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66. Souls

The first occasion to deal with the human soul occurs, as a matter of fact, before the appearance of its bearer, — the child. We have seen that amongst all groups here discussed the souls are distributed by the spirits. In fact, although it has not been definitely cleared up by me how the souls are distributed amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia but we have seen that, according to these groups, the death of a man results in the birth of a new soul in the other (upper) world and the soul may be sent to a new-born human being. The Tungus of Manchuria recognize that souls are distributed by a special spirit. The same opinion is shared by most of the groups influenced by the Manchus who accept this idea which is perhaps one of Chinese origin. Thus, it is natural that the Tungus and Manchus, when they want to have children, must address themselves to the spirits which distribute souls to the children. Nevertheless, it does not mean at all that this is the only way to get children with a normal soul, they are born without any prayers, or sacrifices to the spirits, and yet sometimes against the will of the parents, as, for instance, in the ease of illicit children. The Tungus and Manchus address their prayers and sacrifices only in the cases in which no children are born and when the lack of children as well as their premature deaths, are explained as spirits' hostility or the lack of their attention to the children. Here it ought to be pointed out once more that the Tungus regard pregnancy and process of embryo growth as natural phenomena which require no interference on the part of the special spirit-distributor of souls, but which may be influenced by these spirits and the latter must be also asked for fertility, if it be lacking. The spirits distributing souls, — amongst the Tungus um'isma, omis'i, etc., among the Manchus ongos'i mama, — may be asked to give children (more exactly: souls) and this performance may be carried out either by the persons directly concerned or rarely by the shamans. I know no text of prayers addressed. As to the sacrifice, it may consist of incense, commonly used in the group, fruits and flowers amongst the Manchus and some wine, and generally light, not-bloody, sacrifice amongst the Tungus. Sometimes there is hung up on a tree a small model-cradle, which is not a placing, but a symbol understood by the spirit.

As soon as the child is born there appears the need of special care of the soul, for as we have seen (vide supra) when the child is born the soul is not yet stabilized. Therefore various precautions must be taken for keeping the soul in the child's body or at least near the child, in special placings, — kangan, an’an, etc. Another very important precaution is that the child must not be frightened by anything, for the soul may leave the body. An arsenal of special placings for spirits and souls, birds, trinkets, etc. are used for attracting the child's soul to the child or at least to its cradle in the case the soul should evade [402]. A great number of these things cannot be explained by the people who use them, for many of them are simply transmitted from mothers to daughters, from fathers to sons without being explained and «rationalized». Gradually the soul stabilises itself in the body, but since the possibility of its leaving the body still remains great, other methods are added in order to keep it in the right place, and to call it back when it is needed.

In connexion with this there may be described an important (among the Manchus) method of finding a child's soul, which defines some practical steps to be undertaken. In Manchu the method is called fojengo xulmb'e i.e. «the soul to search (look for)», or fojengo orun xulmb'e i.e. «to look for the place of the souk. For this purpose two porcelain cups are used, one of them containing water and another one empty but covered with a piece of paper. A woman, usually the mother, with her finger sprinkles the water on the paper. Naturally the water gradually soak through the paper and may accumulate in a drop, «like an eye» on the other side of the paper. In this case it would mean that the soul of the child has really «fallen» (tuxexe). Then the cup with water is emptied on the floor and in the form of the spots one may see whether it was a man or a dog which had frightened the child. The drop containing the soul, naturally together with the paper, is put, for four or five days, near the placing for the spirit jun fuch'k'i. This method is effective only in case the soul should be somewhere near, in the house or in the yard. But if the soul were far away, the mother would strike nine times on the lintel of the entrance-door with the spoon used for millet. The soul must return for this is «the mother who is calling it back». If a childless than twenty years old should be frightened in a place outside the house, the mother must take the clothes of her child and go to the place, where she would put them down on the ground and then dragging them back home, she would all of the time call back the soul, which may return. At last, in very bad cases the soul may go as far as the world of dead people. Then the mother must put some incense on the drum and call back the soul. However, the mother cannot always be successful in this method and a shaman's assistance is usually required.

Amongst other Tungus groups the methods of bringing back the soul are simpler than that described above. The essential of it is calling back by the name of the bearer ot the soul, attraction of attention by various means etc. but the principal methods are known to the shamans only. This will be treated in special chapters. The methods of keeping the soul in the body are numerous, but the chief of them are the same as in childhood, namely, avoiding sudden frightening when the soul «falls down», avoiding sudden awakening, for during the sleep the soul may be absent [403]; carefulness in dealing with the spirits which may enter the body during the absence of the soul or may enter it and gradually push out the soul; recovery and reinstallation of the soul in the body. The chief worry is thus first, to avoid everything which may produce an emotion of «fear» and for this reason the Tungus try to avoid situations in which such a «fear» is possible; second is that they would avoid spirits which may take hold of the soul and for this reason the Tungus do their best to avoid the spirits and to eliminate their malevolent activity. This is a policy which may be followed by any one if one is familiar with the environment, and if one is not over-oppressed by one's own complex of spirits. Naturally, the adult people, and especially men, take care to protect the young generation and women against such accidents. Practically it results in a very kind and careful treatment of the people.

402. Vide description of cradle SONT, pp.278 et seq.; and SOM, p. 117.

403. According to the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria with whom all Tungus could agree on this point, «fear» is due to the fact that the soul (om'i) sleeps when the man sleeps and when the man is suddenly awakened the soul being frightened flies away. The same is with the «fear» in an awaken condition, — the absence of the soul is perceived as «fear».

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