An Ithyphallic Idol from the Monastery of St. Naum near Ohrid


  • Nikos Chausidis University of “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” - Skopje, Faculty of Philosophy, Institute of Art History and Archaeology, Skopje
  • Igor Eftimovski University of “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” - Skopje, Faculty of Philosophy, Institute of Art History and Archaeology, Skopje



stone idol, Paleo-Balkan Paganism, Slavic Paganism, Christianity, folk traditions, St. Naum Monastery, Ohrid (Macedonia)


The article presents a stone idol located in the courtyard of the monastery of St. Naum near Ohrid, discovered within its boundaries or somewhere in its surroundings at an unknown date. The authors offer a description of the monument, assumptions about its former appearance, and an analysis of its iconographic elements, with an emphasis on ithyphallicity and the pose of the hands. Through analogies, the article assesses the chronological and cultural affiliation of the idol, with arguments in favor of its potential Pagan-Slavic character. The monument is also observed in context of the mythological and religious traditions of the region, with a focus on the local cult of St. Naum and the legend of how he yoked a bear. In that direction, presented in the article are also the surrounding toponyms that contain Pagan-Slavic theonyms, with a predominance of those of a chthonic nature. The attribution and character of the idol is then derived on the basis of comparing its iconography with the domains of St. Naum as the depicted character’s Christian successor: agriculture, livestock, water, crafts, trade, as well as healing, especially of childlessness and mental illness.


Download data is not yet available.


Aarne, Antti; Thompson, Stith, 1961: The Types of the Folktale: A Classification and Bibliography. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica.

Akhmedov, Ilya, 2018: Matrices from the Collection of K.I. Ol’shevskij. The North Caucasian group of Early Medieval imprinted decorations, Nagy, M. and Szőlősi, K. (eds.), “To make a fairy’s whistle from a briar rose” Studies presented to Eszter Istvánovits on her sixtieth birthday. Nyíregyháza: Jósa András Múzeum, 505–527.

Anabaldi, Giovanni; Werner, Joachim, 1963: Ostgotische Grabfunde aus Acquasanta, Prov. Ascoli Piceno (Marche), Germania 41/2, 356–373.

Animal 2021: Animal Carrying off a Child // Princeton University Art Museum <> (08.05.2021)

Ardjanliev, Pero, 2014: The Hellenistic necropolis of Deboj-Ohrid with La Tène elements. M. Guštin, M and David, W. (eds.), The Clash of Cultures? The Celts and the Macedonian World, Manching: Kelten-Römer Museum, 77–84.

August 2021: August // Мacedonia Кroraina <> (08.05.2021)

Autoresh, Grup, 2015: Deshmi Monumentale ne Vuksanlekaj = A Monumental Testimony in Vuksanlekaj. Tirana: Mediaprint.

Bešlagić, Šefik, 1970: Stari malisorski nadgrobni spomenici u Vuksan Lekiću, Glasnik muzeja Kosova 10, 363-386.

Bober, Phyllis, Fray, 1951: Cernunnos: Origin and Transformation of a Celtic Divinity, American Journal of Archaeology 55/1, 13–51.

Borissoff, Constantine, L. 2014: Non-Iranian origin of the Eastern-Slavonic god Xŭršŭ/Xors, Studia Mythologica Slavica 17, 9–36.

Božiju bradu 2021: Božiju bradu možete videti i u jednoj gradskoj ustanovi // Zrenjaninski com <> (08.05.2021)

Broddenbjerg 2021: Broddenbjerg idol // Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <> (02.06.2021)

Bronze Tintinnabulum 2021: Bronze Tintinnabulum, Naples Archaeological Museum.jpg // Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository <,_Naples_Archaeological_Museum.jpg> (07.05.2021)

Celtic stone 2021: Celtic stone figure with torc and boar relief, Euffigneux, France // Allposters <> (08.05.2021)

Cernunnos 2021: Cernunnos // Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <> (08.05.2021)

Chevalier, Jean; Gheerbrant, Alain, 1987: Rječnik simbola. Zagreb: Nakladni zavod Matice Hrvatske.

Cynocephalus 2021: Cynocephalus with Axe and Child, 7th–9th century // Artmuseum Princeton <> (08.05.2021)

Čausidis, Nikos, 2005: Poganska religija Slavena u svjetlu ranosrednjovјekovnih materijalnih nalaza sa područja Balkana, Histria antiqua 13, 437–456.

Čausidis, Nikos, 2009: The Black Man in the Mythical Tradition of Macedonia. Kulavkova, Katica (ed.) Interpretations, Vol. 3, Figures of Memory: Black Arab. Skopje: Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 73–104.

Chausidis, Nikos, 2019: Does the hoard from Velestino in Thessaly belong to the Pagan-Slavic or Christian-Byzantine culture? Discussion on the occasion of the book by F. Curta and B. S. Szmoniewski,The Velestino Hoard. Casting Light on the Byzantine ‘Dark Ages’. palgrave macmillan, 2019. pp. 237), Patrimonium.MK, 17, Skopje, 2019, 364–388.

Chausidis, Nikos, 2020: Longstanding Sanctuaries in North Macedonia // Acta Musei Tiberiopolitani, Vol. 3, Strumica: NI Institute for protetction of cultural monuments and Museum Strumica, 151–169.

Chausidis, Nikos, 2021: N. Chausidis, Luristan Standards – Iconography and Semiotics. Skopje: Center for Prehistoric Research, 2021. (electronic edition)

Curta, Florin; Szmoniewski, Bartłomiej Szymon, 2019: The Velestino Hoard. Casting Light on the Byzantine `Dark Ages`. Pagrave Macmillan.

de Waele, Eric, 1982: Bronzes du Luristan et D`Amlash: ancienne Collection Godard. Louvain-La-Neuve: Institut supérierur d’archéologie et d’histoire, de l’art, collège Érasme.

Death erection 2021: Death erection // Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <> (05.04.2021)

Die schöne 2021: Die schöne Seite der hässlichen Krieger // Stuttgarter zeitung. Bildergalerie <> (08.05.2021)

Durham, Edith, M. 1909: High Albania, London: Edward Arnold.

Dynda, Jiří 2014: The Three-Headed One at the Crossroad: A Comparative Study of the Slavic God Triglav, Studia mythologica slavica 17, 57–82.

Dunleavy, Katherine, A, 2018: The Image of Priapus: Ambiguity and Masculinity in Roman Visual Culture (A dissertation submitted to the University of Bristol in accordance with the requirements for award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts. School of Classics). University of Bristol.

Ellis Davidson, Hilda Roderick, 1990: Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, London: Penguin Books.

Fowler, Ann; Blazevska, Silvana, 1996: Description of Ceramic Finds. Neidinger, William; Matthews, Eulah (eds.), Report on the 1996 excavation at Gevgelija, Republic of Macedonia: the second season. Houston, Texas, 1996, 18–31.

Garam, Éva, 1995: Das awarenzeitliche Gräberfeld von Tiszafüred, Vol.3, Budapest: Budapest: Akademiai Kiado.

Glob, Peter, Vilhelm, 1969: The Bog People: Iron Age Man Preserved, Ithaca (New York): Cornell University Press, 1969.

Goss, Vladimir, P., 2009: The Three-Header from Vaćani, Starohrvatska prosvjeta, ser. III - sv. 36, 35–54.

Green, Miranda, Aldhouse, 2004: An Archaeology of Images: Iconology and Cosmology in Iron Age and Roman Europe. London/New York: Routledge.

Gregory 2021: Gregory I, Letter to Abbot Mellitus, c. 597 <> (13.03.2021)

Guštin, Mitja; Kuzman, Pasko; Malenko, Vlado, 2011: Ein keltischer Krieger in Lychnidos Ohrid, Mazedonien. Folia archaeologica Balkanica 2, 181–196.

Guštin, Mitja; Kuzman, Pasko; Preložnik, Andrej 2014: Celtic helmets from Hellenistic necropolises at Ohrid. Guštin, M.; David, W. (eds.), The Clash of Cultures? The Celts and the Macedonian World, Manching: Kelten-Römer Museum, 85–106.

Halla 2020. Halla. Forum Wikińskie <>


Hansen, Svend, 2007: Bilder vom Menschen der Steinzeit: Untersuchungen zur anthropomorphen Plastik der Jungsteinzeit und Kupferzeit in Südosteuropa, Teil. I – II. Mainz: Deutsches Archäologisches institut / Eurasien-Abtelung.

Hensel, Witold, 1964; Early polish applied arts. Зборник народног музеја у Београду 4, 197–199.

Hirschlanden 2021: Hirschlanden Warrior // Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia <> (31.03.2021)

Idoles tubulaires 2020: Idoles tubulaires avec personnages à deux faces. Bronze – Luristan. Site officiel du musée du Louvre // Pinterest <> (22.07.2020)

Ilić, Veselin, 1988: Mitologija i kultura. Beograd: Svet kulture.

Ithyphallic figure 2020: A Luristan Bronze Ithyphallic figure of a Man, ca. 2nd millennium BC // Sands of Time. Ancient Art <> (22.07.2020)

Johansen, Øystein, 1981: En rundskulptur av tre fra Skjeberg i Østfold, Viking. Tidsskrift for norrøn arkeologi 44, 69–90.

Kahl, Hans-Dietrich, 2005: Kultbilder im Vorchristlichen Slawentum Sondierungsgänge an Hand eines Marmor-fragments aus Kärnten mit Ausblicken auf den Quellenwert von Schriftzeugnissen des 8.-12. Jh. Studia Mythologica Slavica 8, 9–55.

Kajkowski, Kamil, Szczepanik, Pawel, 2013: The multi-faced so-called miniature idols from the Baltic Sea area, Studia Mythologica, Slavica 16, 55–68.

Karwowski, Maciej, 2012: An Ithyphallic Celtic Figurine from Oberleiserberg. Berecki, S. (еd.), Iron Age Rites and Rituals in the Carpathian Basin: Proceedings of the International Colloquium from Târgu Mureş: 7-9 October 2011, Târgu Mureș: Editura Mega, 189–212.

Kurti, Dilaver, 1971: Gjurme te kultures se herschme shqiptare ne Mat. Iliria 1, 269–274.

Leńczyk. Gabriel, 1964: Światowid zbruczański, Materiały Archeologiczne 5, 5–60.

Magdalensberg 2021: Magdalensberg // Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <> (08.05.2021)

Maneva, Elica, 2001: A pagan slavonik amulet from Davina – A contribution to the Interpretation of its function = Словенски, пагански амулет од Давина – Прилог кон толкувањето на неговата намена. Мacedonian heritage = Македонско наследство 15, 41–55.

Matić, Vojin, 1972: Zaboravljena božanstva. Beograd: Prosveta.

Matičetov, Milko, 1987: Po sledovih medveda s Križne gore (Mednarodni pravljični motiv AT 1910 v hagiografiji, ikonografiji, literaturi in ustnem izročilu). Loški razgledi 34/1, 163–200.

Mesnil, Marianne; Popova, Assia, 2002: Le four mobile, image du monde, in: Beard, Ovens and Hearths of the Past. Archaeology and Baking Traditions of Agriculture Civilisations in Europe and the Near East. Bruxselles: Institut de Sociologie de l’Université de Bruxelles, 239–258.

Mikov, Lyubomir, 1990: Anthropomorphic Ritual Plastic Art – Sign: Symbol: Artistic Image. Bild-kunde, Volks-Kunde (Beiträge der III. Internationalen Tagung des Volkskundlichen Bildforschung Komittee bei SIEF – UNESCO). Miskolc, 171–180.

Milošević, Ante, 2011: Slika „Božanskoga boja“ – likovni i ikonografski pogled na konjanički reljef iz Žrnovnice u Dalmaciji. Pleterski, Andrej, Vinšćak, Tomo (eds.), Perunovo koplje. Ljubljana: Inštitut za arheologijo ZRC SAZU, 17–72.

Museum Silkeborg 2021: Museum Silkeborg <> (07.05.2021)

Pavlikianov, Cyril, 2015: Bulgarian presence inside and north of Mount Athos during the late 10-th and the early 11-th century - the evidence of the Slavic toponyms. Гюзелев, Васил; Николов, Георги, Н. (eds.) Европейският югоизток през втората половина на X - началото на XI век история и култура (международна конференция София, 6-8 октомври 2014 г.). София: БАН, 665–675. [Pavlikianov, Cyril, 2015: Bulgarian presence inside and north of Mount Athos during the late 10-th and the early 11-th century - the evidence of the Slavic toponyms. Gyuzelev, Vasil; Nikolov, Georgi, N. (eds.) Evropeĭskiyat yugoiztok prez vtorata polovina na X - nachaloto na XI vek istoriya i kultura (mezhdunarodna konferentsiya Sofiya, 6-8 oktomvri 2014 g.). Sofiya: BAN, 665–675.]

Pleterski, Andrej, 1995: Model etnogeneze Slovanov na osnovi nekaterih novejših raziskav. Zgodovinski časopis 49, 537–556.

Pleterski, Andrej, 2011: Wie auf der Erde, so im Himmel – himmlischer Hof bei den Slawen. Macháček, J.; Ungerman, Š. (eds.), Frühgeschichtliche Zentralorte in Mitteleuropa. Bonn: Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, 125–132.

Plichta, Alois, 1974: Čtyřhlavá modla z Plavče u Znojma, Vlastivědný věstník moravský 26 (1974), 151–164.

Popović, Vladislav, 1984: Byzantins, Slaves et autochtones dans les provinces de Prévalitane et Nouvelle Épire, Villes et peuplement dans l’Illyricum protobyzantin. Actes du colloque de Rome (12–14 mai 1982). L’École française de Rome, 181–243.

Possible 2021: Possible pre-Christian Slavic pagan idol statue from Serbia // Reddit <> (08.05.2021)

Prehistoric 2021: Prehistoric Times of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia - NM Prague 84.JPG. Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository <,_Moravia_and_Slovakia_-_NM_Prague_84.JPG> (08.05.2021)

Prehist. Settlements 2021: Prehistoric Settlements // Cultural Portal Municipality of Larissa <> (08.05.2021)

Priapus 2021: Priapus ~ Hummmm! God of male procreative power, the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. Viewed at the Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Izmir. <> (07.05.2021)

Profantova, Naďa; Profant, Martin, 2000: Encyklopedie slovanských bohů a mýtů. Praha: Nakladatelství Libri.

Roman lead 2021: Roman lead alloy figure // Portable Antiquities Scheme <> (07.05.2021)

Sastre Vázquez, Carlos, 1994: Vultus trifrons. ¿Una imagen antijudaica en el Ourense del siglo XVI?, Minius II-III (1993 -1994), 157–170.

Shqip. Arkeologike 1971: Shqiperia arkeologike. Tiranë: Universiteti shteteror – Instituti i historise i gjuhesise.

Skok, Petar, 1971: Etimologijski rječnik hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika. Zagreb: Jugoslovenska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti.

Stanković-Pešterac, Tijana, 2017: Priapus - Scattered Finds of a Complex Deity, Rad Muzeja Vojvodine 59, 23–44.

Szmoniewski, Bartłomiej, S., 2008: Two worlds, one hoard: What do metal finds from the forest-steppe belt speak about? Curta, Florin (ed.), The Other Europe in the Middle Ages. Avars, Bulgars, Khazars and Cumans. Lieden: Boston: Brill, 263–296.

Szmoniewski, Bartłomiej, S., 2010: The Antes: Eastern ‘Brothers’ of the Sclavenes?”. Curta, Florin (ed.), Neglected Barbarians, (Studies in the Early Middle Ages 32). Brepols, 53–82.

Teržan, Biba, 2001: Dolgoživ spomin: Prežitki halštatskega obredja v pustnih šegah na Slovenskem? Arheološki vestnik 52, 207–219.

Torc 2021: Torc // Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <> (08.05.2021)

Two Women 2021: Two Women // Princeton University Art Museum <> (08.05.2021)

van Twillert, Marianne, 2017: The Mysterious Cemetery Of Vuksanlekaj, Tuzi (posted on 03.01.2017) <> (06.05.2021)

Vandkilde, Helle, 2004: Tollund Man. Bogucki, P.; Crabtree, P. J. (eds.), Ancient Europe 8000 B.C.–A.D. 1000: Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World, Volume 1, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons/Thomson Gale, 26–28.

Váňa, Zdeněk, 1983: The world of the ancient Slavs. London: Orbis Publishing.

Vickers, Michael, 1977: Some Early Iron Age bronzes from Macedonia, Ancient Macedonia 2, Papers of the Second International Symposium (Thessaloniki 1973).Thessaloniki, 17–31.

Vinski, Zdenko, 1994: Uz problematiku starog Irana i Kavkaza s osvrtom na podrijetlo Anta i Bijelih Hrvata (репринт од 1936 г.). Vjesnik arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu 26-27, 67–84.

Votive Priapus 2021: Very Fine Circa 100-400 Ad Roman Era Bronze Votive Priapus Figurine // <> (12.03.2021)

Winged female 2021: Winged female // Princeton University Art Museum <> (08.05.2021)

Woman in Childbirth 2021: Woman in Childbirth, 7th–9th century // Princeton University Art Museum <> (08.05.2021)

Woman Running 2021: Woman Running with Lyre and Child // // Princeton University Art Museum <> (08.05.2021)

Worrell, Sally; J. Pearce, John, 2014: II. Finds Reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Britannia 45, 397-429 <> (07.05.2021)




How to Cite

Chausidis, N., & Eftimovski, I. (2023). An Ithyphallic Idol from the Monastery of St. Naum near Ohrid. Studia Mythologica Slavica, 26.