Last updated
Caricature of Napoleon with a chort Das ist mein lieber Sohn.jpg
Caricature of Napoleon with a chort

A chort (Russian: чёрт, Belarusian and Ukrainian: чорт, Serbo-Croatian чорт or Čort, Polish: Czort and Czart, Czech and Slovak: čert, Slovene: črt) is an anthropomorphic malign spirit or demon [1] [2] in Slavic folk tradition. Chorts are often depicted identically to Christian devils, with horns, hooves, and a skinny tail.[ citation needed ] In Slavic mythology, a singular Chort is sometimes identified as a son of the god Chernobog and the goddess Mara. [3] [ page needed ] In folk Christianity, they are considered lesser minions of Satan.


Compare to Russian sayings (curses) "тысяча чертей" ("tysjača čertej") – meaning thousands of demons, "чёрт побери" ("čort poberi") – meaning as overtaken by the demon, the saying is often used as an acceptable version of cursing in Eastern Europe, "чёрт попутал" ("čort poputal") – meaning mixed up by the demon, "к чертям" ("k čertjam") – meaning to hell, and many others.


There are many theories regarding the origins of the Proto-Slavic word *čьrtъ. [4] One is that it is a substantivized t-participle of *ker- (to cut, to chop), which could be derived from a chort imagined as being lame (having one leg shorter). The words like Ukrainian kutsiy and Czech and Slovak kusý, also derived from *ker-, are one of chort's most common epithets. According to a more recent hypothesis, Proto-Slavic *čьrtъ represents a derivative of *čersti / čьrtǫ ‘to draw a line, furrow’. One way to interpret this derivation is reconstructing *čьrtъ as a supernatural Draughtsman in charge of determining human fate. Under this hypothesis, the original god of destiny came to be perceived as the bringer of death and then syncretised with the embodiment of all evil in the Christian tradition. [5] In Ukrainian, chorts are also known as haspyda, didko, irod, and kutsyi.

In Czech and Slovak culture

In Czech folk tales, čert is not an evil character per se. It is often trying to tease characters in selling their souls in exchange for something (money, power, completion of a task). This often ends badly for evil or greedy characters, who are tricked into getting useless gifts and then are carried into hell. Other times, čert changes roles from trickster to tricked as he loses a bet against a hero, who outsmarts him, winning his soul back. This way, čert is often tricked to build castle walls in a day, dig fish ponds or even whole river banks, move large stones or create hills and mountains. Sometimes, a positive role of čert is further emphasized, namely in modern or modernized folk tales. Čert is trying to bring evil characters to hell, he often helps or befriends heroes in this process and gives them various magical items and treasures.

The true form of Čert is often a smallish hairy man with a tail, horns and one or two hoofs. But he is a shapeshifter and he tries to trick characters in his nicer forms, before they even realize what he is. In these forms, he is often represented as pretty young man, count, or huntsman (see The Devil and Kate ). Often, this transformation is not (and cannot be) complete, so one can recognize čert by small horns hidden in black curly hair, or a single hoofed leg hidden in high boots.

Čert is not the devil, although they might have a lot in common. Sometimes, hell is full of čerts and is ruled by the devil (or archdevil) Lucifer.

In Turkic culture

In Turkic (usually neighboring Slavic) folklore its name is "Çor" (Chor). In Anatolia known as "Çorabaş" (Chorabash). Chors are spiritual creatures mentioned in the pre-Islamic texts and oral tradition who inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans. Folk narratives mentions that the Chors are made of fire, but also physical in nature, being able to interact physically with people and objects and likewise be acted upon. Like human beings, the Chor can also be good (Ak-çor, literally "White Chor"), evil (Kara-çor, "Black Chor"), or neutrally benevolent like humans. The exorcist is called "Çoraman" (Choraman) in Anatolia. There are two different kinds of Chura: Arçura , that comes from the forest and is married to the Orman iyesi, and Biçura , that comes from the cellar and is married to Ev iyesi.

See also

Related Research Articles

Devil Supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind

A devil is the personification of evil as it is conceived in many and various cultures and religious traditions. It is seen as the objectification of a hostile and destructive force.

A kremlin or kreml is a major fortified central complex found in historic Russian cities. This word is often used to refer to the most famous, the Moscow Kremlin, or metonymically to the government that is based there. The word is of Russian and Slavic origin. The word may share the same root as kremen. Some kremlins in Russia are called detinets, as for example the Novgorod Detinets.


Bies or bes is an evil spirit or demon in Slavic mythology. The word is synonymous with chort.

Veles (god)

Veles, also known as Volos, is a major Slavic god of earth, waters, and the underworld. His attributes are wet, wooly, hairy (bearded), dark and he is associated with cattle, the harvest, wealth, music, magic, and trickery. According to reconstruction by some researchers, he is the opponent of the supreme thunder god Perun. As such he probably has been imagined as a dragon, which in the belief of the pagan Slavs is a chimeric being, a serpent with a bear's head and drooping hairy ears. His tree is the willow much like Perun's tree is the oak. No direct accounts survive, but reconstructionists speculate that he may directly continue aspects of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon.

Baba Yaga Mythological figure, fantasy character, witch

In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a supernatural being who appears as a deformed or ferocious-looking old woman. In Slavic culture, Baba Yaga lived in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs.

Slavic paganism Religious beliefs, myths, and ritual practices of the Slavic people before Christianisation

Slavic paganism or Slavic religion describes the religious beliefs, myths and ritual practices of the Slavs before Christianisation, which occurred at various stages between the 8th and the 13th century. The South Slavs, who likely settled in the Balkan Peninsula during the 6th–7th centuries AD, bordering with the Byzantine Empire to the south, came under the sphere of influence of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, beginning with the creation of writing systems for Slavic languages in 855 by the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius and the adoption of Christianity in Bulgaria in 863. The East Slavs followed with the official adoption in 988 by Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus'.

Morana (goddess)

Marzanna, Marena, Mara, Morana, Morena or Mora is a pagan Slavic goddess associated with seasonal rites based on the idea of death and rebirth of nature. She is an ancient goddess associated with winter's death and rebirth and dreams. In ancient Slavic rites, the death of the Goddess Marzanna at the end of winter becomes the rebirth of Spring of the Goddess Kostroma (Russian), Lada or Vesna representing the coming of Spring.

Leshy Forest spirit in Slavic mythology, tutelary deity

The Leshy is a tutelary deity of the forests in Slavic mythology. The plural form in Russian is лешие, leshiye. As the spirit rules over the forest and hunting, he may be related to the Slavic god Porewit.

Pysanka Egg decorating tradition in Slavic countries

A pysanka is a Ukrainian Easter egg, decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a wax-resist method. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, "to write" or "to inscribe", as the designs are not painted on, but written (inscribed) with beeswax.

Oni is a kind of yōkai, demon, ogre, or troll in Japanese folklore. They are typically portrayed as hulking figures with one or more horns growing out of their heads. Stereotypically, they are conceived of as red, blue or white-colored, wearing loincloths of tiger pelt, and carrying iron kanabō clubs.

Supernatural beings in Slavic religion

Other than the many gods and goddesses of the Slavs, the ancient Slavs believed in and revered many supernatural beings that existed in nature. These supernatural beings in Slavic religion come in various forms, and the same name of any single being can be spelled or transliterated differently according to language and transliteration system.


Perkūnas was the common Baltic god of thunder, and the second most important deity in the Baltic pantheon after Dievas. In both Lithuanian and Latvian mythology, he is documented as the god of sky, thunder, lightning, storms, rain, fire, war, law, order, fertility, mountains, and oak trees.

Vyraj, Vyriy, or Irij is a mythical place in Slavic mythology where "birds fly for the winter and souls go after death" that is sometimes identified with paradise. Spring is believed to have arrived on Earth from Vyraj.

Shoulder angel Plot device used for an effect in fictional works

A shoulder angel is a plot device used for dramatic and/or humorous effect in fiction, mainly in animation and comic books/strips. The angel represents conscience and is often accompanied by a shoulder devil representing temptation. They are a useful convention for depicting the inner conflict of a character.


In Slavic folklore, the rusalka is a female entity, often malicious toward mankind and frequently associated with water. Folklorists have proposed a variety of origins for the entity, including that they may originally stem from Slavic paganism, where they may have been seen as benevolent spirits. Rusalki appear in a variety of media in modern popular culture, particularly in Slavic language-speaking countries, where they frequently resemble the concept of the mermaid.

Devil in Christianity The Devil in Christianity

In mainstream Christianity, the Devil is a fallen angel who rebelled against God. Satan was expelled from Heaven and sent to Earth. The Devil is often identified as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, whose persuasions led to the situation that Christian doctrine calls original sin and for which it sees Redemption by Jesus Christ as the cure. He is also identified as the accuser of Job, the tempter of the Gospels, Leviathan and the dragon in the Book of Revelation.

Deities of Slavic religion

Deities of Slavic religion, arranged in cosmological and functional groups, are inherited through mythology and folklore. Both in the earliest Slavic religion and in modern Slavic Native Faith's theology and cosmology, gods are arranged as a hierarchy of powers begotten by the supreme God of the universe, Rod, known as Deivos in the earliest Slavic religion. According to Helmold's Chronica Slavorum, "obeying the duties assigned to them, [the deities] have sprung from his [the supreme God's] blood and enjoy distinction in proportion to their nearness to the god of the gods".

Folklore of Russia is folklore of Russians and other ethnic groups of Russia.

Fiery serpents

A Fiery Serpent is an evil entity common to Slavic mythology, which presents itself as an anthropomorphic snake demon.

<i>The Devil</i> (Javid play)

Iblis is a verse play, tragedy in four acts of an Azerbaijani poet and playwright Huseyn Javid, written in 1918. Ideological credo of Javid is revealed in the play, a mystic flaw is strongly expressed and the poet's thoughts about a problem of human's happiness followed by the imperialistic war are reflected in the poem.


  1. Русские Народные Сказки»/Сост., вступ. ст. и прим. В. П. Аникина.-М.: Правда, 1985.- 576 с., ил.) (in Russian)
  2. Türk Mitolojisi Ansiklopedik Sözlük, Celal Beydili, Yurt Yayınevi (Pages - 143/144) (in Turkish)
  3. Bane, Theresa (2012-01-11). Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures. McFarland. ISBN   9780786488940.
  4. М. Фасмер. Чёрт // Этимологический словарь русского языка / пер. и доп. О.Н. Трубачева, под ред. Б.А. Ларина. — 2-е. — М.: Прогресс, 1986 (in Russian)
  5. I. Yakubovich. “The Slavic Draughtsman”. Etymology and the European Lexicon. Proceedings of the 14th Fachtagung der Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, B. S. S. Hansen et al. (eds.), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2017, pp. 529-540.


  1. Афанасьев А. Н. «Поэтические воззрения славян на природу». — М.: 1865−1869. — Том 3, глава 22 (in Russian)