Friday 28 August 2015

Krkava Triglav stone

This is Krkavški Kamen (Krkava stone) also known as Triglav stone from Istria. Dating of the stone is uncertain but it is proposed that it was not built later than the 12 century and that it could be much older. It stands 400 metres southeast of the Krkavče cemetery, north of the path leading past the Gradišče field towards the Škrljevec hamlet.

The monolith is approximately 2.5 metres high and roughly hewed. Only 1.6 m still stand above ground and the upper part of the monolith is partially damaged. There is a stylised human image carved on both sides. 

It is an anthropomorphic image with widely spread arms, erect penis and with a crown of sun rays. 

In this the image from the Krkava stone resembles the "Lion man" stone from Armagh in Ireland. 

I wrote about this stone and its link with the Slavic Triglav worship in my post about Radegast.

The surface of the two images shows different treatment and the reliefs were probably made in two if not even three phases. 

The locals say that the stone once had three heads carved on its top which are now missing. Some say that it was only one head with three faces. Maybe like this one from Ireland:

This is why the stone is called Troglav, Triglav, the Three headed one. This Triglav is the the old European Trinity, Sun, Fire, Thunder, the three in one, the one which is three, the Trinity known in India as Trimurti. I wrote about Triglav worship in Serbian tradition in my post about Triglav.  

There are local legends that claim that in the field called Gradišče, which means "Fortified city" once stood a stone city and that the Triglav stone was erected by the people who built the city. Other legends say that the stone is older than the city. People say that the city was built by the king who had a golden calf...Other legends say the it was the Devil himself who lived in the old stone city and who had the golden calf. They say that the Devil went under ground to protect his gold. This is very interesting as in Serbia we also have legends of the evil king Trojan (Triglav) who lived in the old stone city on top of the mountain. Trojan, Triglav was in Serbia identified with Dabog, who later became Christian Devil.. Archaeologists have found Roman villa in the field, but there is an Illyrian fortress nearby. 

Locals say that the stone was once worshiped as holy. They say that according to the local lore, the stone is dedicated to the sun god. On the day of St. Vid people used to come to the stone to lay hands on the stone. St Vid is Christianized Slavic sun god Svetovid, who was originally celebrated on the day of the Summer Solstice. On Christmas eve, which is Christianized Winter Solstice celebration, people used to spend all night burning oak logs around the stone. This is the ceremony of rekindling of the fire of the Sun which is still performed in the Balkans for Orthodox Christmas. At the dawn the whole village would gather around the stone and celebrate the rising of the first sun of the new solar year. This is the rebirth of the young Sun god which Christians turned into the birth of Christ. In Serbian the word for god is "bog" and the word for young god is "božić", which is what Serbians call Christmas. The whole Winter Solstice ceremony around the stone was linked to fertility. I already wrote about similar ceremonies from Serbian territories in the Balkans in my post about threshing floors. These pagan ceremonies were condemned by the Christian clergy and were performed in secret and eventually abandoned. They were replaced by church processions following the same routes that the old pagan processions probably followed.  

There were many Christian processions which either started or ended at the stone or passed by the stone. The main one started from the stone and and ended in front of  the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. These processions took place on Rogation Days preceding Accession Day. The Accenssion Day is the old Beginning of the Summer ceremony, Beltane, the day of Jarilo, the Fire part of the Triglav. I wrote about Beltane, the Day of Jarilo in my post about the Beltane circle. It is very interesting that the procession ends at the church dedicated to the Archangel Michael. In Serbian tradition, Triglav was replaced by Archangel Michael who represents the lightning part of the Triglav trinity.

According to the local tradition the stone used to be used as a punishment, shaming stone. People who committed a crime were tied to the stone. They were then spat on and had insults and curses hurled at them. In recent times children were threatened with being tied to the stone when they did something wrong. Was this an ingenious way devised by Christians to replace the veneration of the holy Triglav Sun Stone with loathing of the Punishment and Humiliation stone? Or was the stone used as a shame stone even before the arrival of Christianity? In Serbian we still have an expression "to put someone on the pillar of shame" when you want to expose and shame someone for the bad deeds that he had committed. Is this somehow linked with the "prokletija" stoning ceremony about which I wrote in my last post? Were people who were tied to the Triglav stone originally stoned? Was spitting and hurling of abuse originally spitting and hurling of stones and abuse?

Archaeologists Pleterski and Puhar have proposed that the stone is part of a large spatial alignment. The stone and the four surrounding churches form perfect Latin Cross. 

The churches are all linked to the stone with well trodden paths once used for annual processions.  Local legends say that the churches were deliberately build like this around the stone so that they would "destroy the devil's power residing in the stone". But they were probably built on top of the old holy places which with the Triglav stone once formed the larger holy landscape dedicated to the celebration of Triglav, the old Trinity. 

You can read detailed study of the stone written by Jana Puhar and Andrej Pleterski in Slovenian here.


  1. Hi
    The stone which we can see now in Krkavce is only a copy.
    Original stone is located in the museum in Koper.

  2. This figure is very similar to Australia's Sky hero Biame which is typically depicted with outstretched or upturned arms - rays emanating from the head.
    Another Dhurumulan is similar also usually showing a distinct belt across the middle with a club foot or one leg longer than the other.