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38. Complexes Of Spirits And Their Classification

The hypotheses based upon the spirits postulate will be now discussed first from the point of view of their classification. The spirits as they appear in the Tungus complexes cannot be treated in abstraction. They must be treated in the complexes where they are found. In fact, if we have a spirit like the Chinese n'jangn'jang its Chinese form must not be taken as that found amongst the Tungus. Amongst the Chinese this complex spirit, — a series of spirits, — is due to the reflexion of the Chinese complex of child birth and child education. Many elements of the Chinese education are entirely lacking in the Tungus system. Therefore, the Chinese n'jangn'jang in the Tungus complex appears in its shortened form. Another instance, - the spirit of the lower world irlinkan in the Tungus complex is figured as a partial representation of the erlik xan known amongst the Uigurs who themselves modified it from the original Ahriman (Buddhic — Yama) of Iranians where it had an entirely different function.

With all these spirits the Tungus would operate in such a manner that the elements of the spirit which are formally discovered in the spirit imported are preserved in so tar as they may suit the existing complex. The elements which do not suit will be omitted and those which are neutral may be either preserved or rejected. In this process the formal elements would be naturally given a new function corresponding to the existing complex. The spirit may be thus accepted only when it is needed in the complex, i.e. when it explains something essential, and if it may suit in its original, or modified form the existing complex.

From the study into the history of the process of the formation of Tungus ethnical units we have seen that their cultural complexes are different owing to the conditions of local adaptation and interethnical pressure. There is one more condition to be accounted; namely, the Tungus groups do not react in an absolutely identic manner on the alien groups and they do not equally well know the languages of the foreign groups, so we do not meet two Tungus complexes absolutely similar.

Since it is so the flood of alien elements produces different reactions and different elements are differently accepted in their original or modified forms. It is especially true of the spirits which do not depend upon the conditions which impose similar cultural elements, as for instance in clothing, hunting, etc. The spirits have no such limitations as that presented by the primary milieu. It is therefore natural that under the given conditions, amongst the Tungus groups we have very distinct complexes of spirits. Although many elements may be found to be common in several complexes, as a whole the complexes are different, and thus there is always a slight variation of the spirits found in different complexes. However, the spirits are grouped in the complexes with a certain regularity due to the character of the existing complexes which accept easier the elements suitable for them. So we have, for instance, two neighbouring groups, — Manchus and Tungus of Manchuria who are rather closely connected. Amongst the Manchus we have the complex of spirits fucixi (received from the Buddhist complex, perhaps through the Chinese), while among the Tungus this complex is unknown in its Manchu form. The complex of spirits among these Tungus is quite different from that found amongst their neighbours, -the Nomad Tungus whose complex is borrowed chiefly from the Buriats. Yet, among the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria the old complex of shamanism is now lacking, while it is well formed among their neighbours, - the Kumarchen and Khingan Tungus with whom they frequently meet. From these remarks it may be seen that the variety of spirit complexes is very extensive, — even the nearest neighbours may have entirely different complexes.

It is impossible to give a complete and synchronous list of spirits. The facts which we have were recorded prior to 1917, which is the date of my last field work among the Tungus. Yet, for some groups we have still earlier records. However, the Tungus, as shown, are inclined to change their ethnographical complex, especially the complex of the spirits. If they learn something new along this line they will not hesitate to include the new facts and hypotheses in their complex. In this case they greatly depend upon the neighbours who supply them with the new facts and hypotheses. The last decades, especially after the increase of the interethnical pressure connected with the Russian and Chinese migratory spreading, were especially favorable in this respect. In fact, the Tungus of Siberia have met with the strong influence of the Orthodox Christian Church in Siberia and even partly in Manchuria, while in Manchuria the pressure of the government, after the revolution of 1911 in China, compelled some groups to give up shamanism, if not in their conviction then in practice, which greatly affected preservation of the complex. Some Tungus groups, especially those of Transbaikalia living on agriculture and cattle breeding, gave up altogether the system of spirits which had previously existed, and adopted the Russian complex. The Tungus of the Maritime Gov., known under the name of Udehe, adopted the Chinese complex from the trappers and merchants. This process went still further after my investigations were carried out. In fact the new authorities in Siberia declared a merciless war on all kinds of «religious beliefs». Although the war is supposed to be carried on with help of almost academic methods of «enlightenment» and «anti-religious propaganda», the practical ways of doing it are different, — the Tungus are not free to continue their customs and methods connected with the beliefs in the spirits. This is done with the help of organized groups selected amongst the young people and older people who want to adapt themselves to the new policy of their masters ruling ethnical units. These new Tungus authorities disregard the academical ways and act so as to obtain maximum results by pressing their fellow men with their authority which they have as members of the ruling strata (communistic party). The result is evident, — the Tungus lose the remains which have been left after the first Russian cultural attack carried on by the missionaries. However, there is now a new condition. Under the national government the natives of Siberia were put in such a position that in so far as possible the groups were not allowed to oppress one another. With the disintegration of the old organization some ethnical groups have received «autonomy». Such groups in the territories occupied by the Tungus are the Yakuts and the Buriats. The immediate effect was that the Tungus, who had no autonomy and were everywhere in the minority, also in a certain economic dependence upon these groups, found themselves under strong and unregulated pressure. The effect of this pressure is evident, — the Tungus are losing their former complex which includes the spirits. In this respect the position of the Tungus in Manchuria is not different for they find themselves under the pressure of other groups and are not protected by the central government.

Considering the present conditions of the Tungus groups it may be expected with great probability that the spirits which were on my list in 1912-1917 now are not the same, — some of them may have been dropped, while some others may now be included.

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Classification of Spirits

The spirits which are found amongst the Tungus groups are numerous. In so far I can see there are five ways to present them to the reader; namely, according to (1) alphabetical order, (2) origin of spirits, (3) importance of the spirits in the complex and in the Tungus mind, (4) ethnical groups, and (5) character of the spirits.

The alphabetical order is very convenient for the reader, but since at the end of the book I give the index of spirits this order can be dropped. The classification of spirits according to their origin might be quite convenient. The Tungus themselves sometimes notice the alien origin of their spirits, e.g. the Birarchen and Kumarchen call the foreign spirits dona; a great number of foreign spirits preserve their non-Tungus names; some spirits bear such evident traces of their alien origin that there can be no hesitation in classifying them as foreign spirits; and there are spirits which now have no traces of their alien origin, actually may be so. Such a classification would be misleading in all the cases which are not definitely established.

The classification of spirits according to their importance in the complex and in the Tungus mind might be also good if it were possible to establish some objective scale of importance, e.g. the frequency of occurrence in practice. This, however, cannot be done for among different groups the frequency will be different, and some spirits frequently used may have very small importance in the complex, e.g. the spirits like arengk'i are very common and very often mentioned, but they occupy no important place in the complex, — in the Tungus mind they are rather insignificant. True, in some cases it is possible to speak either of the importance or of the lack of importance, of their «weight» in the complex, and in the Tungus estimation.

The classification and description of spirits may be referred to the ethnical groups. However, if we review the groups in this respect some groups may appear to be very poor in spirits while others may appear very rich. This may be due to two conditions; namely, some groups really have a very limited number of spirits owing to their loss and substitution of the Russian complex for the Tungus complex, as is e.g. with the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria, while other groups will appear here poor because regarding the spirits my data are not complete, as is e.g. the case of the Kumarchen whose complex is nearly the same as that of the Birarchen and amongst whom I did not carry out an exhaustive investitation into the complex of spirits. Moreover amongst the Tungus in this respect there may be distinguished four groups which are more or less similar, viz. the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia, the Nomad Tungus of Transbaikalia, the Tungus of Manchuria and the Manchus. However, such a grouping may lead to a certain misinterpretation of facts which unintentionally will be referred in toto to the above indicated four groups.

The classification of the spirits according to their character seems to be the best, if one adopts no artificial differentiation of the characters. In fact, the Tungus spirits cannot be classified according to the scheme of evil and good, malevolent and benevolent spirits, as it is often done by authors adapting the spirits of other ethnical groups to that of their own or to that with which they are the most familiar. The Tungus actually do not distinguish such two extremities, — any spirit may be malevolent, benevolent or neutral which depends chiefly on the human attitude and human art of managing the spirits. Perhaps some of spirits are particularly malevolent or benevolent or neutral, but in the Tungus mind there is no such a grouping as «evil» and «good» and the most benevolent spirits may become malevolent, and the most malevolent spirits may become neutral and even benevolent. The Tungus distinguish the spirits according to their power, but this classification may bring us to the conflicting evidences from different groups, which are not unanimous as to their opinions regarding the power of spirits, -some spirits may be less powerful in a group, as e.g. with the little known spirits fucxi among the Tungus of Manchuria, while the same spirits become the most powerful spirits among the Manchus.

I will now give a description of the spirits according to their characters as seen amongst different groups, pointing to origin, the relative position in the complex, and ethnical connections. As scheme first I shall take the primary milieu and spirits connected with it; afterwards I shall proceed to the spirits connected with the human soul; third, I shall treat the spirits which are imported; and last, I shall give details as to the spirits which are mastered by the shamans. When the category of spirits is described, I shall proceed to the other hypotheses which are not directly connected with the hypothesis of spirits.

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