Radegast: Slavic god symbolic of the Beskydy Mountains

Radegast

90 years ago, a statue of Radegast was unveiled in mountain path along the ridge from Pustevny to Radhošt'. Its creator was the sculptor Albín Polášek.

Albín Polášek | Photo: Wikimedia Commons,  public domain

Polášek, a native son of Frenštát pod Radhoštěm, began working on the sculpture in 1924 –in America, where he was based at the time. He created several variants, from which the final form was born in his Prague studio – a man’s body with a lion-like face, wearing a helmet with horns, and holding a cornucopia in one hand and an axe in the other.

Polášek’s statue of Radegast, made of concrete and stoneware rubble, and measuring 320 cm and weighing 1.4 tons, was unveiled on 5 July 1931. The statue was financed American compatriots and donated to their Czech homeland.

However, the original statute did not stand up well to harsh weather, though lightning strikes did it the most damage. Today, tourists admire a faithful copy by the sculptor Jan Sobek from Leskovec. He used natural granite, which can withstand even extreme mountain conditions. Today, Polášek's statue adorns the Frenštát town hall vestibule.

Photo: Barbora Němcová,  Radio Prague International

Legends of Radegast

Photo: Silar,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 4.0

Radegast, the Slavic god of crops, harvest, abundance and hospitality, but also of the sun and fire, was, according to myth, a gourmand – a lover of food and drink. He would often appear among common people in disguise to make merry. If he was satisfied with the hospitality shown to him, they were richly rewarded.

Mount Radhošť,  Constantine and Methodius | Photo: Anton Kajmakov,  Radio Prague International

Although Radegast was first worshiped by Slavic tribes from the Baltics, his spiritual home had long been Mount Radhošť in the Moravian-Silesian Beskydy Mountains (1129 metres above sea level). According to legend, his idol stood atop the mountain, until it was demolished by the Christian missionaries Constantine and Methodius of Thessaloniki, who allegedly visited Radhošť after arriving in the Great Moravian Empire.

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