§ Широкогоровы §
toggle menu

61. Types Of Placings

I shall now describe some typical placings.

WOODEN PERMANENT PLACINCS. Among all Tungus groups wooden placings are used for the complex spirit (burkan) malu (vide supra Chapter XIII). The shape of the manifestations is more or less alike among all groups. One may find, stars, snakes, lizards, sun and moon, the form of which is more or less alike. In case of the placings for spirits which have animal manifestations - e.g. tiger or bear, — or manifestations using those animals for loco — motion, the animals would have the necessary characters sufficient for showing what kind of animal as understood by the makers. The groups which use colours, as for instance the Goldi, supply tiger and leopard with stripes or with spots. The size of these placings, even in the same complex, will not be a sure indication of the kind of animal, for the size is also indicative of the power of the manifestation. These animals may be supplied with wings and bird tails etc. which are not indicative that these are compound animal manifestations or still less «mythical animals», like licorn, griffon. Egyptian ox, etc. but these marks of distinction will be indicative that the given animal manifestation may move in the air «like a bird». In the same way, the fish fins added to zoomorphic and anthropomorphic placings are indicative that these manifestations may go under the water «like a fish». Therefore, in every particular case one must exactly know whether the manifestation is an animal or the animal is used itself as a placing for the soul (particularly that of the shaman). At least it is indicative of the spirits' ability to move or behave «like the particular animals». Let us remark that the accuracy in the understanding of functions of placings and their meaning is very useful for avoiding unnecessary «scaffolding» of hypotheses as to the «primitive conceptions» of spirits.

One of typical placings is a «face» which is used for the principal spirit of the group bada. It is called bada (Barg. Nerc.) deregde (Bir. Kum. Khin. RTM.) [380] which merely means «face». It may be made from various materials but it is usually made of wood [381]. Among the Tungus of Manchuria it is not of a large size, — 1 have seen it varying between three and six centimetres. There may be two «faces», — one representing a female and another a male which is marked by symbolized hair on the chin and upper lip, also cheeks. Amongst the Transbaikalian Tungus it is usually made of birch bark, and is very large. Amongst these groups the group of malu may be confined only to these placings. That is the reason why this form of placing is met with so frequently amongst different Tungus groups. Yet, I have met with large wooden placings of mask — like appearance, embellished with hair, beads, etc. Amongst the shamans it may be still more elaborated and of large size. It may be attached to the shaman's costume. However, amongst the shamans of Manchuria it is lacking, as well as other placings for spirits of the malu group. It ought to be pointed out that this placing must not be taken for «symbol of the sun», etc. which was guessed by some authors. Amongst the Tungus it has nothing to do with the sun, except the round form of the face [382]. The manifestations of tuberculosis with special sign of exhaustion as thinness of the body, broken chest etc. also are more or less similar, The manifestations of rheumatism with broken legs, or with a half — leg cut at the height of knee are not so uniform. The half — legged manifestation is met with in another function, namely, as placing for «Lame Brother» who carries the souls of dead people across the river. The form of this placing may greatly vary. Here [383] I give a picture of this placing which has been found on the place of a burial in Saxalin Island, left probably by the Oroki. It may be noted, that it is a combination of fish (sturgeon?) and man. Amongst other groups «Lame Brother» may be perfectly anthropomorphic. Amongst these placings there is one with nine indentations symbolizing nine heads of a manifestation malu, — magi. Owing to the presence of indentations the placing may be identified without error.

As stated, the size and details are subject to great variation. As regards the material amongst the Tungus of Manchuria, with the exception of RTM, the placings lege artis must be made of black birch wood, or if one cannot have it, of poplar wood. However, in North Transbaikalia these trees are not frequent, at least in some regions, and the placings can be made of any available but strong wood. As to the names given to the placings of this type by the Tungus groups, they are subject to great variations.

One of characteristic features of the Tungus placings is that the distinction of sex usually is not marked by the details of sexual organs. However, once or twice I have seen among the Khingan Tungus these details in placings, for a female spirit. The reason why they do not show these details is that the placings are supposed to represent spirits dressed according to the Tungus fashion. In fact, among the Barguzin and Nerchinsk Tungus the wooden placings are covered with chamois. The chamois may be cut to symbolize the hair, form of clothes, and other details. Yet, it may be ornamented with coloured small beads, even painted, also ornamented with reindeer neck hair. In these dialects the placings are called savak'i (Nerc.), shavak'i (Barg.). Most of these placings are «faces», — bada, — in which the presence of ear — rings and beards and moustaches is indicative of the sex of manifestations.

It ought to be pointed out that amongst the Kumarchen and Birarchen malu burkan under the name of kangan are possessed only by the females. Amongst the Khingan Tungus, according to one of my informers, any man may also have the placings for malu burkan. The placings after the owner's death are always destroyed. Amongst this group there are some placings of larger size and with sharpened end for fixing it into the ground during the performances of sacrifice. Amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia the men have them too. After death of the owner the placings may be preserved being transmitted to the daughters among the Tungus of Manchuria, while amongst the Transbaikalian groups, the placings are taken out of the family bunch of placings and hung up to a birch tree. Amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria as well as that of the Amur Government, and according to these Tungus amongst their people living in the Yakutsk Government, the great part in permanent placings is occupied by the anthropomorphic placings (bojol) and those representing swans. The swans are typical of these Tungus groups while other placings of the group malu are not very elaborate. In Transbaikalia I once saw a permanent wooden placing made in the form of triangle fixed on a shaft and with nine anthropomorphic small placings. This was a special placing for spirits connected with the hunting. Such placings seem to be also used by the Goldi [384] and by the Birarchen. Among the Manchus permanent wooden placings are very rarely met with. Bows and arrows are made when boys are born. They are connected with the spirit xutur’i mama and they cannot be regarded as placings in the above given sense. The same is true of wooden «shrines», of very small size, in which the Manchus keep pictures of various spirits. Amongst the Khingan Tungus the shamans sometimes have «placings» which represent various local animals hunted by these Tungus. Although cut in a very rough manner, they represent very realistically morphological peculiarities of the animals and sometimes their characteristic movements. These are not placings for spirits but symbols for communication with the spirits about the animals symbolized. Here I point out once more how it sometimes is difficult to make up the idea of functions of some placings and symbols [385].

WOODEN TEMPORARY PLACINGS. Such placings are used during the shamanistic performances, also during,, sacrifices to certain spirits, or in special cases of some spirits, which may occasionally harm the people and at the same time may be managed without the shaman's assistance. Amongst the Transbaikalian Tungus there are anthropomorphic placings for spirits called toyoljin and toyoman made from the larch tree wood. They usually are about thirty centimetres long; the legs are not marked and the head is symbolized by pyramidal form on which they make cub representing two eyes and a mouth. The placing reserved for the spirits seva in much larger, — about fifty centimetres long, — and it is supplied with legs and «hints» as to arms. Usually it is made of rotten, soft wood. The fishes and bears, needed as animal manifestations for shamanizing, are made of a hard wood and the form, in spite of great conventionalism and roughness of work, may be easily recognized. As in other cases of «primitive art» it suffices to give an idea of the animals by putting emphasis on some particular characteristic. There is also quite typical placing of toli or joli, — the «salmo taimen», — in the form of a fish with horns, much larger in size (about sixty centimetres) than other «fishes». This is one of the «manifestations» of shaman's spirits. It may also be pointed out that they make a raft consisting of four wooden pieces with fish — like heads, one hundred forty to one hundred sixty centimetres long, and a special instrument for «cleaning» etc. all of which are thrown away after the performance. However, the equipment used for shamanizing to the upper world are made from birch — bark: birds (diyi) and anthropomorphic placings (an'akan) which in double number are attached to the trees especially prepared for shamanizing The placings are small, from ten to fifteen centimetres long.

Amongst the Tungus of Manchuria temporary placings for shamanizing are made of soft wood and thrown away or just left on the spot. There are two groups of placings called an 'akan and bam’i, both of which are anthropomorphic. The first (small size) are usually made to represent manifestations of various complex spirits of day roads. They can be made either with or without arms and legs, as shown in the above picture, the size greatly varying according to the case and personal choice. They may be made in numbers of two, five, seven and nine with a corresponding number of birds made also of wood. Their number depends, as shown, upon the spirits. The an 'akan may be accompanied by mudur, i.e. «dragon», the number of which also depends upon the spirits. An 'akan without arms and legs are made for sacrifice to juhsk'i. In this case they represent placings for spirits — envoys and not Juhsk'i itself. Bam'i can be made of dry grass, straw, when it is available, also rotten wood and fresh wood. It is usually in single or double number of much larger size than an a'kan and, as a rule, with legs and arms roughly cut. Bam'i is used for night roads of spirits. The same placing is made for the spirits coming from the lower world, i.e. ancestors, but this case it is always accompanied by a placing representing dog. The presence of a dog is a distinct character of complex placings. The bam'i made of wood, birch — bark and rotten wood, are used for calling all spirits and souls of other people, as well as they are made for action similia similibus (vide supra Section 55). In the first cases they are real placings and after the operation — admonition, sacrifice, threatening and even shooting down, — they are thrown away, while in the case of action similia similibus, - e.g. shooting or cutting of bam'i which is supposed to represent a person which is found at certain distance, — it is not so. However, it is impossible to distinguish for which purpose the bam'i has been originally made.

Perhaps to the same group of temporary placings there may be related the placing made for bamacha. Although it is merely cut on a trunk of living tree, the Tungus do not always return to the same placing for making their sacrifice, but they cut a new one if they want to have a placing for sacrifice.

The Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria make four anthropomorphic placings without arms and legs homoko or homokan (RTM), also toyoljin. Although there formerly also was toyoman; its forms could not be established. Seva used to be made of rotten wood with arms and legs, as amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia. The placings are thrown away after the rite.

In order to avoid repetition there may also be mentioned temporary paraphernalia of shamanism which are not placings, but which are also left after shamanizing. Amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia, — the Barguzin and Nerchinsk groups, — there is a pair of wooden freshly cut staves called either morin («horse») or oron («reindeer») and which are used by the shaman during his travelling (vide infra Chapter XXV). After the performance they are left at the spot together with other placings. Yet, sometimes, there are also made gula («house») which is supposed to be located in the other world. It consists of four wooden planks about thirty centimetres low, fixed together to form a square construction. Among the Tungus of Manchuria, also among the Goldi, Gilaks and neighbouring groups, one also sees «houses» of different type, — a house with a sloping roof which in vertical, frontal cross section gives a triangle, — in which they put an 'akan. At last, amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia there is made a special apparatus for purification, consisting of four narrow wooden pieces fastened together in form of a square. The inside of each piece is cut to form teeth. The square is sufficiently large for an adult man to go through. This apparatus is used after shamanizing and is called s'ipkan and chipkanin (Barg. Nerc.). Among the Kumarchen some placings after shamanizing are put into a bird's skin.

PLACINGS MADE OF SOFT TISSUES AND SKINS There is a series of placings used for children made of old tissues and skins. They have already been described (SONT pp. 280 et seq.), so that I shall now only point out that the anthropomorphic placings are reserved for the spirits which are supposed to look after the child, and there is a special placing, usually made of skin coloured black, which is placing for child's soul.

Under the Mongol (Buriat) influence amongst the Tungus of Manchuria (except RTM) and amongst the Mankova Tungus the ongon have become very common. They are made of a piece of skin or tissue, — cotton, silk and others, — with applicated anthropomorphic placings, also horses and various symbols as the sun, moon, stars etc. also small bones of some animals. The placings differ as to the colour of the tissue, form and number of small placings. They may be ornamented with tissues of different colours, some sewing, hair, and painting. Amongst the placings of this type the most common is jol (vide supra) which is found in almost every family. Amongst the Tungus of Manchuria there are placings of this type used for other spirits, e.g. kaidun, burkan, jiaci burkan, and others (vide Chapter XIII).

Quite a special position is occupied by the Manchu placings for clan spirits, as stated (vide supra p. 144), of various colours and slightly varying shape.

PLACINCS — PICTURES. This is an innovation introduced amongst the Tungus of Manchuria (except RTM.), Manchus, Gold, and some other Tungus groups of Maritime Gov, chiefly under the Chinese influence. Their patterns are that known in Chinese iconography. The Chinese printed pictures appear beside those made by hand work of Chinese, Dahur and Mongol craftsmen. However, it ought to be pointed out that the personages shown in these pictures do not always correspond to those understood by the Tungus, — some Chinese «gods» may be understood as Tungus spirits. The same is true of the Buddhistic pictures. Therefore, if one sees such pictures amongst the Tungus it does not yet mean that the alien complex is already accepted, and yet, let us remark, the Tungus placings sometimes may be used for the spirits received from the alien groups, including Taoistic and Buddhistic spirits. Among the Tungus influence by the Russians there have been lately introduced Russian icons which however have not yet been assimilated [386]. It ought to be pointed out that among the Manchus one must distinguish placings from the pictures. The Manchus have pictures of shamanistic spirits (nirugan||n'uryan), but they are not «placings» in the above given definition. As to the technique they are made by the Chinese craftsmen, and thus in so far as the style is concerned, they are Chinese. However, there is a tendency to represent spirits, according to the Manchu conceptions.

PLACINGS MADE OF DRY GRASS AND STRAW are used exclusively for spirits of night roads and ancestors who come from the lower world (also a night road) on their visits to the middle world and for receiving «food» from living people. The placings may consist of one anthropomorphic placing made of twisted dry grass or straw, and one or several dog — like placings. When there are no «dogs» the anthropomorphic placing is used for spirits. The size may vary, but it is usually between forty and fifty centimetres high. The Tungus of Manchuria call it bam'i (Kum. Bir.) or merely «fat man» (burga bojo), while the Manchus make it of straw and call it orxo n'ajma (Manchu Writ.) [corr. oryo n'ama (Manchu Sp.)], — the straw man. The dogs are called n'inak'in (Kum. Bir.), — the dog; and orxo indaxun (Manchu Writ.) [corr. orxo indayun (Manchu Sp.)], — the straw dog. After the sacrifice they are thrown away toward the North or North - West. Instead of a «dog» there may also appear a «reindeer», even among the groups which at present have no more reindeer breeding.

SPECIAL TEMPORARY PLACINCS. Two hillocks, dried and a little shaped, are used among the Birarchen as a placing for the spirit ajelga (vide supra) which permits to recognize the spirit. Among the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria there are used wooden chips left uncut on a wooden stick. Such placings are known among the Goldi, Gilaks, Ainu, also among Tungus groups living near the above mentioned groups, as the Oroki of Saxalin Island, Oroci and Udehe of Maritime Government. It may be pointed out that this type of placing is well known in Japan, where they are very elaborate. It is likely that the above mentioned groups through the intermediary Ainus have received them from Japan.

PLACINGS MADE OF METALS. I have already stated, that the use of metals for placings is rather limited, — the Tungus do not work metals. It also holds good of the Manchus who have their metallic implements and weapons usually made by the Chinese. However, the Tungus know a little of the art of smithing and they can make what they want of iron, brass, and silver, also, but rarely gold. The usual way is cold smithing. Lately the bada, — i.e. «face», — amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia are made of brass, tin, and rarely, iron. The size is subject to variations, — from three to twenty centimetres; the usual form is an oval, imperfect imitation of the face. The placings are usually flat, the nose, mouth and eyes as well as the hair being symbolized in some way, suitable for the material. Small metallic images may be also found on the placings of ongon type (vide supra. Placings made of soft tissues). Together with the penetration of Christianity, the cross, usually made of silver, has made also its penetration amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia. The metallic placings are very numerous on the shaman's coat, hat, etc. But these special placings will be discussed later.

PLACINGS MADE OF ANIMAL SKINS. Such placings are met with amongst all Tungus groups, except the Manchus. The skins together with the head and legs may be used as placings for animal manifestations of spirits, e.g. in the case of sending sacrifice to the spirits. The souls of animals killed may be also used for the same purpose and their skins would be needed. However, in this case skins will not be placings, but the animals will be envoys of men or used directly by the people. However, to distinguish in which function the skins are used is not always possible. To this question I shall also return later. So I shall now confine myself to an enumeration of the animals used. The skins of the following animals are used: hare, especially amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia; pole — cat; sable; sheep (Tungus of Transbaikalia); reindeer amongst the reindeer breeders (for transferring the souls of dead people and for certain kinds of sacrifice); horse (for the same purpose amongst the Tungus of Manchuria); hedge — hog (amongst the Manchus and recently other groups); snakes; some fishes; turtle and toad usually dried (amongst the Tungus of Manchuria). Amongst the Tungus of Manchuria the skins of ducks and geese are largely used too. The Tungus also use parts of animals, e.g. the bear's paw, the teeth of reindeer, sable, tiger; bones of various animals (especially on the cradle); rarely antlers and horns of various animals. Here again they may have various functions, — as well as for «magics» and as «amulets».

ANIMALS AND HUMAN BEINGS ARE USED AS PLACINGS among all Tungus groups, but since they are not intentionally made for this purpose I will now leave them without discussion.

380. Among the Mankova Tungus this term is referred to the placing for taiga spirit, made on the tree.

381. I think it may be supposed that the iron, brass, tin, etc. are materials which were not used formerly. They are undoubtedly an innovation.

382. By this remark I do not want to say that it is so in general, and that my remark holds good for among other ethnical groups. We have already seen the same form of placings may be used for different spirits and even «sym — bols».

383. Vide supra. No meaning of another placing here represented could be established. In all probability that it is another manifestation (bear+bird) of one of spirits accompanying souls to the lower world.

384. Oral communication of L. Sternberg. Cf. also I. A. Lopatin Table XXIV, 61.

385. These may be easily classed in the group of facts pointing to zoolatry totemism etc. although they have nothing to do with them. Yet, from the above instance we may see that the wooden pieces which represent animals may he mere symbols, understood by the spirits.

386. I have some indications that under the pressure of communistic authorities the old icons of Christian complex are now replaced by the pictures of prominent communistic leaders put together with pictures of the Late Emperor, Grand Duke Nicolas, and generals. If the Tungus groups in Siberia survive it is very likely that a few generations later the above indicated pictures may become new iconographic patterns of new spirits or even old spirits adapted to a new complex, as it has already happened with the alien iconography amongst the Tungus groups of Manchuria.

Электропочта shirokogorov@gmail.com
© 2009 - 2021