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29. Some Other Elements Of The Complex

I will not go into the details of the description of the breeding of domesticated animals which has been already discussed in my work dealing with the social organization. Here it may be noted that the existence of the complex of reindeer breeding is possible only on the condition of very good knowledge of the reindeer. Indeed, the accumulation of positive knowledge of this animal has required very long time, and the time during which it was possible to domesticate, not only tame this animal, could not be short either. The methods of taking care of the animals and improvement of the species as seen in the selection, are worked out through the series of experiments and inferences made from the facts observed. The scope of this industry is so voluminous that one must study it rather a long time, so it constitutes one of the important items of Tungus education.

The reindeer breeding is believed by the Tungus to be of human invention, and its perfection comes within the human human reach [179]. Indeed, in Transbaikalia and Manchuria, as I have shown (in SONT) reindeer breeding cannot attain the importance of an industry on which, solely, the Tungus might live. The family needs only a limited number of reindeer for carrying members of the family with their belongings, for these people live on hunting. For this reason, the Tungus of these groups do not need to have very many reindeer and they may slaughter the excess. However, they impose certain limitations; the slaughtering of the reindeer is practiced by the Tungus only in the case of great need in meat; the slaughtering ought to be justified by some reasons, e.g. the social function, like the wedding ceremony, or the sending of the reindeer's soul (the meat is eaten) to some spirits or as riding animal to the souls of dead people. The Tungus would slaughter the reindeer in the case of great famine. The slaughtering must be done according to the special rules described in SONT. It is strictly prohibited to kill the reindeer with the gun. The man who would do it will have no more mayin in hunting other animals [180]. In further discussion I will describe the medical methods some of which may be «magic». The methods of similia similibus type are used by the Tungus for increasing the milk. They also carry with them the dried bear's paw with claws and scratch the udder with it [181]. As I have already pointed out, the reindeer is believed to possess the soul and thus it may be used for managing the spirits activity.

Dog breeding among the Tungus does not require so much knowledge as with the reindeer. However, selection is also practiced. The dogs are intentionally educated for special kinds of hunting. Indeed, among the Tungus using the dog as draught animal as e.g. the Goldi and others, more attention is paid to its breeding. The dog which possesses soul may be used for sacrifice, but this is never practiced among the groups here described. However, the placings for spirits in the form of dogs are used for carrying on souls of dead people and the souls of dead people are supposed to eat dog's meat (among the Birarchen). In the Manchu complex the dog has similar functions when they deal with special kinds of spirits. In the case of some very bad disease the Manchus sometimes bury a dog and cat, both alive, near the entrance of the house. The dog or cat may move, which may be seen a certain time after the burial when the earth is re-opened; it is considered as very bad sign, if they should go away altogether [182].

Horse breeding amongst the Tungus is borrowed from the Manchus and Mongols. However, the Tungus have introduced a new method, namely, the adaptation of the horse to eat meat (vide SONT). This interesting experiment goes well together with other experiments showing the trend of Tungus ideas.

The Tungus do not confine their breeding to the animals used at the present time. In the previous chapter I have already pointed out that the Tungus like to keep for experimental purposes all small animals and birds. Some of them are used to attempt domestication. I know a case of a Tungus in Manchuria who wanted to domesticate and use wolves, and to cross them with dogs. The experiment failed and the wolves were killed by him [183].

The reasons differ as to why the Tungus do not sometimes carry on the breeding of some animals such as swine in Manchuria, oxen, and sheep sometimes breeding like that of the cattle involves the Tungus in great reorganization of the whole system which does not recompense for the energy spent; sometimes they have to introduce some changes which are of doubtful practicability. For instance, swine and sheep breeding meets with the danger from the dogs. As a matter of fact, the dog is a much more important animal (in hunting) than the swine and sheep the breeding of which requires isolation of the dogs and requires a settled life. Therefore one cannot say that the Tungus have aversion for adopting the breeding of other animals than the reindeer, dog and horse. Such an aversion is not characteristic of the Tungus. Abstaining is imposed by the Tungus economic system and the whole ethnographical complex. The same is true of the Tungus mentality in the case of introduction of agriculture. We have many instances which show that the Tungus have often refuse to carry on the agriculture not because of their «laziness,» «conservation» etc. but because they do know that to become an agriculturist one must learn it, and they may become agriculturists only on the condition if the benefit from it would be superior to that of hunting. They would adopt agriculture on condition if benefit of it should not make of them a lower kind of citizen, both in Manchuria and in Siberia. They realize that the adoption of the agricultural complex by the Tungus will soon be followed by their absorption by the stronger, more numerous, and more experienced agriculturists, — the Chinese and Russians.

The elements of the Tungus complex of clothing and household, beginning from the wigwam are indicative of two facts, namely, that the Tungus gradually and regardless of origin have accumulated knowledge of using the materials found-at-hand in the most economical way in the given conditions and that their complex of the clothing and household with a few exceptions is well adapted to the local conditions and needs of a hunting mode of life. The process of readjustment of the elements in the case of the partial change of the complex may be observed among almost all Tungus groups. Here I have in view the changes like substitution of horse breeding for the reindeer breeding and re-adaptation of the elements to the new condition of the limited possibilities of migrations during the dry-grass seasons.

The Tungus conical wigwam, as we have seen (SONT), is made of a wood frame which consists of simple young trees, cleared of the branches, which can be found everywhere in the taiga, and a cover made either of skins for the cold season when the rain would not destroy them, or of an especially prepared birch-bark for the seasons when the rain is possible, or finally of different kinds of material when the above mentioned materials are lacking. These may be the tissues [184] of alien origin, dry grass [185], or earth [186]. The preparation of the skins, in general, requires good experimental knowledge of the methods and personal skill which are transmitted from one generation to another. In dependence upon the season and kind of skin, also its individual thickness, the skin is treated with some chemicals [187] and by various mechanical methods for reducing thickness and hardness of the dry skin. The variety of types of perfect chamois and skins in different degrees of preparation is such that for almost all kinds of clothing, household and nomading accessories and wigwam covers there is a special kind of skin material. The covers for the wigwams may be made either of skins of the large cervines (except the elk whose skin is too heavy) sewed together, or the small skins of roe-deer (amongst the Tungus of Manchuria) sewed together in large pieces carefully ornamented. Indeed, such a wigwam during extremely cold weather cannot produce a warm shelter but it may protect against the winds and serve as a good screen for the fire in the centre of the wigwam. From the point of view of ethnical units accustomed to the warmed houses such a housing would appear very imperfect. However, the Tungus opinion is different. First of all, they point out that their wigwam must be light enough to be easily transported during their migrations; second, they believe that the sudden change of the temperature, when they have many a time during the day to leave the wigwam, e.g. for supplying wood and water or looking after the animals, may have bad effects on them; third, since they often have to spend their nights and whole days without warm shelter and even without fire, they believe that the living in a very warm winter shelter might make them unable to go out without suffering harm to their health; fourth, the children must be accustomed from their young age to the hardship of living and hunting in any season of the year. Owing to this they do not adopt the system of transportable iron stoves [188] as a further improvement of their winter shelter, and other suggestions proposed to them by the people who stick to their own ethnographical complex and who know no actual conditions of the Tungus life. Such are the opinions of the Tungus who themselves do not practice living in well heated houses. However, we have the opinion of these Tungus (e.g. in Manchuria and partly in Transbaikalia) who use the Chinese type of house with heated stove-bed (k'ang) and winter dwellings of Russian type. They say that although these types of houses are more comfortable, several maladies occur directly owing to the fact of their living in heated housed which they have to leave from time to time even in the conditions of half settled hunting groups. The same observation is made by the Tungus regarding the Mongol type of hemispheric well heated felt tents.

In this instance of the Tungus cultural adaptation we may thus see that their dwelling is perfectly well adapted to the needs of the hunting groups, both from the point of view of biological (in a narrow sense) adaptation and from the point of view of integral use of the material locally produced and manufactured. So in this case the general characteristics of the Tungus psycho-mental complex may be applied to the description of these particular aspects of their activity.

One of difficult problems in the conditions of ever wandering groups and even incidental travellers in the regions inhabited by the Tungus is the material of which the loading boxes, utensils etc. are made. Taking into consideration the fact that the reindeer cannot be overloaded, and the number of reindeer used by the economic and social unit, — the family, - cannot pass over a certain limit [189], the materials used for the manufacturing of the commonest things must satisfy several requirements, namely, they must be light, not fragile, they must be easily found in the region inhabited, resisting the changes of temperature, and convenient for handling. The chief materials are found in the forests, namely, wood and especially birch-bark. The wood used for various utensils, hunting implements and weapons is carefully selected from the great number of local varieties. Yet, the abnormally grown trees are used for various purposes, e.g. the larch-tree turned round its axis is used for the bows, the abnormal formation on the trunk of the birch is used for carving cups. But the chief material is the birch-bark which is used for making summer covers for the wigwams, — loading bags, and a great variety of boxes for different purposes, e.g. for utensils, implements, sewing boxes, special women's boxes, hunting boxes, boxes for placings for spirits etc. The Tungus language possess very elaborate special terminology for these boxes and vessels, in every dialect covering at least twenty varieties. The birch-bark can be used only when it is very soft, i.e. about in the middle of June. It is worked out by a long process of steaming in a specially made apparatus. When it is sufficiently steamed it may be again softened by some supplementary operations. Then the bark is reduced to the thickness required by the particular use of the boxes and vessels. The latter may be ornamented with stamping, cutting, by colored designs and leather. The pieces of birch-bark sewn together are used as covers for the wigwams. The leading boxes are made of birch-bark and covered with the little worked reindeer skin or with chamois and usually very carefully ornamented. Such a box is waterproof and very light; it cannot be broken even when the reindeer falls, together with its load. As a matter of fact, there is nothing as good as the material and form of the reindeer boxes, and those who have to use the reindeer for carrying loads, sooner or later come to the same conclusion.

The system of loading of horses is different. The Tungus have partly preserved their reindeer boxes and adapted the forms borrowed from the Mongols. In addition to this they have invented a practical new form of bags made of elk skin from the legs.

At the present time all Tungus groups use iron kettles and large iron and brass tea-pots [190], which are carried on reindeer and horse in specially made nets, or leather bags; however, this is an innovation. In former days, and sometimes at the present time, the cooking is done with help of hot stones. Very rarely can one now meet with metallic cups. Indeed, in these conditions it is almost impossible to think of the possibility of having any kind of pottery or crockery. Thus the seeming obstinacy of the Tungus in respect of their preserving the old forms and materials used for the nomading and household things is conditioned by the whole adaptive complex of the Tungus, what we have already seen in all other cases.

The Tungus clothing is adapted to the needs of their migrations, hunting, change of weather, sex and age. The forms and material are subject to great variations owing to the difference in quality of the material and under the influence of neighbours, such as the Russians, Mongols, Manchus, Chinese and Yakuts, as well as sometimes the Palaeasiatic groups. When the Tungus do not need «professional» dress for the hunting they will not refuse to adopt any new form of dress or new materials as, for instance, the manufactured tissues, if they prove to be suitable for their needs. Owing to this we have a great variety of forms and materials in Tungus clothing. So we have different styles in Transbaikalia and Manchuria, as well as in different interethnical surroundings. However, it is not so with the professional hunting dress. As stated this is made of different kinds of leather, so that, for instance, the shoes and moccasins, may be sometimes made of different skins [191]. The same is true of the parts of the costume. It is well adapted to the needs of the hunter so that the other ethnical groups which live occasionally on hunting accept the Tungus shape and often buy from the Tungus women whose work cannot be equalled by that of other ethnical groups [192].

There is a peculiarity in the Northern Tungus costume which remains somewhat enigmatic. Amongst the Tungus during the last century and earlier there was in use a coat made in the shape of European morning coat, cut in a very complex manner and carefully ornamented [193]. It was used all the year round. At the present time it has survived only in some instances of the western Tungus groups and in the shaman's coat which will be later described. As a matter of fact this coat cannot be considered as very protective during the cold weather. It is open, so that the breast and abdomen must be protected by a special apron [194]. Indeed, such a coat in convenient for riding and perhaps for hunting. However, its existence amongst the Tungus remains enigmatic. I have supposed it to be a survival of the Tungus formerly living in a mild climate. This is one of the cases which I cannot understand from, the point of view of usual Tungus rationalism in the matter of the technical culture.-However, I do admit that perhaps something of particular practical value in this form of the coat remained unnoticed by me.

The methods of cooking amongst the Tungus could not exhibit great variety. First of all they have limited cooking possibilities, and second, they have a limited variety of food. However, the Tungus have developed to the highest degree their taste and ability of distinction of various kinds of meat which I have pointed out in my study of the social organization (vide SONT, Ch. VIII). They pass far beyond that of other ethnical groups. It may be noted that their taste is so refined that they do not need and do not like very much the seasonings such as salt, pepper, mustard etc. According to them these seasonings are gosi — bitter, harsh on tongue etc. The Tungus especially like the fat, also classified according to the animals and parts of the body which invariably is considered ala «tasty», «sweet» etc., and yet there is a more special term for the taste of fat daligdi (Bir.), which is usually lacking in other language. So that in so far the available food is concerned, the Tungus have highly refined their taste and the perception of difference in taste is reflected in their consciousness and language. As in other ethnographical phenomena the Tungus are not hostile to the food of different styles, that of alien origin. In observing their reactions in this respect I find that with their refined taste for meat and fats they are not people easily satisfied (cf. SONT). The Tungus reaction on Chinese cooking is generally positive, while the same can not be stated in reference to simple in respect to the taste, and little varied, food of the Russian low class people of neighbouring regions. However, all Tungus very much like fresh butter [195]. I do not need to treat this problem as it stands amongst the Manchus, who have adopted Chinese type of cooking. The above shown facts which I have selected for showing the psychomental attitude of the Tungus may suffice for making a conclusion analogous to that which I have made after the description of other forms of Tungus activity.


179. The Tungus practice selection by pairing the best reindeer, and buying good reindeer from their neighbours. Also they know perfectly well the effect of pairing with the wild reindeer (Cervus Tarandus).

180. I know a case of a Barguzin man who by mistake killed a reindeer, after which he could not kill anything except the squirrel. It is evident that here is a case of self-suggestion due to certain pre-existing theory.

181. I am not sure whether we have here a form of massage, as a form of stimulation of udders, or merely a «magic» method. I have not been able to find any other connection between bear and reindeer.

182. It was asserted to me that in a similar case a dog was found more than a metre away from its original place of burial and that there are cases when the dogs and cats run away.

183. The reason why the Tungus do not domesticate wolves is that the latter have a «bad heart». For showing it they relate a story. A Birarchen Tungus had educated a wolf together with his dogs. The grown wolf hunted very well. However, when the man was on hunting trip, his dog and wolf were for long a time without food; the Wolf attempted to kill his master while the latter was half-asleep. The dog defended his master. Then the Tungus after observing the struggle between the dog and the wolf decided to kill the wolf and did so.

184. In Transbaikalia the Tungus used to have tissues made by the Russians, in Manchuria those manufactured by the Chinese. They liked very much waterproof tissues manufactured by the Russians, but their objection was their weight, especially alter the rain.

185. The dry grass and bushes are used e.g. by the Birarchen for their wigwams erected for a long period. In fact, the birch-bark covers cannot be easily manufactured in their region owing to the relative rarity of this tree. They would have to buy the birch-bark from their own people permanently living in the taiga.

186. The earthen wigwams (in this case instead of light poles they use thick planks) are erected by the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria for their long campments during the winter when they have to stay for their regular visiting of the traps. This kind of wigwams, as further adaptation of the same conical type, is also known in the Tungus regions in the Yakutsk Gov. and amongst the Yakuts.

187. Organic ingredients in the process of decomposition, rarely the ashes, and tanning ingredients, such as bark of some trees and shrubs, also smoking.

188. This was suggested by some Russian travellers who used the stoves in their tents, and the local Russian population who are accustomed to very warm houses, well adapted to the conditions of life in the cold climate and their professional work.

189. The number of loaded reindeer cannot be very large for it will take too a long time for loading them almost every day, and even twice a day during the seasonal migrations. With the increase of individually needed clothing, vessel, etc. there must be increase of the loads, reindeer, and the persons who look after the animals, load them, and so on. This puts a certain limit to the increase of the things personally used, and implies a careful choice of the materials used for their manufacturing.

190. It may be remembered (cf. supra) that the names of the metals are borrowed from various neighbours.

191. Generally there is a great variety, of moccasins adapted for different seasons, sexes etc. Cf. very interesting work by C. Hatt Moccasins and their relation to Arctic Footwear, Mem. of. Am. Anthr. Ass., Vol. 3, pp. 194-250,1916. Actually among the Tungus variety is still greater and this work schematizes too much the problem.

192. It is so in the region of Manchuria and Transbaikalia visited by the Russian hunters, and professional Chinese hunters in Manchuria.

193. The excellent specimens of this coat are preserved in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of R.A.S. first described by Georgi. (Cf. W. Koppers, op cit.).

194. This is still in use amongst the children and women, also more rarely men. It is known amongst the Manchus and all Chinese groups, especially among the children

195. The reindeer Tungus do not produce butter from the reindeer milk. The reason is that they have very limited quantity of milk which is used for small children and as addition to the tea of poor quality to make it tasty. V. L Sieroszewski (Yakuts, etc. p. 147.) was surprised that the Tungus did not know how to make butter from reindeer milk. The Tungus, whom I knew, learnt or discovered the process of manufacturing butter. (This might be achieved by the observation of the process of producing sometimes butter from the milk carried by the Tungus in the birch bark vessels on the reindeer. Yet, it might be learnt from their butter producing neighbours). I think the Tungus surprise in the case of V. L. Sieroszewski was either a form of politeness characteristic of the Tungus, or a surprise at seeing a gentleman doing woman's work.

 
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