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25. Anatomy, Physiology And Heredity

When killing a new animal a Tungus is first of all interested in finding the anatomical peculiarities of this animal. Indeed, it is very essential, for he must skin and sometimes dissect the animal without breaking the skin and bones. Here the Tungus appears before us as anatomist. As a matter of fact, the skinning and dressing of the animals is one of the essential elements of the Tungus education. The man who does not know how to do it, will not be able to carry out this industry. A fact may help us to understand the Tungus attitude in this matter. A man amongst the Birarchen did not know that the stimulation of ribs of the bear is not like that in some cervines with which he was familiar. In fact, when the breast bone is taken off the ribs in cervines must be turned (outside, while in the bear they must be pressed inside. He did try to dissect the animal and he could not do it. Then he tried to break the chest with a heavy piece of wood. This did not solve the problem, but the meat was reduced to pieces, and thus could not be transported and used. This man's name was always repeated as an instance which must not be followed. Everybody laughed at him. However, the Tungus is not only a butcher, he is an anatomist. He is interested in the comparative study of bones and soft parts of the body and he comes to form a good idea as to the anatomical similarities and dissimilarities in animals and even man. Let us remark that the occasions of studying human anatomy present themselves rather often, especially, in former days, for the Tungus at least those of Manchuria did interfere in the traumatic cases and they did practice the cleaning of bones after a certain period after death and thus could and must know the skeleton, also soft parts of the body.

The Tungus, therefore, pay great attention to the bones of animals and they know passably well their number, location, articulation, form and function. So the Tungus may give the definition of any bone, sometimes indication whether a small bone belongs to the left or right limb, and certainly to which animal, if the animal is a common one. Anyhow even in animals which they do not know they may guess fairly well as to the right position and function of the bone. Indeed, the bones which they have no occasion often to see they do not know as well as the bones with which they are familiar. For instance, the bones of the human hand which cannot be examined ossa carpalia — they do not know, but they know the small bones in animals. Certainly the small bones of the human skull also remain unknown. The Tungus dictionary possesses anatomical terms for bones, but some of these names are really descriptive e.g. the small bone of the lower part of the leg. n'ic'ikun (small) ilguka (both tibia and fibula). Yet, the anatomical terminology includes many terms borrowed from the Mongols and Manchus. It is difficult to say why the Tungus did it, for as I shall have occasion to show later, the Tungus language sometimes preserves both Tungus and Mongol terms. Perhaps this phenomenon is analogous to the substitution of the Latin anatomical terms for the terms of Anglo-Saxon origin in common and professional (medical) speech [139].

One of the time distraction occupations amongst the Tungus is the showing of the bone and asking of its name, location [140]. Yet, if they have bones, after boiling meat, they would put them, together.

The Tungus form an idea of similarity and dissimilarity of bones in different animals of the same species and they make a further step, they compare the analogous and homologous bones of different mammals, also reptiles and birds. In fact, the Tungus (e.g. Birarchen) use the same word caka for designation of the same articulation of the leg (calcaneus and tibia) in the horse although their positions are different in the posterior and anterior limbs. The names of the bones in most of instances are the same in all animals and man. Their attention was also attracted by the bats, which according to them are not birds, but have long arms like man. Indeed, they compare them with other «flying» animals. They did pay attention to the facts like the fifth rudimentary toe in dogs.

The soft parts of the body are carefully investigated. The Tungus distinguish the principal muscles, and their fixing, and they can carefully separate these muscles from the other anatomical units. The system of blood vessels is known fairly well, although there are no names, in so far as I know, for the principal branches. They distinguish the arterial system as e.g. erga (the life) sudala (Bir.) from the venal system sudala (Bin). peripheral nervous system remains rather unnoticed, but the sinews are well known, and some of the most important have special names e.g. that of the legs, toes, neck, and vertebral column. The reason why they are so well studied is that they are used by the Tungus for making thread. The internal organs are all known under different names, the most important glands as well, some of them being particularly appreciated as dainties. The Tungus also know the difference of morphology of the internal organs in different animals, as e.g. the kidney in bear, the stomach in the herbivorous and carnivorous animals, the brain in birds and mammals, the matrix in different animals, particularly dogs and reindeer, the relative length of the intestines and bowels etc. The number of teeth and their form are well known. Naturally, the Tungus know that some organs, e.g. the heart, are very complex while other organs, e.g. the bladder, are rather simple. The Manchu knowledge of anatomy is much more limited than that of the Tungus. The peripheral nervous system remains rather unnoticed, but the sinews are well known, and some of the most important have special names e.g. that of the legs, toes, neck, and vertebral column. The reason why they are so well studied is that they are used by the Tungus for making thread. The internal organs are all known under different names, the most important glands as well, some of them being particularly appreciated as dainties. The Tungus also know the difference of morphology of the internal organs in different animals, as e.g. the kidney in bear, the stomach in the herbivorous and carnivorous animals, the brain in birds and mammals, the matrix in different animals, particularly dogs and reindeer, the relative length of the intestines and bowels etc. The number of teeth and their form are well known. Naturally, the Tungus know that some organs, e.g. the heart, are very complex while other organs, e.g. the bladder, are rather simple. The Manchu knowledge of anatomy is much more limited than that of the Tungus.

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The Tungus ideas regarding physiological functions in some respects are not very clear, but in some other respects they are very definite and correct. The function of the nervous system as a whole is not known. However, some mental troubles are explained as the result of injury of the brain. In this respect the Tungus — who are under the Manchu influence have accepted Manchu ideas which produced some arrest in the perfection of the knowledge. The Manchu conception of «high nervous work» being produced in the heart in some respects satisfies the Tungus inquisitiveness, for in the reaction of the heart during mental and psychic activity the Tungus find a strong support to the Manchu theory.

The function of digestion is referred to the system of stomach — intestine — bowels, but the process how the urine is produced remains unknown. However, the Tungus know that kidneys have something to do with this process. The blood circulation is connected with the heart, but how it goes on, they do not know. The Tungus know and do not explain by any hypothesis the physiological, effects of food and alcoholic drinks. The phenomenon of sleep is accepted as a fact, but the explanations of this phenomenon differ amongst the Tungus. The most common explanation is that the «soul» is not active and therefore the animal (or man) sleeps. Yet, the soul may leave the body during sleep. However the loss of consciousness may also happen owing to the physical cause of loss of the ability of «thinking», e.g. when the head of the individual :is injured. He does not sleep but he is unconscious, and yet the soul may remain untouched, and potentially active. The observation of the hibernating animals has brought the Tungus to distinguish three conditions; namely, animals which are frozen and preserved in this way, e.g. the frogs, insects; animals which hide themselves from the cold, as e.g. the snakes which remain half active having grouped themselves together; and the animals like the bear, badger, and canis procinoides which survive by suckling their paws. Owing to the suckling of fat from their own bodies they become very thin in the spring. The Birarchen Tungus recognize that the man also may fast for a limited period, namely seven days for male and nine days for female. The Tungus recognize that the hair and skin in man are subject to change [141]. In man this process takes a long time and is gradual while in the snakes the skin comes entirely off at one time. The hair is also removed gradually, not like in other animals. The Tungus know very well which tissues can be restored and which cannot e.g. skin, muscles, bones, hair, etc.

The function of reproduction is very clear to the Tungus. The act of fertilization of the female by male for the Tungus is clear. According to some of them, the male sexual cell is contained in sperma produced, according to them, by the testes [142] in the form of very small kulikan, i.e. «small worms» of microscopic size, which is introduced into the female's matrix where it grows in an embryo [143].

Some of Tungus of Manchuria are familiar with the Chinese ideas and say that the bones are from the father, the fleshy parts and blood — from the mother. However, this hypothesis is not generally accepted because sometimes the similarity between the children and mother, even in stature (size of bones), is greater than that between the father and son, and sometimes the children resemble more their father than their mother in respect to flesh and blood complex. All Tungus accept the idea that physical and psychomental characters are inherited. As to the physical characters they have no doubt for it is evident to them when they observe men and domesticated animals. The selection of a good male - e.g. reindeer, horse or dog — is largely practiced. Yet, the Tungus believe that the psychomental complex is also transmitted. So, for instance, a Birarchen woman told me with many details the genealogical history of her husband and systematically pointed out the same characteristics, e.g. the cleverness, the sexual inclination, bad temper etc. In the Tungus conversation the expression that a certain character is from the father and some other character is from the grandfather is very com.mon. The moral qualities are usually inherited at least by one of children, in explanation of which a Tungus (Birarchen) told me, «it is the same as it will be with a piebald stallion or mare which will have sooner or later a piebald colt». This opinion is shared by all Birarchen [144]. It is not surprising at all for the Tungus are familiar with breeding.

The physiological act of coitus according to the Tungus results in pregnancy which may last different periods of time in different animals. Their knowledge of period of gestation in animals goes so far that they know about all of them with good approximation. The period is counted in lunar months. In my work «SONT» I had occasion to speak about it in reference to the human kind (vide SONT, pp, 273-274), where I have shown that the keen Tungus observer knows that in woman the pregnancy may normally have different periods of gestation which is conditioned by the fact whether the women is primiparous or is giving birth to the second, third and more children, This observation has been recently confirmed by the European biologists (cf. e.g. SONT). Thus the Tungus give their estimate of duration of pregnancy either from the day of coitus or from the last menstruation. Indeed, this is a scientific approach of the problem. Yet, as I have shown (SONT) the methods of definition of pregnancy are such that they have in view possibility of interruption of, the menstruation without pregnancy and signs of pregnancy including increase of the size of the abdomen are not yet sure until the fetus shows signs of heart work and movement. Again, this fact shows that the Tungus are very careful observers and they foresee possibility of making a wrong inference.

They spread their observations on other animals, especially the domesticated animals the sexual life of which the Tungus know very well. Yet, their observations also cover the wild mammals. The process of fertilization of directly females or their eggs, is carefully observed by the Tungus, so they know that in some animals like fishes there is no act of copulation. If a Tungus does not know these particulars about some other animals, like mollusks, he would reply, if asked, evasively suggesting some conclusions by analogy, e.g. with the fishes, but without being sure of it.

Thus the general characteristic of the Tungus ideas as to the physiological functions is that they are based upon the facts observed and the inferences are made with more or less success which depends chiefly on the quantity of facts observed and their importance for the Tungus daily life. In this respect, as in the case of observation of anatomy, the Tungus are good naturalists, and in making their conclusions they are usually very careful and cautious. As we have seen before, when the conditions of topography and plants were discussed, a Tungus cannot permit himself to commit too serious a methodological error of reasoning for sometimes it may cost him his own life and that of his family. The same is true of their behavior in reference to the animals which will be particularly clear when we go through the next section.

Amongst the Manchus who are not such good observers as are the Northern Tungus there are some theories which contradict a naturalistic approach to this question. According to them, the woman asleep may become pregnant through the intercourse in her dream with one of spirits of the group enduri (vide infra) [145]. The fertilization of the eggs of the turtle is produced by the turtle female when she looks at the eggs [146]. Generally speaking the Manchus have incorporated into their complex many ideas of Chinese origin. One of chief sources of their ideas being the Chinese book us'aj'i which is translated into Manchu [147]. In spite of these theories the Manchus know as well as the Northern Tungus the natural ways of conception etc. They do not leave the female mule to pair with a stallion for the fruit may be so large that it would be necessary to cut the abdomen — since the male cannot be delivered. This is one of reasons why they do not breed the mules, and asses as the Chinese do. They are good breeders of chickens and select the cocks, as they do with the other domesticated animals. If may be also noted the Manchu practice of artificial incubation of chicks in which they succeed quite well [148].

Indeed, the theories like the above mentioned may also spread among the Tungus, but after a critical analysis the Tungus usually reject them when the question is of importance. I shall return to this subject when the theory of spirits is discussed.

139. E.g. In Mank. dialect instead of ilguka a Mongol term is used silbe (Bariat, Castr.); instead of gurgakta - the beard, used in Northern Tungus dialects, sakal (Mank,) (from Burlat), xuse (Manchu) (from Chinese xudze) and salu (from Mongol). The same is true in reference to the brow, the eyelashes, even the arm, the hand, the leg etc. This phenomenon misunderstood by the comparatists-philologists was a source of extensive linguistical abberrations in the problem of common languages etc. Some remarks regarding this problem have been made in my Aspects.

140. I have carried this experiment with many Tungus in order to find how far they are familiar with the small bones and for gathering data for my dictionary. Indeed, I was unable to exhaust this branch of their knowledge as it was impossible to do with all the plants and animals, known to the Tungus.

141. Yet, the Birarchen have an explanatory theory showing how the hair was lost by man. Formerly the man was covered with long hair but after beginning to use salt he began to lose the hair which all went off and he had to cover himself with clothing and to prepare fur. The salt and hot food are also held responsible for the loss of formerly good olfactory function, which was as good as amongst other animals. Thus as pointed out the Tungus are not hostile to the idea of evolution and have their own explanations.

142. The castration of the reindeer, horses and bulls is well known among the Tungus and they do not make of it any «magic» idea. According to them man may also be castrated. Indeed, the Manchus who were informed of Chinese castration of palace servants now themselves know this practice in man.

143. I was unable to find out whether the process is understood as the fertilization of the female egg, or not. It seems to me that it is understood as growth of the male element.

144. Amongst the Tungus of Manchuria there is a belief that if one wants to find one's father's bones amongst the bones of other people one must drop one's own blood on the bones. The fathers bones will absorb the son's blood. However, this idea has no general recognition. They told me it would be very interesting to check up this saying which is not one of the Tungus complex. Seemingly, it has been received from the Chinese.

145. However, this theory has rather relative importance when the case of the girl's pregnancy is under the discussion. I have shown (SOM) that the girl who happens to become pregnant usually enters into the difficulties with her clan and the case cannot be dismissed under the pretext of the enduri's responsibility. The same would be in the case of a widow or a woman who becomes pregnant in the absence of her husband. Indeed, pour sauver les apparences, they would maintain the woman's or girl's version as to the spiritual origin of her pregnancy, without sincerely believing in it. Among the European groups there are also some explanations of incidental pregnancy due to the using of bath which was used before by man, to the wind, etc. at last the parthenogenetic hypotheses serving for justification of complex cases. However, as among the Manchus, no one sincerely believe in the explanations.

146. The Manchus have such an expression of abuse «she looks like a turtle looking at her eggs». The abusing meaning of this expression is mere convention of the Chinese origin.

147. There are many other books of this class; some of them are mentioned in A. V. Grebenscikov's sketch.

148. The eggs are put into a basket which is filled up with the millet and put on the heated bed (k'ang). Only a small percentage of eggs fail to produce chicks.

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