Belobog

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Day and Night, the modern representation of Belobog and Chernobog, Maxim Sukharev.

Belbog or Bielbog[a] (lit. "White God", reconstructed as *Bělobogъ or *Bělъ Bogъ, from *bělъ ("white") + *bogъ ("god")[1]) is the assumed name of the alleged god of auspicious fate worshiped by the Polabian Slavs. His name was derived by analogy to the Chernobog (lit. Black God) mentioned by Helmod in the Chronica Slavorum, who is a god of bad luck. The pair of these gods is often presented as evidence of "Slavic dualism," although their authenticity is controversial.

Sources[edit]

Chronica Slavorum[edit]

The German monk and chronicler Helmold, who accompanied the Christianization missions against the Elbe Slavs, describes in his Chronicle of the Slavs the cult of Chernobog:[1]

Also, the Slavs have a strange delusion. At their feasts and carousals, they pass about a bowl over which they utter words, I should not say of consecration but of execration, in the name of [two] gods—of the good one, as well as of the bad one—professing that all propitious fortune is arranged by the good god, adverse, by the bad god. Hence, also, in their language they call the bad god Diabol, or Zcerneboch, that is, the black god.

Latin original text

Est autem Slavorum mirabilis error; nam in conviviis et compotationibus suis pateram circumferunt, in quam conferunt, non dicam consecrationis, sed execrationis verba sub nomine deorum, boni scilicet atque mali, omnem prosperam fortunam a bono deo, adversam a malo dirigi profitentes. Unde etiam malum deum lingua sua Diabol sive Zcerneboch, id est nigrum deum, appellant.

Although the name "Belbog" is not mentioned anywhere in the Chronicle, many researchers, by analogy to the ruler of bad luck-Chernebog, reconstruct the ruler of good luck-Belbog.

Later sources[edit]

Belbog was first mentioned directly in the 16th century. In 1538, the Pomeranian chronicler Thomas Kantzow in his Chronicle of Pomerania wrote:[1]

I have heretofore related all manner of faithlessness and idolatry, in which they had engaged before the time of the German Empire. Earlier yet, their ways are said to have been even more pagan. They placed their kings and lords, who ruled well, above the gods and honored the said men [as gods] after their death. In addition, they worshipped the sun and the moon and, lastly, two gods whom they venerated above all other gods. One [of them] they called Bialbug, that is the white god; him they held for a good god. The other one [they called] Zernebug, that is the black god; him they held for a god who did harm. Therefore, they honored Bialbug, because he did them good and so that he might [continue to] do them good. Zernebug, on the other hand, they honored so that he should not harm them. And they appeased the said Zernebug by sacrificing people, for they believed that there was no better way of assuaging him than with human blood, which is actually true, if only they had seen it in the right light: that Zernebug seeks nothing other than the death of Man’s body and soul.

German original text

Ich hab hiezuvor mannigerley unglawben und abgoͤtterey angezeigt, so sie bei Zeiten des Teutzschen keiserthumbs gehapt. Aber zuvor seint sie noch viele heidnischer gewest, haben yre khonige und hern, so wol geregiret, vor Goͤtter aufgeworffen, und dieselbigen nach yrem totte geehret. Darneben haben sie Sonne und Mon angebetet, und zu letzst zween Goͤtter, die uͤber alle ander Goͤtter wehren, gemacht. Einen, den sie Bialbug , das ist den weissen Got, genennet; den hielten sie vor einen gutten Got; den andern Zernebug , das ist der schwartze Got, den sie vor einen Got hielten, der schaden tette. Darumb ehreten sie Bialbug deshalben, das er ynen guts tette und thun solte; Zernebug aber ehreten sie darum, das er nicht schaden solte. Und demselbigen Zernebug pflagen sie offt menschen zuslachten; dan sie meinten, er wurde nyrgentz durch besser gestillet, wan durch menschenblut; welchs dan zwar wahr ist, wan sie es nhur recht verstanden hetten; dan Zernebug sucht nicht anders, dan des Menschen tot an leib und sele

— Thomas Kantzow, Chronik von Pommern in niederdeutscher Mundart

Then Sebastian Münster, in Cosmographiae universalis of 1550, describes the harvest ritual associated with Svetovit and continues: "In general they (the Rugians) worshipped two gods, namely Belbuck and Zernebuck, as if a white and a black god, a good and an evil genius, God and Satan, as the source of good and evil, according to the error of the Manichaeans". The works of Kantzov and Münster are probably independent of each other (various forms of recording the name of the Belebog, the Chronicle of Pomerania was first published, but it was not published until the 19th century), but they use a common source, which, according to Miroslava Znayenko, could be the archive of the Abbey of Białoboki [pl], where the Belebog was forged. Daniel Cramer, a theologian and professor from Szczecin, probably held in his hands a copy of a chronicle from this archive or saw a quote from it, because in his Pommerisches Kirchen-Chronicon he probably paraphrased a part of it:[1]

To this monastery they (the founding monks) gave the name Belbug, [more] correctly Bialbuck, which in the Wendish tongue means literally ‘the white god,’ thus to give [the Slavs] to understand that, unlike their (the Slavs’) heathen ancestors, the Christians did not know of any black god. The name [Belbug] also well befits the clothes of the Premonstratensians, who [always] went dressed in white. The foundation of the monastery took place anno 1163.

German original text

Diesem Kloster haben sie den Namen Belbug gegeben, so viel als Bialbuck welches in seiner Wendischen Sprach soviel heist als den Weissen Gott , damit zu verstehen zu geben, daß die Christen von keinem schwarzen Gott wie ihre heidnische Vorfahrn wusten. Welcher Nahm sich dann zu der Praemonstratenser Kleidung, welch in Weiß gekleidet giengen, wol schicket. Diese fundation des Klosters Belbuck ist geschehen Anno 1163

— Daniel Cramer, Pommerisches Kirchen-Chronicon

The Belebog also appears in the anonymous History of Caminensis as the god of the Vandals, which is based on a piece by Münster (both works speak of the "error of the Manichaeans"). The Belebog also appears in other, later, minor texts.[1]

Interpretations[edit]

There is no consensus among researchers on the authenticity of the cult of Chernobog and Belebog. Some researchers believe that both gods are Helmod's invention, some assume the possibility of the existence of these gods, some assume that Chernobog and Belebog are nicknames for other gods. According to Aleksander Gieysztor, the gods are not a full personification, but a hypostasis of evil and good.[2] Veselin Čajkanović, based on the names of Serbian places and sayings, believed that the Belebog is in fact Perun.[3]

The arguments for the authenticity of Belebog are the names of places in different parts of the Slavic region: the neighboring villages of Bělbožice [cs] and Černíkovice in the Czech Republic, which are to prove dualism, Białobożnica in Ukraine, Bela Crkva ("White Tserkov"), tell Belo Brdo ("White Hill") in Serbia.[3] There are also two places known locally as "White gods" (Belye bogi) near Radonezh (Moscow region), one of which may have served as a pagan place of worship.[3][1] In the Annals of Premonstratensia it was claimed that the name Białoboki [pl] derives from "Belbok, the idol of Pomeranians, which means the god of white and good". However, historians are not sure of the place's etymology and many have suggested that the name comes from the word buk ("beech") or bok ("side").[4]

Some authors also used Mount Bieleboh (and Czorneboh) in Upper Lusatia, where the gods were supposed to be worshipped, but the names were most likely only created in modern times because of the popularity of the gods in the culture of the region.

In Serbian folklore there is the expression "not to see a white god", and in Bulgarian "to cry out to a white god", which probably means the same as heaven or heavenly god.[3] In Bulgarian folklore, there is also the expression "I have no White God from this man", which may mean a lack of good will.[2]

Popular culture[edit]

  • Belebog is mentioned as a brother of Chernebog in American Gods. In the spring they change places[5]
  • Belebog in graphic novel Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero is the name of one of the kaiju

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In some modern Slavic languages the name is written and pronounced differently:
    Russian, Bulgarian and Macedonian: Белобог, Belobog,
    Bosnian and Serbo-Croatian: Bjelobog, Белобог
    Belarusian: Белбог, Бялун Belbog, Belun
    Ukrainian: Білобог Biloboh
    Polish: Białobóg
    Czech: Bělbog
    Slovene: Belibog
    Slovak: Belboh

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Gorbachov, Yaroslav (2017-06-23). "What Do We Know about *Čьrnobogъ and *Bělъ Bogъ?". Russian History. 44 (2–3): 209–242. doi:10.1163/18763316-04402011. ISSN 1876-3316.
  2. ^ a b Gieysztor, Aleksander. (2006). Mitologia Słowian (3 ed.). Warsaw: Wydawn. Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. pp. 160–161. ISBN 83-235-0234-X. OCLC 212627528.
  3. ^ a b c d Kulišić, Špiro; Petrović, Petar Ž.; Pantelić, Nikola (1970). Serbian mythological dictionary. Belgrade: Nolit. pp. 28–29.
  4. ^ Strzelczyk, Jerzy. (1998). Mity, podania i wierzania dawnych Słowian (Wyd. 1 ed.). Poznań: Dom Wydawniczy Rebis. p. 48. ISBN 83-7120-688-7. OCLC 41479163.
  5. ^ "American Gods mythology guide: Who is bloodthirsty Slavic deity Czernobog?". Radio Times. Retrieved 2020-10-04.