The God Perkūnas of the Ancient Lithuanians

in Language, Folklore, and Historical Sources

Nijolė Laurinkienė

The Kalevala Society
Folklore Fellows’ Communications 327
Helsinki 2023
336 pages
ISBN 978-952-9534-08-1
Available at the Tiedekirja bookstore for 36 €

The God Perkūnas of the Ancient Lithuanians is the most thorough and extensive work on the Lithuanian thunder god to date. This book’s nineteen chapters follow the god’s Indo-European origins through the evidence in histories, place names, and diverse forms of folklore, as well as how these relate to archaeological evidence and aspects of material culture.

Nijolė Laurinkienė’s empirically grounded study covers enormous quantities of primary sources in order to offer multidisciplinary perspectives that she situates in both diachronic and synchronic contexts. Laurinkienė considers continuities and reconstructions of the non-Christian religion and elucidates the rich and dynamic variation in the traditions that continued up through the transition into modernity.

The God Perkūnas is a fascinating and valuable work for anyone interested in pre-modern mythologies. The insights offered will be of relevance to researchers in a variety of fields, and the book also presents a wealth of primary sources, many made available in English for the first time, increasing the book’s value as a resource.


Read Online 1. Introduction
2. An Overview of Studies on the Lithuanian God of Thunder
3. Perkūnas in the Context of Indo-European Culture
4. Etymology of Perkūnas
5. Place Names Related to the Word Perkūnas
6. Names of the Thunder God
7. A General Description of Perkūnas
8. Perkūnas’s Attributes
9. Rituals, Prayers, and the Temple Dedicated to Perkūnas
10. The First Thunder in Spring
11. The Reason for the Discord Between Perkūnas and the Velnias
12. Perkūnas Hunts the Velnias
13. Perkūnas’s Spouse
14. Perkūnas in the Context of the Myth of the Celestial Marriage
15. Perkūnas’s Place and Role in the Pantheon
16. Supervision of Justice
17. Perkūnas: One or Many
18. Protection against Thunder
19. Closing Remarks
Works Cited

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