views updated


DAZHBOG was the pre-Christian sun god of the East and South Slavs. The name Dazhbog (Old Russian, Dazh'bog ) is first mentioned in the Kievan pantheon, listed in the Russian Primary Chronicle (c. 1111 ce). His connection with the sun is clearly stated in the Malalas Chronicle of 1114: "Tsar Sun is the son of Svarog, and his name is Dazhbog." (Svarog, the creator of the sun, is identified in Greek translation with the smith Hephaistos. Like his Lithuanian counterpart, the heavenly smith Kalvelis, whose achievement is described in the Volynian Chronicle of 1252, Svarog probably hammered the sun into shape and placed it in the sky. For the chroniclers, he was identical with Helios.) The importance of this god is attested in the thirteenth-century Old Russian epic Slovo o polku Igoreve, where the phrase "grandchildren of Dazhbog" is used to refer to the Russian people.

Dazhbog seems to have been one of the various manifestations of the Indo-European god of the "shining sky" or "heavenly light." In the Kievan pantheon his name appears next to that of Khors, another sun deity (cf. Persian khursīd, "sun"), and he was identified with the Greek god Apollo by early Russian translators. Dazhbog is possibly an analogue of the northwestern Slavic deity Svarozhich (Svarožiči, Zuariscici; "son of Svarog"), who was worshiped in the temple at Radigast (Rethra), near Feldberg, in present-day northern Germany. There, as noted in 1014 by Thietmar, bishop of Merseburg, were a number of carved idols dressed in armor and helmets, each dedicated to some aspect of the god. The most important one was that of Svarozhich.

In Roman Jakobson's view, Dazhbog, like the Vedic Bhaga, is "the giver of wealth," and the name of Dazhbog's immediate neighbor in the Kievan pantheon, Stribog, means literallylike that of Bhaga's partner Amsa"the apportioner of wealth" (see Jakobson, 1972). The name Dazhbog is a compound of dazh' (the imperative form of dati, "to give") and bog ("god"). Both Slavs and Iranians eliminated the Proto-Indo-European name for the "god of heavenly light," *dieus, and assigned the general meaning of "god" to a term that originally signified both wealth and its giver, bog. The origin of the name Dazhbog may go back to the period of close Slavic-Iranian contacts, not later than the Scythian-Sarmatian period.

In Serbian folk beliefs, Dabog (i.e., Dazhbog) is an adversary of the Christian God: "Dabog is tsar on earth, and the Lord God is in heaven." Dabog is also known as "the silver tsar"; in mining areas as Dajboi, a demon; and as Daba or Dabo, the devil.


Čajkanović, Veselin. O srpskom vrhovnom bogu. Posebna izdanja, Srpska Kraljevska Akademija, vol. 132. Belgrade, 1941.

Dickenmann, E. "Serbokroatisch Dabog." Zeitschrift für slavische Philologie (Leipzig) 20 (1950): 323346.

Jagić, V. "Mythologische Skizzen: 2, Daždbog, Dažbog-Dabog." Archiv für slavische Philologie (Leipzig) 5 (1881): 114.

Jakobson, Roman. "Slavic Mythology." In Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend (19491950), edited by Maria Leach, vol. 2, pp. 10251028. Reprint, 2 vols. in 1, New York, 1972.

New Sources

Kapica, F. S. Slavyanskije tradicionnije verovanija, prazdniki i rituali [Slavic traditional beliefs, festivities and rituals]. Moscow, 2001.

Shaparova, N. S. Kratkaya enciklopedija slavyanskoj mifologii [A short dictionary of Slavic mythology]. Moskva, Astrelj, 2001.

Marija Gimbutas (1987)

Revised Bibliography