Krakow boasts the world’s only known representation of a
Slavonic deity. The 8-foot-tall limestone idol was found in
the Zbruc river – once eastern Poland, now western Ukraine –
in 1848. Brought to Krakow in 1851, nowadays it ranks among
the most treasured exhibits of the
Museum of Archeology in Krakow
at 3 ulica Poselska Street.
A universe carved in stone.
Experts date the idol to the 9th century or later
and believe the square column - 2.57 meters tall, 0.32
meter long, and
meter wide - shows pagan cosmology of some forgotten Slavic
tribe. All four sides are sculptured, yet obscure carvings
on them differ. Still they fit into four layers with the
four-faced god Swiatowit on the top, the underworld at the
bottom, and mortals in between. Four sides, four godheads,
four levels of the universe...
Chief god of ancient Slavs.
For some Slavic tribes Swiatowit (a.k.a. Swietowit a.k.a. Svantevit) was the
leading god of their pantheon, the one responsible for war
and harvests. Some scholars identify him with the
thunderbolt-wielding Perun of eastern Slavs. Since the
religion of ancient Slavs is shrouded in mystery, Krakow’s
Swiatowit idol proves both a unique curio and an invaluable
if cryptic source on beliefs of peoples that once ruled over
the eastern half of the European continent.
Note: a replica of the Swiatowit idol stands at the foot of the
Wawel Hill east of the Royal Castle.