by Dr. Alena Trckova-Flamee, Ph.D.

Welchanos, also called Kouros (Κοῦρος, "boy, lad"), was a young god of vegetation and fertility in Crete. The belief in this god, as well as his name, had very old roots, dating back to 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 Phaestus Palace in the southern part of Crete. There his name is found on several tiles. Welchanos was among the main divinities of the cities Phaestus (depicted on its coins), Lyttos (venerated during the spring festivals) and Gortys. His feast was called Velchania.

In later times, Welchanos was equated with the Cretan Zeus.


Welchanos was always represented as a youthful, beardless god often in a gesture of worship or adoration, and in a subordinate position to a female goddess. In Knossos two ivory figurines were discovered in the Labyrinth, which are possibly 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 show us the young deity accompanied by lions (similarly to the Master of Animals) or as a young god standing upon double axes between a winged wild goat and a daemon.

Welchanos (as Gelchanos) was also depicted on coins from Phaestus during the Classical period, and shown seated among the branches of a leafless tree with a rooster on his lap. The Greeks associated Welchanos with the Dictaean 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 Vulcan.



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