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11. Presentation Of The Material

The material discussed in the previous section was analysed, checked once more, partly rejected for the

reasons indicated above, and classified for writing the present work. It may be pointed out that some problems have appeared better investigated, sometimes the amount of facts exceeded what was actually needed for the exposition, while some other problems have remained obscure. In the exposition we shall meet with both cases. There are three reasons for this situation, namely, (1) Problems sometimes arise on the ground of European com-plex without being actual problems in the Tungus complex;

(2) the Tungus themselves cannot give their own solutions of some problems actually existing in their complex and there is no means of explaining them from the Tungus point of view;

(3) the conditions of work sometimes do not permit insisting upon certain questions for such a pressure upon the Tungus may produce quite an undesirable effect and, as shown, the investigator may lose the Tungus as voluntary informers.

I have constructed my treatment according to the structure of Tungus complex, which will be sometimes responsible for an unusual form of exposition. However, I considered undesirable an adaptation of the Tungus complex to the European complex, or to a conventionalized form found in a great number of publications. Still in the arrangement of the material my own analysis of the Tungus complex is also responsible for the form of this work. In fact the technical ways of exposition will not be the same as those used by other authors, so for convenience of exposition I have described the psychomental complex in its relation to the milieus, namely, the primary, secondary and tertiary milieus as they have already been defined in my earlier publication, while «customs», some ideas, and practices are described together in a special part. Moreover, I have divided my work into four parts dealing with (1-) positive knowledge, (2) hypotheses, (3) practical methods resulting from hypotheses, and (4) shamanism. However, in the first part I had to include sections on language, folklore, decorative art and education which are important manifestations of the psychomental complex, but at present they cannot be separated into a special part and they are not conditioned by the hypotheses to be treated in Part 3. On the other hand, I have written an introductory chapter on some Tungus conceptions without which the reading of Part I might not be clear. My original idea was to include shamanism in Part 3, as one of the practical methods resulting from hypotheses, which is the real character of shamanism, but the latter is too voluminous to be included in Part 3, and it has its own conditions which required special chapters on Psychic conditions of groups and History of Shamanism. Owing to this, and against my original intention, I have separated shamanism under a special heading, which is not, however, indicative that I regard it as something different in nature from other various practical methods treated in Part 3.

* * *

In order to avoid possible misunderstandings and in order to be clear to my readers I shall now dwell a while upon the terms used in this work. Some of the terms are already evident from the previous discussion of difficulties of investigation and theory of ethnos (Chapter 1 and 2). Since some terms as «evolution», «development», «progress», «starter» and others have been discussed by me in other works (namely, — Social Organization of the Northern Tungus, 1929 and Ethnological and Linguistical Aspects of the Ural-Altaic Hypothesis, 1931), I shall not again repeat this discussion. However, in the present work I shall use some new terms which will be in due course explained and I shall omit altogether some old terms for which omission I must give reasons. But first of all, I must justify my preference for the term «psychomental complex» which is likely to meet with opposition. It is evident that we shall deal with a complex. I call it psychomental because the phenomena designated as mental may be regarded so only abstractly, while they are actually connected with the whole psychic complex of the ethnical units and individuals. This complex is functional complex which is created as an outcome of adaptation of the given (and variable) physiological complex to the totality of conditions of units, which may be transmitted as inherited potentiality and as a pattern of imitated behaviour learnt from the ethnical milieu. I call it not only psychic, but also mental because the group of phenomena which are called mental being easily observable manifestations liable to an easy recording and analysis, do influence psychic functions in units and individuals and thus «psychic» and «mental» phenomena cannot be separated. These considerations have brought me to the compound term «psychomental».

In the existing ethnographic works one meets with different terms e. g. «spiritual culture», «religious culture», «religion», even «superstitions» and «shamanism» as a «religion». None of these terms is good for such a phenomenon as the psychomental complex. Indeed, the term «spiritual», has the specific contents of «spirit», yet a great number of phenomena of the psychomental complex in their nature are not «spiritual» at all, and such a specification of these phenomena puts them into opposition to the «material» phenomena which is in crying contradiction with all modern scientific thinking. Terms like «religious» and «religion» presume comparison of opposition with the cultural phenomena such as Christianity and Buddhism. However, to include elements like regulation of psychic life, as it is observed among the Tungus, into the complex of religion would mean to oppose this «religion» to the complexes like Christianity which does not include medical art. Indeed, these terms ought to be reserved to special well known phenomena in order to avoid always undesirable confusion of different cultural complexes put into the form of a pseudo-scientific generalization.

Indeed, the terms «superstitions», «prejudices» etc. still surviving in the ethnographical literature may have no more place in the scientific publications for they presume an absolute certainty of holding in hand TRUTH the existence of which no serious European scientist may now accept. In fact, a great number of such truths announced during the last century have since appeared as errors due to incorrect postulates some of which were of a supernatural order, i. e. the constructions were not cognized superstitions. The term «shamanism» is still less convenient for as I have already shown in my previous publications [76] shamanism is not a phenomenon which may cover the whole psychomental complex. Indeed, shamanism is well adapted to the existing complex and it can hardly exist in a different complex, but it forms only one of the elements of the existing complex. On the other hand, the shamanism may exist in association with different complexes, and the Tungus complexes may include no shamanism at all. So that such an identification of Tungus psychomental complex is erroneous in principle [77]. Indeed, shamanism is not a religion even on the ground that it is not a fixed, stabilized system, and also absolutely lacking ethical element [78].

In this work the reader will not find the term «medicine man» sometimes applied to the shamans, for as I have already pointed out shamanism is not a «medical art» only. I have also banished from my terminology terms like magic», «mystic» etc. with their derivatives. In fact, these terms presume, on the part of the speaker, a definite attitude towards the complexes and elements designated by these terms, the essential of which is that they are opposed to something «rational», «scientifically proved» etc. while they actually designate and cover elements and complexes which are either not yet understood by the investigators, or belong to distinct complexes when compared with great religions and modern science.

Owing to deep psychological reasons, into the discussion of which I cannot enter here, the introducing of new terms and giving of new «meanings» to the old ones is almost always met with a kind of hostility. As a matter of fact, such an introduction of new terms is not often required by the situation, and these terms are introduced because of reasons lying far away from the needs of science. However, when new ideas are introduced or new phenomena are described, i. e. phenomena which have not yet been described, or phenomena which have not yet been separated, the need of new terms becomes quite imperative. In fact, I find it necessary to introduce such terms as «ethnos», «starter», «olonism», and I insist upon my understanding of «shamanism», as it is here described, for otherwise the reading of the present work will be difficult, perhaps impossible. I was reluctant to introduce new terms and to be persistent in my use of some other terms given new meanings, but I do it because these terms are needed. The same may be stated in reference to my avoidance of some old terms. Naturally it is not for reasons of giving this work an «original» appearance, but for giving it more clearness and more independence on the European complex, for in fact, as shown in the present work, it is possible to describe an alien complex without making recourse to an ambiguous terminology. Therefore there is on my part neither pedantism, nor pretension to originality.

By introduction of a few new terms and rearrangement of the meanings of some common terms I do not cover all existing needs of a new terminology for description and analysis of alien complexes, and I am certain that on this ground there will originate some misunderstandings. Still greater, is the chance of misunderstanding because of the language as I have already pointed out in speaking about the difficulties of translating {vide supra pp. 2-3) Tungus texts and rendering Tungus ideas in terms of European complex.

* * *

This work at the last stage of its preparation for publication has been carried out as above described, but it cannot satisfy all the requirements which I demand in such an investigation. The main reason is that the material at my disposal still is not sufficient according to my ideas, for an exhaustive treatment, especially in so far as the psychological side of the investigation is concerned. — Nothing can compensate for the lack of a laboratory.

In spite of these objections, I give below my observations and conclusions as they have been formed at the end of my work, on all material which I have. Indeed, in some cases, — and they will be numerous, — I shall abstain from inter-pretations and conclusions confining myself to statements of facts. I will abstain not because of the impossibility of finding some interpretation, but I will do so because these interpretations may be uncertain and conclusions wrong, and therefore they are useless for my chief aim which is to give a picture of the psychomental complex. For the same reason I will leave without interpretations and conclusions some facts which I shall quote from other authors. As may be seen from the previous sections these facts are in some cases brought forth by the investigators as isolated facts, and without their connection with the complex as a whole.

Although a great number of parallels found in the descriptions of psychomental complexes among other and sometimes distant ethnical groups are strikingly similar to what is observed among the Tungus, and in writings of comparatists they would certainly be included, I shall not include them in the present work except in those cases when the presentation of parallels may be instructive as an indication of possible source of borrowing. These will be those groups chiefly living, at present and in the past, in direct contact with the Tungus groups described, and others which although indirect were a certain source. Indeed, the groups like Chinese, Mongols and northern neighbours, as the Yakuts and various Palaeasiatics, might supply an enormous amount of facts, but for a profitable use of these facts there is needed space to be occupied by quotations, their interpretation and critical analysis of theoretical value of such parallels which would actually require a special critical and comparative study; an incidental quota-tion of parallels, in my eyes, cannot be justified. First of all, most facts are accessible for the specialists, while their quotation may still occupy too much space needed for other purposes - i. e. the facts which have not before been published and their interpretation, as well as the establishment of a theoretical basis of the present work. Second, quite involuntarily the facts taken out of complexes on the background of a distinct complex may easily happen to appear in a distorted form, functional and even sometimes factual when curtailed. Moreover, I do not believe that such facts can be safely used without a perfect knowledge of the whole complex, in which they are included. Yet, even with the best investigated groups, this cannot be always done, without a personal acquaintance with these groups. This difficulty is well known to all ethnographer who are familiar with distinct groups, and who know that the essential character of any cultural complex is its functional aspect which is difficult to show in a «description», — it ought to be seen, heard, and «felt». A misuse of ethnographic facts may thus result in wrong inferences; this chance is very great for behind the choice of the facts compared, there are always some preconceived ideas and hypotheses.

* * *

In the present work besides the Northern Tungus groups investigated I will also treat the psychomental complex as it was observed among the Manchus and for this reason the present work is entitled Psychomental Complex of the Tungus. As a matter of fact the Manchus have been responsible for many ideas concerning the shamanism and many other elements of the psychomental complex observed amongst the Northern Tungus groups, so that the Manchu psychomental complex must be treated here. Since the social organization among the Northern Tungus and Manchus is closely connected in my treatment with the psychomental complex, I will often refer to my publications devoted to the description of the social organization. I have already given a general and very brief description of the Northern Tungus mentality and behaviour in order to make clearer the functioning of the Tungus social organization. So in the present work I shall not repeat what has already been discussed as to the classification and general characteristics of the Tungus groups. If I should succeed in showing the Tungus complex in terms of functions, and if I should succeed in tracing some elements to the sources of their ethnical origin, i. e. to establish some facts as to the sequence of variations or merely hints as to history of changes, at last, if I should succeed in my ethnological inferences, from the facts observed, although quite tentative and perhaps temporary, I shall consider my task fulfilled.


76. Cf. Essay in Russian (1919) also other publications, as What is Shamanism (1924), Sramana-Shaman (1924) (in collaboration with N. D. Mironov), also SONT, Supplem. note VIII, pp. 364 et seq.

77. This term has been widely used as a term equivalent to «pagan», «heathen», in the official records, as opposed to Christianity, Buddhism and Mohammedism. Cf. e.g. S. K. Patkanov's work on Tungus. In these cases shamanism was regarded as a «religion».

78. Indeed, one may find «ethical» elements in «shamanism» when one would include in shamanism all spirits and the ethical complex. But this would be equivalent to an arbitrary treatment of shamanism. The Tungus ethical complex may be free of spirits as well. The same is true of the establishment of the existence of a «religion», as does e.g. W. Jochelson, The Yukaghirs etc. (pp. 135 et seq.), on the ground that some ethical prescriptions are connected with the spirits, while among the Christian populations there are some «spirits» too.

 
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