Reconstructons of the Cosmogonic Myth According to the Data of the Bestiaries (“Traveling” of the Hedgehog through the Legends and Traditions) Cover Image
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Реконструкции на космогоничния мит по данни от бестиариите („Странстванията” на таралежа в предания и традиции)
Reconstructons of the Cosmogonic Myth According to the Data of the Bestiaries (“Traveling” of the Hedgehog through the Legends and Traditions)

Author(s): Tatyana V. Tsivyan
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Институт за етнология и фолклористика с Етнографски музей при БАН

Summary/Abstract: The article interprets the subjects on the hedgehog – cosmogonist helper of the Creator and/or the Devil (or even the double of the Devil). With this animal one of the major stages of Creation is connected – making of the relief on the first harmonically flat ground, i.e. making its structure. The hedgehog is represented as “a metaphor of the relief” in motu. The case in question is the version of the Balkan cosmogony, which traditionally is connected with Bogomilian tradition, fused with folklore. It is also known from the medieval South Slavonic and East-Roman legends of the 12–13th centuries. In the process of Creation there occurs an unexpected complication. The earth and the sky are created separately, and by an oversight of Lord (or the guile of the Devil), the earth appears to be larger than the sky, which cannot cover it. God is in trouble, and the hedgehog helps Him. He gives an advice to compress the earth, the way the hedgehog makes a ball of himself. God follows his advice, and the order comes. The sky covers the earth, which has become smaller because after the compression there appear mountains and valleys. M. Eliade, analyzing this subject, compares God with the archaic deus otiosus, i.e. the God who got tired of Creation and “retired for rest”. Interestingly enough the hedgehog appears as a similar adviser in another region, far to the North from the Balkans. The same mythological complex is known in the Baltic-Slavonic tradition. In both cases it is important to accentuate the ambiguity of the hedgehog: he helps both to God and (or) to the Devil, revealing its chthonic nature. The geography of the subject analyzed in the article leads the author to a suggestion, that the subject is universal, or in any case more known and spread that it could be seen at the beginning. The subject is not restricted by the Bogomilian tradition (which, of course, involves the theme of the East), Baltic-Slavonic dualism and even Baltic-Balkan area, but it could be also noted in the general list of archetypical subjects on the creation of the world and of the man.

  • Issue Year: XXXII/2006
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 20-31
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Bulgarian