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Welchanos

by Dr Alena Trckova-Flamee, Ph.D.
Welchanos (or Welchanios), who was named also Kouros ("The Boy"), was a young god of vegetation and fertility in Crete. The belief in this god, and his name too, had very old roots, reaching into the pre-Hellenic times. Welchanos was associated with agrarian magic, with the vegetation cycle and seasonal death, and with the rebirth of nature.

The temple dedicated to Welchanos was built upon the ruins of Hagia Triada, near of the Phaistos Palace in the southern part of Crete. There his name was written on several tiles. Welchanios was among the main divinities of the cities Phaistos (depicted on its coins), Lyttos (venerated there during the spring festivals) and Gortyn.

Welchanos was always represented as a youthful beardless god often in a gesture of worship or adoration, in a subordinate position to a female goddess. In Knossos two ivory figurines came to light from the Labyrinth, which are perhaps the representations of this god. There are also suppositions that Welchanos could have been depicted on some seals from Hagia Triada, from Knossos or from Cydonia. These seals are showing us the young god accompanied by lions (similarly to the Master of Animals) or as a young god standing on the double axes between a winged wild goat and a daemon. Welchanos was also depicted on the coins of Phaistos, during the Classical period, seated among the branches of a leafless tree with a cock on his lap. The Greeks associated Welchanos with the Dictaian Zeus and they identified him as the youthful Cretan son of Rhea. Sometimes Welchanos is incorrectly mentioned in context with the Roman mythology and connected with Volcanus (Vulcan).


Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Welchanios
    Kouros

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