Ossetian mythology or Alan Mythology (Ossetian: Ирон мифологи, Дигорон митологи, romanized: Iron mifologi, Digoron mitologi) is the collective term for the beliefs and practices of the Ossetian people of the Caucasus region, which contains several gods and supernatural beings. The religion itself is believed to be of Scythian origin, but contains many later elements from Christianity, with Ossetian gods often being identified with Christian saints. The gods play a role in the famous stories about a race of semi-divine heroes called the Narts.


The uac- prefix in Uastyrdzhi and Uacilla has no synchronic meaning in Ossetic, and is usually understood to mean "saint" (also applied to Tutyr, Uac Tutyr, perhaps Saint Theodore, and to Saint Nicholas, Uac Nikkola). The synchronic term for "saint", however, is syhdaeg (cognate to Avestan Yazata). Gershevitch (1955) connects uac with a word for "word" (Sanskrit vāc, c.f. Latin vox), in the sense of Logos.

Dream journey to the land of the dead

Among them there are also some old men and women who, on the eve of Saint Sylvester, fall into a sort of ecstasy, remaining motionless on the ground as though asleep. When they awaken, they say they’ve seen the souls of the dead, sometimes in a great swamp, alternatively, astride pigs, dogs or rams. If they see a soul gathering wheat in the fields and bringing it to the village, they detect the omen of an abundant harvest.[6][7]
Julius Klaproth 1823

Kurys (Digor Burku) is a dream land, a meadow belonging to the dead, which can be visited by certain individuals (the shaman-like Kurysdzauta/Burkudzauta) in their sleep. Visitors may bring back miraculous seeds of luck and good fortune, sometimes pursued by the dead. Inexperienced souls may bring back fever and sickness instead. Gershevitch (with V.I. Abaev) compares the name Kurys to the mountain Kaoiris in Yasht 19.6 (Avestan *Karwisa), which might indicate that the name is a spurious remnant of origin legends of Airyanem Vaejah of the Alans.


Ossetian folklore also includes several mythological figures, including those in the Nart sagas, such as the warrior heroes Batraz, Akhshar and Akhsartag.

See also


  1. ^ a b Arys-Djanaïéva 2004, p. 163.
  2. ^ Chaudhri, Anna (1996), "The Caucasian hunting-divinity, male and female: traces of the hunting-goddess in Ossetic folklore", in Billington, Sandra; Green, Miranda (eds.), The Concept of the Goddess, Routledge, pp. 167–168, ISBN 9781134641529
  3. ^ Сау бараджи дзуар (in Russian)
  4. ^ Lurker, Manfred (1987), The Routledge Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons, Routledge, p. 30, ISBN 0-415-34018-7
  5. ^ Arys-Djanaïéva 2004, p. 165.
  6. ^ Klaproth, Julius Voyage au Mont Caucase et en Géorgie, 2 vols, Paris, 1823 vol. II pp. 223 ff.
  7. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo (2004). Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


  • Arys-Djanaïéva, Lora (2004), Parlons ossète, Paris: Harmattan
  • Dumézil, Georges, ed. (1965), Le Livre des héros: légendes sur les Nartes, Paris: Gallimard
  • Foltz, Richard (2019). "Scythian Neo-Paganism in the Caucasus: The Ossetian Uatsdin as a 'Nature Religion'," Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture". Vol. 13, no. 3. pp. 314–332.
  • Gershevitch, Ilya (1955), "Word and Spirit in Ossetic", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 17 (3): 478–489, doi:10.1017/S0041977X0011239X.

Further reading

  • Миллер, Всеволод, Осетинские этюды [Ossetian Studies] (in Russian) , published in 3 volumes
    • Осетинские тексты, vol. I, 1881 , folklore texts
    • Исследования, vol. II, 1882 , phonetics and grammar of Ossetian; religious beliefs
    • Исследования, vol. III, 1887 , history and ethnography, proverbs
  • Hübschmann, H. (1887), "Ossetische Nominalbildung", Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (in German), Harrassowitz Verlag, 41 (2): 319–346, JSTOR 43361867 , based on Miller's 1881 work
  • Dumézil, Georges, ed. (1976), Осетинский Эпос И Мифология [Ossetian Epics and Mythology] (in Russian)
  • Дзадзиев, Александр Борисович; Караев, Солтан Михайлович; Дзуцев, Хасан Владимирович, eds. (1994), Этнография и мифология осетин [Ossetian ethnography and mythology] (dictionary) (in Russian)