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78. Various Spirits

Spirits the managing of which does not require specialists amongst the Tungus of Manchuria are various spirits of taiga, e.g. bainacha, ajelga, kadar, etc. If these spirits are suspected to be malevolently active, a sacrifice and a short admonition are advisable. The same is sometimes done in view of preventing them from doing harm to the people. Indeed, the people who are inclined to see the spirits' activity would see it more frequently than other people. There are some formulae for calling spirits to enter the placing before giving the sacrifice; there are also some forms for specification of the sacrifice and purpose on which it is given. However, apart from a few conventional phrases these prayers-addresses usually are improvisations which may sometimes go further than a few words uttered by the man giving sacrifice.

BAINACHA. The addresses to bainacha are common amongst the Tungus of Manchuria and to main amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia They are made before the hunting, during the hunting, when there is no «luck», and after the hunting, when there is some spoil. Yet, they may be made during the migrations when the permanent placings are met with, — trees with carved faces of a male and of a female, sometimes (amongst the Khingan Tungus) made on the important mountain passes and important places for hunting. The address or some mark of attention must be produced by the travelers.

The address has no fixed form and usually contains only a short request to send animals or protect during travelling. If there is some sacrifice to be given, it must be specified, too. However, since every one must do it, and since not every one possesses the power of imagination in order to make an improvisation and knows formulae, the address may be confined to a silent kneeling, or even a profound bow, and silent presentation of a sacrifice, for the Tungus usually try to behave in a friendly way with the spirit.

Amongst the Tungus of Khingan group the complex was greatly influenced by the Mongols. The placings for bamaca are found in the passes [445] and as sacrifice there are given hairs from the mane and tail of horses, branches of trees, ribbons, etc. which are usually found on the Mongol obon. Yet, there may be also accumulated some stones. In case of great need of assistance of this spirit there can be made a regular sacrifice. The sacrificial animal is the sheep, which is once more indicative as to the Mongol influence, for the sheep must be bought from the Mongols.

Amongst the Birarchen, I have found no placings for bainacha in the passes. Placings are made on the trees. The sacrifice for receiving luck (mayin) in hunting, — is made by the oldest man of the hunting association and consists of some boiled millet in small portions burnt in the fire put near the tree. It may be noted that the fact of sacrifice of millet is an indication of a strong alien influence on the complex. As shown, this spirit may also bring sickness. In this case, a special placing would be made, -a piece of cloth with some applications, — which is preserved and regularly «fed» together with the other burkan.

Amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia the sacrifice consisting of hunting animals is given to various spirits of the taiga for receiving «luck». The spirits, as shown, may be called «luck» (mayin, mayun, etc.) as it is also amongst the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria. There are many mayun. Together with these spirits there may be classed the spirits called amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia dayachan which are «masters» of various kinds of animals. Therefore these Tungus when giving sacrifice as expression of thanks for successful hunting or as a prayer to give (send) animals address themselves to the particular spirits of the animal species or locality. In so far as I know, there is no fixed address [446].

In all cases the Tungus idea is that the spirit would be benevolent and willing to send the animals to be killed, or it would protect the people in travelling and will not do any harm to them, if it receives some mark of attention or food. No threatening is used against this spirit.

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Among the Manchus the group of spirits which may be managed without assistance of specialists is rather numerous. In this group we may include jun fuch'k'i, takto mafa jafan mafa, apka endur'i (wuzin endur’i) and others to which a sacrifice may be given by any one. The need of managing these spirits is so common that no specialists can be called. The sacrifice usually is very small, — it would consist of some fruits, cakes, etc., — and prayers are very short.

The spring sacrifice, — n'ing'ar'i amzun, — in April-May must be included in the same group of performances. The reason is that this sacrifice amongst the Manchus has gradually lost its former importance, so it is usually carried out without great formality. However, even in recent time the spring sacrifice was quite an important event, and consisted of a sacrifice to the ancestors and clan spirits, as we have seen in the autumn sacrifice, and a special sacrifice to the spirit of Heaven — apka endur’i. At the present time the sacrifice to the clan spirits is made only in the case when there would be sickness amongst the clansmen, while in an ordinary case, it would consist of a short performance in the fields, at the moment of the first ploughing.

The sacrifice is addressed to wuzin endur’i, which is a manifestation of apkai endur'i. The Manchus put on a small table some steamed bread, of Chinese type (mantou), eggs and burning incense and the following words are pronounced: ere an’a apka endur'i kes'ida wunzin jaka fulofulo labdu san bon jibu — «This year Heaven spirit favor field things plenty much good make grow.» Then they make several bows touching the earth with the forehead [447]. Together with this spirit another spirit of the same type ought to be mentioned, namely nai dalaxa endur’i (vide supra) which receives in the fields a sacrifice consisting of bread and incense, and which belongs to the same complex of apka endur’i.

Takto mafa and jun fuch'k'i which are important spirits quite often receive sacrifices in Manchu manner, but without any special performances, on New year's Day, on the fifth day of the sixth lunar month and the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. The great sacrifice consists of fifteen rolls of bread (mantou) and five kinds (sun'ja jerg'i xachin) of «fruit» (tub'ixe Jerg'i jaka), i.e. red sugar, nuts, apples, dates (ziziphus joujoubi) and small Chinese apples. The same sacrifice is given by the bride after the marriage ceremony. When the spirit affects the children in the form of diseases it receives a sacrifice consisting of a cock or a hen. No doubt there are some more or less fixed forms of prayers, but usually the Manchus confine themselves to a silent kneeling, and touching of the ground with their foreheads. The prayer consists of an indication of the spirit, specification of the sacrifice and immediate reason for offering the sacrifice. It may be performed by any one, but for getting a better effect the p'oyun saman may be asked to perform it. The complex cases of diseases are treated by the mafa and shamans which will be discussed later.

Jafan mafa (also jara mava) is very often responsible for the troubles in the family, e.g. sickness, nervousness, etc. So it should receive sacrifice of the same objects and on the same days as takto mafa and jun fuch'k'i. Such occurrences are common when the spirit is deceived by the people and does not receive sacrifice on the days established. Usually these are shamans who must help in finding out the cause but there is also a method of finding it without the shaman's intervention. The method is known as soforo g'idamb'e, which ought to be understood as «pushing out of a sickness». Soforo is «sickness», «contagious-ness» compared with the claws or feet of an animal which penetrate into the flesh (or wound) and cannot be easily pulled out. It is always performed by the women. They take n wooden oval plate (forty or fifty centimeters long) called funske and fill it up with a kind of millet. Uttering some words, the woman pours a cup of millet, fills it up to the edges and covers it with a piece of silk. The cup is passed around the sick person during about twenty minutes and then the cover is removed to see and then the cover is removed to see if the millet has diminished or not. If the millet has diminished to half of the quantity taken, it is indicative of the spirit's presence, — the jafa mafa has eaten it. In case of positive answer, they make a sacrifice consisting of a pig prepared according to a rite as it has already been described. There are various methods for finding out whether there was a malevolent activity of the spirits xutu or not. This may be found by the method of exception and verified, for instance, by the experiment with water and chopsticks carried out at nighttime. They take a cup with some water and put it on the bed-stove in the corner of the house. Then three chopsticks are carefully cleaned and put into the cup. If they keep erect it means that the xutu is responsible for the trouble [448]. When the cause of trouble is found special steps may be taken in order to prevent the spirit from making trouble. These methods are sacrifice, prayer, protection with the skin of a hedge-hog, bear's paw, etc. However, when the activity of xutu is discovered the shaman's assistance is necessary for neutralizing it. The sacrifice may consist of various things and there is no fixed ritual.

ONGOSl MAMA is addressed with a sacrifice and prayer by the women in the cases of child delivery, sterility, also smallpox, chicken-pox, measles and other similar diseases of children. The husband can perform the ritual only in case the woman is very sick and cannot do it herself. The sacrifice consists of bread and incense. However, in the case of children's diseases the specialist axa-mafa must be called and he performs the ritual and defines whatever is in order or not. The shamans do not usually interfere with this spirit's activity. However, the women-shamans may sometimes be useful in dealing with children's trouble, and they may also deal with ongos'i mama.

From the point of view of child-welfare, close to this complex is that of spirits responsible for the diseases common in children: measles, smallpox, chicken-pox, and others. As shown they are included into the complex of Chinese origin n'angn'ang and are represented by several spirits: ajige ilxa mama («small flower spirit»), held responsible for measles, ilxa mama («flower spirit»), held responsible for smallpox, etc. As a matter of observation, the Manchus have come to believe that children must be isolated, — the house is tabooed for foreigners; the children must be put into a quiet place and fed with delicate things; noise must be avoided. All these requirements are supposed to satisfy not the child, but the spirit. The intervention of Chinese doctors and shamans in the course of sickness is considered as undesirable. However, some sacrifice chiefly consisting of incense, and some prayers addressed to the particular manifestation of the complex spirit are advisable, in the difficult cases of «dis-ease». After the recovery, sacrifice and prayers are required. I have not recorded any prayers of this type. In so far as I know, they are rather short, and many people do not know them, so the ceremony is silent. The non-Manchu origin of the complex, namely, Chinese origin, is evident. Generally the Manchus, as well as the Tungus, do not regard the above mentioned infections as real diseases. It is supposed that they are not at all harmful for children, who may live better when marked by the attention of this complex spirit. When children fall sick the Manchus seem to be happy. According to the Manchus, there is no mortality, due to these diseases. However, as shown, preventive methods for a further propagation of infection are taken. When children succumb owing to the complication, this is explained as malevolent influence of various spirits, e.g.jafan mafa, jun fuch'k'i, takto mafa and even other spirits, so that the Manchus have to deal in these cases with a conflict between the spirits and their mutual relations. Naturally these are treated by the competent specialists. When it is found that there is a real «disease», the Chinese doctor will come; when there are Manchu spirits, they are dealt with by the shamans, or at least axa mafa and p'oyun saman.

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In some Manchu clans there used to be practiced a special ritual sacrifice served to b'iyan endur'i. Such was, for instance, the case of nara clan in which there was given a special sacrifice of nine pigs for expression of thanks on the occasion of good hunting. However, this practice is now given up and the ritual is forgotten. It is quite possible that the sacrifice «in the mountains», still performed in some clans, originally was connected with this complex and its loss may be explained as due chiefly to poverty, — the Manchus cannot now afford such a rich sacrifice. But without denying the possibility of influence of the «poverty factor» the giving up of this practice may also be understood as due to a further disintegration of the hunting complex amongst the Manchus, which process is seen in many other manifestations.

In the above description of the cases and methods of dealing with various spirits we have made reference chiefly to the cases of sickness. However, the spirits takto mafa, Jun fuch'k'i and jafan mafa are also kept responsible in the case of troubles with vegetable-garden plants and with cattle. Owing to this, a great number of cases of this type requires sacrifices to these spirits, which may be also benevolent and useful for assuring family prosperity. A great number of methods may be used in connexion with the regulation of the activity of these spirits; some of these methods may appear to be «magic», while actually they are methods of communication with the spirits by means of «gesture» language. Some of these methods have already been indicated in the previous chapters, but their detailed description in particular cases will not reveal any new aspects of the psychomental complex. In the ritual practised they may also occupy an important place and yet the whole operation may be confined to the ritualism only.

445. Such placings of permanent character are found e.g. in the Khingan passes reached from the valley of the rivers Tura, Nuktukali and Murei, (all tributaries of the Gan River) and Sivaja (tributary of the Derbul River). The isolated placings, made on various occasions and individually, are frequently found in the places of hunting. However, no sacrifice is left.

446. It may be noted that these Tungus are extremely skeptical about the Buriat practice of erecting obon in the mountain passes. Looking at them the Tungus laugh at the naivety of the Buriats who believe that the spirits may be satisfied with silk ribbons and similar sacrifices. Such a negative attitude may be understood if we remember rather hostile relations between these Tungus and Buriats who are pushing away the Tungus from their territory.

447. Formerly, the sacrifice was performed by the district chief who according to the calendar on a certain day used to come out into the fields and open, with ploughing, the beginning of field work. This corresponded to the well known ceremony of ploughing formerly performed by the Manchu emperors in the temple of agriculture at Peking. At the present time the custom is given up. However, this ceremony as well as the whole complex of spring sacrifice was not considered by the Manchus as an important event. This ceremony as practicsed by emperors was of very old Chinese origin. It is mentioned by Confucius and it attained great importance during the Sung Dynasty.

448. I could not verify the statement of the Manchus that the chopsticks may stand in the cup, and I could not find out how and by which psychological process the Manchus arrive to such an observation.

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