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71. Last Ceremony

Amongst the MANCHU the corpse, put on planks, remains in the house three days. In these days all relatives assemble. In the meantime the coffin is prepared. For covering the walls and bottom of the coffin they put cotton wrapped in some cotton material; incense sticks, which are supposed to preserve the corpse from decay, are also put into the coffin. The corpse itself is covered with several blankets. The hat of deceased person and personal things, especially those liked by the defunct, are put in the coffin and then the corpse. The son's duty is to nail on the cover of the coffin which he does, saying: ama! xada-yamb'e jala, — «father, be careful of nails», for it is supposed that accidentally the soul may be damaged by the nails. The coffin is taken out of the house through a window. In the yard there is a previously prepared temporary, very light construction, made of mats (linpang, Chinese) and covered with white cloth, called xoboi maikan, — «coffin tent», — in which the coffin is put, so that the feet of corpse are turned towards the gate.

Near by the head there is put a table with a sacrifice which consists of the pig, rice, etc. altogether «six dishes». The people who must cry and remain in a kneeling position occupy certain places: the son takes the right side of the coffin with all other male relatives in order of their respective positions; the females go to the left side of the coffin, the first being the wife of the deceased person. The effigies made of paper, according to the Chinese complex, are also prepared in the tent: lor'in (asses), horse with saddle, carriage, several boxes with paper clothes and paper servants, all of which are afterwards burnt. However, the Manchus like still better things made of iron, such as kettles, utensils etc. which are put in the grave. These things, which are smaller than the usual size, are made by the Chinese in Aigun. After the first ceremony the people present go to the house and have their ritual dinner which in rich families consists, usually of «nine cups and eight dishes» (vide SOM p. 85) with the difference that there is no «red vegetable»; in poor families there may be «six cups and six dishes» and in very poor families only four dishes. The dishes are served by the son or nearest junior relative (of the deceased) who makes a deep genuflexion, as in the wedding celebration. The meals are never taken by those who wear mourning dress, on the nayan (Chinese k'an, — stove beds, the usual place for meals), but on the ground. The «paper money» is burnt and the wine is poured three times.

Near the construction, where the coffin remains, the Manchus erect a post, similar to that seen near the temples. To the post there is attached a piece of red cloth over three metres long and ending in five separated strips, «like five fingers», called fan (Chinese). Later on, when the coffin is taken out to be conducted to the grave, the people present rush to the red cloth and tear it to pieces, so that every one present may have a piece of it «for happiness». According to some Manchus, this is a Chinese custom but in former days the Manchus used to prepare a piece of cloth with a head, legs, arms and body which was also destroyed by the people present at the funeral [421]. According to some other Manchus, the Chinese practice is to make a «man» from white material.

Junior members of the clan of the deceased person must wear mourning dress of Chinese type or at least some white marks distinguishing it. The women take off their ear-rings.

The coffin remains in the special construction for different periods, — seven days in summer, when possible three weeks, and up to seven weeks in winter. The ceremony of removal of the coffin to the grave is called in Manchu fojengo faryun, — «the carrying forward of the soul», - which points to an older and different complex, for at the present time the liquidation of the soul does not take place at this ceremony. The performance is now carried on according to the Chinese complex — the son, or a junior goes ahead preceded by the bearers of lanterns and when possible, musicians, also bearers of paper horses and other things; male clansmen follow; then comes the coffin carried by either relatives or hired people, but an end of the cloth covering the coffin is held by the principal mourner; less important relatives and carts with the females follow the coffin, no woman can go ahead of it. Indeed, the pomposity of the procession depends on the wealth of the family. Practically, a rich family may use all kinds of expensive details invented by the Chinese undertakers.

The coffin is hurriedly lowered into the grave which is immediately filled up with earth [422]. All relatives must cry in a high-pitched and loud voice, and the juniors must recite prayers. The chief mourner burns the paper money as well as all other paper things and pours nine cups of wine on the fresh tomb. The relatives xon'chx'in make a show of throwing their mourning dress into the fire, but they keep it. Afterwards, everyone returns home.

The next action takes place on the ninety-ninth day when relatives go again to the tombs, make sacrifice, burn paper money and make a show of throwing their mourning dress into the fire. However, the principal mourner is supposed to wear his mourning dress for three years, and his wife must not put on gold rings, ear-rings or brooches, but only silver ones.

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Amongst the REINDEER TUNGUS OF TRANSBAIKALIA the corpse must remain unburied for at least twenty four hours, sometimes it may remain so up to three days. Before moving the corpse, the wigwam is transferred to another place and thus the corpse is left under the sky. The Tungus fasten two long wooden pieces together to make a kind of litter upon which they put the corpse. On the way, they stop several times (I have observed three times), make a fire and offer a small sacrifice by burning laedum palustrum, perhaps also tobacco and by pouring tea with milk into the fire and face of the corpse. Behind the corpse, a reindeer loaded with belongings of the deceased person is brought by one of the clansmen, — two travelling bags, a winter coat etc. but not all of the belongings. Then the procession stops at the place of burial and one more sacrifice is made. The reindeer is killed, according to the common method. The coffin inside is smeared with blood. There are put in it laedum palustrum, the bags with some flour, clothes, apalma (a long knife), some kettles, several vessels made of birch-bark with cakes and various things, also a tobacco bag, pipe and matches. On the breast they put some tea leaves. When a man is buried, they put with him a bow and arrow, skins, etc.; with a woman they put the tijavun, a special staff used by the women to balance themselves when they ride on the reindeer.

The reindeer is skinned and the skin is left together with the antlers and hoofs. The skin is fastened upon a bar horizontally fixed to two trees and left hanging there. This is the reindeer which will be used by the spirit (soul) of the deceased person for going to the lower world. Over the skin is put a piece of roe-deer skin, over this a saddle and last, a winter coat. The head of the reindeer is turned toward the North-West.

The meat is cooked at that place and eaten by the people present; a small part of it is left as food for the deceased (soul) and put at the head of the tomb.

If there is no reindeer, the Tungus may also use, in the same function and manner, a horse. In male burial, instead of normal bows and arrows, small models are very often used. All implements and weapons which are sharp must not be left in condition good for use, — so the string of the bow is detached, the knives are made blunt, etc. The reason given is that the soul may use these weapons and implements against the living people. However, this explanation is doubtful, for not only are the weapons broken but the kettles also and some of the clothing is torn. The basis of this practice is the idea of a liberation of «immaterial» substance, while blunting the knives etc. is of a secondary origin.

Amongst other Tungus groups the differences regarding things put into the coffin, the sacrifice and arrangement of the burial consist of the details. Among the BIRARCHEN in former days all things put into the coffin were broken. At the present time they are usually only damaged, e.g. the sharp implements and weapons blunted. Instead of usual weapons they also put wooden models of the spear, hunting knife, etc. instead of matches the Birarchen put flint. The body is put into the coffin in the yard and is taken from the house (if it is a house of Chinese type) through the door, if the deceased person is a member of the family, if not, through the window. This preventive measure is taken with a view not to show the way back to an outsider. When the coffin is nailed, the Birarchen begin to feel some safety as to possibility of appearance of a bog formed as shown of the corpse. The burial itself is rather simple, as compared with an elaborate Manchu-Chinese complex, on the pattern of which it is made. It is accompanied by a ritual crying of the relatives and sometimes, but not always, by a rite of burning some paper-money, also an insignificant sacrifice.

Among the KUMARCHEN everything must be broken, but the Manchu-Chinese elements are very rarely and poorly represented.

Among the Tungus who have horses this animal plays the part reserved to the reindeer amongst the reindeer breeders. Yet, with a decrease of number of horses the latter may be substituted in the ritualism of burial by other animals, and even merely by new symbols.

421. I do not venture to compare this custom with that formerly observed amongst the Dayaks who ate their old men. They were on this occasion lifted up, to catch with their hands a branch of a tree where they hung as long as they could maintain themselves and when they were exhausted and fell, were eaten.

422. As shown in winter the coffin may be only slightly covered with earth. If it is impossible to dig out a deep grave, the coffin may be left unburied and buried later. The same is done when the coffin must be transported elsewhere.

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