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The Earth-­Diver: Hungarian Variants of the Myth of the Dualistic Creation of the World—Pearls in the Primeval Sea of World Creation



In this paper, the author shall deal with the Hungarian variants of dualistic world creation myths. The aim of this paper is to shed some light on the nature of the connection between the Central‐East European Hungarian and South‐East European Romanian and Bulgarian myth variants. The Hungarian pieces are the westernmost variants of the dualistic creation myth‐group. Geographically, they stand close to the Romanian variants, but the serious motivational differences between the Romanian and Hungarian variants show that the descent of the two oral narrative groups are distinct. Both the Hungarian and the Romanian variants show similarities with the Bulgarian world creation myths, however, geographically they do not relate tightly. This is why a possible explanation of these correlations is, that the Hungarian and the Bulgarian myths have common Central Eurasian, South‐Eastern Siberian origins, upon which starting from the sixth to the seventh centuries the super strata of various gnostic influences have settled.
Inthispaper,theauthorshalldeal withtheHungarianvariants ofdualisticworldcreationmyths.Theaimofthis paperisto
shed some light on the nature of the connection between the Central‐East European Hungarian and South‐East European
RomanianandBulgarianmythvariants. The Hungarian pieces are the westernmost variants of the dualistic creation
RomanianandHungarianvariantsshowthatthedescentofthetwooral narrative groups are distinct. BoththeHungarian
andthe Romanianvariantsshowsimilarities withtheBulgarianworld creationmyths,however, geographicallytheydonot
relatetightly.Thisiswhyapossibleexplanationofthesecorrelationsis, that the Hungarian andtheBulgarianmythshave
commonCentral Eurasian, South‐Eastern Siberian origins, upon which starting from thesixth to the seventh centuries the
According to the legend, God created the world with
the help of the Devil. The basic idea is, that creation is
the result of the cooperation of two opposing forces,
forces personified by God and the Devil. The most
common and widely occurring motifs of these myths is
that in the beginning, everything was covered by water
(Th A810: Primeval water: In the beginning,
everything is covered with water; Thompson 1955),
but then God sends the Devil down to the bottom of
the sea to bring up some sand (Th A812: Earth Diver;
Thompson 1955). According to Count: “easily among
the most widespread single concepts held by man”
(Count 1952a: 55; Dundes 1962: 1037). He only
succeeds to do at his third immersion, for reasons that
differ in the various versions of the myth. The sand
brought up by the Devil is scattered by God, thus
creating the mainland. The variants of the myth show
that more than 100 further motifs may join this basic
subject, which often is thus broadened by the myth of
the creation of man (Dähnhardt 1907: 89-107). The
oldest known and accepted sources of the dual
Attila Mátéffy, Hacettepe University, Institute of Social
Sciences, Department of Turkish Language and Literature,
approach in creation narratives are the Iranian Avesta
(recorded in the sixth to the fourth century BC), and
the Zoroastrian Bundahishn1, a late Sasanid, i.e.,
Middle-Persian source (the seventh to the ninth
century AD; Dragomanov 1961: 24-27). The
Pentateuch of Moses from the Old Testament, which
includes the Genesis (I. Millennium BC) lacks the
dualistic approach and the concept of the primeval
water, but in the Book of Proverbs (Chapter 8: 22-30)
the dualistic approach is present. Nevertheless,
according to the Christian interpretation the
“Artisan” (“
arash” or “
oresh”) of the text is the
embodiment of the Godly Word, the Logos, not the
helper of the Creator.
The systematic research of the dualistic creation
myths, the most archaic layer of origin myths started
in the last quarter of the ninteenth century as a part of
the mythology studies that were flourishing
throughout Europe at that time (Nagy 1988: 104).
The book of the Ukrainian Mixailo Petrovič
Dragomanov (1841-1895), originally published in
Bulgarian from this very era, is the most
comprehensive work to date, using the richest source
of data: Notes on the Slavic Religio-Ethical Legends.
The Dualistic Creation of the World (1891;
Bloomington, 1961). Dragomanov is primarily
looking to find the place of the Slavic dualistic
creation tales and apocryphals within the
international material, but he touches on the entire
data known at the time: Oceania, North America,
South and East Siberia, the Altai Region and Inner
Asia, the Iranian Plateau, the Caucasus, the Middle
East, the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe.
However, from Central Europe he only has
knowledge of a Magyar Gypsy story (Dragomanov
1961: 65-67; Munkácsi 1894: 271)2, both the
Hungarian (Kálmány 1893; Bosnyák 1969; Bosnyák
1977; Bosnyák 1987) and Romanian (Pop-Reteganul
1895; Niculita-Voronca 1903; Brill [1970] 1981)
tales were published later. On a section of the
Hungarian Academy of Sciences on June 3, 1889,
Lajos Kálmány presented for the first time his study
on the Hungarian Creation myth-fragments collected
by him, and he read the whole text on January 11,
1891, at the reunion of the Hungarian Ethnographic
Society. His study appeared in print in 1893, first in
the German translation of Dr. Heinrich von Wlislocki
(Wlislocki 1893: “Kosmogonische Spuren” 90-115),
and then in Hungarian in the same year.
Dragomanov’s book appeared in 1891, the very
year when Lajos Kálmány (1852-1919)3, the
Hungarian priest and ethnographer, a pioneering
figure in the field work held a presentation before the
Hungarian Ethnographic Society about the myth
fragments he had collected amongst the Hungarian
peasants of the larger environs of the Hungarian
Town of Szeged. He is the first one who was
consciously looking for Hungarian dualistic creation
This study is a comparison of the motives of dualistic
creation myths. In addition, it makes an attempt to
draw cautious conclusions from historical sources on
the formation and migration of these myths.
Organising every single one of the narratives of this
dualistic creation myth into a chart, existent almost
everywhere in the world would transcend the frames
of this paper, therefore, only motives of the Hungarian
oral narratives—the focus of the investigation, with
their variants and their parallels in the international
material shall be consulted, with a particular emphasis
on the Romanian and Bulgarian oral narratives and
apocryphals, for having been collected in the
immediate geographical proximity of the Hungarian
variants. Already the comparison produced significant
results, recorded in the motif-charts at the end of the
Here is one of the important Hungarian oral-materials
collected by Lajos Kálmány:
When God created the world, the Devil requested the
drunken men’s soul from God, he said, whoever gets drunk,
may his soul belong to him. God, seeing, that the drunk man
repents on his deathbed, did not agree, but he said, that if he
would bring a handful of sand up from the bottom of the sea,
he would receive the soul of the drunken man. Indeed, the
Devil dived under to the bottom of the sea, but he could not
bring any sand up, so he didn’t get the soul of the drunken
man either. [Collected by L. Kálmány in the village of
Magyarszentmihály (Mihajlovo; Serbian Cyrillic:
Михајлово), Hungary; today Serbia; Kálmány 1893: 6;
Kálmány 2009: 177]
The other tale is not connected with world creation,
but it did preserve the motif of the sand brought up
from the bottom of the sea:
There was a man, who had a hobgoblin. One week it was
with him, and whatever he asked of it, it would bring it to
him. The other week the hobgoblin was with his son, and so
it always said: What, what, what? He said to it: Now you
bring me corn! The hobgoblin brought so much corn, that it
filled his yard; then he said: Bring me money! It brought so
much money, that the man became very rich. When he got
rich, he got bored of keeping the hobgoblin, he went to his
neighbour. What should he do with the hobgoblin, because it
was always under his armpit. He should send it to the very
middle of the sea to bring up a rope of sand. The man went
home, said to the hobgoblin: What, what, what? Go and get
me a rope of sand from the very middle of the sea! The
hobgoblin left, and never returned. (Collected by L.
Kálmány in same place; Kálmány 1893: 6-7; Kálmány 2009:
Through these fragments Lajos Kálmány correctly
recognised the obvious relation between the world
creation myths of the so-called Finno-Ugric peoples
(Cheremisses/so-called Mari, Ostyaks/Khanty, Voguls
/Mansi, Mordvins, Udmurts/Votyaks) and those of the
Altai Turks (Shors), recorded by Wilhelm Radloff.
Independently from each other, Kálmány and
Dragomanov both came to the same conclusion, that
no motif similarity can be detected between these and
the Finnish Kalevala, edited by Elias Lönnrot
(1835/1849) (Kálmány 1893: 3; Kálmány 2009: 175).
Dualism is not manifested in the origin myth of the
Finns (Dragomanov 1961: 15), nothing suggests a
common origin, except for the motif of the sea that
covers everything, spread all around the globe. Only
the researches in the beginning of the twentieth
century have proved, that South-Siberian
“Finno-Ugric” peoples had borrowed the most
dominant motifs of their world creation myths from
different Turkic peoples (Bashkir, Tatar, and Altai
Turkic) and Russians over the past centuries (vide:
Kustaa Fredrik Karjalainen: Die Religion der
Jugra-Völker, 1922; Nagy 2006: 63; Vargyas 1977:
102-103). Nevertheless, the author of the present
study does not agree with the use of the terms “Uralic”
or “Finno-Ugric”. The folklore of the Cheremiss,
Udmurt, Khanty, or Mansi is full of steppe nomad
influences right from their base strata, while Finn or
Estonian folklore differ dramatically. When dealing
with mythology, it is more appropriate to use the
names of wider geographical regions: Scandinavian,
South-Siberian, and Inner-Asian, etc. The proposed
“Uralic” mythology does not exist, end it never did; if
still, we could use the term, then the Bashkir, the
Chuvash, and the Tatar should also be a part of it,
while the Finn does not, and the Hungarian
categorically does not. The Hungarian cosmogony,
mythology and folklore layers predating the tenth
century are entirely of steppe (Central and Inner Asian)
and Caucasian origins and it exhibits no “Uralic” or
“Finn-Ugric” layer whatsoever. It is revealing, that
Magyar folklore and mythology only corresponds to
the so-called “Uralic” or “Finno-Ugric” mythology in
the case of elements, that are traceable all over the
Altaic World and/or everywhere in Siberia [Among
the Paleo-Siberian people: Yukaghir, Ket; among the
Altaic peoples: Tungus, Mandsu-Tungus, Yakut, Shor,
Buryat, etc.; vide: Napolskikh 1989; Nevertheless, the
statement of Napolskikh in regard of the migration of
the narrative in question is definitely false: “Out of
Siberia the DBM (Diving-Bird Myth) migrated
apparently only with Finno-Ugrians” (Napolskikh
1989: 106)].
The first complete Hungarian dualistic world creation
myth variant was found by the Hungarian folklorist,
Sándor Bosnyák in 1968 amongst the Moldavian
Csango ethnic group of Hungarians (or Csango
Hungarians), who live in the north-eastern region of
today’s Romania, especially in the Bacău County.
They speak an archaic Hungarian dialect and are Roman
Catholic, unlike the Eastern Orthodox Romanians.
The whole population of the Csango Hungarian
ethnographic group is about 320,000 people, of which
about 80,000-90,000 still speak Hungarian4, but the
number of Hungarian speakers has been declining for
more than two centuries. The archaic Csango dialect
of the Hungarian is one of the endangered languages.
The creation of the world. God, His Holiness and the
Devil were working together. Than God, His Holiness sent
the Devil to the bottom of the sea to bring up earth. Well, he
did grab some earth down on the bottom of the sea, but by
the time he reached the surface, the water washed the earth
out of his hands.
So he could not bring any.
Than he sent him down again, he again submerged to the
bottom of the water, grabbed earth, but he could not bring up
any. The third time he emerged he could not bring any either.
Than God His Holiness asked the Devil: Well, did you bring
He says: I could not bring any, because the water washed
it out of my hands.
“Good”. He says. “You did bring some, clean your
fingernails, there is earth underneath there”.
Than he cleaned his nails nicely, some earth got stuck
under his nails, so he cleaned it out. So they moulded it so
long, God His Holiness made it so long, that after six days it
was so big, that he stepped on it with on foot. Than, when he
stepped on it with one foot he said they would rest.
They rested. And when they rested, after six more days
the earth grew, grew so big, that they could both lie down.
And when they lied down in the evening the Devil started to
shove God His Holiness so he would fall into the water, and
sink. He could not push him over the edge, because the earth
grew on that side as much as he shoved God His Holiness.
That night the Earth grew very big. In the morning, God His
Holiness said: Well, what did you do? He says, all night long
you kept pushing me, He says.
Well, he says. I could not rest, I was so uncomfortable,
he says, I could not rest.
“All right, do you see, the Earth is big now”.
The Earth was big, now they needed to create something
on it.
He says: Let’s create.
Well, create, he says. God His Holiness said to the Devil.
Than the Devil kicked a clod, it became a frog. The frog
began to jump.
You see, he says, I can create.
All right, he says, but people need to be created too.
Than God His Holiness kicked a clod, and it turned into
a man. That man started to talk, and this is how man
appeared on Earth.
This is the way the old ones said.
The informant is György Máris. [born in Klézse (Cleja),
Moldova Region of Romania, in 1903; Collected in
Egyházaskozár, Hungary 1968. Bosnyák 1969: 463]
It has to be noted, that the material was collected
in today’s Southwestern Hungary, but the Csango
Hungarian informant was born in Moldova and
deployed to Hungary later. In the next 20 years, the
same ethnographer collected 28 further complete
Hungarian versions and fragments, one in today’s
Northern Hungary, in the village of Hollókő (variants
of this oral narrative were never identified), four
amongst Hungarians of Bucovina Region of Northeast
Romania, and 23 in Moldova (Bosnyák 1969;
Bosnyák 1977; Bosnyák 1987). As a result of his
work, others (Magyar 2003: 35-54, 125-126) started to
collect world creation myths as well, and so more than
40 more Hungarian myth variants (18) or fragments
(22) were noted down in Transylvania [part of
Romania since World War One (WWI)], the Délvidék
region (Hungarian for “southern land” or “southern
territories” or Vajdaság; part of Serbia since WWI),
Moldova and northern Hungary. But where do these
creation myths originate from?
In relation with the Hungarian dualistic world creation
myths, it has to be mentioned two other groups of the
myth: the Romanian and the Bulgarian variants. The
Bulgarian legends (Dragomanov 1961: 1-6; Strausz
1896: 196-199) are strongly connected to Bogumil
heresy, the Gnostic doctrines (Dragomanov 1961: 11),
and geographically to the Caucasus and the
Armeno-Paulician teachings (Dragomanov 1961:
72-73). The question arises whether we have to do
with the survival of a Bulgarian-Turkic (West Old
Turkic) tradition, who were themselves an early
successor people of the Huns. The nomadic and
semi-nomadic Hungarian tribes migrated to Central
Europe from the Caucasus and the lands north from
the Black Sea in 895 (and 14 years earlier, in 881),
they were already fighting at Vienna, as noted in the
Salzburg Annals: “DCCCLXXXI (...) Primum bellum
cum Ungari ad Weniam. Secundum bellum cum
Cowaris ad Culmite” [881. (...) The first battle with
the Hungarians at Vienna. The second battle with
Kabars at Culmite] (Monumenta Germaniae Historica
1934: 742), exactly as Bulgarians (Oghur Turks with
Scytho-Sarmatian and Sarmatian-Alan elements, the
same as the early Hungarians) did to the Balkans.
These are the words of Al-Bakrī (c. 1014-1094)
about—no doubt—the eighth to ninth century
Hungarians (al-Unqalus):
They are one of the Turkic tribes, and they are
neighboured by the Slavs. They bordered by the Buwayra
and the Buyaslaw countries in the West, Rus is in their
North, East of them are the Bechenag and the uninhabited
steppe. This lies between the countries of the Bechenag and
the Bulgars belonging to the Slavs. At South, lies a part of
the Bulgar country and a stripe of the unpopulated steppe.
They are a people that have no other God but the Almighty.
They believe in the God of Heavens and He is the only God.
(…) They migrated from Khorasan. Islam is prevalent there.
These Turks (i.e., Hungarians) redeem the Muslim and the
Jew if they fall into captivity in one of the neighboured
provinces. [Kitāb al-Masālik wa-al-Mamālik (Book of
“Highways and of Kingdoms”), 1068; Kmoskó 2000:
Without a doubt Al-Bakrī learned this detailed
data, unknown in any other source from al-Ğayhānī, a
scholar and statesman [Vazīr of Nar II (914-943 AD);
al-Ğayhānī was Manichaean/thanawī as religion in the
Muslim Khorasan; S. Janicsek 1928: 17] from
Bukhara in the Sāmānid Era (9th c.-941? Bukhara),
from a lost work of identical title (“The Book of
Highways and of Kingdoms” c. 870-920 AD; Kitāb
al-Masālik wa-al-Mamālik, a title of a very popular
type in the timely Muslim geography), that is to say
from the Ğayhānī-tradition. The claims of Terjumān
Mahmūd’s Tārih-i Ungurus (the sixteenth century;
after 1543; a copy of earlier Hungarian chronicles
from the age of Árpád dynasty or correctly the Turul
kindred; before 895-1301 AD; Mátéffy 2012: 948)
support the claims of Al-Bakrī:
And that region (the lord of which was Hunor) was
called the province of Jiddiya (Scythia). It was a Tatar
province that stretched from Samarkand to the Black See.
(Mahmūd 1988: 12)
Hunor is a Hungarian mythological or culture hero;
according to the Hungarian origin myth Hunor and
Magyar are two brothers, the personification of the
Huns and/or Hungarians/Magyars (Mátéffy 2012).
The “Tatar” ethnonym is a reprojection of the
chronicler; Terjumān Mahmud uses the definition of
Crimean Khanate or the “Khans’ land” for previous
centuries or even millennia, when the Khan or
Khanate did not exist.
And if Hungarians lived not only north from the
Black Sea (Maeotis) and the Caucasus, but also on the
territory of Greater Khorasan before 895/881 (the
Hungarian Settlement of Carpathian Basin), then in
Khorasan and the Caucasus they must have come in
contact with the Gnostic Christian (Manichaeist)
precepts from the sixth century on. These precepts
influenced their ancient cosmogony, and that is when
the figure of the Devil replaced the more archaic loon
maybe. Perhaps a common element of the Hungarian
and Bulgarian-Turkic, i.e., Post-Hun culture has been
preserved, surviving independently in the Hungarian
and Bulgarian folklore. Or maybe Hungarians
borrowed it later from the Balkan (Southern Slavic)
Bulgarians? Although the Bogumil heresy appeared
on the southern territories of Hungary in the twelveth
to the thirteenth century, after Alexios I Komnenos
expelled them from the Byzantium, this gnostic lore
never struck roots amongst Hungarians, in fact
Coloman of Galicia-Lodomeria (1208-1241 AD), the
younger brother of Andrew II of Hungary even lead a
crusade against them in 1237 (Nagy 1979: 326).
The other group of variants is the Romanian one. Up
to now, we know of seven relatively complete
Romanian tales, quoted by the legend catalogue of
Tony Brill published in 1970 (Brill 1981: 178-179;
Ráduly and Faragó 1990: 260). It was published
initially in the collection of Pop-Reteganul
(Pop-Reteganul 1895: 192-193).
(Banat Romanian version, extract to content). In the
beginning, there was only darkness and water everywhere.
On the water there was God and the Devil, each in a punt.
The Devil’s only concern was to find a way to turn God’s
punt over. God knew this, so he sent the Devil to the bottom
of the sea. This found mud and sand in the deep, but the sand
was washed out of his hand on his way up. He dived a
second time; this time, he filled his mouth with sand too, but
a small amount of earth also remained under his long
fingernails. God got it out, and moulded an Earth big enough
for both of them to fit on. Later, on God’s command, the
Devil spit out the mud he had in his mouth too. God kneaded
this together with the other piece of Earth, but he also
moulded the Devil into it, locking him in. This is how Hell
was created. On the surface of the Earth, God created the
world as we know it. (translated and summarized from
Romanian to Hungarian and from Hungarian to English)
According to the Hungarian researcher Ráduly,
however, if we find the fragments too, a rich tradition
of world creation tales still lives in the Romanian
folklore (Ráduly and Faragó 1990: 260). It seems
logical to assume: The dualistic world creation myths
spread to the northwest to settle into Romanian and
Hungarian traditions under the influence of the Balkan
(Slavic) Bulgarians, deeply affected by the Christian
Gnostic, heretical Bogumil culture. The fact is,
however, that the most complete Hungarian and
Romanian oral narratives (and never apocryphals) all
were collected in the northeast Romanian Moldova
Region, and we have not one tale from the region that
stretches from the Balkans to Moldova that we can
regard to as complete. Thus, geographically the
Bulgarian influence cannot be verified. In the mean
time, it is also of great interest, that we know dualistic
world creation myth fragments from the former
South-Hungary (todays’ North-Serbia; Kálmány 1891:
178; Kálmány 1893: 6-9; Kálmány 2009: 177-178,
180, 230), e.g., the most characteristic motif of the
earth brought up from the bottom of the sea, and we
have a complete (but short) tale from Northern
Hungary (Hollókő, Palócföld Region). These
Hungarian tales are the westernmost variants of the
dualistic world creation myths (with their exception of
the Austrian Slovene legend known in single variant;
Dragomanov 1961: 90) unknown in Western Europe
(Lutz 1966: 223-224), but spread all around in Central
Eurasia, Oceania, and North America (Rooth 1957).
But regardless of the world creation myths, stories of
the type of “the peregrination of Christ and Saint
Peter” are known everywhere, where Hungarian is
spoken, as much as in Western Europe, where there is
no world creation, but we do have the antagonism,
opposition of the successful creation (Christ) and the
unsuccessful one (Saint Peter).
We have seen that there is no geographical
connection between the Hungarian and Romanian,
respectively the Bulgarian myth variants, when most
Hungarian and Romanian myths were collected in a
very restrained region, the northern part of Moldova,
where Catholic Hungarians and Orthodox Romanians
live side by side in ethnically mixed villages; or
rather the Csango Hungarian villages are settled down
as islands among the sea of the Romanian ones. Due
to the imprecision of the Romanian collection, we do
not know, which North Moldavian villages they were
collected from, while all the locations, dates and
informants of the Csango Hungarian stories are
known. What do the particular motifs of the myth
show us?
We see that the Hungarian and the Romanian oral
narratives exhibit differences exactly in the case of the
most characteristic motifs, and only the basic ones
known all over the world match. The relation of the
Altaie Turkic (Tuvan, Shor, Tofalar, etc., the different
Turkic people of the Altai Mountains)—Mongolian
mythology is a good analogy to the matter of origins
and folklore relations. Dragomanov has proved
without a doubt that the influence of the Iranian
Manichaeism spread to the Altai Region in the north,
and quite a number of common motifs prove, that
Mongolians later adapted them (Dragomanov 1961:
40-49). What is the situation in the case of the
Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Romanian myths? The
author managed to differentiate 12 motifs of the
Hungarian oral tales and fragments:
(1) The whole world is covered by sea;
(2) God and the Devil work together;
(3) God sends the Devil down to the bottom of the
(4) The Devil winkles out the sand/earth from
under his nails;
(5) God kneaded the earth brought up by the Devil
for six days;
(6) They lie down to rest on the earth that God
(7) The Devil started to shove God, to push him
off the earth into the sea;
(8) The Devil wanted to create man, but the result
was only a frog;
(9) God creates the first man/Adam from
(10) God scatters the earth brought up from the sea,
from which the mainland forms;
(11) The Devil wants the soul of the drunk (dead)
man from God (he does not get it);
(12) The world is held by two/three fish/whale.
As one could see from the Hungarian and
Romanian oral narratives, the basic motif of the group
of myths spread all over the world is common, that is
the diving to the bottom of the sea, the sand winkled
out from the Devil’s nails, the moulding of the earth
and that the Devil keeps shoving God trying to push
him into the water. All these motifs are found in the
Altai Turkic myths collected by Radloff and Verbitsky,
and maybe they are human universals (Dundes 1962:
1036). In the most complete Hungarian myth, we have
the scene of the Devil attempting to create man, but
the result is a frog; this very archaic motif can be
found in the Bundahishn text and amongst the Altai
Turks, but we do not know of any Romanian variant
that would contain it.
At this moment, the author thinks that the Hungarian
and the Romanian variants are sprung from different
origins but they influenced each other during the past
centuries. The nomad and semi-nomad Hungarian
tribes brought with themselves their dualistic
perceptions on world creation in the ninth century,
that were common with those of Bulgarian Turks, who
shared similar perceptions of cosmogony, while
Romanian perceptions are mainly of South Slavic
origin. The fact, that the motif of God searching for a
companion is entirely absent from the Hungarian
myths and fragments—a common motif of the
Romanian and Bulgarian pieces, is an argument for
this. As unambiguously shown by the motive-chart
compiled by the author, of the motives of the
Cheremiss, Khanti, Mansi, Udmurt, etc. (wrongly
“Uralic” and correctly “South-western Siberian”),
narratives, and the 12 motives from the Magyar
(Hungarian) oral narratives and fragments of the
Dualistic Creation of the World none occur
exclusively in these tales. This objective result,
founded on specific folklore material points out the
flaws or inaccuracy of the research method based on
preconception (Nagy 1977: 614; Nagy 1988: 117-118;
Nagy 1989: 1155; Bosnyák 1969: 4626; Bosnyák 1987:
349; Hoppál and Pentikäinen 1989; Hoppál 2011:
69-86; etc.), that proceeds from a supposed, but never
proven paradigm of a “Uralic community”, and goes
to prove that it is a grave error of methodology to
force Hungarian cosmogony, mythology and folklore
into such a hypothetical community based on
preconception. The most archaic strata of Magyar
cosmogony, mythology, and folklore are of Central
and Inner Asian origin. The author has counted more
than 100 motifs of the Central Eurasian, Oceanian,
and North American myth variants. He has started to
organise these into charts, he expects this to be a
wearisome and lasting task. When he will have
finished this, the questions shall be answered.
The whole world is covered by sea [Thompson (Th.)
A 810. Primeval water] (see Table 1a, Table 1b, and
Table 1c);
1/a. In the beginning, it is darkness everywhere;
1/b. God (the first existing being) is hovering
around in a punt/boat/rock (Th. A 810.1. God and
Devil fly together over primeval water; Th. A 813.
Raft in primeval sea);
1/c. God/the first existing being and/or his
companion is flying around in the shape of a bird or
an aquatic mammal (Th. A 810.1. God and Devil fly
together over primeval water);
God (Creator) and the Devil work together;
2/a. God is looking for a companion (similar to Th.
A 832. Creation because of creator’s lonesomeness);
2/a.a. God offers the Devil to be his little brother;
2/a.b. God does not want to except the Devil as his
brother against the Devils’ offer, but he would except
him as a companion;
2/b. The variants of the original pure Dualism;
God sends the Devil down to the bottom of the sea
(Th. A 811. Earth brought up from bottom of primeval
water; Th. A 812 Earth diver. From a raft in the
primeval sea, the creator sends down animals to try to
bring up earth.);
3/a. He sends him down several (usually three)
3/a.a. When bringing up earth the Devil has to say
“in the name of God”;
3/a.b. The earth burns the Devil on the bottom of
the sea;
3/b. God sends an angel to the bottom of the sea to
fetch some earth;
The Devil winkles out the sand/earth from under
his nails;
4/a. Brings up earth in his mouth;
4/b. Brings some earth up for himself too;
God kneaded the earth brought up by the Devil for
six days;
5/a. Only the motive of moulding the earth without
mention of the number of days;
They lie down to rest on the earth that God
The Devil started to shove God, to push him off
the earth into the sea;
7/a. The earth starts to grow;
Table1.PreliminaryTabulationoftheHungarianMotifsandTheirSelectedInternational Variants(“The
Hungarian Yakut Altaic(Shor) Mongolian Bulgarian Rom. GeorgianVasyugan
1. + + + + + + + + +
1/a. (+) + +
1/c. +(Swallow) +(Black
+ (Birdof
Galbinga) 
2. + + + + + + + + +
2/a. + + + + +!
2/a.a. + +!
2/a.b. + +
2/b. +
2/c. +!(1+2) +!(1+2) +!(2+1) +(1+2+1)
3. + + + + + + + + +
3/a. + +!(2+1x) +!(2x) +!(2x)
3/a.a. + + + +!
3/a.b. +!
+ + +
4. + + +
4/a. + + + +
4/b. +! +!
5. +! +! +(7days)
5/a. +! ‐ +!
6. + +! +!
7. + +
+ + +
7/a. +! +! +! +! +! +!
7/a.a. ‐ +!
8. +
8/a. +!(Frog;fly)
8/b. +!
8/c. +! +!
8/d. +
(v:11.) + + +
Table 1a continued
Hungarian Yakut Altaic(Shor) Mongolian Bulgarian Rom. GeorgianVasyugan
8/e. + + + +
9. + + + + + +
9/a. + + + + +
9/b. +! +!
10. + + + + + + +
11. +
man) +(Dead
man) 
12. + + +(2turtles)
Notes:Rom.= Romanian; Banat Rom. =BanatRomanian;*Csid(Cinod)isaCngóHungarianvillageinHarghitaCounty,
Gipsy Russian Ukr. Belarus Yuma Algonquin
1. + + + + + + + + +
1/a. +(Fog) +
1/b. +(Boat) +(ship)
1/c. +(Diver
doves) 
2.++ +++++ ++
2/a. +!
2/a.a. +
2/a.b.  
2/b. +!
2/c. +(1+2+
Peter, St.
3.++ +++++ ++
3/a. + + + +(4x)
3/a.a. +! +
3/a.b. +!
3/b. + + +
4.  +
4/a. + + + + + +
4/b. +! +!
5.  
6. +
7. + +(Wantsto
7/a.  
7/a.a. +
Table 1b continued
Gipsy Russian Ukr. Belarus Yuma Algonquin
8. +
8/b. +! 
8/c.  
8/d.  +
8/d.a.  
8/e. + + + + + +
+ +
+ 
9/b.  
10. + + + +
11.  
12. + 
Arikara Bundahishn
Old Testam.
Other North
1. + + + (+) +
+ +
1/b. +(Raft)
1/c. +(2ducks) +(Drake) +(Goose;
2. + + +(Lord&
“co‐artisan”) + + +
2/c. +(1+2+
2) +(1+2) +(1+2)
3. + + + + +(Forbones)
3/a. +
Table 1c continued
Arikara Bundahishn
Other North
4. +
4/a. + +
5. +
5/a. +
6. +(6times:herestedfor 5
days) + + (JustGod/
Yuma) 
8/d. +
11.) +
8/e. + + +
9. +!
9/a. +!
10. +
12. +(Turtle)
Notes:Thedifferentmythvariantsandfragmentsofanethnicgrouphavebeenintegratedinthetabling(Table 1a,Table 1b,
7/a.a. The Devil blesses the created earth by taking
God toward the four corners of Earth;
The Devil wanted to create man but the result was
only a frog (i.e., the Devils’ unsuccessful attempt to
8/a. The result was only a frog;
8/a.a. The result was some other harmful creature;
8/b. The creation of the Devil turns to dust or falls
to pieces;
8/c. The first woman is created by the Devil;
8/d. The Devil creates the opposite of everything;
8/e. The Devil creates the mountains, creeks,
crevices, or bogs (bad) onto the flat world (good)
created by God (similar to Th. A 964. Mountains [hills]
from ancient contest [fight]);
God creates the first man/Adam from
9/a. God breathes soul into the first man;
9/b. The Devil strikes the first man;
God scatters the earth brought up from the sea,
from which the mainland forms (Th. A 814. Earth
from object thrown on primeval water);
The Devil wants the soul of the drunk (dead) man
from God (he does not get it),
The world is held by two/three fish/whales/angels
(Th. A 844. Earth rests on turtle’s back).
12/a. The world quakes because the (3) whales
1. “Primal Creation”; Retrieved from
2. Translation from German into Hungarian from the book of
Wlislocki, von H.: Aus dem Volksleben der Zigeuner.
(From the Folklife of Gypsies. No year). Dragomanov have
mentioned in the 34. Note (P. 145), just a motivical
correspondence between a Hungarian folktale and a
Bulgarian and the Central Asiatic variant. This motif can be
the “8/c.a. The first woman is created out of the dog’s tail”
in the attached table of this paper (see also Strausz 1896:
3. The “Pearl” metaphor in the title of this paper comes up in the
first paragraph of Lajos Kálmány’s work, and the author of
the present study chose it as the title of his writing to express
his respect to Kálmány.
4. Retrieved from
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concerning our Finno-Ugric traditions. Scholars have been
spurred by the idea to construct a Hungarian mythology
similar to Finno-Ugric mythology for close to a century. To
evaluate this series of experiments is the task of the history
of science”.
6. Later, he has revised and corrected his earlier flawed point of
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Attila Mátéffy, MA from University of Szeged, Ph.D.
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Two Aztec deities, Yacateuctli and Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, both known as patrons of the Aztec merchant class, derive from different major deity complexes yet share an association with diving waterfowl. This association originates in the pan-American tradition of the Earth-Diver, a motif previously unrecognized in the limited corpus of Aztec cosmogonical myth. By virtue of their affiliation with the Earth-Diver, Yacateuctli and Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl invoke the demiurgical powers of mediation and acquisition to promote the mission of the merchants as the vanguard of Aztec political expansion. An examination of the relationship of the two deities to so ancient and widespread a symbolic tradition allows some insight into the structure of the Aztec pantheon as a whole. Further implications of the Earth-Diver motif for Aztec ideology are suggested by the unique physical circumstances of Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco, island home of the Mexica ethnic group and capital of the Aztec empire.
Earth,Diver: Creation of the Mythopoeic Male ALAN DUNDES University of Kansas EW anthropologists are satisfied with the present state of scholarship with respect to primitive mythology. While not everyone shares Levi-Strauss's extreme pessimistic opinion that from a theoretical point of view the study of myth is very much the same as it was fifty years ago, namely a picture of chaos (1958: 50), still there is general agreement that much remains to be done in elucidating the processes of the formation, transmission, and functioning of myth in culture. One possible explanation for the failure of anthropologists to make any notable advances in myth studies is the rigid adherence to two fundamental principles: a literal reading of myth and a study of myth in monocultural context. The insistence of most anthropologists upon the literal as opposed to the symbolic interpretation, in terms of cultural relativism as opposed to transcultural universalism, is in part a continuation of the reaction against 19th century thought in which universal symbolism in myth was often argued and in part a direct result of the influence of two dominant figures in the history of anthropology, Boas and Malinowski. Both these pioneers favored studying one culture at a time in depth and both contended that myth was essentially nonsymbolic. Boas often spoke of mythology reflecting culture, implying something of a one-to-one relationship. With this view, purely descriptive ethnographic data could be easily culled from the mythological material of a particular culture. Malinowski argued along similar lines: Studied alive, myth, as we shall see, is not symbolic, but a direct expression of its subject matter (1954: 101). Certainly, there is much validity in the notion of my­ thology as a cultural reflector, as the well documented researches of Boas and Malinowski demonstrate. However, as in the case of most all-or-nothing approaches, it does not account for all the data. Later students in the Boas tradition, for example, noted that a comparison between the usual descriptive ethnography and the ethnographical picture obtained from mythology revealed numerous discrepancies. Ruth Benedict (1935) in her important Introduction to Zuni Mythology spoke of the tendency to idealize and com­ pensate in folklore. More recently, Katherine Spencer has contrasted the correspondences and discrepancies between the ethnographical and mytho­ logical accounts. She also suggests that the occurrence of folkloristic material which contradicts the ethnographic data may be better explained in psycho­ logical than in historical terms (1947:130). However, anthropologists have tended to mistrust psychological terms, and consequently the pendulum has not yet begun to swing away from the literal to the symbolic reading of myth. F
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