Uralic mythologies

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Uralic mythologies is an umbrella term for the mythologies and indigenous religions of the Finnic, Ugric, and Samoyedic peoples, who speak related Uralic languages.[1] The mythologies retain traces of archaic Uralic religious systems merged with foreign influences, both ancient and modern, and are similar to the beliefs of neighboring non-Uralic peoples of north-central Eurasia.[1]


The Finnic, Ugric, and Samoyedic people are “from Norway to the region of the Ob River in Siberia and southward into the Carpathian Basin in central Europe and Ukraine."[2] The “Uralic family of languages” are those spoken by the Finno-Ugric and Samoyed people.[2]

A common theme in many Uralic mythologies is Mother Earth or female fertility. Every year there was a feast to honor Mother Earth called Mlande Shotchyn. During Mlande Shotchyn it was prohibited for anyone to do anything that would harm the earth. If people did harm the land, they would be punished by a thunderstorm that would destroy their crops or being stuck by lightning. Muzjem-Mumy, also referred to as Mother Earth, would grow angry when people would farm on the land while she slept during Mlande Shotchyn. To appease her, people would sacrifice animals to her. “The animals sacrificed to Muzjem-Mumy were dark of colour-that of the earth- oxen and sheep: their bones, blood and offal were dug into the ground, and the meat was eaten during the feast." [3]

Ugric (Hungarian)[edit]

Of ancient Hungarian mythology (Ugric), not much is known other than it was based on shamanism, there was a belief in the afterlife and a high god, and a tradition of being descended from a female deer. One Hungarian origin myth tells how Queen Emesu (Emese) had a dream in which she was fertilized by a goshawk (Turul). Queen Emesu's offspring was Almus (Álmos), the founder of a line of Hungarian chiefs (Árpád dynasty) who would lead the Hungarians to their present land.[4] There was also belief in a world/life tree (Világfa/Életfa) which has three levels, each a different world. A shaman was believed to be able to climb through each of these levels freely by a ladder.


The traditional religion of the Samoyedic peoples was based on shamanism and totemism. Tales were sung (syodobobs) or spoken (uahanoku).[5]


Finnic mythologies comprise both Finnish mythology and Estonian mythology. They had an emphasis on astronomy, with asterisms seen as animal spirits. Creation myths involved a world egg and a world pillar.[4]


The Finnic-Ugric included the sky and the cosmos in their myths. The star constellations were named after animal spirits and have numerous myths written about them. The Finnic-Ugric people also have myths about the Milky Way Galaxy. In Uralic the terms “sky” and “god of the sky” have similar meanings. Their gods of the sky are sometimes referenced as weather gods or gods of hunting.[2] There are also goddesses that deal with the world. Goddesses like Mansi and Kaltashch-ekva in myths have powers to shape the cosmos and give life.

The weather and creator god Ilmarinen is known in the Finno-Ugric religion for keeping the sky up with a pillar he forged. This pillar is called sampo or the world’s pillar. [6] If the pillar falls it can signal the end of the world.[4] In a myth Väinämöinen, a god known as a cosmic egg creation led a quest to find sampo in a land ruled by a Northern Woman. In that legend the sampo would lead to good fortune, wealth, and affluence. In some of those myths the pillar is in the center of the North Star in a canopy that surrounds the world.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Kulemzin, Vladislav; Vladimir Napolskikh; Anna-Leena Siikala; Mihály Hoppál (2006). Encyclopaedia of Uralic Mythologies 2. Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 978-963-05-8284-1.
  2. ^ a b c Honko, Lauri O., "Finno-Ugric religion", Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  3. ^ Yurchenkova, Nina (2011), "About Female Deities In The Mythology Of Finno-Ugric Peoples" (PDF), Folklore: Electronic Journal of Folklore, 47: 173–180, doi:10.7592/FEJF2011.47.yurchenkova
  4. ^ a b c Leeming, David Adams (2003), "The Finno-Ugrians", From Olympus to Camelot, Oxford University Press, pp. 134–137, ISBN 978-0-19-514361-4
  5. ^ Czaplicka, Marie Antoinette (1999). "Samoyed,". Collected Works of M. A. Czaplicka. Routledge. pp. 24–34. ISBN 978-0-7007-1001-0.
  6. ^ "Ilmarinen." Encyclopædia Britannica (2014): Research Starters. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Encyclopaedia of Uralic Mythologies, 4 volumes : Komi Mythology, Khanty Mythology, Mansi Mythology, Selkup Mythology
  • Napolskikh, Vladimir (1991), Напольских В. В. Древнейшие этапы происхождения народов уральской языковой семьи: данные мифологической реконструкции [The First Stages of People of Uralic Language Family: Material of Mythological Reconstruction. Moscow] (in Russian)
  • Petrukhin, Vladimir (2005), Петрухин В. Я. Мифы финно-угров [Myths of Finno-Ugric Peoples] (in Russian)
  • Религиозные верования народов СССР. [Religious Beliefs of People in USSR] (in Russian), 2, 1931
  • Сагалаев (Sagalaev), A.S. (А.С.) (1991), Уpaло-алтайская мифология. Новосибирск [Uralic-Altaic Mythology] (in Russian)
  • Мировоззрение финно-угорских народов [World Outlook of Finno-Ugric People] (in Russian), 1990
  • Ююкин (Yuyukin), Максим (Maxim) (2016), Белый лебедь на черной реке : Мифы финно-угорских народов [The White Swan on the Black River : Myths of Finno-Ugric Peoples] (in Russian)