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Coordinates: 43°03′32″N 44°17′35″E / 43.059°N 44.293°E / 43.059; 44.293

Unidentified image (2009 photograph)

Uastyrdzhi (Ossetian: Уастырджи, pronounced [ˈwɑʃtɨrd͡ʒi])[a] is the name of Saint George in Ossetian folklore. Uastyrdzhi is the patron of the male sex and travellers as well as being a guarantor of oaths. Because of his association with fertility, it is forbidden for women to pronounce his name. Instead they must refer to him as лӕгты дзуар (literally, "the saint of men").[1][2] Uastyrdzhi is invoked in the national anthem of North Ossetia-Alania.

He is depicted as a horseman with a long beard, riding on a white horse. One of his cultic centers is a place called Hetag's Grove (Хетæджы къох), a wood situated three kilometres outside of Alagir, near Suadag village.[3] According to legend, St. Hetag (also Khetag; Хетаг) was the son of an Alanian king who consecrated the grove to Uastyrdzhi.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the cult of Uastyrdzhi at St. Hetag's Grove in particular has enjoyed renewed popularity in Ossetian nationalism, and there have been several claims of visitations. The attitude of the local Russian Orthodox Church towards Uastyrdzhi is ambivalent.[1]

The festival of Djiorgwyba (Джиоргуыба) is celebrated in Uastyrdzhi's honour in November (and is eponymous of the month's name in Ossetian[4]). It involves the sacrifice of a one-year-old bullock. To indicate that the victim belongs to the god, its right horn is cut off long before, forbidding any herdsman to swear on it.[5]

St Hetag's own feast day is on the first Sunday in July.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The name Uastyrdzhi is also transliterated as ‘Uastyrdži’, ‘Wastyrdzhi’, ‘Wastyrĝi’, ‘Wastırci’, ‘Wasterdži’, ‘Wastyrji’; Digor: Уасгерги IPA: [ˈwaskergi]


  1. ^ a b Sebastian Smith Allah's Mountains: Politics and War in the Russian Caucasus (IB Tauris, first edition, 1998), pp. 81–83
  2. ^ Lora Arys-Djanaïéva Parlons ossète, Harmattan (2004), p.163
  3. ^ Константин Павлович Попов, Священная роща Хетага, Сев.-Осет. респ. о-во "Памятники Отечества", М-во охраны окружающей среды и природ. ресурсов РСО-Алания, Владикавказ 1995.
  4. ^ Arys-Djanaïeva p.163
  5. ^ Yves Bonnefoy, American, African, and Old European Mythologies (1993), p. 262.

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