Triglav – the Three Headed God

Triglav - three headed god

Triglav is a three-headed warrior god. The Slavs pictured him as a god with three heads and golden bands over his eyes and mouth which he wears because of the frightening power of his eyes or, like the priests of Triglav’s idol believed, so he could not see the sins of humans because he is so fond of them.

Every statue, idol or sculpture of Triglav presents him with his eyes covered on all three heads. It is very likely that his three heads represent the heavens, earth and the underworld.

Triglav – Mystery God

The three-headed god Triglav is one of the most mysterious gods in the Slavic pantheon.

There are several theories that put him in different roles. One of those theories says that he is a symbolical embodiment of the supreme god himself in a sense that he sees all, Svarog’s heaven, Perun’s earth and Crnobog’s underworld.

This is somewhat backed up by his priests that say that Triglav  “rules the three kingdoms”, the heavens, the earth and hell and that he is invisible and the purest of deities that rarely comes down to earth because he doesn’t want to see the wrongdoings of men. The book of Veles leaves this possibility open with the sentence “We pray and bow to the first Triglav”, after that they immediately mention Svarog as the conceiver of all gods and after him Perun and Svetovid. The same sentence makes the other theory of Triglav not being the one god but the joint name for this “trinity” more believable.

Triglav’s Temples and Rituals

The biographies of the Christian bishop Oton of Bamberg from the eleventh and twelfth centuries provide information about temples dedicated to Triglav. Monk Ebo, bishop’s companion and biographer wrote that one of Triglav’s temples, in Stetin was decorated with pictures of people and animals on the outside. Those pictures were so well carved that you could think they were alive and the color was vivid and it didn’t fade under the influence of snow or rain. One tenth of all war loot was brought to the temple of Triglav so there were all kinds of weapons, gold and silver items and other valuables inside.

Triglav God

The statue, sometimes inside the temple itself and sometimes on the tallest of the three surrounding hills was smaller than the statue of other gods. The chronicles usually say that the statues of other gods were gargantuan, so big that “four oxen could barely move” them, the statue of Triglav is said to be very small. On the other hand, Triglav’s statue was made of pure gold and silver, with three heads with flaming hair and golden bands over eyes and mouth. When Stetin was christened, bishop Oton demolished Triglav’s temple, broke all three heads of its statue and sent it to pope in Rome.

The same biography describes the way Triglav’s priests prophesied the future in his name. Actually in all those prophecies, the central figure was the horse devoted to Triglav that had one of the priests by its side at all times. After the conversion of entire town to Christianity only the guardian of the horse remained faithful to the old gods and religion.

When a conquest was being planned nine spears would be put on the ground, elbow’s length from one another, and a priest would then ride the saddled horse over them exactly three times. If the horse didn’t touch any of the spears they would go to war but if he did, the people would give up that particular conquest. It is said that the saddle of that gorse was also made from gold and silver and kept in the temple next to Triglav’s statue, because Triglav’s priests believed that their god rides his horse at night to chase away the evil spirits.

Triglav’s name is preserved today in the names of the highest mountain peaks where his temples once stood.

Here is a song about Triglav.

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