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24. Classification Of Animals

A Tungus when meeting animals first of all observes them and either classifies them according to the existing classification or makes of the newly observed animal a special group. We have already seen that a Tungus finds himself in difficulty when he traces the line of demarcation between the mineral realm and plants, and when he traces it between the plants and animals.

Both plants and animals possess «life», — erga, — for they first of all grow and die, and react on seasonal changes. But since the animals move, they also possess what may be called a «soul». From this point of view the Tungus will be misled in classifying animals which do not move and show no striking features of the living organism. They will surely be put together with plants with an explanation that they are like some given plant, but still different.

Similar to plants the animals are classified in groups according to their appearance. There is no general term, in so far as I know, for all animals, which does not mean that the Tungus have no such a conception. They do have it which may be seen on different occasions.

The animals like mollusks, especially those supplied with shells and living in the water, where their movement is not well understood by the Tungus, are regarded as a special kind of «living» matter naturally possessing «animus» and even perhaps erga -«life», but the physiological functions of these animals remain unknown to the Tungus. This class is called in different dialects, by different terms, e.g. tak 'ira (Bir. Kum.), taxura (Manchu Writ.), ketta (Khin.) — the «river bivalves». But there are also special terms for special kinds of mollusks, e.g. cuk'ita — the «snail»; kaikairi (Manchu Writ.) — the «ammonite»; kakta (Tung. Sch.), k'axta (Oroci, Goldi, Olca, Sch.) — the «shell fish». The Manchu terminology in this respect is very rich for the Manchus had to give Manchu names to the animals known to them from the Chinese zoological treatises and encyclopedias. However, the mollusks do not interest the Tungus very much for they are not much as food.

The insects also have no general name, but the Tungus distinguish many genera, and even species. However, there is a special name for all small insects, particularly harmful for the Tungus, like midges, and mosquitoes, different kinds of which they also distinguish by special names, e.g. in Ner. unnm'ikta, monmaktd, nanmakta, munm'ikta, etc. in Bir. cokomukta, manmakta etc. not to mention terms borrowed from Mongol as bargosun, buyutuna, etc. The same is true, for instance, for the names of tick and related insects which are in Bir. daktd, ungilivla — one moving forward with its back; one which deeply penetrates the skin — tiyir'ifki; also in the gadflies Bir. distinguishes one with white head — n'aigda; small black — komcoki; large brown-yellow — omule; white hairy — gedenekta; with a general name irgakta. The same may hold good for the insects which are not very harmful for man and animals e.g. the grasshoppers, different kinds of bugs, etc. The Tungus observe insects, especially those of large size, with all possible details as to their habits and as far as possible their anatomy. The Tungus spend much time in observing the life of ants, amongst which they distinguish several species. They observe among them wars, relation with other insects, migrations etc. Also, they try to distinguish whether ants can hear and see, by experiments similar to those of the behaviorists etc. In the insects the Tungus would see how the insects use their legs for softening food, how they fight with other insects; the Tungus try to find the eyes, sexual organs, the rectum and they make all possible minor observations regarding anatomy and simple physiology. They know how the insects are produced from the eggs and they distinguish males and females.

The fishes are called by a general name oldo, (with modifications, in all North Tungus dialects), n'imaxa (Manchu) (Goldi modification — Imaxa) and there are names for different fishes of importance and even for those which are not used as food, The Tungus know habits of fishes, their geographical distribution, the egg-laying periods etc. Here a Tungus is already an anatomist and a comparatist. He has names for different anatomical parts, he knows how the internal organs are made, and to which organs they correspond in other animals. In different kinds of fishes the Tungus know the number of teeth and the distribution and functions of fins. In the same group the Tungus include also the crayfish.

The snakes are classified together with worms which according to the Tungus conception, my be of different size — from the size passing visual capacity of the human eye up to the largest snakes. The kinds of snakes and worms have no special names, except in a few cases of the most remarkable snakes and worms, e. g. sirg'idika kulikan (RTM) (where sirg'idika is from a sirg't — the sand), — the worm living in the river sand [132]. The lizard and turtle have names as well as the toad, but the Tungus do not usually distinguish species. It is different with the frogs among which the Tungus distinguish some species too. In the same group, but under a different name, are included the boa-constrictor, unknown in the regions here discussed and the dragon, the idea of which is borrowed from neighbours; a very few of these are believed to live in the region of Manchuria. I shall return to this question. It ought to be added here that kulikan — the «worm» - of very small size are supposed to infect man and animals, which is inferred by the Tungus from the over-grown parasites, which may be observed in animal tissues, wounds and fecae. The Tungus go still further and they say that there are some worms of such a small size that they cannot be seen. Some diseases are explained by the Tungus of Manchuria as due to small «worms». Indeed, it is a hypothesis and not all the Tungus know which diseases may be ascribed to this cause. Since no traces of alien origin of this idea were found and since this idea is merely a logical development of Tungus ideas I am inclined to see that the Tungus, perhaps locally, created this hypothesis.

The birds are classed together as dog'i (with modifications all North Tungus dialects). I do not bring here the Manchu classification which is an adaptation of the Chinese classification [133]. The classification of birds is very detailed and they are grouped into related species, e.g. the ducks are considered as a group n'ik'i (with the modifications Bir. Kum. RTM. Manchu) (Ur. Castr.) and there are distinguished, e. g. in Manchuria, at least over thirty kinds. Indeed, my observations could not be complete for not all ducks could be observed, and their names recorded on the spot. One of the peculiarities of the Tungus classification is that the males and females of the same species may have different names as it is, for instance in European classification of ox, horse, dog etc. In the same way there are classified the geese, the number of being naturally smaller for the number of geese species is rather limited (e. g. four names in Bin), with a general name goose n'url'aki [with variations: Ner. Bar, Bir. Kum. Khin, RTM, (Neg, Sch. Oroci. Sch.; Goldi, Grube), Manchu, perhaps Gilak n'on'i (Grube)]. The birds of prey are also classified in a detailed manner, as well as night birds of prey, the grallae order, and even the birds of small size and of no practical importance for the Tungus are also distinguished. Thus the birds are classified according to their morphological characters, habits, and more attention is paid to those which are of practical importance or of peculiar character.

The classification of the mammals is still more elaborated, and there are no animals which have no names. However, as far as I know there in no general name for the mammals. They seem to be grouped according to size bojun also boingga, etc. (Man. Bir. Kum. RTM.) (Neg. Sch.) — may be called large sized animals including cervines, bears, wolves etc.; according to the character of the fur, i.e. good or not for hunting, e. g. ciya (Bir.) (these must not be confounded with the terms for «fur» and «fur animals».) There are still more detailed classifications of these animals according to sex, and age. It may be noted that among different groups the name of the one year old Cervus Elaphus may be referred to the one year old elk etc. important animals have no specified names according to the age, e.g. wolves. This method of classification thus greatly varies amongst the groups. The domesticated animals are not bojun for they are not «wild». So the domesticated reindeer — oron [134]; the cattle — adun, abdun, adasun etc. (loanword from Mongol); the horse — morin (with modifications cf. Mongol) also the sheep — konin (cf. Mongol); the dog - n'inakin [with modifications, eg. indaxum (Manchu)]; the cat - usually borrowed from the Manchus, Mongols, and directly from the Russians. All these animals have their own names, very often borrowed from the Mongols (Buriats), directly and through the Manchus, also from other alien groups. In the names of the animals like «the cow» one may see very clearly various overlapping influences. So we have the stems met with: ukur (Mongol), ixan [135] and ynax (of Yakut language) perhaps connected with (Manchu) unen, whence one may follow all the modifications of terms found in Northern Tungus dialects. The sex and age distinctions are worked out in a detailed manner in the dialects spoken by the groups living on cattle breeding or familiar with it. The terminology as a rule is borrowed from the original source of cattle breeding [136].

The distinction of age in wild and domesticated animals is very important for the Tungus. In fact, among the animals every age is characterized in reference, to their weight, possibility of loading, sexual activity, etc. I have shown it in the instance of the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria who have introduced new terms for the reindeer which is not strong enough at the age of four years and so they had to distinguish one year more as compared with the Transbaikalian Tungus. The reason for this new term is quite practical.

The man is bojo (with modifications; all Northern Tungus dialects) but beje in Manchu and Mongol is «the body», while for «man» Manchu has n'alma (nijalma — transliterated.) This term has been reduced to n 'i met with in Goldi and neighbouring Tungus dialects. The same stem seems to be known in other semantic variations amongst the Northern Tungus groups, namely, n'irai (Bir. Kum.), n'iravi (Mank.), nejavi (Neg. Sch.), n'ari (Tung. Sch.) for l~r is very common, in the sence of «male» and opposed to the «female» — as'i. Beside these there are also terms indicating the age of individuals in terms of «childhood», «maturity», «adult» and «old» ages. The social importance of relationship terms and long duration of childhood might have compelled Tungus to put stress on social relations, so that the age classification has not such a great importance as in domesticated animals.

The large hunting animals, as for instance, the elk and Cervus Elaphus, also Cervus Tarandus, may be called by the same name bojun which merely means «wild animals or beasts». We have seen that this may be referred even to the tiger. However, among the groups who hunt both elk and the Cervus Elaphus this name would be referred only to one of them. The Cervus Elaphus in general is called kumaka (Bir, Kum. RTM. Ner. Barg.) (Ang. Tit.) (Neg. Sch.) (Goldi, Oroci. Sch.); the elk in general is called toki (Bir. RTM. Kum. Barg. Ner.) (Ur. Castr.) (Ang. Tit) (Neg. Goldi, Oroci, Sch.), toxo (Manchu), to (Oroci, Sch), tox (Gilak, Grube) [cf. toxi (Mongol)]. The male Cervus Elaphus is called buy, buyu, boyu, etc. (Bir. Kum Khin. Ner. Barg.) (Ur. Castr.) (Ir. Ang Tit.) buxu (Manchu) [cf. bugu (Buriat), box II box (Mongol, Rud) — «the bulk] which seems to be a substitute name, perhaps borrowed from cattle breeders. The female is called onin (the «mother») (RTM. Bir. Kum.) onlin (Khin.) (cf. enen buxu the mother buxu — Manchu); also e.g. ner 'igaci — one which has an embryo (ner 'iga) — the «pregnant one» — referred to females (animals). The same terms may be referred to the elk female [additions: enin (RTM) enen (Manchu Lit.), n'inanan (Kum. RTM) — the one with a fawn (n'inan»)]. The females of Cervus Elaphus are also called soyon (RTM) (Ang. Tit.), soyonon (Ner.) [cf. xogon, sogon (Buriat Tunk. Podg. - ibid.) ]. The male elk is called anam (RTM. Bir. Kum Khin. Ner.) (Ang. Tit.) anami (Manchu Writ); it may also be called by various names, e.g. tukucon (RTM. Ner.), — during the period of early spring when it is thin; kandaya (Bir.) [cf. kandaxan (Manchu Writ.), xandagai, kandagai (Buriat Podg.) ] rarely used in the «religious» texts; h'ira (RTM) — during the period of mating (also thin); halanjan — «the one with the antlers forked in special way»; there may be added two names more which are interesting, namely dandakka (Lam), which is not clear, and soxatyi(Mank) borrowed from the Russians [in this dialect the Cervus is also called by a Russian term olen' which is not used by the Russian hunters who prefer zv'er' (the beast, animal)].

This long list of names by which these animals are designated shows that there are names borrowed from the neighbours as substitutes for some of the original names; there are substitutes like «mother» and there are particular names for the distinction of seasonal peculiarities. However, there are at least two terms which may be perhaps included in the original Tungus stock, namely kumaka, the Cervus Elaphus in general; and anam — the elk male, while the third one tok 'i perhaps will remain as one of local names adapted by various groups which appear in the region, and conventionally it may be regarded as «Palaeasiatic».

It may be added that the elk and Cervus Elaphus are also distinguished according to the age. So we have the elk of less than one year old — n'inan (RTM. Kum.); over one year old monnaya (RTM.); over two years old ciran (Bir.). The Cervus Elaphus is called when less one year old, nar'iyacan (RTM.), neir 'iya (Bir.); over one year old mongyojin (Bir. RTM.); with two, three, four and five branches of the antlers jurmajen, ilanmajen, diyinmajen tunyanmajem (Dir.) respectively. Such a secification of age is essential from the point of view of commercial value of the animals of these ages. As will be shown the Tungus very often abstain from killing females, young, and very «thin» male animals, so they must have special terms for designating them. For this purpose they use sometimes general terms for distinguishing the age and the form of the antlers (as in the case of Birarchen), and also numerous alien words. The same is true of the terms regarding other cervines [137].

Thus the essential characteristic of the Tungus classification of animals is that the Tungus base their classification on the morphological characters, the habits of the animals and their practical utility for the Tungus. Indeed, as compared with the existing European classifications it is different, but does not differ to such a degree as it is usually supposed. The Tungus put, for instance, the crayfish into the class of oldo (fish), but they recognize the difference as the English speaking people do when they use terms like fish, shell-fish, jelly-fish etc. In the same way the snakes and worms seem to be classed together under the same name, but they are riot so in the Tungus mind. The animals are also classed according to the mode of reproduction. The chief difference between the Tungus and modern European classifications is that the Tungus in their classification do not presume genetic affiliation of the groups, as in the European conception of evolution, which itself is scrutinized by the most advanced biologists. However, the idea of relationship between the different animals in principle is accepted by the Tungus. For instance, the Reindeer Tungus recognize that the domesticated reindeer is connected with the wild reindeer (Cervus Tarandus). Amongst the Birarchen I have recorded the idea that the wolf, the dog, the sable and Canis Procynoides are of the same origin (umun kala — one clan, of the same clan). Besides the morphological similarity one of the interesting evidence is that their meat has the same smell. The bear and badger are also classed as relatives of a group different from that previously mentioned. One of the interesting peculiarities of the Tungus zoological classification is that man is recognized to be an animal which is much nearer to the mammals than the wild mammals are, for instance, to the birds. For experimental purposes I have tried on several occasions to explain to the Tungus the European idea of «evolution» and «genetic affiliation» between the animals. In no case did I meet with difficulties or objection on the part of the Tungus. They grasp the idea very easily and for supporting it they bring forth facts of their own observation and all of them repeat the hypothesis, well known amongst them which is as follows: formerly man was like a wild animal; he was living without wigwams; he was naked and the body was covered with hair; the hair was lost owing to the use of salt; yet there also occurred some other physical changes too, e. g. the reduction of number of teeth weakening of the physical strength etc. As a matter of fact, this point of view, quite well adapted to the Tungus mentality, puts the Tungus very near to the idea of «evolution». Indeed, many other so-called primitive peoples do recognize physical evolution of man's ancestors and many of them connect man with other animals. However, it ought to be pointed out that the folk-stories, and religious poems cannot be taken as evidence of Tungus ideas regarding natural phenomena, the folklore and «religious» complex have their own history of diffusion and formation and they cannot be identified with the general positive knowledge of the ethnical units which may not always find its reflection in the poetry and folklore. In fact, as will be shown, the Tungus literature as seen in the fairy-tales, poems, etc. does not even pretend to reflect Tungus naturalistic conceptions, they are transmitted from generation to generation in oral form, while the ethnographers as a rule pay no attention to this class of Tungus cultural elements forming their psychomental complex, because of their own idea, namely, that scientific knowledge may have only that form which is known amongst the Europeans and if one wants to form an idea as to the «scientific» conceptions one must look for facts in the fairy stories, poems, etc. No one would believe that it is possible to formulate the idea of the Englishman of the XVIIth century about natural phenomena by studying Milton's poetry. Why shall we do it with the Tungus? When we go through the details of the Tungus psychomental complex this idea will be still clearer.

In connection with this remark it may be noted that the Tungus information regarding the animals not found in their territory very often has a mythological shade. Such ones are e.g. lion, elephants, monkeys, boa-constrictors, crocodiles etc. Yet, it may easily happen that the Tungus would include into their classification of animals pure imaginative animals existing in the Chinese (chiefly received through the Manchus and Mongols) books, e. g. dragon, licorn, etc. The Tungus would look at them as real animals not met with in their region.

The Tungus information regarding the local animals is sometimes very scanty. I have been told by them that in the basin of the Sun River (a small left tributary of the Amur River, about 120 miles from the mouth of the Zeja River) there is a snake six or seven feet long which has tail supplied with rattles, like the rattle-snake. It lives chiefly on large birds, wood-cocks. In the same locality there is found a giant turtle. The Tungus proposed to me to take me to this locality for showing me these rare animals which many of them saw. There is a series of stories relating to the existence of the boa-constrictor tabjan (also jabjari) which in pictures as an animal living in the water, having a white abdomen and dark back [138].

It may be noted here that recently among the Tungus of Manchuria the idea of the dragon appeared from another source, namely, from the Russians, many of whom assert that they have seen it in the taiga. The Tungus (Birarchen) are very sceptical about, and say: «Perhaps, they have seen it on the Russian side, but not on this side (of the Amur River)». There in one important condition in the accumulation of zoological and generally naturalistic knowledge amongst the Tungus namely, they have no written records, so that the animals which are not met with in their territory are very often forgotten, if the source of information does not continue to supply new information. On the other hand, the same condition is also responsible for the loss of accurate observations regarding the animals which become extinct or which they do not meet any more. This has already been pointed out in previous exposition.

132. It does not mean, however, that the Tungus do not see the difference between the snakes and worms. They know that the snake is more like lizard, but has no legs. The Tungus very well know the habits of snakes, also that they change the skin, etc. (For explaining that man's skin is renewed evidence of the snake which changes it at once, while in men this process is slow.)

133. In Manchu gasxa (in Gold gasa, etc.) is applied to birds in general, but it is usually understood as a bird of large size, and especially a bird of prey.

134. All dialects with the modifications. Vide SONT, p. 27, and Aspects, p. 184.

135. Vide Bilabialization, p. 249; and Aspects.

136. Vide SONT, p. 38 et seq.

137. These remarks may suffice for showing that the conclusion approaching these terms from the point of view of «hunting superstitions»; «religious meaning» etc., as well as the using of this material for comparative linguistic studies, are very undesirable before we have a complete analysis (in the complexes) of the terms.

138. I have heard two stories: a Manchu rishing for pearlshells in the Sungari River discovered the animal in the water and gave it some light dry wood reduced to small pieces which the animal swallowed and was brought up dead to the surface of the water. Another case of a Tungus woman who discovered such an animal in a lake and gave it a basket of burning coal. The animal swallowed this and was also brought up to the surface. The Tungus believe in the possibility of the existence of such an animal, but they do not assert its existence. It is one of cases of uncertainty of the Tungus themselves which they do not hide from outsiders.

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