§ Широкогоровы §
toggle menu

70. Special Conditions Of Burial

We have already seen that the children are not buried in the same way as the adult people. Amongst the Manchus the children below the age of three years are buried on the trees. The corpse is covered with wooden clips and straw also birch bark. The Manchus say that this burial is practiced for children for facilitating the return of all three souls to ongos'i mama. The children from three to ten years are usually buried in the grave, but without any coffin, -the corpse is put on the planks on which the corpse was deposited after death. The male children above this age are buried in simply-made coffins.

Shamans are buried on trees like children, in the case if the shaman — it is supposed his spirit — asks them to do so. This form of burial for the shamans was general in former days. This old practice is rationalized as follows: the spirits cannot protect the corpse when it is buried in the earth. A shaman cannot naturally be buried on trees, - e.g. in the steppe regions, — and therefore the shamans are often put into an ordinary coffin which is left unburied on a hill. A small aperture is left in the coffin in order to give shaman's spirits a possibility of free circulation. According to my informers, burial of shaman-women on trees is not practiced.

In former days about in the middle of the last century, the corpse of girls of less than twenty years old were burnt together with the coffins. The reason was that there was nobody, after their death, to take care of soul and body. In fact, even a young man of fifteen years may have younger brothers in the clan, while the girls, according to the exogamic practice, have to leave the clan and there will be nobody left in the clan for taking care of them. However, since the soul is the soul, so it may produce great harm to the people, and the corpse may be used by other spirits in which way the girls corpse may become ibayan, the safest way is to destroy the body. Indeed, the Buddhistic practice of cremation came to help the Manchus.

Cremation is also used in the case of partial destruction of the body by wounds and especially by the loss of members. However, sometimes a dismembered corpse may also be put together and buried in this form, but it would mean that the people do not want the soul to be restored. Thus the cremation helps to restore the soul which is damaged by the dismembering of the body.

In the case of death punishment through decapitation the head ought to be put in its place and fixed by sewing it to the corpse. This operation is done by hired people. As in other similar cases, the chief difficulty is that the soul is also damaged by the decapitation. Let us point out that in the case of decapitation of a shaman the spirits take care by taking out the soul before the act and in this way the soul is not damaged.

In case of destruction of the body by wild animals or its partial destruction and dismembering the Manchus would do as in the case of damage in war, i.e. the remains as well as the clothes would be put together and the burial would be simplified for the «soul is broken» [420]; the corpses of persons killed by lightning are buried in a simplified manner, namely, without coffin for lightning strikes liars, squabbers, those who abuse with bad words especially in reference to the parents, those who like chicanery, etc. whence the Manchu swearing: ajen targ'imb'e -«thunder strike (you)!» used in reference to the persons worthy of this particular end.

In the case of drowned people. When the corpse is not found, a burial in effigia is carried out with the clothes found at the bank of the river or those taken from the ward-robe. The trouble here is that the second soul is merely drowned together with the body. For this reason, evidently, L. von Schrenk has observed a burial of a drowned Gold, from whose tomb a string was extended to the water (cf. op. cit. Plate LXVII); the string was a «road» along which the soul might return to the body. The souls of drowned people instead of going to Ilmunxan go to Mudurxan who live in the Amur River. On the seventh day of the seventh month there used to be organized regular performance: there was made a canoe with lanterns and people made of paper (the Chinese complex); when the canoe was far from the bank it was set on fire; fire crackers were burnt, too. These are souls of drowned people who complain to Mudurxan as to their fate.

The vagabonds, — people whose origin and names are unknown, — are either thrown away or buried without coffin. The same is done with the people who have no relatives and are very poor. If any care is taken, it is done only because of possible complications with their souls.

The corpses of persons who commit suicide by hanging are buried in coffins, but separately from other clan members, and with no complex ceremonies.

Husband and wife must be buried side by side, because they will live together in the other world.

In former days the old men, over sixty years of age, according to the tradition, were buried alive in the earth but without any coffin. The Manchus say that, according to the Chinese books, this practice was abolished after a case: «There were so many rats that the people greatly suffered; then an old man who was over sixty told that there existed cats, which might destroy the rats. So they got the cats and people were saved from rats. The Khan then ordered to honour old men and leave them to live up to death and bury them in coffins.» In connexion with this it may be also pointed out that, according to the Manchus, in former days they used to build special houses of light construction in which the old men over sixty years ended their days by starvation.

Amongst the Birarchen special forms of burial are practiced for the shamans, who are buried in the open, — the coffin having a special aperture for the spirits and left open as it is among the Manchus. The children up to the age of ten years are usually covered with Chinese cloth and put in the grave without coffin. We have already seen that infants are buried in coffins, according to the old custom, i.e. on piles for the reason that if the corpse is buried in the earth, the mother would have no more children. Adult people who have old mothers may be, therefore, buried in graves. The persons who commit suicide are buried as usual. I have recorded no facts regarding differences in the burial amongst other Tungus groups.

420. However, it must be pointed out that the opinions of the Manchus as to the fate of men mutilated and dead at the war are not uniform. In fact, there is an opinion that all warriors' souls are freely admitted in the lower world, so that the living people must not worry about them.

Электропочта shirokogorov@gmail.com
© 2009 - 2024