"Central & East Asia"


pp. 267-277 Maria M. Ta`tar : "Altai-Sayan ... sacred holes and caves".

pp. 267-272 subterranean abode of souls of the dead


the dead


[Abakan Tatar, C^ulu:m Tatar, Buryat, Kamass, Koybal, Tuba, Karagas] "the souls of the dead are underground".


[Ket, H^antu:, Selkup, Mansi] "souls are under or beside water, e.g. a lake or a river; or the entrance to their dwelling place is connected to water".


[Tuva, Soyot-Urianh^ay, Selkup, H^antu:] "The world of the dead is simply under the ground".


[Buryat, Kumandi, Karagas, Selkup, Irtu:s^-H^antu:] "souls continue their life directly beneath their burial place ...

In such cases, a tree will often grow on the grave and is used to communicate with ... the world of the living. A soul can become the master spirit of the tree, or the dead can even come out from the graves by climbing up onto the tree [J^undag].

This idea is related to the tradition, according to which the soul leaves the vicinity of the buried body after a time, usually three months or three years [Mongolia].

According to the Kumandi people, the dead and buried person had sunk into the ground for those three years".


"dead persons are pressed under a stone [J^undag, Mongol]. They are buried inside a stone [J^undag], stuck to a stone, that they even became stones/rocks [Sorsku:, Selkup]".


[Kamass, Koibal, Tuba, Karagas, Burjat, Abakan-Tatar, C^ulu:m-Tatar, Selkup, H^antu:] "the entrance to the underground world is a hole in the ground ... This hole can be ... the hole in which the


maternal ancestor of the Selkups was killed, or ... a hole in a mountain in the vicinity of a cemetery [Selkup]. Living human-beings often fall into these holes, or lower themselves with a rope (Tuba). ... A Khanty man fell into such a hole when he entered the house of his mother-in-law ... The hole is often situated in a forest, and ... mythological beings, such as the "evil bird" of the Burjats, live in it. Sometimes the hole is covered over e.g. by a kettle [Kamass]. ... according to the Tatars in Abakan, a husband found and covered a hole. He later sent his wife there so that she would fall down to the underworld ..., a Karagas man could find his arrow, which he had previously shot into the ground, in the roof-opening of the underground yurt ... In some cases this hole, the roof-opening, leads into the rock, where the defeated hero is enclosed ... [Koibal & Karagass]. A hero ... into the hole ... sometimes ... climbs down on a rope (Altai) or even down the beard of the old man who lives in the underworld (Selkup). ... In several cases, the underground hole in the home of ... a mother, who is the daughter of a mythical being. ["While the other parent, ... the father, is an ordinary man" – Selkup (p. 274, n. 3).] She sometimes returns to the hole, deserting her children, as does the swan-maiden in Burjat and Turkic legends."


"Sometimes a hero or a mythical being can enter the world of the dead by entering a rock ... There are, particularly, many such legends among the Abakan Tatars, e.g. a ... woman, who visited a hunter at night, fled into a rock when he shot at her ... According to another legend, a hero found a door


into a rock and inside of that, the dwelling of a mythical woman".


[Soyot or Tuva] "A hunter fled into a cave from a storm. Inside he found a world like ours, ... but he caused problems in this world, as a ghost does in ours : he was invisible, only the dogs could see his dog, ... children became ill at his touch, and people tried to drive him away by magic, ... etc. At last a beautiful girl led him back to this world after three years, exactly the period of time after which a soul leaves its dead body and climbs up from the hole ... According to ... the Dagur Mongols in China, the brave hunter, Qanlimbuu married a beautiful deer-girl. His lord wanted to take her from him, and sent the hunter to a cave to kill the evil spirit, the shimnus which lives in the cave. He succeeded and came back after 20 days".


"The hero of a Shor myth, Vanshlob ..., killed the evil woman in whose belly were found all the snakes and frogs of evil.

[Mongolian myth :-] "a lord tried to kill the poor Voshli because he wanted his beautiful wife. He let the husband descend down a rope from the top of a rock


to the nest of an eagle to collect young birds. But the lord cut the rope so that Voshli could not come up again. He stayed in the nest until the young birds grew and flew him out {cf. [in the S^ah-nameh] Sam fostered in the eagle’s nest} ... A Kamass variant of this legend ... preserves more archaic elements : the unfortunate husband who survives in the nest of a raven is ... a uraz, an aborigine; ... the husband finds his wife not at a wedding feast, but bringing water from a river, etc."

"The soul could climb up using a rope ..., therefore the Ob-Ugrian peoples cut into pieces the rope, which they used to lower the coffin down ... The Enets cut into pieces and buried some ropes, ribbons, and bands farther off after burial services".


"Similarly, the ancestor of the Kirgiz people, an orphan boy, was also raised by wolves/dogs in a cave {cf. [Latin] Romulus & Remus} ... Likewise, ... the Soyots derive from a woman and a bear {as likewise in the [Korean] myth of Tangut} who lived in the Shokshal cave ..., precisely in the area where the Voshli rock is to be found."


"why these heroes visited the world of the dead" : "They might flee into a cave from a storm [Altay]; sometimes the spirits lured them ... Sometimes the hero wanted to bring back somebody from the dead [Altay, Selkup, Ket]. ... according to a legend from the Altai, the hero found the cave of wolves who had stolen his cattle. The boy received a little yellow dog in exchange, which turns out to be a fair maiden [Altay]. The boy in the Soyot story also gets a little yellow dog from the king of the wolves ".

p. 274 terms




[Ket] bahos^ ‘a kind of shaman, who is mostly devoted to the cult of the Earth’

[Tungus by the Onon river] buni ‘evil spirit’


[Selkup] loz ‘spirit’

[Eastern Xanti] lunk ‘evil spirit’

[Ket] lu:tz ‘Teufel [devil]’


pp. 279-289 Tatyana Boulgakova : "Archaic rites in Nanaian shamanic ceremonies". [lower Amur river]

caerimonies perfomred by spirits




"a rite such that spirits are especially ford of performing on their own initiative ... usually takes place after the ... ceremony aimed at curing a sick shaman ... Late at night, after ... the people have left, the spirits continue the feast one their own. Even those spirits who could not come during the ceremony, now arrive. The people are sleeping, while the spirits are dancing, beating the shaman’s drum, making the metal pendants on the shaman’s belt clang, and eating the food in the same way the people have been recently doing it. ... And though the table has been cleared away, the removed food as if remains on the table as armoldu, i.e., a kind of trace or reflection of any material object, and so the newly arrived spirits can partake in everything that has been on the table.

The shaman and some other people see the rite performed by the spirits in their night dreams and thus come to know which spirits have come to dance and accept the offerings."

"The necessary condition for helping spirits to perform rites on their own is that the place must be ... protected from evil spirits.


... When opening the ceremony, the shaman chants to make a cloud appear in the sky right above the house, and then descend covering the house to make it invisible for the evil spirits. In the spiritual world, such a safe and protected place where the spirits can perform rites is called a dzyokaso, the abode of the panyans ‘souls’ of the shaman’s patients. A dzyokaso of Nanay shamans ... could be located "under the ground", "under a rock" and "in a cave" ... in ... the interior of a big fish, the surface of the earth in a house without windows and doors, the bed of a big lake or river, etc. ... It is often the case that the shaman first learns of these places either in dreams or during his ceremonies ...

Any dzyokaso, even if it is located in the open, is to be invisible and inaccessible to other shamans and spirits. Only the shaman who owns the dzyokaso can easily get inside to sometimes find out that there is an enormous space inside, which in no way corresponds to the real dimensions of the object it is located inside. {This is also a frequent theme of Maha-yana vaipulya sutra-s.}


... a dzyokaso is a detached house surrounded with a fence. The house consists of three through nine rooms {cf. the Daoist theme of 9 cubical chambers in the brain}, with the souls lying in the middle rooms".

287, n. 3

"The common feature of all the dzyokasos is that they are fenced around to be protected from the outside world. Usually there are three invisible

288, n. 3

fences around. The masters of a dzyokaso open all the locks only to the shaman who owns it. A shamaness saw in her dreams that her dzyokaso was guarded by nine packs of wolves and eight packs of jackals."


"We however have been told about bigger dzyokasos that comprise several houses, or even a village or a township ... There is a river in each dzyokaso. Even when a dzyokaso is located underground, there is nevertheless a sky, a sun, a moon and stars there ... This space, the space of dreams, is a site for spirits to perform rites. The star performer of these rites is Maidzya mama ‘old woman Maidzya’."


"If the disease of a patient is caused by the fact that his/her soul has left him/her, the shaman performs the taochiory ceremony. During this rite the shaman accompanied by his helping spirits follows the tract of the lost soul, finds it and conducts the exorcism of the evil spirits. He then brings the soul into his dzyokaso and entrusts it to the care of the spirits inhabiting it. ... As long as the soul is ... in the dzyokaso, its owner never gets ill and ... has recurrent dreams of the room of the dzyokaso where the soul is".


"Besides Maidzya mama, the master [mistress] and keeper[ess] of the dzyokaso, there is her husband Maito mapa ‘an old man with a sledge hammer’, who ... is also to protect the souls, driving alien spirits away from the dzyokaso by smashing them with his sledge hammer. {cf. the smashing of evil spirits by hammer-wielding [Norse god] To`rr} When some souls fail to endure the boredom and monotony of life in the dzyokaso ..., Maito mapa is to prevent them from running away. As to Maidzya mama, her duty is to take care of the souls, to feed them with kidney-beans, to give them tincture of ledum to drink and even to suckle the souls whose owners are seriously ill."

288, n. 4

"Each dzyokaso has its own shaman, and its own Maidzya mama and Maito mapa."


"way of curing commonly used for pregnant women and children" : "The opposite ends of the solbon ‘hoop’ are joined together with threads in a criss-cross way. The patient is to get through these threads without tearing them because otherwise it would mean that the disease is incurable.


The Nanay believe that when the hoop is moving downwards, so is the disease, and once the hoop is removed from under the patient, so is the disease."


"The hoop passes ... the threads, sliding over the shoulders, descending to the heels, ... Live ... Grow as a purple willow does!"


"the shaman ... Before leaving the dzyokaso, ... just gives some kind of instruction to Maidzya mama to perform the rite of solbochiory over the given soul" :


"Perform the rite of solboachiory! Cut the illness in two and pull it down from the top of the head on either side of it! Pull it off the ears! Stretch it and pull it over the jaws! Slide from the shoulders! ... Shake the illness off the finger tips! Pull it off the pelvis, carrying the illness away from the hips, pluck it off the feet!"


"Right after this rite, the mistress of the dzyokaso performs one more rite ... called puaehlaediuri" : "Holy ... gyasadan, narrow strips, made from the skin of a Siberian weasel ..., were tied to the stick ninghamako. All of these were tied together, united in a sort of besom. The besom was passed along the body, as if sweeping the illness away. The illness was being asked to leave, the ... word puaeh {cf. [Hawai>ian] PUA, the goddess re-assembling in heaven the dismembered corpse of the royalty} was repeated."


"the text of the rite puaelaediury, performed by the spirit Mother Maidya in a dzyokaso : ...

Drive the illness away to the river mouth and to the river source. Puaeyeh!

May it become entangled in the feathers of flying birds! Puaeyeh!

May it become entangled in the skin of cattle and the fur of wild beasts! Puaeyeh!

Mother! Mother! Drive the illness to where the sun rises!"


"The medical treatment in a dzyokaso is carried out during the ceremony when spirits put the soul in a ritual vessel called ony. When a patient is treated for the first time, he is to give to the shaman a new ... pot or ... boat. This


... pot, or boat will by the ony for the patient’s soul in the shaman’s dzyokaso. {[In Haiti,] the houngan (shaman) is to keep the initiate’s soul in a special baked clay pot, particular to (a different one for) each initiate.} Having finished the healing rites, Maidzya mama and her spirits place the soul into the ony so that it is facing the rising sun."


"After a drowning person has been rescued he is to give his saviour a ritual vessel ony as a lucky charm". {In this case, the ony ought to be a wooden boat [: that of the Vaidik Nasatya twin-gods who rescue mariners in peril].}


"wedding ceremonies" : "Leaving the [bride’s] father’s house the bride was to perform the onychy ovory rite ... At the threshold inside the house a cast-iron caldron ony was placed, and the bride was to step inside it before crossing the theshold [to depart]. That ritual iron pot was to remain at home with the [her] parents ... An identical cast-iron caldron .... the bride ... was to take ... with her to her new place."


"The intoning of the solboachiory and puaeladiuri rites performed by people ..., with the syllables drawled out and sung ... helps attract the attention of spirits ... When, however, the same rite is meant to be performed by spirits, the shaman intones the text ... accompanied with a drum. ... The Nanaians presume their spirits as being inactive and normally sleeping in their abodes. When a shaman starts beating the drum, the spirits wake up to gather around him, ready to obey the chanted instructions."


RELIGION AND SOCIETY, 36 = Juha Pentika:inen (ed.) : Shamanism and Northern Ecology. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, 1996. part IV = pp. 219-289.