateau, lying round 3000 feet above sea level, Divchibare was from the beginning a suitable pastureland, and from the twenties of this century it is one of the most popular mountain resorts in Serbia. Its name is recorded since 1476; a legend explains it as "girl's swamps", telling that once upon a time a young shepherdess was drowned there in the small river Crna Kamenica, suddenly rised up from a sommer cloudburst. From the linguistic point of view, this explanation may be correct, Divchibare being analysable in bara "puddle, swamp" and divci, an adjectif to devka "girl", but the story rectifying it is hard to accept, while the same name designates four other spots situated in this part of NW Serbia, around the city of Valjevo; it seems unbelievable that in a relatively small area even five times happened the same incident motivating such a denomination. By investigating local legends and interpreting them in the broader context of Serbian and Common Slav customs and beliefs, we came to the conclusion, that divchi bare "girl's swamps" designated the scene of an annual pagan rite, which fell at the summer solstice (in Christian calendar: Pentecost, St. John's day) and consisted in drowning a doll called Devka / Divka, and also Mara. Divka is named the queen of the water-nymphs (rusalky) in Rusin tales, and Mara, known also to the Belorussians and Bulgarians, figures in Serbian folklore as the protectress against the hail.


6, 2001


Selected bibliography on colours in Slavic cultures...






7, 2002 Children

The seventh volume of the journal "The codes of Slavic cultures" is dedicated to the children in popular culture of the Slavic peoples.

Anna Plotnikova analyzes the structure, terminology and semantics of the ritual celebration of child birth while pointing at the geographic distribution and the areally conditioned specific features of this practice among the southern Slavs (krstike, križma; áабине; повојница; молитви, кадене). Valentina Vaseva gives a parallel analysis of fertility cycles regarding crops, fowl and cattle, as well as people, in the Bulgarian folk beliefs. Svetlana Tolstaja presents and interprets the magical ways of protecting a newborn from death among the Slavs on various occasions: during the funeral, after the death and burial of a child, when a woman conceives, at childbirth and after it. The actional, verbal and material acts of magical protection are regarded as a system encompassing washing a child, feeding and clothing it, amulets, symbolical selling, "throwing away", leaving a child, finding it (нахоче), acts of magic performed by the godfather and at baptizing. Piter Plas delves into ethnographic and linguistic sources for male (seldom female) "wolves' names" from the Serbo-Croatian language territory and explains their motivation by a profilactic function, while also providing onomastic (anthroponymic) parallels from other languages and traditions. Names and motivation of terms for the souls of the dead unbaptized children, the popular beliefs about the looks, origin and "acts" of miscarried, still-born, killed or prematurely deceased children are the subjects of the study by Ivana Polonio and Luka Šeša. Ljubinko Radenković presents Slavic beliefs about the theft of an unbaptized newborn as a punishment (by the evil forces) for his careless mother - judging from their geografic distribution he suggests that such notions were accepted from the Germans. Dušan Ratica examines the position of children in the Slovakian rural family from the first half of the 20th century and presents the modes of their upbringing and gradual integration, through adequate sex-roles, into the adult world of work and responsibilities. Vesna Marjanović sheds light on the traditional children's games as mirroring the feelings of ethnical identity and influences occurring among various Slavic nations as well as between the Slavic and non-Slavic population in the late 19th - early 20th century Vojvodina. Oksana Mikitenko brings an analysis of special poetic features and the mythical-poetic representations in dirges mourning for children, and points at ethno-regional features of the Ukrainian wailing and the tradition of the Balkan Slavs. A catalogue of the child-motiff in oral tradition recorded in the anthological collection of Croatian folk poetry (10 volumes, covering 1896 to 1942, published by Matica Hrvatska), has been compiled by Luka Šešo and Ivana Polonijo. Ekaterina Belousova investigates modern urban ideas related to child-birth in water, traditional and contemporary elements of the belief in "water children".



8, 2003


Selected bibliography on birds in Slavic cultures / draft version.

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