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63. Sacrifice

As stated the sacrifice, in various forms, is one of the most important methods of influencing spirits. The idea of sacrifice is to satisfy a spirit (or a group of spirits) with something which is believed to be useful, interesting, and generally attractive to the spirit. The Tungus dialects possess no special term as «sacrifice» or «to sacrifice» — they use either a general term «to pray», or they specify: «to feed» (the spirit). The Manchu language possesses such terms e.g, jukten, but it is used also in the sense of «spirits», which is also true in reference to vechen. The Manchus usually call the act of sacrifice by a verb solimb'e (Sp.) which is «to invite» and «to invite to take the food».

There is a technical question as to the ways how the sacrifice is accepted by the spirits, which may make clearer the Tungus conception of sacrifices and their practice. One must not think that the spirits consume it as it is, the spirits take only the immaterial substance» of the sacrifice. Yet, «immaterial» ought to be understood in the Tungus sense. As shown, the smells produced by things and animals, the vapour to which they are reduced, the smoke produced by burning, are «immaterial», at last the reduction of things and animals by the process of putrefaction and decay also liberates the immaterial substance» and breaking of some things may result in the same effect. Since the spirits are «immaterial», they assimilate the things in their «immaterial» substance, and thus the spirits prefer the forms of sacrifices in which the latter may be easily assimilated by them. For this reason fresh, hot blood which produces a visible evaporation is better than cold blood; the hot meat is better than cold; a sacrifice with odour is better than one which cannot be smelled; the visible odoriferous smoke is the best form for assimilation by the spirits. Owing to these conceptions, the sacrifice may be given in various forms regardless its kind, — it may be boiled, given fresh, reduced by burning, putrefaction and decay, and even merely broken [392]. As to the preferences of spirits for different kinds of sacrifice, the Tungus must know them beforehand. In this case their reasoning is based upon: (1) their knowledge received from the previous generations; (2) the information received from other ethnical groups which are already familiar with the spirit; (3) their own experiments; (4) theoretical considerations; and (6) special methods.

The first two do not need to be explained, but the Tungus experiments and theoretical considerations require some additional remarks. If there should be a new, unknown spirit, the Tungus would try to call it and feed (give sacrifice) with something available. If the spirit accepts the sacrifice, which is seen from the fact of fulfilment of human desiderata, then the form of sacrifice is considered as corresponding to the character and taste of the spirit. If there is no effect of sacrifice the Tungus suppose that either the sacrifice was not served in a proper way, and they would try to change the ritual and wording of prayer, or the kind of sacrifice must be changed, e.g. they would give instead of reindeer blood, that of sheep. It is typical of the Tungus that they would begin their experiment with simplest form of sacrifice and they would further proceed to the more costly sacrifices. Indeed, the guesswork has great importance in the choice of the form of sacrifice to the new spirits.

Theoretical considerations are not of less importance. Let us suppose that a new unknown spirit (for instance, the spirit causing a disease which was previously unknown, e.g. the effect of alcoholism) in some respects is similar to another spirit, already known (e.g. hysteria), the inference will be that the spirit is of a will be that the spirit is of a given road — direction. Then, since other spirits of the same road and direction are supposed to accept blood sacrifice, the newly discovered spirit will have the same sacrifice.

Here I give another example. As shown, certain diseases observed in infants are supposed to be controlled by a complex spirit which, according to the Tungus ideas, consists of several spirits some of which are still unknown. Let us suppose that the child has a new, unknown trouble. It will be decided that this is a new spirit connected with the complex spirit known before and as such it will be satisfied with the sacrifice of the type common for the spirits of this group. In this case there will be a sacrifice of a cock, or simply burning of incense.

All spirits connected with the lower world accept blood sacrifice, therefore any new spirit of this group will have blood sacrifice. All spirits of the upper world amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia accept the sheep, therefore any new spirit of the upper world will have a sacrifice consisting of sheep.

At last, what is understood here as special methods consists of shaman's ability of seeing and knowing with the help of his own spirits which would tell him what kind of sacrifice may be accepted by a new spirit. After an experiment the form recommended may be accepted as a usual practice.

It must be kept in mind that for sacrifice the Tungus use only those things which practically are available. Therefore it is likely that with the change of the domesticated animal, the one formerly used for sacrifice will be replaced by another one. The extermination of some wild animals may result in the substitution by other animals. The loss of animals, like reindeer, horse, sheep, swine, etc. may be followed by introduction of some new sacrificial animals, e.g. hens and cocks. Indeed, the change of the animal and suppressing of blood sacrifice must be preceded by a series of experiments which must give satisfactory results. In such a state I have found, for instance, the Nerchinsk Tungus who had partially lost their reindeer and for sending souls of their dead people they had adopted another animal, namely, the horse. Still many of them were hesitating as to the possibility of such a substitution. Among the Birarchen there was no more question about such a substitution, but the question was about a complete suppression of horse sacrifice, for many of them had no more horses. For special forms of shamanizing the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia must have sheep. However, sometimes they cannot get them from their neighbours, — the Buriats, — and they substitute a very young reindeer fawn. Still, they would like better to buy a sheep in order to be sure as to the effectiveness of the sacrifice. The Tungus of Manchuria very well know that they must have for sacrifice to the spirits of Chinese origin, e.g. n'agn'ag, some special nuts, Chinese dates, etc. as is always offered by the Manchus, but since the Tungus cannot always buy them they substitute what is available. They say that it is much better to have what is required, but since they cannot get it, they have to use a different kind of sacrifice, The same is true in reference to the pigs, chickens etc. which are used by the Tungus who deal with the same spirits as the Manchus. Owing to this the pigs and chickens are sometimes substituted for other animals too, but even wild animals may replace pigs and chickens. These conditions must be kept in mind when the forms of sacrifice are discussed and compared amongst different Tungus and other groups As a matter of fact, the same spirit may have a different form of sacrifice only because of the difference in the economic conditions of groups. On the other hand, the same form of sacrifice may be used for different spirits because of the fact that the animals required are not available. For instance, some Manchu clans, namely, mongo xala must have sheep as sacrifice to the ancestors, while the Reindeer Tungus of Barguzin taiga use the same animal for their sacrifice to the spirits of the upper world. Yet, both of these groups are not sheep breeders, but they have received this sacrificial animal from the Mongols, who use it much more widely than any other group of this part of Asia. Still, the sheep as a sacrificial animal is not used amongst the Tungus of Manchuria who are neighbours of the Mongols and Manchus.

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There may be distinguished the following forms of sacrifice 1. Blood sacrifice, when fresh blood is required; 2. Animal sacrifice cooked; 3. Plants and candies, also cooked cakes; 4. Symbolic substitutes, including written characters; 5. Incense; 6. Varia, e.g. silk kerchief, hair, silk and other tissues, flowers.

1. Blood sacrifice is used among all Tungus groups and Manchus. It is used for the spirits of night roads for the spirits of the lower world and ancestors, for the spirits of shamans (seven, seva, vochko), and in some cases for the highest spirit of the world. REINDEER are used amongst the reindeer breeding groups; the SHEEP amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia, as a substitute for reindeer, and amongst some Manchu clans (e.g. Mongo xala); the PIG is very largely used amongst the Manchus and rarely amongst the Tungus of Manchuria, who borrowed it from the Manchus; the HORSE is used only for carrying away the souls of dead people, and blood as a last sacrifice for the deceased person, amongst the Tungus of Manchuria and those Tungus of Transbaikalia who have already lost their reindeer; the OX is used as a sacrifice amongst the Manchus and Tungus of Manchuria, — the Kumarchen and Birarchen, — on occasion of great sacrifice to the highest spirit when two clans divide (amongst the Tungus), and during the great shamanizing (details of which will be given later); amongst the Mankova Tungus a BLACK COW and a BLACK HE — GOAT are used for a special form of shamanizing; amongst the Manchus, Tungus of Manchuria and Mankova Tungus WILD ANIMALS and especially the roe — deer, are used for spirits of the taiga, and as a substitute for other animals; the BEAR is used only amongst the Birarchen for a special seven; the BADGER (mangn'i); [cf. mangigu, dorgan (?) (Manchu Writ.)] is used as a regular sacrifice amongst some old Manchu clans (fe manju xala) [393]; the DOG was used as sacrifice to the p'oyun vochko, e.g. in the clan tokurxala [tokoro, toyoro (Manchu Sp.) corr. tokoro (Manchu Writ.), tau (Chinese)], where lately the dog was substituted by the sheep [394]; the following birds are used: CHICKEN (amongst the Manchus and Tungus of Manchuria when they can get them); DUCKS and GEESE (amongst the Kumarchen); SWANS (amongst the Birarchen whose seven consider swan — uksi — as the best sacrifice — food).

The ritual consists of a ritual slaughtering of the live animal which will be described later; the collecting of its blood into a receptacle, which may be of a definite form; and smearing with it the mouth of the placings, usually especially made on this occasion, or drinking of blood by the shaman who is supposed to have the spirit in his body, or at last by spilling blood into the space (to the spirit of heaven.).

Instead of blood, also together with the blood, there may be given other parts of the animal, for instance, liver, also pieces of meat, at last even the whole animal or its skeleton and skin. In case the animal should be used for transporting the soul, the skin is taken off and hung up on the place of burial. The skins of other animals are also used for sending spirit — messengers, e.g. the reindeer amongst the Barguzin Tungus, the duck and geese amongst the Kumarchen. The bones, as a rule, must not be broken.

The above indicated animals are used in cooked form for the spirits of upper, day roads. However, since the meat is eaten by the people who are present at the rite, the cooked meat is also given to the spirits of night roads, as well as to the spirit of heaven and to the deceased people. In certain cases some parts are considered especially preferred by the spirits, as a mark of sacrifice, as for instance, vertebrae of sacrificed animals fixed to a post erected on the spot; skulls of sheep, bears or horses mounted on a special platform; antlers of reindeer and of roe — deer; lower jaws of sheep and of other animals. Choice of particular parts of animals depends on the same conditions as that of kinds of animals. It may be noted that in almost all cases the Tungus and Manchus make blood sausages which are also given to the spirits. Amongst the Manchus, owing to the borrowing of cooking art from the Chinese, the ritual is still more complicated. However, in this case the elaborated dishes have no particular meaning. For instance, there are served «eight cups and nine plates» (vide SOM, p. 85) or less complicated meal consisting of «six cups and six plates» which are also used during ceremonies of a wedding. Amongst all Tungus the use of salt in preparing cooked sacrifice is strictly prohibited. Generally, the Tungus and Manchus give the spirits those kinds and forms of food which they themselves appreciate unless there are special kinds and fonts preferred by the spirits. However, the last group is always in the process of decrease, being gradually replaced by the kind common in the given ethnographical complex.

The plants, candies, cakes and other similar sacrifice — food stuffs are used in a very limited scale by the Tungus who have no access to the market and who themselves do not use those products in their usual conditions; but amongst the Manchus these products occupy the most important place in the rites. Various kinds of nuts and dates, also various fruits are common in sacrifices to fuch'k'i and mqfa, also some endur'i, but they are not usually given to the p'oyun and saman vochko. It is perfectly clear that these kinds of sacrifice have been borrowed, together with the spirits, from the Chinese [395]. However, under the stress of poverty and sometimes impossibility of buying these products from the Chinese shops, the Manchus replace them by other products. The cakes may be of different origin and make; namely, bought from the Chinese and made at home. The cakes made at home are of special interest and they are used in sacrifice to the p'oyun vochko. Their description will be given later (vide infra Section 74). Candies, bought from the Chinese, may be used without special ritualistic regulations. The Tungus who may buy them from the Chinese and Russians would also use them as sacrifice, especially for the souls of recently dead people, above all for a dead child. In the coffin they would put everything which might be liked by the child, e.g. candies, cakes and also milk. The same is true of the adult people who may receive also tea, tobacco etc. Classifying of these donations as sacrifice may be rejected on the ground that the food etc. with which the dead people are supplied are not «sacrifice», but it will not be correct, for these things are given to the souls, and in principle and idea, they do not differ from the sacrifice to the ancestors, whose names are lost, and to other spirits.

Wine is an essential component of sacrifices amongst all Tungus and Manchus. However, it is not always possible to get wine. There are used: Chinese wine made of gaolan (a kind of millet); Manchu wine (nurd) made of millet, used especially for sacrifice to p'oyun vochko, Mongol wine made of milk and used by the Tungus living in the neighbourhood of the Mongols; Russian vodka used by those Tungus who are living near the Russians. The grape wine is not used in a common practice, although some Tungus groups have access to it. Amongst the Manchus some spirits, e.g. fuch'k'i and mafa may require special kind of wine of Chinese production. The wine may be poured into the fire, and on the placings for spirits; put in a receptacle into the coffin; sprinkled into the air, especially for the spirits not called but which may be present; drunk b the shaman when the spirit is introduced into him. For some performances the wine is absolutely necessary, e.g. when the spirit is particularly inclined to drinking wine. The sprinkling of wine into the air has become so common among the Tungus and Manchus that they do it almost automatically, even when drinking for their own pleasure Other drinks, such as tea and milk, are also used, and in the same manner, as sacrifices. However, the use of tea is much more limited and the use of milk is confined only to the Tungus who have reindeer or cattle. Amongst the Nomad Tungus of Transbaikalia the products of milk, e.g. sour cream, white cheese, butter etc. are also used for regular sacrifices.

Various kinds of incense are an almost inseparable part of the sacrifice amongst the Tungus groups. Smoke of plants and of special Chinese incense is considered as pleasant and easily assimilated sacrifice. It is pleasant because of a «good smell» and it is in form of gas [396]. As incense the Tungus use what is the Tungus use what is found to be handy. Amongst the Tungus of the taiga regions there are used heather, leadum palustrum [sangk'ira (Bir. Nerc. Khin.) sangkra (Nerc.) sangk'ir'ix'jan (Manchu)], juniper [archa (Bir.) archi (RTM.), arca (Mank.); cf. archa (Dahur) arca (Buriat) archa (Mong. Rud.)], also some resinous shrubs which could not be identified. All of them are also used for purification. Amongst the Manchus there were formerly used twigs of wild rose [397]. Amongst the Manchus and Tungus living in Manchuria near the Manchus, the Chinese incense ajen — x'jen (the same term is preserved but slightly modified by the Manchus and Tungus) has lately received great recognition, especially for the spirits received from the Chinese. Amongst the Manchu clan nara in the sacrifice to the p'oyun vochko instead of ajen — x'jen there is used burning of oil (in a lamp). However, in this case the function of burning may be «fire» and not smoke produced by the oil. With the introduction of ajen — x'jen the number of bunches of stick began to play some function in the rituals. The importance of the incense is so great that the whole sacrifice may be confined to it.

Under a separate heading of «various sacrifices» mention may be made of sacrifices of various things, such as pieces of silk; ribbons; silk blue kerchieves bought from the Mongols xadak, xadik||kaday (Mong. Rud.)] by the Nomad Tungus and rarely by the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia, also by the Khin — gan Tungus; hair of horses attached to the trees reserved as placings for local spirits, especially amongst the Tungus influenced by the Mongols; e.g. the Nomad Tungus of Urulga and Mankova, partly the Khingan Tungus, who practise the erecting of obon [cf. owo||oboya (Mong. Rud.)] in the mountain passes and on top of mountains; pieces of various tissues attached by the Tungus of Manchuria to the placings for burkan; natural flowers and artificial flowers used as sacrifices by the Manchus; skins of animals, e.g. mustelidae, foxes, hares, etc., especially albinos and unusually dark coloured specimens, also their bones, horns, claws and hoofs. Among these there may be found the most unexpected things, such as empty bottles and tins, dolls etc. which may be regarded as interesting enough for the spirits. However, this class of sacrifices is not very common amongst the Reindeer Tungus. Many of these sacrifices may be regarded as mere symbols and pars pro toto. The last group of symbolic sacrifices covers all forms of sacrifice in which the sacrifice is symbolized by something, e.g. hoofs, antlers or bones of the animals would symbolize the animals (pars pro toto). In the same group there ought to be included images of animals, particularly domesticated animals, and of men. These are not placings but symbols of sacrifice. Under the Chinese influence, there have been introduced images made of paper, including silver shoes (bars), and «paper money», etc. widely used by the Chinese in their managing of the spirits and souls of dead people. These practices are known only amongst the Manchus and those Tungus who have already fallen under the strong Manchu — Chinese influence. The Manchus are going still further in their imitation of the Chinese symbolism when they write on a piece of paper the names of things to be given as sacrifice and burn the paper as it would be a sacrifice of things. Indeed, the paper and written words on it in the Manchu mind are not the physical sacrifice to be received by the spirit, but only its immaterial substance reduced to a symbol. Of course, such a conception might be reached by the Manchus only after a long process of reduction of the sacrifices to their symbols, and the Chinese influence here seems to be stronger than the Manchu imagination. Again, this form may be easily accepted by any Tungus as soon as it is practically shown that the sacrifice in this symbolic form may be accepted by the spirits.

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The Tungus attitude towards the sacrifice has been demonstrated, but there remains to be shown how the practice of sacrificing may vary under the conditions of Tungus life. I have always pointed out that the fact of lacking of some animals or other sacrificial things, needed according to the tradition or experience of other groups, may change the rituals. No less important is the limitation imposed by the relative scarcity of material for sacrifice. In fact, amongst the Tungus living on reindeer breeding the sacrifice of this animal cannot be very frequently practiced for as I have shown the average number of reindeer per family is very small among all groups investigated [398]. Therefore the Tungus may now sometimes combine several spirits for a sacrifice of a reindeer. Amongst the Tungus of Manchuria who have no domesticated animals, except horses and dogs, the limitations go still further, for in order to have «fresh blood» they have to buy pigs and other animals from their neighbours. However, the pigs are not cheap and they must be brought from distant Manchu and Dahur villages. The same is true of sheep bought by the Tungus of Transbaikalia from the Buriats.

If the Tungus and Manchus are frightened by the spirits' attack, they must make sacrifices all of the time, which practically is impossible. Owing to this, some spirits do not now receive any sacrifice except some incense and a part of the sacrifice shared with the other spirits of greater importance. Here it may be pointed out that the influence of such a fierce and troublesome spirit may gradually decrease just owing to the fact that this spirit will not too often receive its too big sacrifices and the people would be convinced that the spirit is not as dangerous as it was originally believed. So, an over — estimation of spirits' power, which would require too many sacrifices, may become a hindrance for maintaining this spirit and later on the spirit is liable to fall into a complete oblivion, while modest spirits may survive for a very long time. As a matter of fact, this is true of many other ethnographical phenomena which become a burden for the ethnical unit.

From my observations amongst the Tungus I may say that every family may have possibility of making a sacrifice hardly more than two or three times a year. Amongst the rich Manchus, and Nomad Tungus who possess numerous (locks of sheep and herds of cattle, it may be quite frequent, but still they cannot satisfy all the spirits. Amongst the Manchus the sacrifices are usually confined to a few nuts, dates, to fruit, to cakes or even merely to paper symbols an burning on incense, while the sacrifice of pigs and oxen is a rare occurrence, — three or four times a year, However, besides these considerations the Manchus and all Tungus groups have serious impulses from time to time to make sacrifices, i.e. an imperative desire to have fresh meat of particular animals, — the pig and reindeer, — and an interesting performance, especially if it is connected with the shamanism. This impulse very often underlies the initiative in sacrificial activity. So from my experience I knew very well that should the Tungus be for a long time without fresh meat from hunting, they would find a decent pretext for slaughtering a reindeer as sacrifice to some ancestors or spirits which were supposed to disturb peaceful running of their life. On this occasion the family performing the sacrifice would invite all neighbours to have their part of the pleasure of eating the fresh meat. Next time, another neighbour would do the same, and so the whole group from time to time and rather often may enjoy good meals. Indeed, the spirits do not receive very much, — small pieces of cooked meat, a little of the fresh blood, sometimes the skin which at certain seasons is not good for industrial purposes, or the antlers and hoofs. Therefore, although the requirements of the spirits are very great, the material losses of the Tungus are not as great as that.

Amongst the Manchus I have observed nearly the same picture. The Manchu diet is not as rich in meat, as that of the Tungus living on hunting. As a rule, the Manchus do not slaughter their animals unless there is a good pretext, — a wedding or funeral, or shamanism, or merely a sacrifice to the spirits. If there were sufficient justification for slaughtering nobody would disapprove, especially on the condition that the neighbours are invited to have their part of the fresh meat. Practically, as many people are invited as can be satisfied with a full and good meal. Besides regular sacrifices, e.g. on spring and autumn festivals, when the meals are taken by clans, there are occasions such as sudden diseases of the people or merely psychic and nervous instability which may require a blood sacrifice of a pig.

However, there are some cases when the people are really persecuted by the spirits and the Manchus begin to slaughter on the right and left, — chickens, pigs, oxen, — till the animals are destroyed. The neighbours and clansmen enjoy the food, and also, they often offer assistance by supplying animals, but still oftener by opening credit to the unfortunate family. I knew a family which during half a year destroyed all their animals and became greatly indebted. So that the chief of the family saw himself obliged to liquidate his household and to go as a simple servant to work in another family, while other members were taken in by other clansmen's families. The clansmen and neighbours very much regretted this and even expressed their doubts as to the rationality of ouch extreme measures. As a matter of fact, the family was ruined. But whether it was so because of overeating, or because of psychosis, I do not venture to say. Still the opinion of the neighbours and clansmen was inclined to accept the hypothesis that the family in question was badly attacked by the spirits which must be fought at any price.

Certain abuse of rites and sacrifices is observed amongst the Manchus when they produce great expenditure on buying and burning paper symbols, such as silver bars, houses, carts with horses, furniture etc. sometimes amounting to several hundred dollars. In this case the Manchus are the prey of vanity developed and cultivated amongst them with great art by and through the alien channels, — the Chinese complex. In this case the clansmen and neighbours have only moral satisfaction of being kinsmen and co — villagers of a rich man, without any other benefit of ritual zeal, such as good food, social gatherings, shamanizing and endless discussions as to the spirits [399].

392. Vide supra Part I, Chapter IV.

393. At the present time badger is replaced by a pig. However, in difficult and serious cases the Manchus try to find a badger, which is not easy because of the relative rarity of this animal.

394. Although the remembrance of this practice is quite fresh the Manchus of this clan are somewhat ashamed of this old practice, for the dog is not a «good animal» for the spirits of day — roads — if a dog is given to the p'oyun vochko it would mean that all these spirits are of «bad roads». The name of vochko which prefers this animals is seven buku.

395. Necessary data regarding the Chinese may be found in special works on Chinese complexes, e.g. in H. Dore's work and in the description of Manchu rites by Ch de Harlez.

396. When the sacrifice is burnt in the wigwam or in the house it does not at all mean that the sacrifice is given to the spirit of fire, — the fire may be used as a method of reducing the sacrifice to a gaseous state.

397. boh sengk'i is now no more used, but still mentioned in the shamanistic texts; cf. bula i ilxa (Manchu Writ.).

398. Vide SONT, pp. 31 - 33.

399. It may be here pointed out that the above described conditions of functioning of ethnographical complexes observed among the Manchus and Tungus are not characteristic of them alone. Justification of enjoying unusual food with good drinks is common amongst other ethnical groups as well. The cases of vanity are too well known to be illustrated here with the examples observed among other ethnical groups, so I shall now give one of the instances, in fact quite striking because of its complexity, which I have before my eyes in certain places of the Far East where diplomatic and consular representatives of different powers spend their time by inviting one another for dinner and luncheon parties under the pretext that there must be created and maintained good relations between the countries which they are supposed to represent. When there are no international gatherings they do the same under the Pretext of maintaining good relations within their national group. Even third and fourth secretaries are very active on the level of their rank, although no diplomatic consequences would follow from their gastronomic activity. Indeed, for the young generation these gathering have another additional function too, namely, practising in conversation and manners, but it is not always realized. At last, professional justification of these gatherings, i.e. as means to receive mutual information also is quite a naive justification. However, the same results such as to create no open discontentment, to practise in social life, and to gather information, might be achieved by other means less ruinous for the health and treasuries of respective governments when the complex «parties» overgrows its initial function. Indeed, I am very far away from the idea that such an activity is useless or that it may be abolished, for if everything is rationalized, there will be perhaps so little left of the ethnographic complexes that the ethnical units would not be able to exist. By this example I am intending to show how the ethnographic complexes are maintained and how psychic and physiological needs are satisfied without even being understood by the performers.

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