"Ugric People"


pp. 153-181 Juha Pentika:inen : "Khanty shamanism today".

pp. 158-159 autobiography by a H^antu: shaman

p. biography
158 "First I began having some dreams. These dreams turned our to come true ... Once when I was hunting , I ... fell asleep . When I came to, I discovered myself walking somewhere in the forest near a big larch, with almost no clothes on ... Next time I was carried to the skies. ... I entered the building but stopped downstairs because there were two arrows standing there ... I saw somebody resembling a deity ... sitting. ... Once when I was hunting, I heard a song. ... Another song I know is from my mother. She also possessed such a gift. The third song I remember is from my trip to the skies.
159 [comments on this autobiography :-] "The communication with his supernatural ‘friends’ and the ‘people he knew’ meant ... experiences of one of his souls during dreams". "He was ... able to enter the house of their principal deity, Num-Torum, the next rank [of shamans] down implying only the ability of being at the threshold of this divine house."

pp. 162-164 H^antu: livelihood

p. livelihood
162 "Surgut used to be the ‘capital of the Khanty’." {cf. SURGaT, god of dream-ravens (GS); fox-haired (CEDW, p. 293) god of Sunday, able to give "a stone which shall make me invisible to every one whensoever I carry it!" (CEDW, p. 294)}
164 "Except for their cabins, ... the clan has lived in chums ‘hide tents’. ... A growing tree was not to be cut for heating but only for some sacrificial purposes."


GS =


CEDW = Grimoirium Verum (‘True Grimoire’), the Method of Honorius

pp. 164-166 H^antu: myth of divine brethren-protagonists, their guard-animals and peoples

p. myth
164 "The god of the sky had two sons. The elder one was very mean and cruel ... so that he ... became the god of the Russian people. The god of the sky had two human beings, a man and a woman ... the Khanty ... made of steel so that they could
165 protect themselves and live longer. Besides, the god gave his younger son a beast to guard the people. ... When the beast saw the hare it immediately started chasing it and forgot about the people. When the beast was gone, the older brother ... touched ... the people, he turned their steel bodies into soft ones. ... Some time later the master of the Khanty returned ... threw the beast in the open air, cried out that from now on its name would be dog ...
166 After the master had thrown the dog out, he went to his elder brother’s place. He ... saw ... the house was guarded by a loon. ... And as soon as the loon saw the lake, it ... dived after the pike. Meanwhile, the younger brother got into the camp and turned all the people into ants." {likewise among the Atuot (of Yirol, Sudan)}

p. 167 mythic cyclic destruction, and renewal, of the world

"When the god’s age changes, the land is set on fire, and then a three-day flood starts to wash the land. ... He who survives the fire, usually prepares a raft, binds it together, in order ... not to be swept away by the flood. To this end, it is necessary to twist a long rope."

p. 168 rivers

"Most of the Khanty live ... along the tributaries of the huge river Ob, which they call Agan. In the Khanty mythology, the Ob-river is their mother. More sacred than any other tributary is Trom-Agan, named after the Khanty main god Num-Torum."

pp. 170-172 sacrificial reindeer

p. reindeer
170 "According to the Khanty mythology, the youngest son of the god was said to ride on a reindeer to all the deceased relatives, ... to ask them to pray on behalf of the living relatives".
[immolation of reindeer :-] "One of the animals killed must be male and white, because it is given to Num-Torum, the male god of the sky. Another is female and black, because it will belong to the Mother Earth."
171 "According to the shaman, only a calf was sacrificed to the god in heaven, and only a deer to the god of the earth. ... If there was no calf available, a deer would do, and the god was tricked into believing it was a calf."
172 "the shaman-to-be under initiation, wiped the figure of the sun in the center of the sleigh-altar behind the bear’s head with birch shavings dipped in the fresh blood. ... When the reindeer were skinned ..., they were placed on their backs strictly according to the position in the sky of their celestial counterpart, the constellation of the Elk".

pp. 173-174 the myth of the reindeer

p. H^antu: comparative
173 "the Elk was six-legged. ... {cf. the [Norse mythic] 6-legged horse Sleipnir} {cf. the 6 sons & 6 daughters (GM 108.g) of the daughter of Pandareus, receiver (GM 108.f) of what was stolen by Tantalos the father of Pelops}
173-4 The hunter ... got out his knife and cut off its two hindlegs, ... let the Elk be four-legged. Then he made a picture of the Elk with his magic staff on the sky ... {cf. the butchering (GM 109.e) of the chariot’s mares; the setting into the sky (GM 109) of the constellation of the Charioteer}
174 The hunter who killed the Elk was married to the daughter of an evil sorcerer ... [who] had had seven sons-in-law before him, and he had killed all of them ... {cf. the killing by Oinomaos of some 12 or 13 suitors (named in CDCM, s.v. "Hippodamia") for his daughter, through chariot-races}
and said that if he came back without killing the Elk, then his heart and tongue would be found in this basket." {cf. the amputated tongue (GM 46.b) involved with ITUs (cf. the ITUlos substituted for one of the 6, GM 108.g)}

pp. 167, 175-176 myth & ritual about the bear-god

p. bear
167 "According to the Khanty mythology, their Primordial Mother had sexual intercourse with a bear". {this is also Korean}
175 ["constellation of the Headless Bear" :-] "The God of the earth ... cut off his head and threw its body into the sky ... Two stars mark the bear’s forelegs, and another two his hindlegs. And in the middle, a little upwards, there is still another star, which is his neck."
176 "the shaman’s daughter, executed a ritual dance accompanied by a mythical song about ... when their ancestral mother woke the bear up to make love to it. {cf. the dance by the daughter of Herodias, wherein she requaested the head of Ioannes the Baptist [corresponding the to the decapitation of the Bear]} [the song :-] I have got a shaman’s cap given to me by my mother. ... I have got a big seine net given to me by my father. With my net I catch ... fish."
176-7 "According to Khanty mythology, the hugging and the dance of the primordial mother woke up the bear, her mythical husband, whose part has traditionally been played, danced and sung in the ritual by the shaman himself". {so, the ritual would indicate father-daughter incest, as among Hawai>ian royalty}


pp. 183-198 A`gnes Kerezsi : "Similarities and differences in eastern Khanty shamanism".


p. shaman
185 "The Eastern Khantys call their male shamans tsirte-ho and their female shamans tsirte-ne."
"the shaman’s soul abandoned his body and set off on a long and tiresome journey. First it had to reach the entrance to the nether world, which is a round hole and leads deep under the ground. Slipping into it, it arrived at a river and rowed across to the other side. The shaman’s soul also had to overcome six more obstacles, making seven in all and including wild animals, fire and wounding, thorny, thick scrub and wood. Finally his soul entered a lustrous room and there found itself face to face with the Prince of the nether world. He told the Prince that the sick man ... on earth ... had not yet completed all the tasks assigned to him, and begged the Prince to release the sick man’s soul. The Prince agreed and the shaman returned by the by the same laborious route to earth together with the sick man’s soul. The shaman ...
186 did not answer my question about how he had brought back the sick man’s soul because he said the person was still alive and his soul was therefore vulnerable. Telling the details about the journey back to our world would get him into trouble. ... shamans sometimes hide the sick man’s soul in the folds of their clothes".
[praeparations & quaerying of spirits :-] "one of his helpers was warming the drum so that its sound would be beautiful, and his son was smoking tinder agaric to drive away the vicious spirits hovering around us, and the old shaman was asking the spirits whether our expedition ... could be present at the ritual. The shaman asked this question with the help of his holy box ... The shaman holds its handle in his hand. He asks his questions, and after each question ... If he can lift it, the answer to the question is "no". If the box clings to the ground and the shaman cannot lift it, no matter how hard he tries ..., then the spirits’ answer is "yes"."
187 "The shaman ... since he has made several journeys to the nether world ... can therefore accompany the deceased’s soul there with no difficulty. ... Another of the shaman’s primary tasks is to be present at childbirth ... The shaman is in the neighboring tsum and does not intervene physically."
191 "shamans cannot use their knowledge to the advantage of their own family. They have to ask another shaman to do this, otherwise their helping spirit(s) will get angry and leave them so that they can no longer practice shamanism. He told me that although he could find out what the future has in store for his family, he is not allowed to".
192 "fire is a powerful spirit, without which ... the whole world would die. ... the Khanty first give it food (by throwing small pieces into the fire) before tasting almost any new food."
"on a hill in a remote forest, ... the protective spirit of the community lives. The spirit lives in a small log hut on high feet {cf. houses set on stilts in Borneo} and the gifts it has been given ... are placed in the house. These include furs, ... clothing ... To ensure that no stranger {or any adversarial spirit hostile to it?} cam come upon it accidentally, the shaman has set peculiar traps along the barely visible path leading to it. ... These traps are mainly self-shooting bows."
193 "It is also the shaman’s duty to assign individual helping spirits to members of the community. Any Khanty may feel the need for a helper. He therefore goes to the shaman and asks to be assigned a helping spirit. This is done during a shamanic ritual revealing which spirit has undertaken to protect the person in question. The person then has to make a dwelling-place for the spirit, a man-shaped idol. The shaman goes to the holy spot, ... and chooses a branch from which to carve the person’s helping spirit".
"Shamans generally ... state that during a shamanic ritual their souls, abandoning their bodies, are able to travel far away in space and time. they can therefore answer questions like "What will happen in the future?", "How is a Khanty living far away?" ..."
194 "though a shaman knows and foresees everything, he cannot disclose tragic events in advance, because otherwise his helping spirits would get angry and would not help him any more. He can, however, warn the person to be careful on that day, and not to board an aeroplane, for example. Similarly, shamans cannot use their own power and knowledge to determine their own or their family’s fate, nor must they try to influence it."
"The spirits single out future shamans when young and "teach" them for a long time. ... [a particular instance of this :-] Suddenly he felt compelled to look at the moon {lunacy!} ... Then he saw a light approaching from the distance, and heard a voice. As the light came nearer, the voice got louder ... Meanwhile the voice was telling him exactly what to do, how to contact his helping spirit, and how his soul could meet greater gods or spirits."
195 "there are three kinds of Khanty shamans : the most powerful ones who can enter the house of Numi Torum, the second most powerful one who can go as far as the doorstep of the house, and the least powerful ones who can get to the fence of the supreme god’s house."
[autobiography by young shaman :-] " "... at the Pesika-imi Yagun brook, which is the place of spirits ... It began there. It began dawning, they began to whistle, to shout at me. I did not see anything but I shivered ... My reindeer were frightened, stopped short, looked back again and again, lifted their ears as if they were listening. I began to drive them quickly. ... It was nearly daylight when I regained consciousness. ... I was trembling all over. I unharnessed the reindeer and lay down to sleep. Suddenly I woke up at a sound like a thunder-clap. I looked in the direction of the rising sun and everything was filled with a radiant glitter and a very beautiful young man was travelling there. He was sitting {like Kalkin} on a beautiful white horse and as he passed in front of me, hi voice was ... a whistle-like sound. This beautiful young man was none other than Sorny-han iki, the youngest son of Numi Torum ... I began thinking then and have seen the century’s future. ...
196 Since then I have been healing and helping people." He told me that whenever his soul has to fly very far, he eats some fly-agaric ... Besides human language he understands the language of animals. While walking in the forests he often talks to the birds in the sky and the animals passing by."
"There are two categories of spirits permanently ranged around the shaman : powerful, protective spirits and their inferior, helping spirits. Usually the shaman has only one protective spirit, the one that chose him, assigned him his tasks and guided his doings. It is strictly forbidden for an active shaman to speak about him, or to disclose his identity. If he does, the spirit will leave him and he can no longer practice his profession. ... The less powerful helping spirits ... may be inanimate objects but are most often animals and birds : wolves, foxes, crows or water-fowl ... Birds are regarded as the helping spirits of the upper world. Some of the spirits of [a shaman] live in his wooden box, which he always keeps about him. ... The spirit of the shaman’s drum lives
197 in a piece of colourful cloth rolled onto the inner side of the drum. Before each ritual it gets proper gifts from the old shaman. Some of his other spirits are in anthropomorphic wooden idols. These ... are dressed in coloured cloths. ... Each helping spirit has its own calling song or tune, which is meant for it only. {This (particularity of tune for each spirit) is likewise true of West African spirits.} The old shaman sings to them, whereas [the young shaman] calls them only by talking to himself ... The time taken by the spirits to arrive depends on who and from where the shamans call. Having entered them, even these two shamans behaved differently. The old shaman "talked" to them in his own special language ... that was incomprehensible to anyone else – while [the young shaman] "talked" to them with the help of whistles".


pp. 199-206 Ismail Gemuev : "Ugrian Mithraism".

the deity Mir-susne-khum

p. deity
199 "the younger so of the supreme god Numi-Torum. Mir-susne-khum, ‘the man contemplating the world’, Ma-yokhne-khum ‘the man traveling over the earth’, Vit-yokhne-khum ‘the man traveling over the water’, Luvn-khum ‘the riding man, the rider’, Sorni-otyr ‘the golden hero’, Ali-khum ‘the southern man’. ... characteristics of Mir-susne-khum ... relate him closely to Mithra, such as "the rider ..." who travels over the earth on a white horse." "Mir-susne-khum ... first appears in the shape of a swan, but is then transformed into a crane".
200 "A ... sacrifice (a pot containing meal) was made to Mir-susne-khum after the birth of a child."
201 "yalpin-ulama ‘sacred spreads’ with an image of the rider Mir-susne-khum upon them ... could be found in all Mansi houses. They were kept in the attic which was the sacred area of the house. ... After marriage (... after the birth of the first child) the first four-field ... sacred spread ... is sewn. ... The final one to be made is the yany-yalpyn ... the "great yalpyn", consisting of seven pieces. ... its creation depended on the birth of grandchildren." "Creation of the yalpyn-ulama was accompanied by ... bringing Mir-susne-khum a silver dish ... This was kept with the holy sacred spread."
202 "Mir-susne-khum as ‘the man who contemplates the world’ ... compare with – "Mithra, never closing his eyes, views his people" or "views all the land inhabited by the Persians" ... Fully compatible with this, is the definition of Mir-susne-khum ... as "... the man with eyes as big as the Ob, eyes as big as a lake; with ears as big as the Ob, with ears as big as a lake." "Mithra is "the straightener of lines (borders)" ... As for Mir-susne-khum, people often ask him to "straighten the life line of a son, the life line of a daughter"."
203 "Mithra’s usual companions "included on all reliefs" ... at the shrines devoted to him, include a cock. It is ... this bird, so popular a sacrifice to Mir-susne-khum, ... cocks".


RELIGION AND SOCIETY, 36 = Juha Pentika:inen (ed.) : Shamanism and Northern Ecology. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, 1996. part III = pp. 151-217.