From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sirin. Lubok. 18th century

Sirin is a mythological creature of Russian legends, with the head and chest of a beautiful woman and the body of a bird (usually an owl). According to myth, the Sirins lived in Vyraj or around the Euphrates River.[1][2]

These half-women half-birds are directly based on the Greek myths and later folklore about sirens.[2][3][4] They were usually portrayed wearing a crown or with a nimbus.[5] Sirins sang beautiful songs to the saints, foretelling future joys. For mortals, however, the birds were dangerous. Men who heard them would forget everything on earth, follow them, and ultimately die. People would attempt to save themselves from Sirins by shooting cannons, ringing bells and making other loud noises to scare the bird off.[3] Later (17-18th century), the image of Sirins changed and they started to symbolize world harmony (as they live near paradise). People in those times believed only happy people could hear a Sirin, while only very few could see one because she is as fast and difficult to catch as human happiness. She symbolizes eternal joy and heavenly happiness.[6]

The legend of Sirin might have been introduced to Rus' by Persian merchants in the 8th-9th century. In the cities of Chersonesos and Kiev they are often found on pottery, golden pendants, even on the borders of Gospel books of tenth-twelfth centuries.[5] Furthermore, Sirin is connected to the Greek Siren. Due to the history, the Russian culture has experienced a very strong correlation with Greek culture and Byzantine Empire through its steppes, the Volga river and Dniepr river.[7][8][9] Pomors often depicted Sirins on the illustrations in the Book of Genesis as birds sitting in paradise trees.[1]

Sometimes Sirins are seen as a metaphor for God's word going into the soul of a man. Sometimes they are seen as a metaphor of heretics tempting the weak. Sometimes Sirins were considered equivalent to the Polish Wila. In Russian folklore, Sirin was mixed with the revered religious writer Saint Ephrem the Syrian. Thus, peasant lyrists such as Nikolay Klyuev often used Sirins as a synonym for poet.[1]


In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Сирин. Bestiary (in Russian). Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  2. ^ a b Священные птицы. New Acropol (in Russian). Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  3. ^ a b Boguslawski, Alexander (1999). "RELIGIOUS LUBOK". Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  4. ^ Персонажи славянской мифологии (in Russian). Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  5. ^ a b Hilton, Alison (1995). Russian folk art. Indiana University Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-253-32753-6.
  6. ^ Славянские суеверия (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  7. ^ John Zumerchik; Steven L. Danver (2010). Seas and waterways of the world: an encyclopedia of history, uses, and issues. ABC-CLIO. pp. 236–237. OCLC 1054962639.
  8. ^ "Kiev and the Byzantine Legacy of Russia". byzantine-legacy. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  9. ^ "How the Steppes Became Byzantine". Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity: Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750. Retrieved 2019-07-23.