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17. Birth And Celestial Bodies

Under the term primary milieu I shall understand the milieu with which ethnical units meet when they arrive at a new territory not occupied by other ethnical units. Such a milieu is beyond a direct control of human units. Thus, the cosmos, with the solar system, the Earth, the conditions of topography, geology, soil, climate, flora and fauna, also all physical and chemical phenomena are the elements forming the primary milieu. The ethnical unit which consists of individuals through their accumulation of observations regarding primary milieu and through making inferences from the facts observed, also accumulation of facts and inferences made by other human units, all of which are transmitted through the tradition, forms the complex of natural science. It is not here presumed whether the observation of facts and inferences made correspond to what is found by modern science or not, whether this knowledge is extensive or not, whether the inferences made from the point of view of modern science are correct or not. The differences will be that of quantity of facts known and correctness of inferences, but as to the essential of science, i.e. the cognition of the nature (primary milieu), it is the same among all ethnical units. Therefore this chapter could be titled as one dealing with the natural sciences. In the Tungus system, among all groups, the Earth is regarded as a stable and flat body. Over the Earth there is sky which is of solid consistence. The nature of the sky material is left out of discussion, but it is believed that it. may reflect the sun-light. The sun, moon, and stars are moving on the sky according to their own paths. The path, or place occupied by them as well as by the stars is called in Ner. koklon [91]. The sun and moon rise and set back after their daily or nightly running along their paths. The stars are small as compared with the sun and moon and they are not alike for some of them change their relative place according to the periods (planets), while others regularly keep the same position in reference to other stars. One of them, the Polar Star, possesses its constant position and does not move at all. The terms for Polar Star are different. It is called toyolga (Bir), bugadulin (RTM), ogdeu osikta (Ang. Tit.) gatd (Kum). The terms for «star» in all known Tungus dialects are of the same stem — which is subject to the variations owing to the alternation o~u;

and increase the initial vowel with bilabialization and aspiration. The stems are usually supplied with ihe suffixes (kta, xa, etc.), so that the most distant forms are muziya (Manchu Sp.) and oyekat (Lam) [92]. Thus, the stem osi seems to be very old and Tungus which has no parallels in other languages. True, this stem with a certain imagination may be connected with the words known from other languages but it will not be sure. It is different with the name for Polar Star. In spite of the fact that Birarchen and Birarchen have a dialect in common [93] the names for Polar Star are different gatd (Kum) and toyolga (Bir). In RTM it is bugadulin which is composite one and must be translated: «the middle of universe», while toyolga (Bir) is «the pillar» which supports the universe. So that at the basis of this conception is the same idea of a revolving world about a pillar. The pillar would not be understood as a physical pillar, but in sense of «axe» of European languages. This conception does not seem to be of Tungus origin. In Aug. (Tit.) we have again a different term ogdeu osikta, which is either «great star», if ogdeu is a Tungus word or it is an alien word. In Kum. we have gatd the etymology of which I do not now propose [94].

These facts may suffice for showing that the Tungus have accepted various theories and changed the name of the Polar Star in the process of adaptation to the new conceptions. The essential for us is that the Tungus know that the sky is revolving according to a definite principle, there are stars which change their place (koklon) [95] and there are stars which remain fixed in relation to other stars and in relation to the revolving system; and last the Tungus have accepted various ideas from or through their neighbours.

The constellations are known to the Tungus under various names and almost all of them are connected with explanatory myths. Mythology is very rich and consisted in elements of various ethnic origin which may be seen from the names and myths. For instance, we meet with the myth of the Pleiadae referred to as the seven-stars constellation — nadan unilor unat — «the seven girls»; the Great and Little Urses, Orion and others are connected with different myths. There are other stars and constellations as for instance, the Wild Boar's Jaw — (Hyades); the Dog — (Regulus); the Hero; the River Boat, etc. It should be noted that Venus has lately received special attention of the Tungus, it may be supposed, in connection with the recent spreading of some Mongol cultural elements amongst them. It is called by a term which is met with in Mongol cholman and Yakut colbon, e.g. colpon (Bir. Khin.), calbon (Kum. Man. Ner. Barg.), colbon (RTM), calbon (Ang. Tit.). However, it may also be called, «evening» and «morning» star.

The Milky Way of the sky naturally attracted attention of the Tungus. There exist at least two sets of myths: the Manchus call it the «Sungari River» and the Northern Tungus usually call it the Birds' Way. The Tungus of Manchuria sometimes accept the Manchu name. As far as I could see the Tungus do not understand it as a river or as a birds' way, but regard it as a peculiar accumulation of stars which they cannot explain. If they are asked as to the nature of Milky Way they reply: — «Certainly, these are stars». If you insist upon the explanation they tell you that «Such is the name! — the people say so».

This is true of all names of stars and constellations except those names which are not Tungus names, as for instance colbon («Venus»).

The comets are called (Bir.) cirda, — the war arrow, — and their appearance is connected in some way with the Venus (colbon).

The description of the Tungus mythology at present time has no importance for us, for the Tungus do not believe that the myths reflect their ideas as to the organisation of the universe. In the eyes of the Tungus these myths are mere literary creations, pure and simple myths, and they treat them only from the point of view of art. No conception of reality is connected with these myths. The Tungus mythology will be dealt with in special publications on the Tungus Folklore [96].

The sun is a very large body which runs along his path (koklon). It rises up, goes up the summit of the skies, and descends, falls down, in order to continue his path tomorrow. The sun has at least three different names in different dialects. So he in called dilacae (Bir. Kum.), dilaca (Ner. Barg.) (Ang. Tit), delaca (Man.), delaca (Ner.), deleted (Czek.); also another series: s'ivun (Khin.), s'ihun (RTM), and contracted forms, e.g.s'iun (Neg. Sch.) (Goldi, Gr.), siu (Oroc. Sch.), sun (Neg. Sch.), sun (Manchu Writ. Sp.) and others, and a third series, n'ultin (Lam, Turn.) n'ultan (Lamut). There are thus differences which reveal at least three groups of dialects. It seems to me that the forms of dilacea type are perhaps of secondary origin [97]. These stems cannot surely be compared with the stems of other languages.

The moon moves in the same way as the sun but does not appear during a certain period at all. The phases of the moon are not understood and the Tungus suppose that the moon is periodically «born». Whether it is a metaphor or a physical conception I cannot say, but there is no doubt that the «birth» is not the same as that in man and other animals. The word for «moon» in all Tungus dialects is derived from the stem bega with variations in contracted form being b 'a (e.g. Manchu). No connection with other languages is possible.

The sun and moon eclipses are known as natural phenomena, but according to custom the Tungus produce noise and shout in order to frighten the heavenly dog which swallows the sun and moon. However, when the Tungus say so they do not accept it seriously and regard it rather as a joke, for they say, one may see the sun and moon during the eclipse. The «heavenly dog» is not of Tungus origin, but of Chinese origin, which is also known to some Tungus groups; (Birarchen). Amongst the Bargusin Tungus the function of the dog is performed by the spirit-jarajargici-which seems to belong to the non-Tungus complex.

91. Cf Ang. (Tit), where osikta bijeren umu koklo in translated by E. Titov an «the Polar star remains at the same place». Indeed umu koklo cannot be written, an E. Titov does, together, as one word. Here it may be pointed out that the place and path are designed by the same term koklo. What in the etymology of koklo I do not venture to guess.

92. cf. Aspects, p. 105.

93. The Birarchen have two dialects (cf. SONT).

94. The Manchu system is under the influence of the Chinese astronomy which itself in its form known at the moment of meeting of the Manchus with the Chinese was already connected with the astronomical notions of other (western Asiatic) groups, (cf. L. de Saussure and others) therefore I will not now compare the Manchus.

95. In Manchu it is oron, — the «place», «throne», «bed», etc.

96. To distinguish — where is literature (folklore in a narrow sense) and where is an exposition of the scientific theories accepted by the ethnical unit is not an easy task even for an experienced ethnographer. It is evident that the body of facts known to ethnical units possessing a culture of the same volume as that of the Tungus is rather numerous. Owing to the fact that the scientific knowledge is transmitted by oral tradition their record must be done by the ethnographer. So before the ethnographer there stands the task of distinguishing where is an artistic creation and where is a positive scientific record of facts with their analysis and conclusions. It requires not only a good knowledge of the language and many branches of general knowledge, which is rare amongst ethnographers, but also a keen analytical mind for tracing the line of demarcation, if there is any, between the scientific knowledge and artistic creation, and first of all a perfect knowledge of the psychomental complex. However, when the ethnographer first visits the ethnical group as a rule he approaches it either with no knowledge at all, or with a series of ready-made patterns, for which he has only to select the facts. On the ground of European psycho-mental complex and ethnocentric complex the groups of the «inferior» complex are considered a priori as possessing the most «queer» and «strange» conceptions which must strike the imagination of the readers (psychology hominis avidi rerum novarum) by something which is not usual and common, particularly «prelogic» and lacking of common sense. If the ethnographer cannot satisfy this requirement of the «market» and «crowd» he is considered, as a rule, with suspicion, while those ethnographers who are able to produce a required mosaic picture will be recognised as «real» and very learned authors. The ethnography is also one of the elements which constitute the European complex. What happens practically is that the ethnographer visits the groups for a short time; he cannot distinguish the elements of folklore (in a narrow sense) (art!) from positive knowledge, which is so accepted by the groups, and he confuses everything which he collects. After coming to his own milieu he produces a kind of heterogeneous composition agreeable to his readers. Indeed, the European ethnographical complex is richer than that of some «primitive» groups, so the «folklore» and «science» of Europeans contain more elements (and facts). To become familiar with them requires more than a human life, but the amount of knowledge amongst the «primitives» is not so small that it may be recorded during a short visit. Let us suppose that an ethnographer who does not belong to the European cycle passes a long period of two years (I increase proportionally the period) among the Europeans, he will not be able to analyse and know the complex and he will record together as a whole of cosmogonic theories Wagner's Tannhauser, Kant-Laplace's theory, and Madame de Taibe' s predictions. If the readers of the groups to which the ethnographer belongs show a negative reaction towards the European complex and consider it as «inferior» his publication be accepted as a clever and learned work, and carefully reviewed by competent critics. This may give the picture which is often produced by the ethnographers visiting for a short time «primitive» groups.

97. It is very attractive to connect them with dil, — the «bead».

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