Alatyr (mythology)

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The Alatyr in Russian legends and folklore is a sacred stone, the "father to all stones", the navel of the earth, containing sacred letters and endowed with healing properties. Although the name Alatyr appears only in East Slavic sources, the awareness of the existence of such a stone exists in various parts of the Slavdom. It is often mentioned in stories, referring to love spells, as "a mighty force that has no end."

In the Dove Book, the Alatyr is associated with an altar located in the "navel of the world", in the middle of the ill World Ocean ru Мировой океан (мифология), on the Buyan island. On it stands the World tree. The stone is endowed with healing and magical properties. Spiritual verses describe how "from under the white-alatyr-stone" flows a miraculous source that gives the whole world "food and healing." The Alatyr is guarded by the wise snake Garafena and the bird Gagana.[1]


The stone is usually called Alatyr (Алатырь), Alabor (lang-ruала́бор), Alabyr (lang-ruала́бы́рь) or Latyr (lang ла́тырь) and sometimes white stone or blue stone. Alatyr has an uncertain etymology. The word has been attributed to an altar,Brockhaus and Efron|1907—1909|p=31}}[2] the city of Alatyr, . According to Oleg Trubachyov, the word alatyr is of Proto Slavic origin and is related to the Russian word for amber: янтарь yantar'

According to Roman Jakobson in a review of Max Vasmer Etymological Dictionary of the Russian Language

The most precious and miraculous stone (stone for all stones) of Russian folklore, "alatyr" or "latir" is undoubtedly an Alternation alternative to the word "latygor" (from Latygora} and means stone, or amber, in Latvian.

In literature

In Russian folklore it is a sacred stone, the “father to all stones” the navel of the earth, containing sacred letters and endowed with healing properties. Although the name Alatyr appears only in East Slavic sources, the awareness of the existence of such a stone exists in various parts of the Slavdom. It is often mentioned in stories, referring to love spells, as "a mighty force that has no end.

In the middle of the blue sea lies the Latyr stone;
many sailors are walking on the sea,
they stop at that stone;
they take a lot of medicine from him,
sent all over the world white.
Because latyr-sea is the father of the seas,
Therefore, latyr stone is the father of stones![3]
Russian original text
Cреди моря синяго лежит латырь-камень;
идут по морю много корабельщиков,
у того камня останавливаются;
они берут много с него снадобья,
посылают по всему свету белому.
Потому Латырь-море морям отец,
Потому Латырь-камень каменям отец!
Под восточной стороной есть окиан-синее-море,
на том окияне на синем море лежит бело-латырь-камень,
на том бело-латыре-камне стоит святая золотая церковь,
во той золотой церкви стоит свят золот престол,
на том злате престоле сидит сам Господь Исус Христос, Михаил-архангел, Гавриил-архангел ...[4]
There's an ocean-blue-sea under the east side,
on that ocean on the blue sea lies a white-armor-stone,
on that white-latyr-stone stands the holy golden church,
in that golden church there is a holy throne,
on that golden throne sits the Lord Jesus Christ himself, Michael the archangel, Gabriel the archangel ...

Dove book

С-под камешка, с-под белого латыря
Протекли реки, реки быстрые
По всей земле, по всей вселенную —
Всему миру на исцеление,
Всему миру на пропитание...[4]
From underneath the pebble, from underneath the white plate
Rivers flowed, rivers are fast
All over the earth, all over the universe -
To the whole world for healing,
The whole world for food ...

In Polish folk Polish culture and Polish language the stone is located on the borderline of the worlds, beyond the places of human residence. On the stone, things are happening related to change or the state of waiting for it. It symbolizes the center of the world and the transition from one world to another, it is related to the dead and evil spirits. In folklore this stone is named white stone, cerulean stone, grey stone, golden stone, sea stone, heavenly/paradisiac stone, and less often black stone.[5] White stone together with water and a tree is in a sacred place. It is connected with fertility (a girl is waiting on a stone for a boy or waiting with him, waiting for her state to change, lovers are parting, etc.), death (Jesus dies on the stone) and lies somewhere far away (behind the city, behind the village, in paradise).[6] The golden stone occurs mainly in wedding and love songs, less often others and usually occurs with a lily (wedding flower).[7] God's feet are stones on which Jesus,Mary, Mother of God or the saints left their footprints, handprints or traces of objects (e.g. Mary tripped and left a mark on the stone; St. Adalbert taught on the stone and left a trace of footprints). These stones are directly called altars, sacrifices are made on them, are built into churches or church altars; they are considered sacred and have healing powers.[8] In Polish folklore there is also the devil's stone and as such it does not appear in cultures other than Slavic. This stone lies abroad in distant lands, but instead of prosperity brings misfortune. The folklore does not speak about the origin of the stone but about the fact that it was brought by the devil to demolish a church, castle or other building.[9]

In popular culture

  • The Legend of the Young Boyar :wikisource:ru:Дюк Степанович (Во той ли во Индии во богатой...)|Duke Stepanovich (In that rich India ...) (Duke Stepanovich)

An eagle is sitting on a stone, Whether on a stone on a plate

  • Poem by Konstantin Balmont|K. D. Balmont, :wikisource:ru:Камень-Алатырь (Бальмонт)|Alatyr Stone (1906)
  • Short story by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Alatyr (1914)[10]

See also

  • Atar


  • Shedden-Ralston|first=William Ralston|title=The Songs of the Russian People: As Illustrative of Slavonic Mythology and Russian Social Life|publisher=Ellis & Green|year=1872|edition=2|pages=|author-link=William Ralston Shedden-Ralston}}
  • Bartmiński, Jerzy (1996). Słownik stereotypów i symboli ludowych. Kosmos. 1, Niebo, światła niebieskie, ogień, kamienie [Dictionary of stereotypes and folk symbols. Cosmos. 1, Heaven, heavenly lights, fire, stones] (in polski). Vol. 1. Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej. ISBN 83-227-0901-3.
  • Template:Citebook



  1. Meletinsky 1990, p. 33.
  2. "Veselovsky" (in русский). Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  3. Nadezhdin, Nikolai. О русских народных мифах и сагах в применении их к географии и особенно этнографии русской [About Russian folk myths and sagas as applied to geography and especially Russian ethnography]. Vol. 8. p. 35.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Korinfsky, Apollon. Народная Русь (Коринфский)/Сине море (in русский).
  5. Bartmiński 1996, p. 349.
  6. Bartmiński 1996, p. 381-384.
  7. Bartmiński 1996, p. 384-386.
  8. Bartmiński 1996, p. 390-394.
  9. Bartmiński 1996, p. 386-390.
  10. Template:Citebook

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