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The Myth of World Creation from the Body of Primal Being – A Comparative Analysis, with an Emphasis on Macedonian Sources

Folkloristika 5/2 (2020): 91–121
Author: Andzela Gruber
Text: PDF


This type of creation myth appears in a vast number of cultures located at the various regions across the world, and is also dispersed across diverse historical periods. In the introductory part of the paper selected samples from world mythologies are being presented: Ymir, Purusha, Gayomard, etc. Traces of the myth have been recorded in folk literature, visual arts and ritualistic traditions of Macedonia, as well as in those of surrounding areas.

To reconstruct these aspects, we utilized cases from Macedonian folklore which employ storyline about hero-demiurge who kills and dismembers the monster – lamja (dragon). In the process of integration of the elements pertaining to our examples into the structure of basic creation myth of primal being, comparative analysis of characters, plot and other components has been applied. The analysis helped to discern the remnants of the original myth in plots of Macedonian specimens.

 It has been confirmed, at the level of characters, that lamja from Macedonian sources shows resemblance to pancosmic sacrifice from other sources, sharing following traits: it is female or androgynous; has demonic features associated with the rulers of water or underground domains; has multiplied body parts, gigantic proportions and macrocosmic attributes implying that her body subsumes three layers of the universe. The presence of mythical heroes in Macedonian sources has been identified and determined. Regardless of whether they are saints or local heroes, it appears that the persona who executes acts and functions similar to demiurge in other sources supports or completely performs the act of cosmogony. Congruence has also been attested concerning the relation of microcosmic to macrocosmic elements: out of the upper body parts (head, eyes, hair) the water surfaces, fluids and overgrowth have been created.

It should be notified that this research is far from being exhausted. There is a vast array of sources in folklore tradition of Macedonia and neighbouring regions that could be, through results of similar analysis, included in a database we strived to establish.
Keywords: myth, cosmogony, creation myth, cosmogonic elements, Macedonian folklore, lamja, primal being, St. George, sacrifice