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49. Clan Spirits Of The Northern Tungus

In this section I shall give a description of the clan spirits chiefly observed among the Northern Tungus groups. The order in which they are here shown is that of their importance in the Tungus complex.

MALU (BURKAN) (SAVAKI). This complex spirit is known among the reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia and Manchuria, also among the Tungus of Manchuria. The term malu = malu = (maro) amongst all these groups is referred to the groups is referred to the place in the wigwam, as well as in the tent and the house, facing the entrance. When combined with burkan among the Khingan, Kumarchen and Birarchen, and with savak'ican amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria, savak'i among the Barguzin and Nerchinsk Tungus, it means the spirit. This burkan is a clan spirit among all groups.

According to the Birarchen, this spirit is ojor, i.e. «early, old», and it originally existed together with buga and bun'i, while all other spirits were then unknown. It is very likely that at that time it was called savak'i. This term is now referred to the box in which the placings for this spirit are kept. In fact, as we shall see, savak'i amongst other groups may be referred to the placings, and to the spirit itself. It is remarkable, that some Birarchen suppose that this spirit was borrowed from the Dahurs, but the spirit itself is of Tungus origin. So the story runs as follows: «Once a Dahur was running (for hunting) and was hungry. He saw a box hanging up near a Tungus (teya — the Tungus who were not enrolled in the Bannermen organization) wigwam which he thought to contain some dried meat. Then he stole the box. The box contained no meat but placings for malu. The spirit did not want to leave the Dahurs and settled amongst the Dahurs becoming the most important Dahur (clan) spirit. From the Dahurs malu has reached the Tungus of Manchuria». However, according to some Tungus, a half of the spirit was lost, — it went back to the teyachen. As a matter of fact, the term burkan may be of Dahur origin, since the Dahurs did trade with the Tungus of Yakutsk Government and with the Tungus of Manchuria serving as a link between two groups, e.g. in the XVIIth century and later.

Malu burkan consists of several manifestations which may be studied in the placings for this spirit, so here I give a description of a complex placing observed among the Birarchen.

(1) Two anthropomorphic placings doldika, — as'i (female) and n'irai (male). This manifestation causes bad sickness in which the articulations are affected. I think those are the rheumatism, gout, etc.

(2) Two round placings called colpon (star Venus), — as'i (female) and n'irai (male) (vide supra pp. 56-57). This manifestation causes the eye trouble which may badly affect the hunter's ability. I think these are trachoma, and other various infections, particularly gonococcous infection when the spirit is carried by the women from another clan.

(3) Two anthropomorphic placings kagatkan (the etymology is kangan (-t)+kan, vide supra) as'i (female) and n'irai (male). This manifestation causes diseases of the internal organs, especially common in females; gynecological cases greatly increase the total number of cases. It is considered as «master» of the whole complex. For this reason the complex may be represented only by this manifestation.

(4) Two anthropomorphic placings with nine indentations on the head, — mangi (a name of mythological beings who lived before the Tungus spreading), as'i (female) and n'irai (male). Mangi is also called jeyin dilchi mangi, i.e. mangi with nine heads, which may be compared with the old Chinese complex. It may also be called jengyildar mangi (cf. infra Ch. XV). The functions are not clear but the spirit is considered as a very dangerous one. It is especially common among the Dahurs.

(5) Two long pieces — takan (the bridge), as'i (female) and n'irai (male). This manifestation causes trouble of the vertebral column. I think the cases of tuberculosis of vertebrae are included.

(6) A round flat piece dilaca (the sun, which is a male) and a half of a round piece — b'ega (the moon, which is a female).

(7) Two lizard-like placings, — isela (the lizard), male and female.

(8) Two snake — like placing, — kulin (the snake, worm), male and female.

(9) Two turtle-like placings, — kavila (the turtle), male and female.

The functions of these manifestations (6,7,8,9) could not be definitely established. Various troubles of internal organs, particularly severe pains in the intestines etc., are ascribed to these manifestations. Yet, according to some Tungus, these manifestations are of those animals the forms of which the clan shamans may take.

(10) Two halves of anthropomorphic placings, — koltongde (also kaltangdi) (from kalta half), male and female. This manifestation causes partial one-sided paralysis of the limbs.

(11) Two one-legged anthropomorphic placings chichul, male and female.

These manifestations may be increased with the following ones: a long fish-like placing k'iribu (k'irbu), or ajiratkan — the sturgeon (and the kaluga) [313]; also a placing like a human face — deregde [cf. supra and infra, also bada and deregde (RTM)]. This placing is merely another form of the kangatkan which may be used instead of the complete complex[314]. These two placings are found in the malu complex of the clan dunankan (vide details in SONT). (Cf. P. V. Simkevic, op. cit. Addition IV). There may be also found a special placing, bojun'i algaci malu, i.e. malu with the elk's leg.

In the Birarchen clan malakul the malu complex is found in a reduced form, but the chief of the group consists of om'i (father), on'i (mother), ogdi uten (big child) and uten (child).

The placings in different families may differ. In maakagir clan it consists of only kaltaka, chichul, doldika each by one, the sun, moon and two Venuses and also four anthropomorphic placings (an'akan) for minor spirits sent for communication with other spirits, but there are two birds lacking in other clans. During the sacrifice they also make eight and nine, altogether seventeen an'akan which are distributed as shown in figure below.

The placing for malu may also be made in the form of a piece of blue Chinese material with anthropomorphic details, also the sun, moon, Venus and other manifestations. However, the usual material is carved wood. The size may vary from about three to twenty centimeters. However, for convenience of transportation, the Tungus like better to have them in small size. All of the manifestations are usually attached together with a thong to make a bundle. Since they are hung up over smoke during sacrifice and are fed with blood and other kinds of food, they usually become covered with a layer of fat, dirt and smoke, and have a very dark colour and a strong odour. Amongst the Birarchen they must be made of wood of the black birch tree. In explanation of this requirement they have a story relating how the spirit mahi was introduced amongst them. The essentials of the story are that a small boy left alone was fed by mahi burkan until he attained the age when he could play. He always played on the bent trunk of a black birch tree. After his continued use of the trunk, the bark gradually fell off. When the trunk was without bark it began one day to speak to the boy about mahi burkan. Since that time the Tungus make the placing from this wood.

When the placings are made of wood they may be called moma (etym. mo — tree-wood; moma — «wooden»), or momate, which name may be used for designation mahi burkan. The white horse reserved for this spirit bears two white and blue ribbons, and is called ongo or ongochi, i.e. one which has ongo. The idea is that the spirit uses the soul of the horse for riding.

It may be noted that in this complex the manifestations are represented by males and females. These manifestations correspond respectively to the day and night roads of every manifestation. This complex cannot be identified with the animals, phenomena of nature (sun, moon, and stars) or even ancestors' souls (kangan), but these manifestations are a result of syncretic creation by the Tungus who accumulated their knowledge regarding diseases and possibilities of transformations (i.e. the taking of certain forms) for travelling, chiefly along the lower, night roads. At a certain historical moment this knowledge was systematized in the form of the malu complex. Various manifestations are not at all natural phenomena expressed in the placings, but are diseases and forms which may be assumed by the clan members for defending themselves against the aggressiveness of the spirits. This especially is evident in the case of takan (the «bridge»,) also jey'in dilchi mangi (probably of Chinese origin), and others. Yet, the sun and moon are the spirit called so and not the natural phenomena [315].

Among the Khingan Tungus and Kumarchen the complex of mahi is nearly the same as the above described. The number of manifestations is subject to great variations, as among the Birarchen.

Among the Barguzin and Nerchinsk Tungus I have seen chiefly the placing bada, — the face made of a piece of iron or brass, or birch bark. The number of bada belonging to a family may be rather large; I have seen over ten. The size ranges between two and twenty centimetres. They keep with these placings also wooden placings and placings made from soft material such as skin and tissues. They call them mok'il (cf. SONT, also infra). In the same bunches of savak'i there are found wooden anthropomorphic placings for the nine headed mangitkan, wooden placings for tiger, sun, snakes, bear, also eagle's feathers, hare's leg, and once I have seen a wooden triangle with nine anthropomorphic placings, which probably belonged to another burkan (vide infra, jiachi). These spirits were clan spirits and they were opposed to the spirits of other clans. A white reindeer was reserved for spirits. Unfortunately my information regarding this group of spirits among the Transbaikalia Tungus is not detailed.

Amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria, according to what I could find from the old people (they have given up shamanistic practices and their complex of spirits), they formerly used to have mah. These spirits were identified with ojan of the Barguzin Tungus. In the group of placings called savak'ican there were anthropomorphic images, white swans; and an eagle (k'iran) which was the most important manifestation. At the present time these do not exist any more, — «all died out», according to the Tungus expression. After the hunting these spirits were served a sacrifice. A white reindeer was reserved for these spirits, as it is in Transbaikalia. From these fragments it may be seen that the complex was different as compared with that seen amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia and in Manchuria.

Among the Goldi some manifestations of the malu burkan are met with in different shamanistic complexes (seon). Whether the Goldi also have the spirits of the same type as the Tungus here discussed has not been investigated. Both P. Simkevic and I. A. Lopatin had paid attention to the shamanistic spirits but they did not communicate regarding the clan non-shamanistic spirits. However, it is almost sure that the Goldi have, besides the shaman's spirits, also the clan spirits. It is very likely that the shamanistic spirits, at least some of them, are at the same time the clan spirits. The Tungus Birarchen told me that it is so among the Goldi of Sungari who have in great part, the same spirits as these Tungus, for instance, joyin dilchi mangi, chichul, ajiratkan, doldika, also animal forms, — the snake, lizard, turtle, etc. are also found in Goldi complex. However, the Goldi, in so far as it can be seen from the published materials, do not call them mah. Still this term is known and it is referred to the place in the house facing the entrance (malo cf. I. A. Lopatin op. cit. p. 82. also malu W. Grube's Goldi Dictionary p. 117) i.e. just as it is observed amongst all northern Tungus groups, even those not using the conical wigwam, e.g. some settled Birarchen and nomad Tungus of Transbaikalia, and once I. A. Lopatin mentions (op. cit. p. 154.) malu seon which receives sacrifice from the bride in her future husband's house during the wedding ceremony. The placing for spirits is a post called gusi. In his further treatment of the spirits I. A. Lopatin gives no detail. However, one of his complex spirits seems to be malu.

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NAJ'IL BURKAN OR KANHAN. These are the same spirits as malu burkan when they are brought by the women from their clan. Among the Birarchen they are called naj'il by which term the relatives of the wife are called by her when she leaves her clan and as a wife belongs to another clan. The term naj'il is borrowed by the Birarchen from the Dahurs among whom it means «my mother's relatives», so that in the mind of the woman she has in view chiefly her mother, and thus her mother's spirits [316]. Amongst the Kumarchen and occasionally among the Birarchen these spirits are called kangan-ka'an which sounds exactly like the spirits which amongst the Birarchen are supposed to protect the child in its early period. Among the Kumarchen, the term burkan is referred to the spirits of the husband only. Naturally, the complexes of naj'il burkan or kangan are similar to mokun'i mah burkan. Here I give a short description of a complex observed in possession of a woman who received these placings when she was four years old, after a very great illness and long shamanizing. She always kept them near herself. All placings are made of wood. (1) A half-moon, two centimetres in diameter; (2) the sun, fifteen millimetres in diameter; (3) a bird with its head turned back, made of a root of a tree; (4) two stars, «evening and morning stars», — two small wooden balls about one centimetre in diameter, with small handles for string; (5) two snakes in the form of two sticks eight centimetres long, with a string wound around them in a spiral; (6) two lizards; (7) two bridges about five centimetres long; (8) a carp (fish) with horns; (9) a half-man about five centimetres long; (10) one-legged man about five centimetres long; (11) two anthropomorphic placings with eyes, mouth, legs, but instead of arms only hints in the form of protruding wood, about six centimetres long. From a comparison of the above described complex of mah burkan and present naj'il burkan is evident that they are different only in some respects. The placings are always kept in the wigwam in the place where the woman sleeps. They must not be mixed with the husband's clan spirits and generally other spirits. Other women must not sit on the place under the naj'il burkan. The same is recommended to the men who may catch these spirits although the men are not forbidden to sit on this place. For this reason the hostess must show the place where the guests may sit without any harm for themselves. It is very interesting that these spirits may be transmitted from the mother to the daughter and in this way the woman may carry back to her brother's clan the spirits of her mother, where naturally they will not be harmful for clansmen, for there they are mokun'i malu burkan. Such a situation was usual when these Tungus systematically practised cross-cousin marriage and were bound by marital relations only between two clans (cf. SONT). However, at the present time the naj'il burkan are usually destroyed when the woman becomes old and it can be done even when she is young but does not need the spirits with her, i.e. practically when she is not sick. In fact, not all women want to have the placings with them. Usually the women when married have no placings, but with the first trouble, as for instance sickness, or nervous excitability, mental unrest etc. they make the placing through which from time to time the spirits of the women may be called. When the placing is made, or received from the mother, it is very likely that some troubles are inevitable. This is especially true with the eye troubles (male and female colpon) which may result in a complete blindness. Once a woman had sore eyes, and the husband decided to act and burnt with a red-hot iron the eyes of naj'il burkan. Owing to his mistake in acting so, the next day the woman lost her eye altogether. Once I was said to have caused eye trouble (conjunctivitis) to a woman by examining her naj'il burkan. In another case one of two Venuses had disappeared from the complex of placings and the effect was that the woman had trouble with her eyes. So that many women and men are inclined to rid themselves of the spirits when it is possible.

Among the Barguzin Tungus the wife's spirits are in the same position and have the same effects as with the Birarchen and Kumarchen. The placings mok'il among these Tungus correspond to kangan as we have already seen in children (cf. SONT. p. 280). It may be thus supposed that the term nafil burkan has been received from the Dahurs, while the older term was kangan still preserved among the Birarchen as a term for the spirit-placing protecting the child, analogous to mok'i among the Barguzin Tungus who have this spirit in the clan complex and as protector of the child.

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MOKUN DJIACHI BURKAN is one of the clan complex spirits (cf. supra j'iaci) which is known among the Birarchen and Kumarchen. It may be dissected as j'ia+ci, where j'ia is «happiness, luck» (Bir.) [borrowed from the Mongols, j'ian, j'ijan||jajayan (Rudnev), -the «fate» (cf.j'ija, Dahur, Pop.)], so that j'iad is «one who has luck, happiness». It is sometimes called j'eichi burkan. The same spirit seems to be also known among the Barguzin and Nerchinsk Tungus. This spirit is supposed to be very old. It was received from the Mongols together with mail. According to a Birarchen version a boy of 6 or 7 years old was playing, on the river bank, with these placings which he had taken from the river; since that time the burkan is known.

The placing is made of two pieces of Chinese cloth, white and blue, each about one square foot. The upper part of the blue cloth is covered with a piece of sable or squirrel fur. Two anthropomorphic images made of lead and tin are fixed on it. On the piece, of white cloth, there are fixed two anthropomorphic placings and below them two pieces of «golden» or «silver» Chinese paper, through which the spirit is «fed», i.e. the spirit is offered the blood sacrifice once every three years. During the sacrifice the placing is put facing South and a long string (the «road») is attached to the placing. There are attached to the string anthropomorphic images. The mudur (dragon) makes it difficult for the spirit to go along the road. This spirit has a horse ongo, which must be of very light brown colour with dark mane and tail - sapil — with a white ribbon as sign of ongochi. This spirit is useful in the cases of disease, and it looks to, or better to say, helps in the welfare of the clan (and family). In spite of the fact that in the book of destiny everything is foreseen, this spirit may help to improve the life conditions. In fact, «once a young boy was carrying on his shoulders the placings for this spirit. He was tired and hungry and crying. Then he heard a voice: Your older brother has killed an elk. — Hurry up! When the boy reached the elder brother's campment there really was an elk killed.»

In addition to the above placings there are also eight (or four or two) anthropomorphic placings either attached to the cloth, or separate and made of wood, — an'akan, two mudur (dragons) and two birds. This is daril, or j'iaci daril, or dolbor, — the female half of the complex, with the night roads. The male half dayra(l) with the «noon roads», may have nine, seven, five or three anthropomorphic placings an'akan and sometimes a special wooden piece with nine anthropomorphic placings and nine pendants of the form shown in the figure below.

Sometimes they add the sun, moon and two cholpon (Venuses). Then the Birarchen say that it is a combined malu and j'iaci. So that sometimes one may see the combinations nine males + eight females; or five males + four females, or three males + two females, which is indicative that both halves and both roads are in action.

I have seen the placings with nine an'akan and pendants amongst the Barguzin Tungus, so that I suppose that they also have thus spirit. However, I know no details regarding it. Among the Goldi a similar placing is seen on plate XXIV No. 61, which is g'irk'i of the Goldi. The description given by I. A. Lopatin (op. cit. p. 228) corresponds to the combined (though abbreviated) malu +j'iachi. Amongst the Goldi it is used by the hunters who carry with them these placings and «feed» them in the case of «bad luck» in hunting.

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MOKUN'I KAIDEN (KAIDUN) BURKAN is one of the family complex spirits known among the Birarchen. Sometimes it is transmitted and in this way it becomes clan spirit. The term kaidun is not a Tungus term and it has no meaning. It may be compared, in so far as I know, with kaidun (Manchu Writ), — the «rider going on alone or ahead of a group», also «usual, permanently used» (Zaxarov). This spirit originated in the mountains. The placings consist of two pieces of red and yellow cloth of about one square foot, with images. The first one is for the half of the night, the lower road (dolbor orgu okto), while the second is for the noon half, the upper road (inegdulin uyu okto). During the sacrifice the «roads» are attached in the form of strings. The first male group contains the following manifestations — five men and five birds; two dragons and two trees; while the second female group contains four females and four birds; also two dragons and two trees. When the sacrifice is given a corresponding number of anthropomorphic placings, birds, dragons, and a special an'akan are made. However this is not a regular practice, for this spirit has its permanent placing above described. A Horse for carrying and serving spirits, — ongochi, — is selected among the light-bay coloured horses and has two ribbons of red and yellow colour. It is supposed that this burkan always stays (kaidu ?) at the same place and therefore there is a special construction as shown on figure below, built up for it in a place which would not be frequented by outsiders, for this spirit does not like foreigners [317].

The importance and significance of this spirit is compared with j'iaci daril. It is not very common.

This spirit has a third road which is the manifestation consisting of nine anthropomorphic placings, nine birds and two dragons. What is the function of the third road I do not know. This spirit has not been mastered by the shamans.

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MOKUN'I KAROL BURKAN is one of the clan complex spirits, identical to kaidun and, according to some Tungus, it is the same as kaidun, only the name is different, they say. However, some Tungus have karol, while some others — kaidun. Karol has been mastered by the shamans. The name is supposed to be of a shaman who then evidently mastered kaidun. The spirit has originated in the mountains (vide infra, karol seveng).

313. K'irbu seems to be a Tungus adaptation ofkirfu (Manchu Writ.) which is not exactly sturgeon; ajiratkan is a Tungus term. 314. In form of a «mask» it is based by the shaman who puts the «face» on his face to show that the spirit mahi is within him. This spirit protects.

315. As a matter of fact, the existence of some diseases or troubles might have been originally connected by the Tungus with the activity of the sun and moon. Yet, this may be mere borrowing in a ready made form from e.g. the Mongols. Cf. sara-nara complex of the Mongols.

316. The term naj'l Dahur may be perhaps connected with nayacu (Mongol). However, the situation is more complex than it appears at first. In fact, this term is used by the Tungus in two forms naj'i-naja. Both na (in the form na and its derivative ina) and j'i~ja are met with as terms for designation of the progeny of my sisters (especially in the dual system) and junior group of «my mothers clansmen», naj'i-naja might originate as well in Tungus soil. However, as far as I know, it has not been recorded in the form (cf. SONT and SOM).

317. The same shelter for placing of kaidun burkan may also be used for keeping other placings. But this is considered as an innovation.

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