Open main menu

Lamaria (also Lamara or Lamia; Georgian: ლამარია) is a goddess in Georgian mythology, specifically of the Svan ethnic subgroup.[1] Like many other deities of the Svan pantheon, her name is derived from a Christian figure; in her case, Mary, mother of Jesus.[2][3] Lamaria is the goddess of the hearth, protector of cattle, and a protector of women – particularly during childbirth.[1][2] She also ensured the fertility of a village's grain fields.[2][4] She was also known as a patron of beekeeping, although that function was later assigned to the Svan interpretation of St. George.[5][6]

Lamaria is generally categorized today as a goddess of female functions and spaces. She was venerated by women either inside their homes in the absence of men (the "interior of the interior"), or in small shrines in uninhabited spaces outside a village's boundaries (the "exterior of the exterior").[2][7] This was in contrast to religious rituals performed by men for male functions, which were either performed at public rituals inside the home, or within remote churches far up mountainsides (the "exterior of the interior" and the "interior of the exterior", respectively).[2][7] Offerings made to Lamaria included cloth, jewelry, and beads. Sometimes, portable hearths were used for outdoor rituals involving Lamaria.[2]

Lamaria was also sometimes associated with or considered equivalent to Barbol, another goddess of feminine and domestic functions.[2] Some scholars have suggested that both originate from the same pre-Christian deity.[8] The French scholar Georges Charachidzé believed Lamaria was derived from an Indo-European deity, possibly the Ossetians or their ancestors, the Alans. He viewed Lamaria as a hearth goddess similar to the Roman goddess Vesta.[8] In contrast, linguist Kevin Tuite viewed her as a multi-faceted figure displaying Vestal traits as well as associations with remote wilderness, like the Khevsurian goddess Samdzimari.[8]

There was a festival in lower Svaneti called the "tower feast" which involved Lamaria. The festival revolved around a snow tower built by participants. A sacred tree would be placed at the top of the tower, and a figurine of the goddess would be attached to the top of the tree. The figurine was given a dagger and a wooden phallus, and its face was covered. A round dance would be performed and the tree shaken until the figurine's face covering fell off. Then the village's children would race to climb the tower and make the Lamaria figurine fall to the ground.[9] Anthropologist Kevin Tuite noted that the ritual had significant elements of liminality.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Jordan, Michael (1993). Encyclopedia of gods : over 2,500 deities of the world. Internet Archive. New York : Facts on File. p. 143.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tuite, Kevin (2006-02-20). "The meaning of Dæl. Symbolic and spatial associations of the south Caucasian goddess of game animals.". In O’Neil, Catherine; Scoggin, Mary; Tuite, Kevin (eds.). Language, Culture and the Individual. A Tribute to Paul Friedrich (PDF). University of Montreal. p. 9. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  3. ^ Aronson, Howard Isaac; Kiziria, Dodona (July 1999). Georgian language and culture: a continuing course. Slavica.
  4. ^ Bläsing, Uwe; Arakelova, Victoria; Weinreich, Matthias (2015-06-25). Studies on Iran and The Caucasus: In Honour of Garnik Asatrian. BRILL. ISBN 9789004302068.
  5. ^ Gamkrelidze, Thomas V.; Ivanov, Vjaceslav V. (2010-12-15). Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical Analysis of a Proto-Language and Proto-Culture. Part I: The Text. Part II: Bibliography, Indexes. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9783110815030.
  6. ^ Bechert, Johannes (1998). Sprache in Raum und Zeit: Beiträge zur empirischen Sprachwissenschaft (in German). Gunter Narr Verlag. ISBN 9783823351702.
  7. ^ a b Tuite, Kevin (2002). "Real and Imagined Feudalism in Highland Georgia". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2018-09-28.
  8. ^ a b c Tuite, Kevin (Spring 2000). ""Antimarriage" in Ancient Georgian Society". Anthropological Linguistics. 42 (1): 52. JSTOR 30028744.
  9. ^ a b Tuite 2006, p. 20.