ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Uchaykina, Natalya (Saransk)

nyomtatható változat

Language and Myth

A myth is the first step of the emotional and conceptual interpretation of the world. Traditions reflected in myths are a guarantee of preserving national cultures and ethnic identities. Ethnos is the environment for the development of a human being. It is a condition for developing a sense of spiritual self. Studying the mythological system of a nation allows to reveal the intrinsic characteristics and basic ideological concepts. This knowledge promotes the development of the dialogue between various cultures.
The mythological system of the Mordvins is a linguistic view of emotional and conceptual interpretation of the world. This awareness is feminine. The Mordvin people have many heathen goddesses in the Pantheon: Varmava (varma ’wind’) is the patroness of the wind, Ved'ava (ved' ’water’) is the patroness of the water, Vir'ava (vir' ’forest’) is the patroness of woods, Kovava (kov ’moon’) is the patroness of the moon, Mastorava (mastor ’ground, earth’) is the patroness and the mistress of the earth; Tolava (tol ’fire’) is the patroness of the fire, etc. The Mordvin word Ava means a woman, a mother. Female domination testifies to the gentle nature and tolerance of the Mordvinian nation, as well as its fondness for women. At the same time, this fact tells about the vital energy and force of the Mordvins. A woman is primarily a Mother; her sacredness involves her ability to bear children – to bring someone into life. This explains the special attitude to women reflected in the ceremonial rituals of the Mordvins.
The symbolism of a mythological system is obvious. It is expressed by poetic images of national legends, songs, heroic ballads, and by those of the national epic. The main theme is the genesis of the world and of good and evil spirits existing in it. The personification of good and evil is natural for the early development of a spiritual culture. For example, in the myths of the Mordvin people, good and evil spirits are created by the Supreme God Čipaz (Erzia) or Škaj (Moksha). Both a visible world and an invisible one depend on him (či means ’sun’, paz means ’god’). It is necessary to note that the creation of the Mordvin mythological system was interrupted by christianization. This is proved by the fact that the chief pagan deity of the Mordvins has not been given the umbrella designation and has different names: the Mokshans call him Škaj, Škabavaz (ška ’time’, bavaz/pavaz ’happiness’), Šipaz (ši ’sun, day’), Oc'u Škaj (oc'u ’big’), Värə Škay (värə ’top’). The Erzyans call this deity Čipaz or Verepaz (vere ’top’).
The polysemy of mythological images carries sacral information on the world. The study of mythological systems of different peoples is required for the clarification of the spiritual sources of human culture. We propose the thesis that the preservation of linguistic traditions and ethnic identity are interconnected. It is impossible to imagine a spiritual culture without the variety of national cultures. They are vital to the development of spiritual culture, because they impregnate it with traditions, bright images of myths in which a human being, nature and space are self-valuable and merged into a harmonious whole. Adopting and developing this sophisticated approach to the awareness of the universe make it possible to develop material and spiritual cultures.


1.      Devyatkina T. P., Mifologiya Mordvy. Saransk, 2005. 124 p.
2.      Mokshin N. F., Mifologiya Mordvy: Ethnogr. spravka. Saransk: Mordovskoye knizhnoye izdatelstvo, 2004. 320 p.
3.      Yurchonkova N. G., Mifologiya Mordovskogo Etnosa: genesis i transformatsii. Saransk, 2009.  412 p.

In Russian.