Armenian Myths about World Structure

In Armenian mythology, there are tales about natural phenomena and heavenly bodies that used to explain the way the world is constructed. The exciting nuance about these myths is that all their characters share some traits with the Armenian people.

Let's start exploring the world of Armenian mythology!


Sky and Earth are the two major characters that used to shape the world in the eyes of Armenians. They are a loving married couple, in which Sky is the husband, and Earth is the wife. 

Sky, however, is also a city surrounded by high stone walls with copper gates. Sometimes this city is called the Heavenly City. It constitutes a light and sparkling palace with majestic arches. Everything shines and glitters in it, a miracle and nothing more! And there is no darkness or cold in the city, it is the "abode of immortality."​[3]      ⓘ 

Armenian Legend_Sky and Earth
Armenian Legend_Vahagn and Vishap

 
Between Sky and Earth, there is a crimson heavenly sea. During one of the thunderstorms, the sea connected Father Sky with Mother Earth, as the result of which Vahagn, the god of sun, war, and thunderstorms, was born.

Right after his birth, he entered a battle against vishaps (dragons), who were desperately trying to eat the moon and sun, which sometimes resulted in solar or lunar eclipses. Vahagn is a victorious warrior. Therefore, after the battle is over, the sun and moon always appear.​[6]      

 
Sun and Moon, in their turn, are heavenly children. When their father (Sky) ordered them to guard the world in turns, the brother Lusin (Moon) and the sister Arev (Sun) decided to cast lots on who was going to guard it at night. Arev drew the lot and became very upset; that was why the argument between the siblings broke out. When their father came up to find out what happened, he shamed Lusin and ordered him to guard at night and let Arev guard during the day. The brother did not argue and did the father’s will, but the sister reminded Sky that since she is a girl, she is shy to appear in front of people in broad daylight. The father gave his daughter a beam of needles so that she would throw them at the eyes of every person who would dare to look at her.[3]      

Armenian Legend_Moon and Sun
Armenian Legend_Sun and His Mother

 


According to another myth, the sun was portrayed as a handsome boy. Every day he lights up the skies for people while his mother, radiant and fair-faced Arevamayr, stays at home waiting for her son. The reason why there is night after daylight used to lie in the belief that every evening tired and inflamed Arev comes back to his castle and enters the pool, Lake Van, from which his mother Arevamayr takes him out and puts to bed.​[3]      
 

The other explanation for the day and night cycle was the following myth about Zhamanak (Time), a gray-haired elderly man who sits on a high mountain and watches over the regular change of light and darkness, day and night.


In his hands, Zhamanak holds two large clews, white and black, which he rolls down the mountain in turn. Letting go of one clew from one slope of the mountain, he unwinds the other from the opposite slope. Zhamanak rolls down the white clew - the dawn rises, and it gets light; unwinds the white clew and dissolves the black one - the sun sets, and a night falls.​[3]      

Armenian Legend_Zhamanak (Time)
Armenian Legend_Milky Way

 

It is also important to mention the myths about the Milky Way. Armenians have two different names for the galaxy: Hardagoghi Chanapar (Straw Thief's Path) and Tsir Katin (Milky Way). The origins of the two names come from the following two myths.


1. Once upon a time, the god of a foreign tribe sent his people to steal straw from the threshing floor of an Armenian god. The angels of our god struck the thieves with arrows, and the straw from their hands scattered across the sky, where it lies to this day.​[3]      

 
2. One female werewolf, Mardagayl, lived in a house as a daughter-in-law. One day, she was washing the feet of a guest who was going to spend a night at their place and noticed how plump his legs were. The daughter-in-law's appetite was evoked, and when everyone went to bed, she sneaked up on the guest, wanting to eat him. But the guest guessed her intention, immediately grabbed a dagger, and thrust it into her chest. The milk from Mardagayl's breast poured out right into the sky, and its trace was forever marked there. This way, Straw Thief's Path is also called Tsir-Katin (Milky Way).​[3]      




 

Armenian Legend_ Wilky Way
Connection Between
Myths and People
 
Reading mythological tales is an exciting experience, which gives you the possibility to discover a lot of cultural and social aspects of a society. After conducting a textual analysis of the myths, it became evident that the narratives reveal some characteristics of the local people that are still dominant among them. The myths point out the importance of family ties in the Armenian culture, the roles of family members, relationships between them, moral principles, as well as Armenian traditions. 
 

 

Share the myths about world structure that you know and tell about the connections you see between the mythological heroes and the Armenian people.