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41. Conception Of «Master Spirit» And Some Principal Spirits

Amongst the spirits known to the Tungus, as well as to other neighbouring ethnical groups there is a great number of spirits which are regarded as masters of region, localities, groups of animals, as well as individual animals and men. They are called in general by a term known amongst different groups as ojan (RTM. Bir. Kum. Barg.) ojon (Nerc.) ejan (Bin) od'en, (Khin.) ejen (Manchu) [258]. This is not a special term for a special class of spirits, but it renders the idea of «master», «khan», «ruler», «husband» etc. A shaman who masters his spirits is also their ejen; the spirits which have something under their control are also ejen. So the above discussed julask'i is also ejen, but buja is not so, for buya is not personal, not a human like being. The spirits which are formed from the human souls and haunt the taiga are not ejen, but those of them which happen to become influential and to take the control of a region or a group of similar errant souls are ejen. Since the animals have their own souls and organisation in many respects similar to that of man, some of them may also become ejen. Thus any spirit is potential ejen, just as any man potentially is so. Naturally, the mastership may be acquired by the spirits and lost as well. Yet, not only spirits may become «masters», but also some animals are regarded as «masters» of other animals and even man. For instance, the tiger is regarded by the Barguzin Tungus as the master of all other animals [259]. In the same position are found some sea-animals in the Gilak complex. Again in this case the human relations are transplanted into the realm of other animals. Owing to the variable character of the spirits which are called ejen, the shifting of ejen -ship, variability of the competence of ejen, and their non-spiritual functions, the ejen must be regarded rather as a particular function amongst the spirits and non-spirits and as such the ejen cannot be separated into a special group of spirits, as was often done, especially by the Russian ethnographers of the old school. I shall now proceed to this group of spirits.

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These two terms have the same meaning. The first one is borrowed from the Dahurs amongst whom ada corresponds to am'i — the «father» — of the Tungus; hajin (Dahur, Poppe), bajii) (Dahur, Iwan.) [cf. bajan (Mongol, Manchu)], bajan (almost all Tungus dialects except for a few groups) -«rich». In the first two forms the name of the spirits is undername of the spirits is understood by the Tungus and Dahurs as it may be translated, namely, the «rich father». In the first form it is met with amongst the Khingan, Kumarchen, Birarchen and Dahurs, in the second form only amongst the Birarchen. However, the same spirit is known amongst the Yakuts under the name of bajanai which is derived by E. K. Pekarskii from Turk bai+ana [cf. Altaic, pajana] and baibajanai is translated by this author as «rich bajanai». According to V. M. Ionov (cf. his «Spirit-master of the taiga among the Yakuts») bajanai is a master of a group of animals, namely, the elk, fox, hare, ermine, musk-dear, mountain sheep, mustela (solono), and three birds only; these are generally those animals which are not hunted with bow and arrow. He is dressed in Tungus garment, — apron, — rides the reindeer and, according to some Yakuts, looks like a Tungus (op. cit. p. 5). This investigator supposes that this spirit has been borrowed from other ethnical groups (op. cit. p. 21). There is no doubt as to the meanings in Tungus and Dahur, but at the same time the idea, character and functions of this spirit are similar among the Yakuts and Tungus. Thus, the question as to the etymology of these names remains in obscurity. The Turk bai+a'na might be the source for folk-etymology of Dahurs and Tungus, and Turk bai+ana might be as well a folk-etymology of bajan am'i — bajanai.

Bainaca is met with everywhere in the taiga. He is pictured by the Khingan Tungus as an old man very tall, with white skin, a long grey beard covering his chest, with the eye-lashes about seven centimetres long. He rides a dog which has legs over a metre long [260]. He has a wife — on'i («mother») — and two children — a girl and a boy. However, the Kumarchen say that the couple has no children. According to the Birarchen, bainaca or bajan ami is an old man with long beard and he uses for his riding, the tiger.

Bainaca is the spirit which distributes the animals and sends them to the hunter. He is their «master» [261]. So that if one wants to hunt one must ask bainaca to send the animals. Here is the reason why the Birarchen ask the question to the hunter «aja mahin? bainaca buraje? i.e. «Is the luck good? Is bainaca giving?». He thus gives mahin i.e. the hunting luck. Bainaca has his own form of placing, namely, the Tungus cut off the bark and partly the wood of a fresh tree in order to make a plane in which with the hunting knife they carve the eyes and mouth. There are very often made two placings, one for the husband and one for the wife bainaca. Amongst the Khingan Tungus two large permanent placings are made on the larch tree: one in the mountain pass near the sources of the Tura River (a tributary of the Gan River) and another in the mountain pass near the source of the Nuktukali River (also a tributary of the Gan River). The Mergen Tungus have such a placing on the banks of the Gida River (a tributary of the Bystraia River). These are visited by the Tungus passing by who leave some small sacrifice, — horse hair, some food, small birch-tree branches etc. Small placings, also on the trees, are made before going to the hunting, and after the hunting, usually on the mountain passes, when the animal is killed. The face of the placing is smeared with the blood of the killed animals, an exception made being of only the elk (Cervus Alces). This limitation exists, in so far as I know, only amongst the Birarchen. As a rule the placings must be made in a place rarely visited by people, at certain and rather long distances from the campment, for it is supposed that the spirits stay in places rather wild, and certainly in the forest. Among the Khingan group bamaca may have his own horse ongun (vide infra Chapter XVI) of white colour. This horse is not used by outsiders, but it can be used by the women of the family. Bamaca may also cause sickness or mere nervous tension, so in this case a sacrifice may sometimes suffice, but sometimes a shaman must be invited. In this case bamaca will be treated (amongst the Birarchen) like any other burkan. However, such cases are not frequent [262].

It may be noted that when the Manchus go to the taiga for hunting they also make placings and perform the complex of rites. According to the Tungus, the Chinese hunters follow this example as well.

During my work amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia I did not find the name bamaca, or bajan ami, but the request as to the animals and thanks for sending them are addressed to dayacan (vide infra) and burkan. I have not observed any special placings. Amongst RTM. this spirit is called makun-mayun-mahin and it is considered as «master» of the animals, especially Cervus Elaphus and master of all rivers, mountains etc. So he must be addressed with prayers. He has a wife on'i burkan — the mother — and three sons uta burkan. In the evening time they may pay a visit to the wigwams where there are placings for them and where they are honoured. The same spirit is also guardian-spirit of the family. No placings are now made. However, in former days they used to make a special hunting accommodation — panigo — in the form of a plank with thongs for carrying on the back the utensils and hunting booty widely used among various Asiatic groups. The upper part of panigo was curved to represent the face which was used as placing for mahun and was regularly «fed» after the hunting. In olden days after the hunting they used (perhaps still use, but I did not see) to make deregde. The latter is a wooden piece, 25-30 centimetres long, with roughly cuts out for designation of the eyes and mouth and with long shavings left on as is done amongst the Aino and Gilaks who perhaps borrowed it from the Japanese. The sharpened end of the deregde was thrust into the ground. Several placings of this type were made and fixed outside the wigwam. The mouth was smeared with blood of animals and in front of placings some cooked meat was put for the spirits. The members of the family knelt in front of these placings [263]. Some Birarchen also call bamaca mayin, but in this case it is done for abbreviation: «to make mayin» i.e. «to make placing for bamaca in order to pray him to give mayin ».

Indeed, the case of the RTM is not typical for as stated this group has for a long time been under Russian influence. I suppose that the name of the spirit giving «hunting luck» has been forgotten as it is in the process amongst the Birarchen. Mahin — mayun etc, is «hunting luck». In fact, amongst the Barguzin Tungus who adopted for the spirit master of hunting animals an alien term — burkan — still use the word mayin as mangun referred to the lucky guns with which many animals have been killed.

As I have already pointed out (vide supra p. 90) apart from the hunter's skill the statistical phenomenon of chance cannot be understood by the Tungus as it is understood by the statisticians, but the hypothesis of a spirit which directs and regulates chance is quite satisfactory for soothing the Tungus mind disturbed with the riddle of statistical occurrence of «killing» and «not killing», «meeting» and «missings» animals. By this remark I do not say what was the first, — the idea of the spirit regulating the life of animals and being in certain relation to man, or the observation of facts of uncertain frequency of meeting and killing animals. I do not even adventure to suppose whether the original meaning of mahin (and variations) was the chance («luck») or the spirit regulating this «luck». One thing is evident that from the functional point of view all groups here discussed have the hypothesis of spirit regulating hunting (sending of animals) and they have the idea of «chance». The diffusion of this complex and diffusion of some terms (bajanai, bamaca, bajan am 'i) (mayin), also the loss of the elements and complexes and their substitution do not allow us to form any definite idea as to the original source of the idea of «luck» and «spirit-regulator». Both of them seem to be very old and to have a long history perhaps lost for ever [264].

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This spirit lives in the southern section of the heaven and its function is to give souls to the children. Amongst the Khingan Tungus this spirit is supposed to live in south western section and to be a complex one, namely, om'i — a male and um'isma -a female. If one wants to have children one must ask this couple. They have a wigwam and a tree on which the souls of not-yet-born children are sitting in the form of birds [265]. The couple has a horse (perhaps, many of them) them) om'is'i murin with which the souls are sent down to the earth. The reindeer Tungus of Manchuria suppose that this spirit om 'i also protects the child. The Kumarchen suppose that this spirit, whom they call um'i ~ om'i is a female and has no husband. Among the Birarchen the same spirit is known under the name of om'is'i or um'ism'i corresponding to ogos'i mama of the Manchus, and also has no husband. This system thus is based on supposition that the souls are given by the spirit um'isma~om'isma~om'is'i~om'i~um'i. These names are connected with the term used for «soul» which as shown is om'i~um'i. Among the Barguzin Tungus the «soul» is called om'ijan and is sent by a spirit of the class dayacan. Among the Birarchen there is now introduced a new spirit which has something to do with um'is'i, namely, n'jag'ag of Chinese (cf. infra Section 42). This spirit is used by the shamans and will be treated later.

According to the Manchu system ogos'i mama [266] which is also rarely called xutur'i mama («happiness»), sends souls (wunengifojengo) to the children and animals on the order of apkai endur'i. In the house there must be for every male-child a kind of placing for her: an arrow with bunch of pendants, which must not be destroyed nor thrown away for the children may have boils and other troubles. However, the Manchus have also accepted. Chinese n'jangn'jang as a special protector of children and women, but the shamans have nothing to do with the spirit. Since the introduction of the conception of n 'jangn 'jang the Manchu complex increased with all spirits known to the Chinese. However, they do not play very important part in general, with the exception of special spirits which send to the children diseases like measles, small-pox, chicken-pox, etc. This will be treated later.

Among the Barguzin and Nerchinsk Tungus the spirit om'ijan (jan is a suffix) is supposed to look after the souls of the people. So the spirit is asked to help in the case if the soul is not stable.

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Golomta, galayan, toyoljin, toyoman, toyo on'in.

The spirit of fire is known amongst the Tungus groups. However, their ideas regarding this spirit are not quite alike. Amongst the Barguzin and Nerchinsk Tungus this spirit is supposed to be an old woman toyo on'in («fire mother»), toyo on'o («fire grandmother»). The spirit has no placing for it stays in the fire of the family (wigwam). With this spirit there are connected two more spirits, namely, toyoljin and toyoman who have a certain function in the shamanism when the shaman goes to the lower world. The people must be very nice to the fire and careful with the fire, i.e. to feed from time to time not to spit into the fire, not to touch it with knife, and generally sharp iron, etc. The violation of this prohibition may greatly affect the Tungus. So the Barguzin Tungus have the following story:

«Once a woman with her child was staying in her wigwam. A spark fell on the child. The mother got angry and hit the fire with her long knife. Then she moved to another place. When the wigwam was erected she tried to make a fire, but the fire did not appear. Then she went back to the wigwam she had left. She discovered there an old woman, with her back cut into two parts, lying in the place where the fire should be. Then woman who had returned slaughtered a reindeer, covered the old woman with the fresh meat. The old woman warmed herself and told to the woman: 'Well, never do so like you did: Live well!' Since that time the Tungus observe the customs of good treatment of the fire.»

I have already in SONT pointed out that the bride when adopted by her new family as wife of one of the male members must make sacrifice to the fire which constitutes an important item in the wedding ceremony.

Amongst the Khingan Tungus this spirit is called golomta [267]. The spirit is an old female, about twenty-five centimetres high, very fat, and red like fire. She must be well treated and every three years she must have a sacrifice of a domesticated buck. Amongst the Kumarchen Tungus it is known as golumta. They have a variant of the above given story; the points of difference: the woman was sewing; the spark burned her work; she poked the fire with scissors and then could not make fire in a new place; when she returned she found an old woman with perforated eyes crying; she gave some fat to the old woman.

The Birarchen know the above version of fire spirit but some of them also adopt red faced spirit kosin which is a Chinese spirit (Chinese xoseng). They call the spirit golumta and sometimes toyoljin in the sense «the one living in the fire», also galayan (the stem gal||yal Mong. Rud. — the «fire») and the same stories are known [268]. This spirit is very important in life and must be carefully honoured by regular sacrifices every morning and every evening. On the new year day every one who comes to the wigwam or house must first bow (or kneel) before the fire, and after this to the old man. This Tungus group has a form of swearing golumta iceran, — «the fire spirit sees», — analogous to apka iceran, «the heaven sees», borrowed from the Manchus. They relate:

«Once there were two wigwams. One of women went for water and saw two women one of which was very fat and another one very thin. The fat one said out: 'Today I will set fire to the wigwam.' The thin one said: 'There is in the wigwam our saddle.' The fat one: 'Well, the saddle will not be burnt.' The woman was very astonished and remembered that there was really neighbours' saddle in her wigwam Then she waited for fire. In fact, during the same day the wigam with all her be longings except her neighbours' saddle burnt to ashes.»

According to the interpretation two women, fat one and thin one, were the spirits of fire from two wigwams.

Amongst the Manchus we meet with an entirely different complex, namely, tua endur'i of Manchu Writ, is, of course, Chinese xoseng (vide supra). Yet, amongst the Manchus of Aigun district this spirit is not in vogue, but another spirit is of importance, namely, jun fuc'k'i, i.e. the «Buddha of the stove» («mouth of the....»), which will be discussed in a special chapter.

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The spirit of the lower world under these names is known among the Manchus, and the Tungus of Manchuria and Transbaikalia. This spirit is connected with erlik xan of the Mongols (Xalxa, Rud.) identified by A. Griinwedel (op. cit. pp. 130, 170) with Yama (Sanscrit) and gsin-rje (Tibetan). Amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia and RTM [269] it is known under the name of erlikxan—> irlinkan while amongst the Manchus ilmunxan and amongst other Tungus groups either under the same name (Birarchen) or under its modification inmukan and inmunkan (Khin, Bir. Kum.). The Buddhistic spirit Yama in Manchu is called by the same term. According to the Khingan Tungus, he had originally been in this world and afterwards he was sent to another world (bun'i), where he now remains with his wife. According to the Birarchen, the spirit um'is'i is under the orders of inmunkan which is also the opinion of some noted that in the group of six kinds of wujima, i.e. the «domesticated animals», the ass is not included, — it comprises horse, ox, sheep, dog, pig and fowls (under the name of «chicken» coko). The other spirits connected with the lower world will be discussed later. Manchus who say that this spirit (ongos'i mama) is living in the lower world. According to the Barguzin Tungus irlinkan is anthropomorphic being and he is master of the spirits ojan living in both the middle and the lower worlds. Among the Manchus and Dahurs there are many stories devoted to this spirit whence it would be possible to give more details but the Tungus, who know these stories, regard them as «folklore». It is evident that the idea of the spirit with its functions as master of Hades, judge of dead souls (amongst the Manchus and groups influenced by them), etc. is of non-Tungus origin. The name inmunkan-ilmunxan and irlinkan seems to originate from the same source, for ilmun~inmun in Tungus have no etymological connections [270]. Alternation of such type is not rare in the Tungus languages. The images of this spirit are known from the Chinese pictures, bronzes, etc. but there are no placings used amongst the Tungus. The role of the ass in the Manchu complex is evidently one which is indicative of its non-Manchu origin. It is confined to the lower world only. It is absolutely lacking in the system of shamanism. However, all minor spirits, and especially the ibayan (vide Section 44.) are afraid of the ass's leg. It may be here noted that in the group of six kinds of wujima, i.e. the «domesticated animals», the ass is not included, — it comprises horse, ox, sheep, dog, pig and fowls (under the name of «chicken» coko). The other spirits connected with the lower world will be discussed later.

258. This word is known in a great number of Tungus dialects: cf. W. Grube's parallels ejin (Goldi) (p. 11); also in Buriat — ezin; Mongol (Xalxa) etpn (Podgorb.); eje)n\\ejen (Mongol, Rud.). The Tungus varieties are met with even in the form of ydi (Udsk. Midd.) The latter is not certain.

259. The Tangus conception of the tiger as ejen of other animals is nearly the same as that of the Europeans who call the lion the king of animals. However, in the European complex it may be a purely folkloristic creation, a product of artistic imagination, while amongst the Tungus this idea is based upon the facts observed which indicate that in some regions the tiger is the most powerful animal which is actually independent on other animals and «rules» them at its will. If we consider «master» as a conception concerning spirits only, the designation of the tiger as «master», as is actually done by the Tungus and other groups, may lead to a misconception of the tiger's position and this animal will be supplied with supernatural «spiritual» qualities not by the groups investigated, but merely by the ethnographer. As a matter of fact, this has often been done and the whole question has been extremely involved and confused. In every case when we meet with the conception of ejen we have to find out what is the actual nature of the «mastership».

260. This picture of hamaca was given to me by a Tungus who had seen him personally. He said «Once I hunted the squirrel. During three days I could kill (only) twenty-five squirrels. I could not do more (than this), for the gun well shot and hit the target, but could not kill the squirrel. Then I prepared four flour cakes and put them on the dalkon (platform erected for sacrifice). Soon I saw an old man (as described) came from the west, from the river, and took the cakes in both hands. Then I fell down on my knees and prayed: «Help me to kill!» The bainaca went southwards and I killed before noon forty squirrels and during the following two days altogether, one hundred and twenty (squirrels)». Such an evidence in the Tungus eye is, of course, solid enough. Since the existence of the spirit is presumed by a series of other hypotheses, this type of stories about bahaca is found frequently amongst the Tungus and all of them are more or less alike, so that I will not quote them.

261. The Birarchen suppose that he is also looking after the domesticated animals, which seems to be an extension unknown amongst other groups.

262. Among the Khingan Tungus I once observed a young man who was very nervous. Such a state was ascribed to bamaca. A placing was made and the young man cured. However, the success of may cossacks in hunting was also explained by the fact of making a placing.

263. Similar placings were made also in the case of sickness.

264. Indeed there may be proposed several more or less eredible hypotheses but since they cannot be used for further inferences they are useless for an investigation, and even dangerous when used. For instance on Tungus-Mongol soil bajin-majin-mahin- mayin is possible. Yet the idea of wealth» (rich) and luck may also be of the same semantic group but I do not propose it for it may take us so far that we might be lost in an ocean of hypotheses as is common with many speculators.

265. Among the Goldi the soul is known under the name of om'ija and descends into the women which results in her pregnancy. I suppose that this record of P. Simkevic (quoted by I. Lopatin op cit. p. 199} was not correct for all Tungus groups do not connect pregnancy with receiving om 'i — the soul — and regard this phenomenon as a natural one. Moreover the soul (om'i) may leave the body (sickness) and yet the child may be born without om'i and will survive for a certain time. For this reason one must ask the spirit to give the soul.

266. I. Zaxarov gives omosi mama as an shamanistic spirit, goddess of happiness, protector of children and posterity. Indeed this is a wrong interpretation. The shamans have nothing to do with omosi mama and she is not a protector.

267. In RTM. Kolomtan=xolumtan (Yakut, Puk. «the place for fire») has no meaning of spirit, but «what is found under the fire» i.e. the fire place. (Cf. also Mongol yolumta, golumta in the sense of spirit it is known also in Mank. dialect. The parallels are also found in other dialects and groups.

268. The woman becomes angry because the fire produces the noise like: s’ip-s’ip-s’ip

269. They assert that this name is received from the Yakuts which cannot be confirmed, in so far as I can see.

270. Perhaps except Manchu where we find stem ilmu — the submerger, to detach oneself, etc. which may be perhaps connected with the origin and history of Yama who went down, was submerged in the lower world, was detached from the other spirits, However, I do not insist on this etymology.

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