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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A tutelary (also tutelar) is a supernatural power, such as a spirit or deity, in the position of a guardian, patron or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture or occupation.

Both tutelary and tutelar can be used as either a noun or an adjective.


By culture


Near East and Mediterranean

In Greek polytheism, Athena was the patron goddess of the city of Athens.

The Roman religion had dozens of tutelary spirits, such as Diana of Aricia, who watched over a sacred grove at Aricia, or the goddess Levana, who watched over young children. The Lares and Penates were local tutelary deities, as was the genius loci, a spirit said to be present in certain place


Chinese folk religion, both past and present, includes a myriad of tutelary deities. Exceptional individuals may become deified after death. Guan Yu is a well-known tutelary from the Three Kingdoms period.

In Korean shamanism, jangseung and sotdae were placed at the edge of villages to frighten off demons. They were also worshipped as deities.

In Shinto, the many spirits, or kami, can be seen as tutelaries.

In the Sanatana Dharma, tutelary deities are known as ishta-devata. Devas can also be seen as tutelaries. Shiva is patron of yogis and renunciants.

Thai provincial capitals have tutelary city pillars and palladiums

Tibetan Buddhism has yidams as tutelaries. Dakini is the patron of those who seek knowledge.

Abrahamic Religions


Catholicism and Orthodox Christianities each have many tutelaries, some of which are shared. These may be patron saints as intercessors and advocates in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, or person[1] or guardian angels.

For instance, the Christian belief that when Saint Veronica gave Jesus her veil to wipe his forehead, the image of His face miraculously impressed upon it, made the nineteenth century Church declare her the patron saint of photographers. Occasionally, patron saints are called tutelary saints and so reflect their origin.


In Islam, tutelary deities exist as djinns, or "genies". It is notable, however, that the Arabic word is of a completely different origin, although it has similarities with genius both phonetically and by meaning.


Native American religion, (see also Animism, Shamanism) has extensive and varied systems of zoomorphic tutelaries, (also known as power animals). In Mesoamerica these tutelary power animals are called Nagual.


In many of the animistic African religions, tutelaries in a variety of forms. The Binou cult of the Dogon people of Mali have totems around their villages.

See also


  1. ^ Michael Freze, 1992 Patron Saints ISBN 0879734647


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