Zmago Šmitek

Dr. Zmago Šmitek was born in 1949 in Kropa, Slovenia. He graduated in 1973 at the Faculty of Arts in ethnology and history of art. In the same year he was appointed to the Department for Ethnology and in 1974 was elected assistant. In 1979 he completed the degree of Master of Arts (“Division of work as a part of social culture of Vitanje”) and in 1983 the PhD (“Horizon of Slovenes in the field of non-European cultures”). In-between he spent one year (1979-1980) on professional development in New Delhi. He was nominated Associate Professor and in 1995 Professor for non-European Ethnology and Ethnology of Europe. For several years he acted as Chairman of the Department. Prof. Zmago Šmitek lectures on Religious Anthropology and Ethnology of Asia, and conducts seminars in both fields. His fields of study are History of Slovenian Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, religion, comparative mythology, culture of Slovenes and Slavs, Slovenian links with non-European cultures, cultures of Asia. He has published several books and a number of articles in his field of studies, notably Slovenian folk narratives: Myths and Legends (2006) Most recently the exceptional Slovenian mythological series of eight books The treasury of Slovenian Tales, in cooperation with Roberto Dapit and Monika Kropej.

Tales of rivers

These are widely known Slovenian folk tales; "Tale about Drava River" is an account how rye and wheat grain came to Slovenian lands. The "Drava, Sava and Soča" compares the character of the three rivers…

Tales of three rivers

Tales about rivers have a special place in Slovenian tradition. They reflect the fondness the Slovenian people have towards their major rivers and express the gratitude and appreciation for the prosperity they bring to their land.

The Other World

In his article Perceptions of Landscapes, Zmago Šmitek speaks of wealth and diversity in the Slovenian folk tradition, of the imagined, dream, fantastic, utopian, fairy-tale places …


Perceptions of landscape

The triad of gods Perun, Veles, and Mokoš are narrowly linked to the characteristics of Slav landscapes. Perun was linked with sky and high mountains, Veles was god of the underground …


Vile are mythological beings in south Slavic folklore, incarnation of beauty and power, benevolent friends of sufferers, the dwellers of forests and rivers. Shared by most Slavic cultures …

King Matjaž

Kralj Matjaž/King Mathias is the mythical king of the Slovenian people. The stories of Kralj Matjaž are many, and can be traced far back to pagan times. He represents a mythical ruler …


Bonfire man

Kresnik appears to be the fire god, the son of the sun god, or in later tradition a powerful hero with magic powers. The word Kresnik derives from kres/bonfire and the bonfires of midsummer solstice.


Tales of Dwarfs

The underground is the domain of the dwarfs, who guard its treasures. They can lead to great riches, but never willingly. They must be tricked to reveal the hidden treasures of the earth. In their contact with humanity, they are mischievous and love to play tricks.

The Goldenhorn

The legend of Goldenhorn/Zlatorog, the white steinbock with golden horns, is one of the best known Slovenian tales. His realm are the heights of Slovenia’s legendary mountain, Triglav, where tended by White women or Vile (fairies), he guards great treasures.