Sky father

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Jupiter, Ancient Roman sky deity, and Thetis

In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept of a sky god who is addressed as a "father", often the father of a pantheon. The concept of "sky father" may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics. The concept is complementary to an "earth mother".

"Sky Father" is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically descended from the same Proto-Indo-European deity name as the Greek Zeû Pater and Roman Jupiter, all of which are reflexes of the same Proto-Indo-European deity's name, *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr.[1] While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, there are exceptions (e.g. In Egyptian mythology, Nut is the sky mother and Geb is the earth father).

In historical mythology[edit]

  • In Mesopotamian mythology, An or Anu, (AN, 𒀭𒀭𒀭) Sumerian for "heaven, sky", is the father deity of the Sumerian and Assyro-Babylonian pantheon and is also the earliest attested Sky Father deity.
  • Indo-European mythology
  • Ukko in Finnish mythology
  • In Māori mythology, Ranginui was the sky father. In this story, the sky father and earth mother Papatūānuku, embraced and had divine children.
  • Wākea is a sky father in Hawaiian mythology.
  • In Native American mythology and Native American religion, the sky father is a common character in creation myths.[2]
  • In China, in Daoism, 天 (tian), meaning sky, is associated with light, the positive, male, etc., whereas 地 (di) meaning earth or land, is associated with dark, the negative, female, etc.
  • Zhu, Tian Zhu 主,天主 (lit. "Lord" or "Lord in Heaven") is translated from the English word, "Lord", which is a formal title of the Christian God in Mainland China's Christian churches.
    • Tian 天 (lit. "sky" or "heaven") is used to refer to the sky as well as a personification of it. Whether it possesses sentience in the embodiment of an omnipotent, omniscient being is a difficult question for linguists and philosophers.
  • Tengri "sky", chief god of the early religion of the Turkic and Mongolic peoples.
  • In Ancient Egypt, Horus was ruler of the sky. He was shown as a male humanoid with the head of a falcon. It is not uncommon for birds to represent the sky in ancient religions, due to their ability to fly. However, in Egyptian mythology the sky was perceived as the goddess Nut.
  • In what is now Colombia, the Muisca (Muisca mythology) used to worship Bochica as the sky father.[3]
  • "Taevaisa" (Taevas = sky, isa = father) is the word by which adherents in Estonia of the Maausk (faith of the land) and the Taara native beliefs refer to God. Although both branches of the original Estonian religion - which are largely just different ways of approaching what is in essence the same thing, to the extent that it remains extant - are pantheistic, heaven has a definite and important place in the ancient pre-Christian Estonian belief system. All things are sacred for those of the faith of the land, but the idea of a sky father - among other "sacrednesses" - is something all Estonians are well aware of. In newer history, after the arrival of Christianity, the ideas of a sky father and "a father who art in heaven" have become somewhat conflated. One way or another, the phrase "taevaisa" remains in common use in Estonia.
  • The Liber Sancti Iacobi by Aymericus Picaudus tells that the Basques called God Urcia, a word found in compounds for the names of some week days and meteorological phenomena.[4][5] The current usage is Jaungoikoa, that can be interpreted as "the lord of above". The imperfect grammaticality of the word leads some to conjecture that it is a folk etymology applied to jainkoa, now considered a shorter synonym.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ dyaus in Vedic still retained the meaning "sky", while the Greek Zeus had become a proper name exclusively.
  2. ^ Judson, Katherine Berry (April 30, 2009). Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest. BiblioLife. pp. 5–7. ISBN 978-0-559-06288-9.
  3. ^ Paul Herrmann, Michael Bullock (1954). Conquest by Man. Harper & Brothers. pp. 186. OCLC 41501509.
  4. ^ Trask, L. The History of Basque (1997) Routledge ISBN 0-415-13116-2
  5. ^ Jose M. de Barandiaran Mitologia Vasca (1996) Txertoa ISBN 84-7148-117-0