The lexicon gives a systematic exposition of mythological (including cosmogonic) conceptions, feasts, and rituals of the Russian people, as well as other peoples of the Empire: Mordovians, Chuvash, Tartar, Kalmyks, Sami (Lapps), Ukrainians, Cossacks of Don, peoples of Kamchatka, and others. The sources were books by Russian travelers: Krasheninnikov, Gmelin, Georgi, and ‘Old Russian History’ by Lomonosov, etc.
There are articles on mythology and cult practices. In the introduction Ch. Wrote, that ‘beliefs in many gods… among Old Slavs and contemporary peoples of Russia were and still are the same, as among any other peoples through all the world’. He interpreted superstitions as ‘a great enemy of human’s mind’, which ‘kept – and partly now is keeping – scholars under its yoke’. He explained the origin of some rites, particularly, propitiating sacrifices to spirits through the theory of adopting, combining it with the euhemeric rationalization of the origin of gods.
In the twentieth century, some researchers of folk creativity criticized Ch. for inventing some myths. But the outstanding historian of Russian literature of the eighteenth century P. N. Berkov declared that Ch. did not invent any myths, he only used some non-reliable sources. For instance, the name of goddess Ziemtserla – one of the reasons for reproaches – was taken from a composition by Archimandrite of Raguza M. Orbini (Lomonosov and Ch. called him Mavroubin) ‘Tsardom of Slavs’ (1601). That strange name was produced from Simargl, mentioned in the Primary Chronicle. The same situation was with the ‘god Uslad’: he appeared in an Italian translation of a Latin treatise on Moscovia by Baron Sigismund von Herberstein. M. Orbini used that translation made in Venice in 1550; and from his text the name Uslad went to Russian authors. Herberstein made in from Slavic ‘us zlat’ (golden mustache) in the description of the god Perun (with silvered hair and golden moustaches) in the chronicles.