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Shamanism in Siberia, by M.A. Czaplicka, [1914], at




BENEVOLENT supernatural beings are called by the Chukchee vairgit, i. e. 'beings'. The most important are the 'benevolent beings sacrificed to' (taaronyo vairgit), those to whom the people bring sacrifices. They live in twenty-two different 'directions' of the Chukchee compass. The chief of these beings is the one residing in the zenith, which is called 'being-a-crown' (kanoirgin), or 'middle-crown' (ginon-kanon). Mid-day, the Sun, and the Polar Star are often identified with the 'middle-crown '. The Dawn and the Twilight are ' wife-companions', several of the tales describing them as being married to one wife. The 'directions ' of the evening are together called 'Darkness'. Sacrifices are made to them only on special occasions, and are often mingled with those offered to the kelet ('evil spirits') of the earth.'

The sun, moon, stars, and constellations are also known as vairgit; but the sun is a special vairgin, represented as a man clad in a bright garment, driving dogs or reindeer. He descends every evening to his wife, the 'Walking-around-Woman'. The moon is also represented as a man. He is not a vairgin,[2] however, but the son of a kele of the lower worlds. He has a lasso, with which he catches people who look too fixedly at him. Shamans invoke the moon in incantations and spells.

Among the stars, the pole-star is the principal vairgin, and is most often referred to as unpener, [2] the pole-stuck star', a name, .which, Mr. Bogoras asserts, is universal throughout Asia.[3]

There are several other vairgit beneficent to man, which Bogoras supposes to be merely vague and impersonal names of qualities. 'They represent a very loose and indefinite personification of the creative principle of the world, and are similar to Vakanda or Great Manitou of the Indians,' he says.[4] Their names are

[1. Bogoras, The Chukchee, 1907, J.N.P.E., pp. 303-5.

2. Vairgin, singular; vairgit, plural. Kele, singular; kelet, plural.

3. Op. cit , pp. 305-7.

4. Op. cit., p. 314.]

Tenan-tomgin ('Creator', lit. 'One who induces things to be created'); Girgol-vairgin ('Upper-Being); Marginen ('World', literally 'The Outer-One')., Yaivac-vairgin ('Merciful-Being'); Yagtac-vairgin ('Life-giving Being'); Kinta-vairgin ('Luck-giving Being'). These do not receive special sacrifices, but are all, except 'Creator', mentioned at the sacrifices to the Dawn, Zenith, and Midday. The 'Luck-giving Being' is sometimes represented as a raven, but the Creator is never so represented by the Chukchee (as he is among the Koryak), although he is sometimes known as 'the outer garment of the Creator'. The Chukchee, however, have many tales about Big-Raven, whom they call Tenan-tomgin.

Besides these 'Beings', the Reindeer Chukchee have also a 'Reindeer-Being' (Qoren-vairgin), who watches over the herds; and the Maritime people have their 'Beings of the Sea' (Anqa-vairgit), of whom the most important are Keretkun and his wife, sometimes called Cinei-new. 'They live on the sea-bottom or in the open sea, where they have a large floating house. They are larger than men, have black faces, and head-bands of peculiar form, and are clad in long white garments made of walrus-gut adorned with many small tassels.'[1] Another sea-spirit is the 'Mother of the Walrus', living at the bottom of the sea, and armed with two tusks like a walrus. Besides her, there is still another sea-spirit like a walrus, which is believed to work harm to people, crawling into their houses at night. These walrus-beings do not receive regular sacrifices, and sometimes assist the Shaman in the capacity of kelet. Keretkun, however, is the recipient of sacrifices at the autumn ceremonials. The Asiatic Eskimo have sea-deities similar to those of the Maritime Chukchee. [2]

The Chukchee classify the winds also as 'Beings', whose names are mentioned in incantations, the local prevailing wind being always regarded in a given locality as the chief of these 'Beings'.[3]

Spirits of tents and houses are called 'House-Beings' (Yara-vairgit). They are attached to houses, not to people, and if a house is destroyed they cease to exist with it. If the inhabitants of a house abandon it, the house-spirits turn into very dangerous earth-spirits.[4] A small share of every important sacrifice is placed for them on the ground in the corners of the sleeping-room.

Othcr spirits, which are neither kelet nor vairgit, also exist;

[1. Op. cit., p. 316.

2. Op. cit., pp. 316-18.

3. Op. cit., p. 320.

4. Op. cit., p. 318.]

e. g. the spirits of intoxicating mushrooms, which form a 'Separate Tribe' (yanra-varat).[1]

Some 'Beings' have so called 'assistants' (viyolet) which receive a share of the sacrifices. The 'assistant' is very often represented as a raven or as half a raven. Even the kelet have 'assistants'. [2]

All the forests, rivers, lakes, and the classes of animals are animated by 'masters' (aunralit) or 'owners' (etinvit). Some. times the Chukchee call these kelet-a word which, though it usually means 'evil spirits', sometimes is used in the simple sense of 'spirits '.[3] Wild animals are said to have the same sort of households as the Chnkchee themselves and to imitate men in their actions. For instance, 'one family of eagles has a slave, Rirultet, whom they stole from the earth a long time ago. He prepares food for all of them, and his face has become blackened with Soot.'[4] Animals, like spirits, can take the form of men. The ermine and the owl become warriors on certain occasions; the mice become hunters. 'In most cases, animals, while impersonating human beings, retain some of their former qualities, which identify them as beings of a special class, acting in a human way, but different from mankind.' So the fox-woman retains her strong smell, and the goose-woman does not take animal food.[5]

Lifeless objects, especially if they have originally been parts of living organisms, may become endowed with life; e. g. skins ready for sale may turn at night into reindeer, and walk about.[6]

These various 'owners' are very often of the kelet class; but, according to Bogoras, no Chukchee will confess to having made sacrifices to evil spirits, except under extraordinary circumstances.[7]

Bogoras divides the kelet of the Chukchee into three classes: (a) invisible spirits, bringing disease and death; (b) bloodthirsty cannibal spirits, the enemies of Chukchee warriors especially; (c) spirits which assist the shaman during shamanistic performances.

Kelet of the class (a) are said to live underground, and to have also an abode above the earth; but they never come from the sea, for, according to a Chukchee proverb 'nothing evil can come from the sea'.[8]

[1. Op. cit., p. 333.

2. Op. cit., 319.

3. Op. cit., p. 286.

4. Op. cit., p. 283.

5. Op. cit., p. 284.

6. Op. cit., p. 281.

7. Op. cit., p. 290.

8. Op. cit., p. 292.

9. In apparent contradiction to the belief expressed in this proverb is the existence of the kele in the form of a walrus, mentioned by Mr. Bogoras on p. 316, which is harmful to men.]

The kelet do not remain in their homes, but wander abroad and seek for victims. They are too numerous to be distinguished by special names. Some of them are one-eyed; they have all sorts of strange faces and forms, most of them being very small. They are organized in communities resembling those of men. On the Pacific shores they are often known as rekkenit (sing. rekken). These have various monstrous forms, and animals which are born with any deformity are sacrificed to them. The kelet have an especial fondness for the human liver. This belief is the origin of the Chukchee custom of opening a corpse to discover from the liver which spirit has killed the deceased.[1] The class (b), which is especially inimical to warriors, is spoken of chiefly in the tales. While incantations and charms are employed against spirits of the first class, against the giant cannibal kelet of the second category ordinary weapons of war are used. These spirits once formed a tribe of giants living on the Arctic shore, but being much harassed by the Chukchee, they changed themselves into invisible spirits.[2]

The third class (c) is that of shamanistic spirits, sometimes called 'separate spirits' or 'separate voices'. They take the forms of animals, plants, icebergs, &c., and can change their form very quickly-and also their temper; on account of this last peculiarity the shaman must be very punctilious in keeping his compact with them. The shaman says of them, 'These are my people, my own little spirits.'[3] We do not find in Bogoras any reference to benevolent shamanistic spirits or assistants of the shaman.

Besides these typical evil spirits, there is also a class of 'monsters'. Among these the chief is the killer-whale , which is surrounded by a taboo among all Arctic peoples: any one who kills a killer-whale is sure to die very soon. These monsters in Winter are transformed into wolves and prey upon the reindeer of the Chukchee. An exaggerated representation of a polar bear also appears as one of the 'monsters'. The mammoth plays an important part in Chukchee beliefs. It is said to be the reindeer of the kelet. If the tusks are seen above ground, this is a bad omen, and unless an incantation is uttered something untoward will happen.

'According to one story, some Chukchee men found two mammoth-tusks protruding from the earth. They began to beat the

[1. Op. cit., pp. 292-8.

2. Op. cit., pp. 298-300.

3. Op. cit., pp. 300-2.]

drum and performed several incantations. Then the whole carcass of the mammoth came to sight. The people ate the meat. It was very nutritious and they lived on it all winter. When the bones were stripped of all the meat, they put them together again, and in the morning they were again covered with meat. Perhaps this story has for its foundation the finding of a mammoth-carcass good for eating, as happened on the Obi in the eighteenth century, and also more recently in the Kolyma country.

'Because of these beliefs, the search for ivory of the mammoth was tabooed in former times. Even now, a man who finds a mammoth-tusk has to pay for it to the "spirit" of the place by various sacrifices. The search for such tusks is considered a poor pursuit for a man, notwithstanding the high price which the ivory brings."

In the pictorial representations of these 'monsters', or, rather, exaggerated animals, all which have a reindeer as the foremost figure are intended to represent benevolent spirits; while others in which a dog, horse, or mammoth stands in front, represent kelet.

Monstrous worms, blackbeetles, birds, and fish are the other exaggerated animal forms which Bogoras calls 'monsters'. [2]

Soul. The soul is called wirit or uvekkirgin ('belonging to the body'). Another term is tetkeyun, meaning 'vital force of living being'. The soul resides in the heart or the liver, and animals and plants as well as men possess it. One hears, however, more about other 'souls'-those which belong to various parts of the body: e.g. there is a limb-soul, nose-soul, &c. And so a man whose nose is easily frost-bitten is said to be 'short of souls'. Very often the soul assumes the form of a beetle, and hums like a bee in its flight. When a man loses one of his souls, he may obtain its return through a shaman, who, if he cannot discover the whereabouts of the inissing soul, can send a portion of his own into the person who has suffered this loss. If a kele steals a soul, he carries it into his own dark abode, and there binds its limbs to prevent its escaping. In one of the tales 'a kele forces a stolen soul to watch his lamp and trim it'. Bogoras knew of a case of a man who struck his wife with a firebrand, and when the woman died after two days, and her relatives had examined her body and found no injury to any organ, they said that the husband's blow had injured her soul.

[1. Op. cit., p. 326.

2. Op. cit., pp. 323-30.]

'Kelet also have souls of their own, which may be lost or spirited away by shamans.'[1]

Chukchee View of the Universe. According to the Chukchee belief there are several worlds, one above another. Some reckon five such worlds, others seven or nine. A hole, under the pole-star, forms a passage from one world to the other, and through this hole shamans and spirits pass from one to another of the worlds. Another way to reach the other world is to take a step downwards in the direction of the dawn. There are also other worlds' in the 'directions' of the compass, one under the sea, another small dark 'world' vaguely described as being above, which is the abode of the female kele-birds. Some of the stars also are distinct 'worlds' with their own inhabitants. The sky, they say, is a 'world ' too, and touches our earth at the horizon, where at four points there are gates. When the wind blows these gates are believed to be opening.[2]


In contrast to the Chukchee and the Eskimo, who have whole classes of Supreme Beings (vairgit, Chukchee; kiyarnarak, Asiatic Eskimo), the Koryak, as Jochelson thinks, have a tendency to monotheism; although he considers it 'possible that all names now applied by them to one deity may have formerly been applied to various beings or phenomena of nature, and that, owing to their intercourse with the Russians, a monotheistic tendency of uniting all names of the various deities into one may have developed'.[3] That the Koryak conception of one Supreme Being is not indigenous, or at least not very old, may be judged from the very vague account of his nature and qualities which was all that Jochelson was able to obtain from these people, and also from the fact that he takes no active part in shaping the affairs of men. He is, of course, a benevolent anthropomorphic being, an old man with a wife and children, dwelling in the sky. He can send famine or abundance, but seldom uses his power to do either good or evil to men.

Jochelson says that the abstract names given to him are hardly consistent with the conception-distinctly material, as far as it goes-which the Koryak seem to have of his nature. Some of

[1. Op cit., pp. 332-3.

2. Op. cit., pp. 330 -2.

3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 24.]

these names are: 'Naininen (Universe, World, Outer one); Inahitelan or Ginagitelan (Supervisor); Yaqhicnin or Caqhicnin (Something-Existing), called by the Paren people Vahicnin, by those of Kamenskoye, Vahitnin, or by the Reindeer Koryak, Vahiynin (Existence, also Strength); Gicholan (The-One-on-High); Gicholetinvilan (The-Master-on-High) or simply Etin (Master); Thairgin (Dawn). In Tale 113 we meet with the name Kihigilan (Thunder-Man) for the Supreme Being.'[1]

The Supreme Being is propitiated for purely material reasons, such as the procuring of a food-supply by hunting land and sea animals, the picking of berries and roots, and the tending of the reindeer herds. If the Supreme Being ceases to look upon the earth disorder at once begins; e.g. Big-Raven is unsuccessful in his hunting when Universe (Naininen) has gone to sleep (Tale 9). In like manner, failure, to offer sacrifices may bring some such misfortune on a mail. In one of the tales (111), when young Earth-Maker (Tanuta), the husband of Yineaneut, Big-Raven's daughter, fails to make the customary sacrifice to Inahitelan's (Supervisor's) son Cloud-Man (Yahalan) at his wedding, Supervisor forces Yineaneut, or rather her soul, to the edge of the hearth, where her soul is scorched by the fire, and she wastes away.

Though the Supreme Being does not interfere actively in the affairs of men, their souls (uyicit or uyirit) go to him after death and hang in his dwelling on posts or beams, until the time comes when they are to be re-born. The duration of the future life of each soul is marked on a thong fastened to it, a short thong indicating a short life. Supervisor dwells in the clouds or the sky or the heaven-village. His wife is known variously as Supervisor-Woman, Rain-Woman, or Sea-Woman. His son, Cloud-Man (Yahal, or Yahalan), is the patron of young couples, and if a lover, young man or woman, desires to conquer the heart of the one beloved, this is accomplished by beating the drum; and the propitiation of this patron is also the reason why the bridegroom sacrifices a reindeer to Cloud-Man after marriage.

Jochelson found only one tale (9) relating directly to the Supreme Being, though there are references to him in some others. In this tale, which is full of coarse details, Universe sends heavy rain upon the earth from the vulva of his wife. Big-Raven and his son are obliged to change themselves into ravens,

[1. Op. cit., p. 24.]

fly up to heaven, and put a stop to the incessant rain by a trick. This tale must not be told in fine weather, but only to put an end to rain or a snow-storm.

As stated above, the Supreme Being sends Big-Raven to order human affairs. The native name for Big-Raven is Quikinnaqu or Kutkinnaku, which are augmentative forms of the words for 'raven'. He is also known as Acicenaqu (Big-Grandfather), or Tenantomwan (Creator). The tales about Big-Raven form part of the Pacific Coast cycle of raven myths, for we find this figure in the mythology of the north-western Amerinds as well as in that of the Siberians of north-eastern Asia. But, among the Koryak, Big-Raven plays a part also in the ritual of their religious ceremonies. 'Creator' is really a misnomer, for this being did not exercise any truly creative function: he was sent by the Supreme Being to carry out certain reforms in the already organized universe, and was therefore, so to speak, a reorganizer and the first man. He is also a supernatural being and a powerful shaman; and his name is mentioned in almost every incantation in shamanistic performances. 'When the shamans of the Maritime Koryak commence their incantations they say, "There, Big-Raven is coming!" The Reindeer Koryak told me that during shamanistic ceremonies a raven or a sea-gull comes flying into the house, and that the host will then say, "Slaughter your reindeer, Big-Raven is coming!"'[1]

The personage known by this Dame turns into a bird only when he puts on a raven's coat. The ordinary raven also figures in the mythology as a droll and contemptible character, a scavenger of dogs' carcasses and of excrement. One of the tales (82), about the swallowing of the sun by Raven (not Big-Raven) and the rescue of the luminary by Big-Raven's daughter, recalls a tale of the setting free of the sun told by the Indians of the North Pacific coast. The Koryak do not count it a sin to kill a raven.

Various contradictory accounts are given of the origin of Big-Raven. Some say that he was created by the Supreme Being; others that they do not know whence he came, although 'the old people' knew it.

Most of the Koryak tales deal with the life, travels, and adventures of Big-Raven, his wife Miti, and their children, of whom the eldest, their son Ememqut, is the best known. In

[1. Op. cit., p. 18.]

these tales, Big-Raven sometimes appears as a being of very low intelligence, who is often outmatched in cunning, not only by his wife, but even by mice. foxes, and other animals. Transformations, especially of the sexual organs of Big-Raven and his wife (allusions to which figure very largely throughout), supernatural deeds, and indecent adventures, form the subject of the greater part of the tales. 'The coarseness of the incidents does not prevent the Koryak from considering the heroes of these tales as their protectors.'[1] Many of the tales serve no other purpose than the amusement of the people.

In spite of the frivolous character ascribed to Big-Raven in some of the tales, he is said to have been the first to teach the people how to catch sea and land animals, the use of the fire-drill, and how to protect themselves against evil spirits. He lived on earth in the manner of the Maritime Chukchee, but some of his sons were reindeer-breeders. It is not certain how he disappeared from among men. According to some, he and his family turned into stones; others say that he wandered away from the Koryak. Traces of his having lived among them are still pointed out by the Koryak: on a sea-cliff in the Taigonos Peninsula are some large stones which are said to have been his house and utensils. His foot-prints and the hoof-marks of his reindeer are to be seen, say the Koryak, in the village of Kamenskoye.[2]

The Koryak, in common with other Siberian peoples, believe in another class of supernatural beings, known as owners or 'masters' (etin) of certain objects in which they are supposed to reside. Jochelson thinks that this conception among the Koryak is 'not vet differentiated from a lower animistic view of nature'. He finds the idea more highly developed in the inua of the Eskimo, the pogil of the Yukaghir; and especially so among the Neo-Siberians, e. g. in the Yakut icci and the Buryat ecen or isin. That the conception of a spirit-owner residing in 'every important natural object' is not so clear and well defined among the Koryak as among the other tribes mentioned, Jochelson considers to be proved by the vague and incoherent replies he received in answer to questions about the nature of these 'owners'.

The Koryak word for 'master of the sea' is anqakcn-etinvilan (anqa, sea). A Reindeer Korvak who had gone to the sea for summer fishing, and had offered a reindeer as a sacrifice to the sea,

[1. Op. cit., p. 20.

2. Op. cit., pp. 20-3.]

on being asked by Jochelson whether his offering was made to the sea or to the master of the sea, replied, 'I don't know. We say "sea" and "owner of the sea"; it's just the same.' Similarly Some of the Koryak say that the 'owner' of the sea is a woman, and others consider the sea itself as a woman. Certain hills, capes, and cliffs are called apupcl (apa, 'father' in Kamenskoye dialect, 'grandfatlier' in that of Paren). These are protectors of hunters and travellers, but it is doubtful whether the term is applied to the hill itself or to the spirit residing in it.'

The sky is considered as a land inhabited by a stellar people. The sun ('sometimes identified with The-Master-on-High'), the moon, and the stars are animated beings, and sacrificial offerings are made to the sun. 'Sun-Man (Teikemtilan) has a wife and children, and his own country, which is inhabited by Sun people.'[2] Marriages are contracted between his children and those of Big-Raven (Tales 12, 19, 21).

Mention is also made in the tales of a Moon-Man (or woman), and a Star-Man. [3]

The Koryak 'guardians' and 'charms' serve as protectors to individuals, families, or villages, whereas such greater supernatural beings as The-Master-on -High, Big-Raven, and the malevolent kalau are deities or spirits of the entire tribe-excepting those kalau that serve individual shamans. 'Guardians' form a class of objects that avert evil from men. Those about which Jochelson was able to obtain information include the sacred implements for fire-making, which comprise a fire-board (gicgic or gecgei), a bow (eyet), a wooden drill (maxem, 'arrow'), and a headpiece of stone or bone (ceneyine).[4]

The fire-board is of dry aspen wood, which ignites easily, and has holes in it for receiving the drill. It is shaped roughly to resemble a human being. The consecration of a new fire-board to the office of protector of the hearth and herd is accompanied with the sacrificing of a reindeer to The-Master-on-High, the anointing of the fire-board with the sacrificial blood and fat, and the pronouncing of an incantation over it. It would thus appear, Jochelson thinks, that the power to direct some vaguely conceived vital principle residing in a crude inanimate object to an activity beneficial to man lies in the incantation pronounced over it. "The headpiece has a hollow socket, which is placed upon the

[1. Op. cit., pp. 30-1.

2. Op. cit., Tales 12 and 21.

3. Op. cit., p. 31.

4. Op. cit., p. 33.

5. lbid.]

thin upper end of the drill. 'The headpiece is held by one person, the board by another, while the bow is turned by a third person,' the drill rotating on its thick lower end in one of the holes of the fire-board. The charcoal dust produced by drilling is collected in a small leathern bag, for 'it is considered a sin to scatter' this dust.[1]

Evil Spirits.[2] Evil spirits are called kalau (sing. kala), corresponding to the Chukchee kelet.[3] In the time of Big-Raven they were visible to men, but now they are usually invisible. In most of the myths which refer to them they are represented as living in communities like human beings. They are very numerous, and have the power of changing their size, so that sometimes they are very large and then again very small. Sometimes they seem to be ordinary cannibals and not supernatural beings at all.[4] When the kalau are visible they appear sometimes in the form of animals, or as dogs with human heads, or as human beings with pointed beads. 'Their arrows are supplied with mouths, and they can be shot without the use of a bow, and fly wherever they are sent.'[5] Some of the kalau live underground and enter the houses of men through the fire on the hearth; others dwell on the earth, in the west. Although invisible, they can make their approach felt. 'Thus, when Big-Raven's children begin to ail, he says: "The kalau must be close by."'[6]

Kalau are divided into Maritime and Reindeer kalau. Some live in the forests, others in the tundra. Human beings are the spoils of their chase, as reindeer and seals are those of human hunters. The kalau of diseases form a special class, and the most prominent of these evil spirits have special names.

We do not find among the Koryak a class of spirits well disposed towards men, who will fight with the kalau. There is no generic name for good spirits. But the natural enemies of the kalau appear to be Big-Raven and his children. Some myths represent Big-Raven and his children as being destroyed by the Wait, or, again, the kalan are destroyed or made harmless by Big-

[1. Ibid.

2. Op. cit., pp. 27-30.

3. The people of Paren call them also kalak, or kamak, and among the Reindeer Koryak they are frequently called nenveticnin or ninvit.' (Op.cit., p. 27.)

4. Jochelson thinks that in this respect they resemble certain malevolent beings of the Yukaghir, called Mythical-Old-Men and Mythical-Old-Women. (Op. cit., p. 28.)

5. Jochelson, op. cit., p. 28. Ibid.]

Raven: 'He causes them to fall asleep; he takes out their cannibal stomachs during their sleep. and puts other ones in their places, usually those of some rodents. At still other times he devises some other means of protecting himself and his children against the invasion of the cannibals. In one story it is told that he heated stones in his house until they were red-hot, invited the kalau to sit on them, and thus burned them. At another time he got rid of them by making a steam bath for them, in which they were smothered. At times an incantation serves him as a means of rescue. In another story Big-Raven appealed to the Master-on-High for help against the mouthed arrows of the kalau with whom he had been at war; and the deity gave him an iron mouth, which caught all the arrows sent by the kalau.'[1] It will be seen, however, from the above that Big-Raven defends himself and his family rather than men from the attacks of kalau; and, as Jochelson says in one place, 'Men seem to be left to their own resources in their struggle with evil spirits, diseases, and death'.[2] For, as we have seen, even the Supreme Being plays no active part in the protection of men." On the contrary, he sends kalau to men 'that they may die, and that he may create other people'.[4] An old man called Yulta, from the village of Kamenskoye, told Jochelson that the kalau formerly lived with The-Master-on-High, but he quarrelled with them and sent them down to our world.[5] Another version has it that Big-Raven sent the kalau down to the people to give the latter a chance to test the power of the incantations he had taught them against the kalau. One of the tales relates that 'the dead ancestors send the kalau from the underground world into the village of their descendants to punish the young people for playing games at night and thus disturbing the rest of the old people'.[6]

Kalau are, however, not always only harmful to men. 'Although', says Jochelson, 'on the whole the word kala denotes all powers harmful to man, and all that is evil in nature, there are numbers of objects and beings known under the name of kalak or kawak that do not belong to the class of evil spirits. Thus, the guardian spirits of the Koryak shamans, and some varieties of guardians of the village, of the family, or of individuals, are called by this name.'[7]

In the Koryak cosmogony there are five worlds-two above

[1. Op. cit., p. 29.

2. Op. cit., p. 25.

3. Op. cit., pp. 24-6.

4. Op. cit., p. 27.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Op. cit., p. 30.]

and two below the earth. The uppermost is the seat of the Supreme Being, the next is inhabited by Cloud-People (Yahalanu); next comes our earth; of the two worlds below, that nearest ours is the dwelling of the kalau; and, lowest of all (Ennanenak or Nenenqal-'on the opposite side'), is the abode of the shades of the dead (Peninelau, 'ancient people').[1]

At the present day only the shamans can pass from one world to another; but in the ancient days of Big-Raven (comparable to the Arunta age of Alcheringa) this was possible for ordinary people.[2]

The luminaries, the wind, fog, and other phenomena of nature, as well as imaginary phenomena, are supposed to be endowed with anthropomorphic souls; hence, all the wooden images of spirits have human faces. In the time of Big-Raven men could transform themselves either into the form of animals, or into that of inanimate objects[3] by donning an animal's skin or some covering of the shape of the object into which they desired to be transformed.[4]

'In the time of Big-Raven there was no sharp distinction between men, animals, and other objects; but what used to be the ordinary, visible state in his time became invisible afterwards. The nature of things remained the same; but the transformation of objects from one state into another ceased to be visible to men, just as the kalau became invisible to them. Only shamans, that is, people inspired by spirits, are able to see the kalau, and to observe the transformation of objects. They are also able to transform themselves by order of the spirits, or in accordance with their own wishes. There is still a living, anthropomorphic essence concealed under the visible inanimate appearance of objects. Household utensils, implements, parts of the house, the chamber-vessel, and even excrement, have an existence of their own. All the household effects act as guardians of the family to which they belong. They may warn their masters of danger, and attack their enemies. Even such things as the voice of an animal, sounds of the drum, and human speech, have an existence independent of the objects that produce them."

[1. Op. cit., p. 121.

2. Ibid.

3. Op. cit., pp. 115-16.

4. Jochelson thinks that the transformation of men into women after putting on women's clothes, and vice versa, is closely related to this group of ideas. (Op. cit., p. 116.)

5 Jochelson, op. cit., p. 117.]

The Koryak word for the soul is uyicit. They appear to have a conception also of 'some other vital principle or a secondary soul',[1] whose name Jochelson was not able to learn, nor could he ascertain anything definite relating to it. 'Some vital principle', he thinks, 'is implied in the words wityivi ("breathing') and wuyilwuyil ("shadow").'[2] They draw no very sharp line of demarcation between life and death. A corpse is not 'deprived of the ability to move. The deceased may arise, if he is not -watched'.[3] How death occurs, according to their belief, is explained by Jochelson as follows: 'The soul (uyicit), or, to be more exact, the chief soul of the man, frightened by the attack of kalau upon it, deserts the body, and rises to the Supreme Being. According to some tales, the kala himself pulls the soul out of the body, and sets it free to go off to the sky, in order to possess himself of the body, or of the other souls[4] of the deceased.'[5]

The soul of a deceased person does not leave the earth at once, but hovers high above the corpse. It is like a flame. During illness it is outside the body, hovering low over it if the illness is slight, higher if it is severe. A powerful shaman is believed to be able to bring back the soul to the body of a person recently dead. When the soul of the deceased rises to the Supreme Being, the deceased himself and his other soul, or his shadow, descend underground to dwell with the Peninelau-'the ancient people, people of former times'.[6]


At the time of Krasheninnikoff and Steller the Kamchadal had several names for the Supreme Being, but these writers do not give any detailed descriptions of the Kamchadal's relations to their deities. On the contrary, Krasheninnikoff thought that they paid no religious worship to their god Kutchu or Kutkhu; and Steller, taking into account their rude and indecent mythology, calls the Kamchadal geborene Gotteslästerer.[7] The following

[1. Op. cit., p. 101.

2 Op. cit., p. 102.

3 Ibid.

4. Bogoras (Chukchee Materials, p. 17) says that the Chukchee attribute to a man the possession of five or six souls (uwirit). Many North American Indians have a similar belief. The Yukaghir belief that a man has three souls is said to be borrowed from the Yakut, who give a separate name to each of the three (ibid., footnote).

6. Op. cit., p. 101,

7. Op. cit., pp. 102-3.

8. Steller, Reise von Kamtschatka nach Amerika, p. 253.]

names of deities are recorded by Krasheninnikoff:[1] Kutkhu (Kutchu), his wife Ilkxum, his sister Xutlizic, his sons Simskalin and Tizil-Kutkhu, and his daughter Siduku. Tizil-Kutkhu married Siduku. They had a son Amlei, and a daughter, who also married each other, and the Kamchadal are the descendants of this last pair. Neither Steller nor Krasheninnikoff describes the functions of these gods. Kutkhu is called by Steller 'the greatest deity of the Kamchadal, who created the world and every living being'.[2] He mentions also another name for the Supreme Being, Dustechtschitsch, and Jochelson thinks that this deity may have corresponded to the benevolent Supreme Being of the Koryak. The Kamchadal of the present day call the Christian God by a similar name.[3]

According to other Kamchadal traditions, the earth was created by Kutq (Raven). In one such legend he makes it out of his son Simskalin: another has it that he brought the earth down from the sky with the help of his sister and fixed it immovably in the sea.[4]

The Koryak say that Big-Raven went away from them. The Kamchadal have a similar tradition; but according to them, Raven (Kutq) left them to go to the Koryak and Chukehee.[5]

Volcanoes and hot springs were regarded as the habitations of evil spirits called kamuli. Heaven and earth were densely populated by spirits, some of whom were good, but most were evil; sacrifices which are not offered to the gods were made to the spirits.[6]

When the Kamchadal feared being attacked by the whale or the walrus, they used special incantations to appease them and induce them to spare the boat and its crew. They venerated also the bear and the wolf, and never pronounced the names of these animals.[7] They offered sacrifices of fire at the holes of sables and foxes.[8]

They believed that animals and men lived on after death in another world.[9]

[1. Krasheninnikoff, The Description of the Country of Kamchatka, ed. 1755, p. 100.

2. Op. cit., p. 253.

3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 18.

4. Op. cit., p. 121.

5. Op. cit., pp. 23-4.

6. Krasheninnikoff, op. cit., pp. 73-5.

7. Op. cit., p. 80.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.]


The highest benevolent deity of the Gilyak is known as Ytsigy, according to Schrenck.[1] But Sternberg[2] says that they call the universe Kurn, and apply the same name to their highest anthropomorphic deity. The 'owner' spirit of the mountain, and the mountain itself, is named Pal, and the sea and its 'owner' they call Tol. Their name for the island of Sakhalin is Mif, literally 'earth', and they believe that the island is a sort of covering for a certain immense god.[3] Natural objects all have a life of their own, and if one commits violence of any kind upon them sacrifice must be made to the injured 'owners'. Thus, when cutting down a tree, the Gilyak, lest they might hurt its 'owner', place upon it an inau [4] (chekhnkun-inau), into which the spirit can pass and retain its life.

Visible objects in general are merely masks or coverings for various anthropomorphic spirits which reside in them, and this is especially the case with objects such as stones or roots which have an outward resemblance to the human form.[5] Animals, though outwardly differing in form from man, are in reality human beings, with human feelings and souls, and human institutions, such as the clan. Some of them, indeed, are superior to man, with higher qualities of mind and body. Such are the bear, on land, and a certain large bird at sea. Both these cause all other animals to avoid their neighbourhood. The bear is not dangerous to man in the wilderness, except for a short time in the spring; and the bird is not only not harmful to men, but beneficent, for when he appears the terrified fishes, fleeing before him, are an easy prey for the fishermen. It is not the animal, however, which is the object of their cult, but only its 'owner', ys. The 'owners' of the tayga, of the mountain, of the sea, and of the fire, are, of course, the most important for men from the economic point of view. The gods of the sky are regarded as less important, for men do not come into direct contact with them. These live in the sky in clans, and are called tly nivukh. Of less importance, too, are the gods of the sun and moon; and nearly all sacrifices are offered to the 'owners' of the tayga, mountains, sea, and fire.[6]

[1. Natives of the Amur Country, vol. iii, p. 107.

2. The Gilyak, p. 42.

3. Op. cit., p. 43.

4. Sternberg says that the cult of inau is borrowed from the Ainu (ibid.).

5. Op. cit., p. 44.

6. Op. cit., pp. 45-9.]

Sacrifices, says Sternberg, are not usually accompanied by any elaborate ceremonials. They are based on the principle of exchange, i. e. one does not offer fish to the god of the sea, organie animals to the god of the tayga. When a Gilyak at sea fears the oncoming of a storm, he throws some tea-leaves into the water, and says: 'I pray thee see to it that the sea be not angry and that I return home safe and sound.'[1] Wherever a Gilyak goes he carries with him certain objects intended for sacrifices, such, for example, as roots and leaves of certain plants, especially of the martagan. They also make bloody sacrifices. In this case the victim is a dog. Offerings of dogs are made chiefly at the beginning of the season for the trapping of sables and at the bear-festival. On these occasions the victims are killed by strangling, and as the dogs are dispatched they ask them to make intercession to the gods for them.[2]

Clan-gods form a special category. They are the spirits of clansmen who have died by drowning or fire, or have been killed by bears. To them periodical sacrifices are made by the clan. The bear-festival belongs to this class of sacrifices.

Besides all these benevolent deities there are classes of less important good spirits-bol, lot, and urif. The malevolent beings are called milk or kinr (knin). They are very numerous, have various forms, and cause all sorts of misfortune, illness, and death. Many incantations and shamanistic ceremonies are practised to ward off their attacks; but even a shaman cannot deal with them by his own unaided power. He has to call to his assistance two spirit-helpers, kekhn and kenchkh. These assistants of the shaman are exceedingly clever and sometimes very wicked.[3]

The Gilyak believe that an ordinary man has one soul, a rich man two, while a shaman may have as many as four. Thus the shaman Chamkh had four souls, one of which he received from the mountain, another from the sea, the third from the sky, and the fourth from the underworld. His son Koinit, who had been chosen by the spirits to be a shaman, had already two souls, although he was only twelve years old, and Chamkh was a very poor man. Besides these principal souls, every one has a lesser soul, which they imagine as being like an egg, residing in the head of the principal soul. All that a man sees in dreams is the work of this lesser soul. After a man's death, which they believe to be

[1. Op. Cit., p. 50.

2. Op. cit., pp. 50-2.

3. Op. cit., p. 70.]

caused by his body being devoured by evil spirits, the soul, also attacked by the same spirits, may escape from them, and goes to the land of the dead called mylvo. Here it has the form of a man, and leads the same kind of life as on earth, except that a poor man becomes rich, and a rich man poor. From this place the soul goes to another land, and so on from land to land, turning into smaller and smaller beings in transit-a bird, a gnat, and at last a speck of dust. Some souls return to earth and are born again. The lesser soul continues to live for some time in the best-beloved dog of the deceased, which is especially cherished and cared for (see chapter on 'Death').[1]


Batchelor says that the Ainu believe in one Supreme Being, Creator of all worlds, whom they call Kotan Kara Kamui, Moshiri Kara Kamui, Kando Koro Kami- 'the maker of places and worlds, and possessor of heaven'. Kamui means, in the first place, 'he who' or 'that which is greatest' or 'best' or 'worst'; a secondary (or more modern) meaning is 'he who' or 'that which covers' or 'overshadows'. In both meanings the word is akin to that for 'heaven', which itself has for its root a word signifying 'top' or 'above'. When applied to good powers kamui is a title of respect; and when the evil gods are called by this name it implies the fear or dread inspired by them. Besides these names, the Ainu sometimes refer to their Supreme Being under the title Tuntu, which means 'pillar', 'support', 'upholder'. He is the Creator, 'the summit, centre, and foundation (of the world), its originator and mighty "Support".'[2]

Batchelor thinks that the Ainu. regard this being is (i) the creator and preserver of the world; (ii) the sustainer of men in general; (iii) the special protector of every individual, with whom men can communicate in prayer.[3]

There is, according to the Ainu belief, also a multitude of less important deities, who are subject to the highest, and carry out his decrees. By their means he created and still sustains the world and mankind. Some of these gods are benevolent and have a double who is malignant. E.g. there are two gods of the sea called Rep un kamui. They are brothers. The younger,

[1. Op. cit., pp. 75-7.

2. Batchelor, The Ainu of Japan, pp. 248-51, 258.

3. Op. cit., p. 261.]

Mo acha, 'uncle of peace', is beneficent to man, bringing fair weather for fishing: while his elder brother, Shi acha, is an evil deity who chases Alo acha from the seaside, and brings bad weather to spoil the fishing and wreck the boats.' Similarly with other deities of the waters, Wakka-ush kamui. These are female, and have charge of springs, streams, waterfalls, lakes, and ponds. Chiwash ekot mat, 'female possessor of places where fresh and salt waters mingle', watches over river-mouths and allows the fish to go in and out. Nusa, i. e. clusters of kema-ush-inao, or 'legged inao' (i. e. inao tied to stakes thrust into the ground), are set up by the water as sacrifices to these gods. Pet-ru-ush mat, 'females of the waterways', have oversight of all streams from the source to the sea. They, too, are worshipped with offerings of nusa, and appealed to for protection in descending the rapids, and for good fortune in fishing.[2] Sarak kamui, on the other hand, is the evil god of the rivers. The word sarak denotes accidental death, and this god is said to bring about death not only by drowning, but also by mishap of any kind.[3]

The goddess of the sun is generally regarded as the chief of the secondary gods, for she is considered to be the special ruler of all good things in the universe. There is also a god of the moon. Some consider the moon a female, and the sun a male; but the majority speak of the sun as being female. These luminaries would seem to be regarded rather as the dwellings of deities than as being deities themselves. If the god of the sun or of the moon depart from their dwellings, the day or the night is darkened. Hence the fear which the Ainu have of eclipses.[4]

The stars are not worshipped, though the term kamui ('god') is sometimes applied to them. The Milky Way, or 'river of the gods', crooked river', is a favourite resort of the gods for fishing.[5]

Next in importance to the deity of the sun is the goddess of fire. She warms the body, heals sickness, enables man to cook his food. She is especially to be feared because she is a witness to note the acts and words of men. Hereafter they are punished or rewarded, says Batchelor, according to her testimony concerning their actions in life. It appears that it is not the fire which is worshipped, but the goddess residing in the fire.[6]

'Every Ainu hut is supposed to have its special guardian god who is thought to rest upon the roof when the master is at home,

[1. Op. cit., p. 92.

2. Op. cit., pp. 93-4.

3. Ibid.

4. Op. cit., pp. 273-4.

5. Op. cit., p. 276.

6. Op. cit., p. 277.]

and give warning of approaching danger, and who accompanies the head of a family when he goes forth to his wars and on his hunting expeditions.'[1] Batchelor says also that they believe that every person has his own protecting spirit.[2]

Traditions inform us that the gods gather themselves together and consult with one another as to ways and means before they act, the Creator, of course, acting as president, just in the same
way as the Ainu chiefs used to meet together for consultation before they acted.'[3]

If an Ainu finds that the particular god worshipped does not answer his prayer, he appeals to the Creator, sometimes even accusing the lesser god to him of neglecting his duty.[4]

They believe that their first ancestor, whom they call Aioina kamui, became divine, and, as Batchelor says,. 'has now the superintendence of the Ainu race'.[5]

The Ainu believe in evil as well as in good spirits. The chief evil spirit is Nitne kamui, and there are also other malignant beings who preside over accidents and diseases of the body and mind.[6]

The souls both of animals and men are believed to survive bodily death; and, according to Batchelor, the Ainu belief in a judgement of souls is strong and well defined.[7]

The Ainu believe that the soul will inhabit after death a body almost exactly resembling that which it has occupied in life; and that the community of souls in the future life, in its pursuits and enjoyments, is practically the same as the Ainu community on earth. Souls can revisit this earth as ghosts whenever they desire to do so and some of the living also have the power to go among the ghosts in their dwelling-place. In neither case can the visitor make himself heard, but he himself can both see and hear.[6]

The ghosts of deceased women are greatly feared, and that of an old woman especially is believed to have an extraordinary capacity for doing harm to the living. Even while alive on earth old women have great power over men, and children are much afraid of them. Formerly the hut in which the oldest woman of a family died was burnt after her death to prevent the spirit returning to work mischief to her offspring and to her sons- and daughters-in-law. The soul returning from the grave to exercise

[1. Op. cit., p. 261.

2 Ibid.

3. Op. cit, p. 263.

4. Op. cit., p. 264.

5. Op. cit., p. 252.

6. Op. cit., p. 247.

7. Ibid.

8. Op. cit., p. 225.]

its spells upon the living was thus unable to find its former home, and wandered about for a time in a furious rage. During this period the grave was carefully avoided.[1]
All souls go first to Pokna-Moshiri, the underworld. Here there are three roads, one leading to Kanna-Moshiri, 'the upper world', our world; another to Kamui-Kotan, 'the place of god', or Kamui-Moshiri, 'the kingdom' or 'world of god'; and the third to Teinei-Pokna-Shiri, 'the wet underground world'. On reaching Pokna-Moshiri, the soul is sent, on the testimony of the goddess of fire, either to Kamui-Kotan or to Teinei-Pokna-Shiri, to be rewarded for a good life, or punished for an evil one. If the spirit denies having done evil, he is confronted by a picture representing his whole life which is in the possession of the fire-goddess. 'Thus the spirit stands self-condemned' to punishment in Teinei-Pokna-Shiri.[2]

Some of the Ainu hold that women, who are considered inferior to men 'both spiritually and intellectually', have 'no souls, and this is sometimes stated as a reason why women are never allowed to pray'. But Batchelor thinks that the real reason for this prohibition is that the Ainu are afraid that the women will appeal to the gods against their ill-treatment by the men.[3]

Such are the views attributed by Batchelor to the Ainu about a future judgement, heaven, and hell. According to Chamberlain,[4] these conceptions are not original with the Ainu. He says: 'Some of the Ainos say that Paradise is below the earth, and Hell below that again. But as they use the modern Japanese Buddhist names for those places, they would appear to be, consciously or unconsciously, giving a foreign tinge to their old traditions. The fact that many Aino fairy-tales mention Hades under the name of Pokna Moshiri, while none seemingly mention Heaven or Hell, favours the view that no moral thread was woven into the idea of the next world as originally conceived by the Aino mind.'

[1. Op. cit., p. 223.

2. Op. cit., pp. 237-8.

3. Op. cit., pp. 234-5. This statement of Batchelor's implies that the Ainu women have a very low social position. On the other hand, both Sternberg and Pilsudski, who have an intimate acquaintance with Ainu life, say that the social position of women among the Ainu is better than in any other of the tribes of Siberia, and consider that this is probably due to the existence of a matriarchate among the Ainu in comparatively recent times.

4. The Language, Mythology, and Geographical Nomenclature of Japan reviewed in the Light of Aino Studies, V. 19.]



According to Troshchanski, the chief benevolent god of the Yakut is Urun-Aïy-Toyon, the white lord and creator of the earth and inan. This writer thinks that Urun-Aïy-Toyon was regarded as the father of light, and since among all the Turkic tribes the sun is considered the father of light, his opinion is that this god was originally the Yakut god of the sun. When the Yakut migrated northward, where the sun is not so much in evidence as in the south, they kept the name Urun-Aïy-Toyon as that of their principal 'white' god, and gave a new name to the sun--Kun-Toyon, 'Sun-Lord', or simply Kun, the latter being the ordinary word for 'light', 'day'. However, aïy and kun are often used synonymously.[1] While Troshchanski,[2] following Piekarski, says that Urnn-Aïy-Toyon is sometimes called Art-Toyon-Aga, 'Father-Ruler-of-All', or Ar-Aïy-Toyon, Sieroszewski[3] and Priklonski think that Art-Toyon-Aga is the highest god, living in the Ninth Sky, and that Urun-Aïy-Toyon, who lives in the Third Sky, is next to him in dignity. Sieroszewski says that the Yakut Olympus is organized on the plan of the clan-system of the Yakut. The sky-gods are divided into nine bis or agas, and the gods of the lower world into eight. The sky-gods are arranged in the following order:

(i) Art-Toyon-Aga, the powerful ruler of light and life, speaking in the storm and thunder, somewhat indifferent to human affairs, and to be appealed to only in exceptional circumstances. In his honour are celebrated the great clan ceremonies, ysyakh, in which sacrifice of kumys is made to him. Generally speaking, bloody sacrifices are not made to the benevolent deities. Only to the god of hunting, Bay-Nay, is sacrifice involving bloodshed offered, and even in this case such sacrifices are limited in the quantity of blood that may be shed.

(ii) Urun-Aïy-Toyon, 'White-Lord-Creator'.

(iii) Nalban-Aïy, Kübay-Khotun-Lä, 'Kind-Mother-Creatress'.

(iv) Nalygyr-Aïssyt-Khotun, the benevolent goddess who presides over child-birth.

[1. The Evolution of the Black Faith (Shamanism) among the Yakut, pp. 33-7.

2. Op. cit., p. 37,

3. Sieroszewski, 12 Lat w Kraju Yakutów, pp. 388-9.]

(v) An-Alay-Khotun, the tutelary goddess of the earth, fields, and valleys, with her children, the spirits of äräkä-djäräkä.

(vi) Sätä-kürä-Djäsagai-Aïy, seven brothers, gods of light, war, &c.

(vii) Mogol-Toyon and his wife, the deities of the cattle.

(viii.) Bay-Nay, god of hunting.

(ix) Gods who guard the roads to the sky.[1]

Sieroszewski says that the natives are quite ready to give information about the clan arrangement of the sky-gods, but that it is very difficult to get similar information about the gods of the underworld, since very few of the ordinary people know anything about them, and the shamans are afraid of betraying the secrets of these formidable beings. The chief of the 'dark' spirits is Ulutuyer-Ulu-Toyon, 'Onmipotent Lord'. He is always described as living in the western sky, and, in contrast to the inactive Art-Toyon-Aga, he is the personification of action and of the passions. Ulu-Toyon is not always harmful to men, for he gives to them one of his souls, sür, and defends them from the attacks of abassylar. In some descriptions he appears as the highest of the active supernatural powers, and not necessarily evil; but in other accounts he is described as a 'dark' spirit, the ruler of abassylar, just as Art-Toyon-Aga is the ruler of aïy, who inhabit the eastern sky .[2]

The abassylar are divided into 'Upper', living in the western sky; 'Middle', living on the earth; and 'Lower', inhabiting the subterranean world; but, wherever they live, they are all harmful to men .[3]

Ichchi, literally 'owner', signifies an ' owner'-spirit of various objects. Every river, lake, stone, and sometimes even parts of these, has its own ichchi, who controls it. Movable objects and those which can produce sounds also have their ichchi. Ichchi do not belong either to the aïy or to the abassylar, though in many cases, like the abassylar, they are harmful to men. Thus, for example, Kurar-Ichchi, the 'owner' of the wind, is by many writers considered as a 'black' spirit, since the wind is very often dangerous and harmful.[4] In the wanderings of the tribe through difficult country, by dangerous roads, or through trackless regions, accidents may often happen to a cart or some part of its equipment. Such misfortunes are attributed to the local ichchi, who must therefore be placated by sacrifices. The Yakut have a

[1. Op. cit., p. 390.

2. Op. cit,, p. 391.

3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 190.

4. Troshchanski, op. cit., pp. 26-30.]

special language for use during these journeyings. In this language, implements or other valuable objects are given certain nicknames instead of names proper to them, in order that the ichchi may not know that the objects in question are referred to for if they did, they would destroy or harm them. For the same reason the Yakut often employ Russian names for things they value, being certain that the ichchi will not understand these.[1]

The Yakut division of the universe is mainly horizontal, comprising two parts-east and south, the habitation of good spirits, and west and north, of evil spirits. The great evil spirit, Allara-Ogonür, 'Underground-Old-Man', lives in the far north. There is also a vertical division into upper, middle, and lower works, but this is less precise and not so important as the horizontal division, since abassylar, or evil spirits, are found in all three divisions, so that no one of the vertical worlds is restricted to the 'white' or good spirits, aïy.

The Yakut believe that man is composed of (i) tyn, 'life', 'breath'; (ii) kut, the physical soul; and (iii) sür, the psychic Soul. Tyn is common to men, animals, and plants, as among the Altaians. Kut is common to men and animals, and is composed of three parts: (a) buor-kut, literally 'earth-soul', i.e. soul composed of earthly elements; (b) salgyn-kut, literally 'air-soul', i.e. composed of air; (c) iyä-kut, 'mother-soul', the maternal element. It might seem, says Troshchanski, that there are here three souls, but in fact kut is one soul composed of these three elements. A Yakut woman is always delivered of her child on the bare ground within the yurta, for the Yakut believe that the buor-kut is communicated to the infant from the earth at the moment of birth. Salgyn-kut it receives from the air shortly afterwards; while the third element, iyä-kut, comes to the child from the mother.[3] Troshchanski considers that the proof of kut being but one soul composed of three parts is found in the fact that the Yakut believe that fishes have no kut, being cut off from both air and earth and not being viviparous.

The Altaians also have a conception of a kut, but theirs does not comprise three elements as does that of the Yakut.

Kut is a physical conception of the soul, while sür, although in some degree a material conception, has more of a psychical

[1. Op. cit., p. 54.

2 Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 72.

3. Op. cit., p. 74.]

character than kut. The sür enters the mother by way of her temples at the moment of conception. The kut is sent by Art-Toyon-Aga, and the Sür by Ulu-Toyon. Sür is connected with the head, and has no shadow; kut with the abdomen, and has three shadows. After death kut is devoured by the abassylar; though there is also a belief that the kut remains for some days near the body of the deceased, and then departs to the other world.' Sür is common to man and the animals, and is even possessed by fishes.[2] Troshchanski[3] says that the word sür is also used to denote unusual psychic powers, such as are possessed by shamans; and, indeed, according to the legend,[4] shamans receive their heads (the seat of sür) from heaven. If, as Troshchanski thinks, the sür is priniarily connected with the shaman as his distinctive familiar spirit, and does not perish after death like the kut, nor go to the other world like the kut,[5] then it would seem clear that the ämägyat, which according to some is a shamanistic spirit passing from one shaman to another, usually by heredity, is not in fact a spirit at all, but simply an impersonal power invariably associated with shamans.[6]


According to the belief of the Altaians, the good spirits (aru neme) are all subjects of the good god Yulgen, and the bad spirits (kara neme) of the evil god Erlik. Yulgen is so kind and generous that he never does harm to men. Sacrifices are offered to him by all, but no one fears him. Every bridegroom must sacrifice to him a horse (iik) of a light colour after his marriage. The iik is surrounded with every mark of respect, red ribbon is tied to its mane, and no woman must mount upon its back. This sacrifice is offered in spring, in a birch thicket; no woman must be present at the ceremony, and even the shaman must of necessity be a man. The sacrificial meat may be partaken of by women, but only unmarried girls may share the feast at the spot where the sacrifice was offered; married women must not approach nearer than sixty feet from this spot.

[1. According to Mikhailowski, the Samoyed believe that the souls of ordinary men perish some time after the death of their possessors (Shamanism, p. 7), only the souls of shamans surviving.

2. Op. cit., pp. 75-6.

3. Op. cit., p. 79.

4. Op. cit, p. 78.

5. Op. cit., p. 77.

6. A similar hypothesis concerning ämägyat is put forward in the chapter on 'The Shaman-his Vocation'.

7 Wierbicki, The Natives of the Altai, p. 43.]

Sacrifice is made to Erlik--usually of some animal--when an evil spirit attacks some one. The ceremony is performed either in the yurta, in the courtyard, or wherever the attack was made. propitiatory sacrifices are offered, not only to Yulgen and Erlik, but also to secondary good spirits, such as aru neme and ak neme, and to secondary evil spirits (kara neme), which are known to the Tartars of Chern as shaitan, almys, khawa, kuremes. The sun, the moon, as well as the mountains, rivers, and forest, are also propitiated, or rather the propitiation is offered to their 'owner' (eczi). Besides these superior beings, every clan (seok) has its own deity, and every family its own family god of the yurta, called bashtut-khan (or among the Tartars of Chern, erke).

Images of gods are called by the Yenisei Turks tyns, and by the Altaians, kurmes. These are made of various materials, often skin or wood.

There exists, apparently, some understanding between Yulgen and Erlik. As the Altaians say, 'Yulgen and Erlik have one door.'.[1] Sometimes, when Yulgen has been expecting a sacrifice and fails to receive it, being too kind-hearted to punish the culprit himself, he informs Erlik, and then sacrifices have to be made to both. In such cases Erlik commands Kagyr Khan to punish the culprit until he makes the expected sacrifice. Kagyr Khan has power over every yurta, and hence minor libations are made to him at all festivals.

The intermediary between gods and men at all sacrifices, and the priest at these ceremonies, as well as the prophet, is the kam or shaman. His power is greater or less according to the degree of tes bazyn-yat[2] (probably 'ancestor-spirit' or 'power of ancestor-spirit') possessed by him. [3]

The local division of the universe is partly horizontal, partly vertical; and the good spirits live in seventeen floors above the earth, while the bad occupy seven or nine under it. Erlik Khan, the chief of the bad spirits, lives on the lowest floor, where the sun and moon are supposed to give only a very feeble light. This Erlik Khan is held to have been originally a heavenly spirit, which shows that even in the past the 'white' spirits were predominant.[4]

The Altaians believe that the soul of man is composed of

[1. Ibid.

2. This conception is sirnilar to that of ämägyat aniong the Yakut.

3. Wierbicki, The Natives of the Altai, p. 43.

4 Ibid.]

several parts, or rather exists ill several conditions or stages. When a man is ill,[1] they consider that one of his souls, suzy, is absent, but that another soul, called tyn, still remains in the body, so that the suzy can be recalled.

(a) Tyn [2] signifies vitality, i.e. a soul common to plants, animals, and man. If the suzy does not return soon to the body, the tyn perishes. The soul of a dead man is called uziup-tyn. The word tyn comes from tynip, 'I breathe', or tynit, 'breath'. The Altaians say that one can bear a sound as of the snapping of a string when the tyn is departing. One must not approach too near to a dying man, for the belief is that in such a case the tyn of a living person can pass into the latter.

(b) Suzy is derived from su, 'water', 'river', and uzak, 'long'. The word suuzak means 'long-lived', 'healthy'; and suzy signifies primarily the strength necessary for a man or animal in order that he may be healthy and live long.

(c) Kut is almost the same as suzy, or is, so to speak, the next stage of suzy. This word is derived from kudap, 'I vanish'. Kut connotes, in fact, the destruction of some vital principle. The expression er kudup vardy means 'the earth has lost its vitality' or 'has become barren'.

(d) Tula is probably derived from tulup, 'I tear'. Animals have no tula, it belongs only to men. During a shaman's performance he represents this soul as a small white bullet continually in motion like quicksilver.

(e) Sür, from sürup, 'I pursue', 'I drive away'. This soul separates from a man at death, and is banished from the dead man's habitation forty days after his death. Sürmet means a 'picture', 'representation'. The Altaians believe that both men and animals, or their sürmet, continue to exist after bodily death, and have the same relations to one another as on earth.

(f) Süne, denoting a phase of the soul also peculiar to man, comes from sünep, 'I advise', 'discuss'. The word refers to the intellectual powers of man. It is this soul which assumes after death the living likeness of its possessor, and wanders in the dwelling of the dead man, sometimes calling out to his relatives.[3]

[1. Op. cit., p. 77.

2. Tyndu-agash, fresh, growing tree; tyndu-elen, fresh grass (ibid.),

3. Op. cit., p. 78.]



The Buryat religion is a form of polytheism. They have classes of supernal beings, each class having at its head one who is above the rest, but they have no conception of a Supreme Being over all. The highest spirits are called tengeri or tengeriny. They inhabit the sky.[1] There are ninety-nine tengeri each with a name of its own, divided into two groups-western, baruni, and eastern, zuni. Those of the west are kind, they predominate in numbers, being fifty-five, and are called sagani tengeri-White Tengeri. The eastern (forty-four in number) are mischievous, and are known as kharan tengeri, or Black Tengeri.[2]

Bauzaroff[3] speaks of the old Mongols as being heaven-worshippers, and this may be true of former times; now, however, we find among them a curious conception of heaven not as an indivisible whole, but as a collection of distinct bodies.

Following what Mr. Klementz [4] calls the theory of the atmospheric explanation of myths, Agapitoff and Khangaloff, in their Materials for the Study of Shamanism in Siberia, explain the ninety-nine tengeri as being each a personification of some atmospheric state, dull, bright, cold, stormy, &c.

The chief of the west tengeri is Khan-Tiurmas Tengeri among the Buryat of Balagansk, and Zayan-Sagan-Tengel among the Buryat of Kudinsk.[5] Not only the west tengeri, but also certain secondary spirits called burkhans or khats, and generally all the western or good zayans, are subordinate to this chief.

The east tengeri,[6] in contrast to those of the west, are hostile to men, among whom they send misfortunes, quarrels, sickness, and death. In the beginning there was no difference between these two classes of tengeri; but in consequence of a quarrel which arose among these spirits, some separated themselves and went to the east, where they have since remained as east tengeri, permanently hostile to the others and to men. There is a tradition among some of the Buryat, e.g. those of the Kuda River, that the white

[1. The sky as seen by daylight is called tengeri; the night sky is oktorgo.

2. Khangaloff, 1895, pp. 1-2.

3. Banzaroff, pp. 6, 26.

4. 'The Buriat,' E. R. E., p. 2.

5. In Buryat the word zayan means literally 'creator', and sagan, white'. Colloquially the former word has the ineaning 'god', 'deity'.

6. Khangaloff, op. cit., p. 10.]

tengeri are older than the black-a tradition which may not be unconnected with the other just mentioned. The chief of the east tengeri is Ata-Ulan-Tengeri among the Balagansk Buryat, and among the Kudinsk Buryat, Khimkhir-Bogdo-Tengeri. Not only the black tengeri but also other lesser zayans are subordinate to him.

The Buryat believe that the visible sky has a door through which the -western tengeri look from time to time, to see how human affairs are going. If they behold some misfortune they send to the aid of men certain of their children, called khats. If a man should happen to look up at the sky when this door (tengerin-uden) opens, he will be very lucky, and all that he may then ask from heaven will be granted him. During the brief moment when this door is open, a glory falls Upon the earth and transfigures it to unwonted beauty.[1]

The most important of the western khats are Khan-Shargan-Noyon and Bukha-Noyon-Babai.

The other benevolent spirits are known among the Kudinsk Buryat as satini-burkat. They are held in great reverence, because, as their name shows (sa, 'tea'), they are tutelary spirits of tea-planting, and the offering made to them consists always of tea, never of tarasun.[2]

The Balagansk Buryat include among their benevolent spirits a dayda-delkha-ijin, that is, the 'host or owner of the whole earth', who is represented as an old man with grey hair. His name is Daban-Sagan-Noyon. His wife is also old and white-haired, and her name is Delent-Sagan-Khatun. The Buryat arrange tailgans to this zayan in the autumn after the harvest.

The Buryat of Olhonsk offer sacrifice to the 'hostess' of the sea, Aba-Khatun.

The Buryat of Balagansk have also important deities called sagani-khordut.[3]

Speaking generally, every feature of the whole landscape has its 'owner' (ijin). E.g. in the lakes and rivers there are spirits known as ukhun-khat; and in the forest lives oin-ijin, the 'Owner
of the forest, a spirit harmful to men.[4]

The attitude of the Buryat towards the many 'owners' whom they see in nature is shown in the following prayer: 'Ye keepers of the echo in the high mountains, ye keepers of the winds of the

[1. Op. cit., p. 18.

2 Op. cit, p. 30.

3. Op. cit., p. 44.

4. Shashkoff, 1864, p. 49.]

wide sea; my lords who lodge in the high mountains, my gods who live in the wilderness! Be our support in our need! In the evil years be generous, grant us fertility in the lean months! When We sit within our yurtas ye are not a danger to us; when we are without, there is no hindrance to your power. In the warm night ye give us light, in the hot midday ye send us shade. Banish from us evil, bring near to us the good! Since ye have made yourselves Creators, save us from all perils! Ye suffer not our plate-like faces to sweat, nor our hearts, like buttons, to flutter. Guardians of our beads, ye who prepare food for our mouths! Through the doors of our yurtas send us rays of light, through our smoke-holes let us see the sun!"

A special class in the spiritual world is formed of 'smiths', who are also western, or white, and eastern, or black. The former protect men and heal them of ills. They are subordinate to the western tengeri, and they have given to men knowledge of their art. The first white smith was Bojintoy, a heavenly zayan. When, at the behest of the western tengeri, white smiths and black descended to earth, Bojintoy remained in the sky. He had one daughter and nine sons, all of whom were smiths.[1]

The eastern khats are of the same number as the western. Their head is Erlen-Khan and his family. Although they do nothing but mischief to men, they have communication sometimes with the western khats, the intermediaries, who have no other function to perform, being called ilshi or bydek. There are also nine 'cow' khats, who also belong to the eastern zayans but are not subject to their power.[3]

In the region of the evil spirits there are two dungeons, one of which, the larger, is known as Khalga, and to this the greatest black shamans go after death. It is tinder the rule of Khara-Eren-Noyon, and a soul can only leave the dungeon if the governor is well disposed towards it. The other dungeon is smaller, and is called Erlen-Tama. It is not accessible to shamans, and is under the direct control of Erlen-Khan.[4]

Eastern or black 'smiths' are called kara-darkhat.[5] They are specially protected by the eastern tengeri, who taught the smith's art to the first 'black' smith on earth, Khojir-Khara-Darkhan. The latter has seven sons, all of whom are great black 'smiths'.[6]

[1. Op. cit., p. 17.

2. Op. cit., pp. 38-9.

3. Op. cit., p. 17.

4. Op. cit., p. 51.

5. Darkhan, singualr-'a smith'. Darkhat is plural.

6. Op. cit., p. 53.]

The Buryat of Balagan believe that every disease has its zagan. Thus the disease common in their district, Sibirskaya yazva (called in Buryat bomo), has as its 'owner' Bolot-Sagan-Noyon.[1]

In the clan Olzoyev, in the district of Unginsk, there are two large white stones, Bumal-Sagan-Sbulun (literally, 'descending white stones'), which are believed to have fallen from the sky, and are worshipped by the natives.[2]

The souls of the greatest shamans after death become zayans and protectors of men. Even the souls of black shamans are said to arrange human business with the black zayans. Every ulus and clan has its own zayans-the souls of deceased shamans and shamanesses. Their bodies are burned or placed in coffins, which are put on trees in a neighbouring forest or on a mountain, whence they are called 'the old people of the mountain', khadaulan-öbökhöd. In every district there are such 'old people of the mountain', for whom are made tailgans and kiriks, with other lesser propitiatory offerings. These 'old people' are purely local divinities, and are not worshipped outside of the particular locality to which they belong..[3]

There are also two classes of ongons or fetishes-'black' and 'white'. They represent different spirits and are made of various kinds of material, usually of skins, and are of different forms, but generally have human faces. One kind of ongons serve only for the amusement of people. These are known as nadani ongon, nadani being the name given to an evening's amusement. The shaman calls upon the spirits represented by these ongons to amuse the young people during an evening party. When the spirit invoked arrives, the shaman himself pretends to be its ongon, and begins to make jests at the expense of the people present, who must not make any objection, but affect to be amused, for these ongons must be welcomed with merriment, and are annoyed otherwise.[4]

Although the Buryat have many legends about animals, which figure largely in their mythology, animals never rise to the rank of deities. Some are even said to have a future life, e.g. the horse, eagle, hedgehog, swan, fox, and even the worms in the fields. The snake is often represented in ritual as well as in mythology. It is a curious fact that the bear, which plays such an important part in the beliefs and ceremonies of other

[1. Op. cit., p. 54.

2. Op. cit., p. 45.

3. Op. cit., pp. 82

4. Op. cit., p. 76.]

shamanists, docs not enter into the myths and ritual of the Buryat.

The sun and the moon are among the principal tutelary spirits. In most of the tales they are represented as being of the male sex, and as taking women for wives. When there is an eclipse of the sun or moon, said a Balagansk shaman, this is because they have been swallowed by an alkha, a monster without trunk or limbs, having only a head. The sun, or the moon, then cries 'Save me!' and all the people shout and make a great noise to frighten the monster.[1]

The Buryat believe that man is composed of three parts: oyeye, material body; amin, lower soul, breath; and sunyesun, soul belonging to man only. Amin is connected with death; when it leaves the body, death occurs. Sunyesun has a similar connexion with sleep, leaving the body when one is sleeping. Batoroff [2] relates the history of the soul after death as follows: When the time comes for a man to die, erliks capture one of his souls, and bring it before Erlik-Nomon-Khan for judgement. After this soul has been captured, it sometimes happens that a man may live on for as long as nine years, but he never enjoys his former health and strength.

The second part of the soul does not leave the earth, but changes at the death of the man into a bokholdoy, which continues to live in a dwelling on earth and in a manner exactly similar to that which the man formerly followed. There are different classes of bokholdoys.

The third part of the soul is born again in the form of a human being but Batoroff [3] does not tell us when and how this reincarnation takes place.[4]

Bokholdoys are sometimes the souls of deceased shamans, to whom the Buryat bring sacrifices, says Batoroff;[5] these bokholdoys, then, form the class of zayans to which reference was made above. Bokholdoys are more or less powerful, according to the quality of the shamans in life. This depends, Batoroff thinks,[6] on the utkha of the deceased shaman, which means literally, his descent or genealogy; but from other references to a shaman's utkha it

[1. Agapitoff and Khangaloff. p. 17.

2. 'Buryat belief's on the bokholdoys and anakhoys,' E. S. S. I. R. G. S., vol. ii, part ii, p. 13.

3. Op. cit., p. 14.

4. For further information as to peculiar Buryat beliefs about the soul, See the chapter on 'Death'.

5. Op. cit., p. 10. Ibid.]

seems clear that the word denotes supernatural, shamanistic power, like the Yakut ämägyat.[1] The less important bokholdoys do not receive any propitiatory offerings other than an occasional libation, which may be performed by any one, not necessarily by a shaman.

Ada or anakhay are, according to some traditions, souls of wicked persons or of women who have died childless. No sacrifices are made to them and they are represented as one-eyed, evil, malicious spirits, who always remain in the same ulus or house. They sometimes take the form of a dog or cat, always one-eyed; they wander at night, but not every one can see them, though any one can smell their disagreeable odour. They are afraid of being seen, of angry men, of fire, of metals, of weapons, and of the smell of heath. Though easily frightened, they are not easily banished from a house, and as they are especially harmful to young children under the age of seven, parents frequently arrange, naydji[2] with the shamans for their children's protection.[3]

The less important kind of bokholdoys are called ükher-ezy; these are the souls of sinful women who have died a violent death. No sacrifices are made to them, and nobody fears them. They can be seen by the same people as can see anakhay, but other people can perceive their odour. They come to wander on earth at the time when these women would have died in the ordinary course of events but for the violence which in fact ended their lives.[4] Klementz mentions also two other kinds of malicious spirits who originated from human souls, namely, mu-shubu -in the form of an evil-disposed bird-and dakhuls.[5]


In his account of the natives of north-western Siberia, the Ugrian Ostyak, Vogul, and Samoyed, Gondatti,[8] in speaking of their religion, pays most attention to the Vogul mythology. He says that the gods of the Vogul are divided into two classes, viz. of good and bad gods. The chief of the beneficent deities is Yanykli-Torilin (called also Numi-Toruni or Voykan-Toruin).

[1. See chapter on 'Shaman's Vocation'.

2. This term is explained in the chapter on 'Birth'.

3. Op. cit., pp. 10-11.

4 Op. cit., p. 13.

5. 'The Buriats,' E. R. E., p. 3.

6. Gondatti, Traces of Paganism among the Aborigines of North-Western Siberia, 1888, pp, 6-7.]

The principal evil deity is Khul. Yanykh-Torum. is, however, not the highest of the gods; there is another, higher than he, Kors-Torum. (The Creator), the progenitor of all the gods. Kors-Torum has never revealed himself to man, and the Vogul say that they cannot picture to themselves what he is like, that whatever they know of him is only known through the lesser gods.[1] He never descends to earth, but sometimes sends thither his eldest son, Yanykh-Torum. Yanykh-Torum has the form of a man, but from the splendour of his raiment he shines like gold. Like his father he never carries any weapon. About once a week he descends to earth to see how men's affairs are going on. If they pray to him to send rain or fair weather he gives commands to his younger brother, Sakhil-Torum, who dwells in the dark clouds, to do what is required. Sakhil-Torum, like his brother, has the form of a man, and drives reindeer, which have tusks like a mammoth, in the clouds. His reindeer are laden with casks of water. When they are sluggish he whips them up, and as they plunge under his strokes the water in the casks is spilled and falls on the earth as rain.

The following tale is told about the sons of Yanykh-Torum: When they were grown up their father sent them down to earth. On their arrival, they began to fight with the heroes who lived on earth in those days. To bring about peace, Yanykh summoned his sells and said to them, 'He among you who can first tie his bridle to-morrow to the silver post which stands before my house, shall be made elder and ruler over his brothers and over men.' The next day the first to appear was the youngest son, Mir-Susne-Khum. Since that time he has been the ruler of his brothers and of men, whom they try to keep in peace.[2]

[1. The Samoyed chief god Nini, or Ileumbarte (literally, 'giver of life'), although he is ruler both of earth and heaven, never descends to the unclean earth lest he might soil himself upon it, but communicates with man only through the tadebtsy (spirits), who for this purpose choose tadibey (shamans) from among men. (Islavin, The Samoyed, p. 109.) Lepekhi says that the tadebtsy of the Samoyed are not divided into bad and good spirits, but that they can harm or help men according to eircumstances. These tadebtsy are so numerous that there is no place on earth where they are not found. (Lepekhin, Full Collection of Scientific Travels in Russia, I.R.A.S., 1818, pp. 260-2.) Jackson says that the Samoyed regard atmospheric phenomena-storms, rain, snow-as the 'direct expressions, of the 'great god Num', and that his attitude towards men is one of complete indifference. (Notes on the Samoyeds of the Great Tundra, Joumal of the Anthropological Institute, vol. xxiv, p. 398.)

2. Op. cit., pp. 17-18]

Yanykh-Torum has seven sons, but neither he nor Kors-Torum has any daughters. Besides Yanykh and Kors-Torum and their sons there are many other gods. These latter are of secondary rank, and are specially connected with individuals, the family, or the clan.

Each category of gods has its own special sacrificial places.[1]

Kul-Odyr, or Kul, is the chief of the spirits of darkness, and the secondary dark spirits are known as menkva. These resemble the Koryak kelet in having the power of changing their forms. They are represented as being very tall, with heads of a conical shape. They sometimes kill and devour human beings. Other malicious spirits, called uchchi, inhabit the forest. They have the paws and teeth of a dog. In the forest, too, lives Mis-Khuni. He has many daughters, who try to entice men to live with them as their husbands. If they succeed, this brings good fortune to the fathers of the men thus captured.[2]

In the water lives the good god Vit-Khon, as well as a dark spirit, Vit-Kul. The first was sent by Numi to have charge of the fishes.

The mythology of the Finnic tribes is very rich in tales about heroes, called in Vogul pokatur or odyr. These heroes were continually quarrelling and fighting among themselves, especially about women, therefore Numi punished them by sending a deluge upon the earth.[3]

Representations of gods and fetishes are made of wood, metal, or bone. They are usually very rude in form, and now that these people can obtain children's dolls very cheaply from Russian traders they are ceasing to make their own fetishes.[4]

A man, according to the belief of the Finnic tribes, is composed of three parts: body, shadow (isi), and soul (lili khelmkholas). LiIi khelmkholas passes, after the death of a man, to an infant of the same clan, or, if the clan has become extinct, to one of another clan, but never to an animal. The shadow goes to a cold underworld, situated in the icy seas beyond the mouth of the Obi, and ruled over by Kul Odyr. Here it lives for as long as the term of the dead man's former life on earth, and follows the same pursuits-reindeer-breeding, fishing, &c. Then the shadow begins to grow smaller and smaller, until it is no larger than a blackbeetle, ker-khomlakh (according to some, it actually does turn into a blackbeetle), and finally disappears altogether.[5]

[1. Op. cit., p. 7.

2. Op. cit., p. 35.

3. Op. cit., p. 36.

4. Op. cit., p. 16.

5. Op. cit., p. 39.]


Next: Chapter XIV. Some Ceremonies