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34. Folklore

From the classification and degree of development of Tungus folklore given in the Introduction it may be seen that folklore in a narrow sense is relatively rich and varied but as material for our main subject it may supply only a small par; of what is needed. Moreover, the folkloristic material is not yet published so its analysis will be difficult here. Therefore I shall confine myself to general remarks only. Yet as shown the existing Tungus folklore cannot always be regarded as one reflecting exactly the Tungus complex for a great part of folklore is formed of recent borrowings from neighbours. Indeed, I now see no possibility of separating Tungus elements which I could accept as Tungus invention and to operate with them, for a great number of undoubtedly alien elements are perfectly assimilated and adapted by the Tungus, so that they are included in the Tungus complex and can be abstracted only for historical purposes.

However, besides these elements there are many recently borrowed elements which are not yet fused with the complex and which play no great part as conditions of the existing psycho-mental complex. Such elements are, for instance, Russian elements introduced together with a certain influence of missionaries and schooling (vide infra). These elements may be easily distinguished for in a great number of cases Russian terms are preserved and the elements are found in an evident conflict with the formerly existing complex. The imaginative creations have also been greatly increased with Russian elements, as for instance, the whole series of fox stories connected with common European motives, sparrow stories which may have no ground in Tungus complex etc. Indeed, these stories are also interesting as documentation of the process of diffusion and adaptation of the adopted elements.

Another important source of borrowing is to be found in the Buriat and Yakut complexes which may be held responsible for a great number of elements of Tungus complex. Owing to my lack of intimate familiarity with these two complexes in a great number of cases I do not dare to take on myself responsibility for asserting that these elements are of Buriat or Yakut origin, but there is no doubt that such important cultural complexes as the cattle-breeding complex, cosmogony, orientation, and as we shall see later on, the shamanism are impregnated with the Buriat and Yakut elements. Sometimes, one may ask the question: «How numerous are genuine Tungus elements in these complexes?» and one comes to the conclusion that in some of these complexes the hand of the original Tungus is seen only in the adaptation of alien elements and in their arrangement in a complex. Indeed, this is true not only of Tungus cultural complexes.

In the folklore of Tungus of Manchuria there are seen two strong influences responsible for a great number of elements, namely, Mongol complex as it is observed among the Dahurs and Barguts, and Manchu complex which as will be shown is itself a composite one. As we have already seen a great number of hypotheses, and summarized facts have been assimilated and incorporated into the complexes by the Tungus of Manchuria. So that it would be legitimate to ask the same question as to the alien elements in the complexes of these Tungus as I did this in the case of Transbaikalian Tungus, the difference being that of sources of borrowings. Distinction between the Dahur and Manchu sources is sometimes very difficult for the Dahurs have undoubtedly borrowed a great deal from the Manchus. In addition to these two influences in folklore we may also speak of a late Chinese influence received without intermediary transmission by the Manchus. Amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria we find chiefly Yakut and recently borrowed Russian elements. However, it must be kept in mind that the Russian population of the Argun River and Amur River, with which this Tungus group came into contact, culturally include some Tungus-Buriat elements received by this population from the Nomad Tungus incorporated into the cossack organization, so that together with this Russian influence some Buriat-Mongol elements are also introduced.

The Manchu Folklore essentially differs from that of the Tungus Folklore owing to (1) a long existence, — already for three centuries, — of Manchu writing, (2) very strong Chinese influence, and (3) different complex of environment and technical culture.

Existence of writing is responsible for the fact that some elements are preserved longer than if they were orally transmitted. Yet, the written records in general receive more credit, for in a great number of cases they are supported by the authority of the authors whose names are preserved, or by the name of the emperor who ordered the translation or composition of the works, a quite common occurrence in Manchu literature. I shall later on show what effect the existing writing has produced on some phenomena of the psychomental complex. The second character of difference, - the Chinese influence, — is still more important. We have already seen that the Chinese knowledge as to the milieus and ideas, as summarized in theories regarding the milieus, have deeply penetrated into the Manchu psycho-mental complex. At last, the Manchus being agriculturists and a politically influential group in China needed the more to pay attention to the village - city — agriculture complex than to mountain — taiga — hunting complex. Owing to this the Manchu folklore is poor, in so far as knowledge of primary milieu is concerned, but it is rich in various theories borrowed from the Chinese. In fact, for instance, many zoological and botanical terms have been borrowed or translated from Chinese [227] and there are very few geographical and historic facts which have not been received from the Chinese. The imaginative creations of Chinese origin have been introduced in the function of historic facts and confused with statement of facts in the Manchu folklore. The Manchu stories of imaginative character are greatly influenced by the Chinese literature from which Manchu story tellers borrow their material, but sometimes only with slight modifications. Yet, a great number of sayings and witticisms are mere translations from Chinese.

Owing to these special conditions of Manchu folklore Manchu literature, which is not enormous, ought to be studied. In fact, the Manchu literature was chiefly created in the eighteenth century there was already a great decline of the Manchus as an ethnical group as well as decline of their literature. The existing literature in hand-made copies and in printed form, according to W. L. Kotwicz who recently (1928) touched upon this problem, amounts to 705 (of which 442 were printed) works [228]. A more detailed survey perhaps will bring this number to a higher level, but as compared with other literatures it will still be very low. Yet, many of the works known cover subjects such as Chinese classics, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity (32.6 per cent), languages (13.6 percent). If we add to these subjects other subjects such as government and administration, military art, translations of Chinese dramas and novels, also poetry there will remain very little which may be regarded as genuine reflection of the Manchu complex. Here, it ought to be pointed out that the greatest part of this literature is not accessible for the humble population of Aigun where the number of educated Manchus was always small. In this respect the lists of books and MSS. found by A. Grebenscikov in Aigun and Tsitsihar regions are very demonstrative. In fact, A. Grebenscikov has pointed out paucity of books at the time of his visit (1908) of the Aigun district which I may fully confirm by my observations (1916). By pointing out this fact I do not want to say that the Manchu literature known in other parts of the Manchu territory did not penetrate the most remote regions in oral form or in form of books which undoubtedly perished during the Boxer movement.

With a few exceptions the Manchu literature is Chinese literature translated into Manchu, and it was not only the literature which brought the Chinese complex, for a great number of Manchus even in the Aigun district could read and write Chinese, and Chinese books were much more numerous than Manchu books. It must also be added that the school education in Chinese introduced already under the Manchu Dynasty has played its role in the remodelling of the Manchu complex. In fact, a great number of Manchus did not differ from n'ikan (Chinese incorporated into the military organization), who themselves had been formerly influenced by the Manchus.

I shall not enumerate here all forms of Manchu folklore, but I shall only make some remarks as to the oral forms observed among the Manchus.

Apart from the Chinese complex of «positive knowledge passed into the oral tradition, the Manchus have their own elements especially regarding local phenomena which Chinese complex does not cover. Here it ought to be mentioned the record of Nisan Saman (vide infra Part Four and supra Ch. III).

The group of imaginative creations among the Manchus is well developed, but a great part of these are merely Chinese elements translated and remodelled by the Manchus. As material characteristic of the Manchu psychomental complex these stories have rather relative value for the reasons already indicated. However, there are some stories, such as Teptalin, which give a picture of Manchu life as it was reflected in the folklore. The same may be stated in reference to a great number of imaginative stories (juyu) which give pictures of spirits. Perhaps among the Manchus this class of stories is richer than among the Northern Tungus.

227. Cf P. P. Schmidt Chinesische Elemente im Mandschu in Asia Major, 1932, Vol. VII pp. 573-628, and Vol. VIII pp. 233-436. In this work one may find a great number of other facts of the same order. However, it ought to be pointed out that some parallels from Chinese given by P. P. Schmidt cannot be accepted without reserves.

228. Cf. Sur le besoin d'une bibliographic complete de la litterature mandchoue in R. O. VI pp 61-75, Lwow, 1928. A paper which was to have been read at the XVllth Congress of Orientalists at Oxford. In previously published lists of Manchu works by P. G. von Mollendorff (Essay on Manchu Literature in P.A.S.N.C. Br. XXIV pp. 1-45), B. Laufer (Skizze der manjurischen Literaturin Keleti Szcmle, IX.), A Grebenscikov (1909) and others the number was much smaller, less than two hundred works being known.

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