"Comparative Aspects of Mythology"

[/j/ is to be pronounced as in German (= /y/ in English)

/v/ is to be pronounced as in Latin (= /w/ in English)]


pp. 161-168 Edit Ve`rtes : "Ob-Ugrian and Samoyed Mythological Beliefs".

pp. 163-164 idols


idols of deities


"The Yurak word haehe, the forest Yurak kaehe ... means ... ‘Geist, Go:tze ...’ ...

the tundra Yuraks have to make their haehes of wood,

the Ostyaks of cloth-rolls"


"the Ostyaks sacrifice to their idols or to the clothings of those, or to one part of the bear’s nose"


"According to the tundra-Yurak myth a childless couple .. became the evening and morning star".


"sjaadais [‘wooden idols’] ... are block like and have acute heads".

pp. 164-165 fly-agaric mushroom




"the fly-agarics ... panx ...

According to the Vasyugans the agarics own [owe] their strength to the fact that these are made of the celestial god’s saliva ...

According to the northern Voguls the agarics are the food of the spirits".


"In the region of the Irtis it is mainly eaten in the evening but the enchanters, among the Tremyugan, may eaten them at any time; they eat respectively 3 or 7 pieces respectively [as] bites of it. ...

Consuming a too large quantity of agarics has topic effects : clenching teeth and foaming mouth. At that time ... pouring ... milk into the mouth can help."


"In a trance while eating the agarics the charmer can see the agarics’ dance, hear them sing, and he can repeat their songs word by word."


forest-Samoyed :- "only such person is allowed to eat ... agarics who knows about its origin so that this person eats them, to his luck, but the person who cannot see in his trance the spirit of agarics ... might ... roam in darkness {darkness in the dream?}. A charmer generally eats two and a half agarics and as a consequence he can see in his dream as many manlike beings as many agarics he ate. {viz., 2 and ½ beings – ½-beings (1 side only of the being’s body visible) known in Inuit mythology}. These beings cover the distance that the sun does during the night. The charmer can follow their footsteps only because the man[like being derived from the charmer] who has eaten[, namely the ½ being derived from] a half agaric runs slower [because it] always looks back as if he were waiting for the other half.


When in the dark nothing can be seen the spirits of the fly agaric are ready to tell the charmer whatever he wants to know. When they get into the light, to the place where god created the fly agaric, there is a post with seven holes and seven cords can be found. As soon as the charmer has bound the spirits to the post his trance passes and he wakes up."

pp. 166-167 souls of the dead




"According to the Yuraks ... the dead live behind water in the same way as they lived on earth. ... The difference is only in that they get always younger and younger until they are born again here on earth".


"the souls in the home of the dead ..., according to the North Ostyaks and the Tremyugans, ... may be transformed into golden beetles {cf. gold-beetle in Hungarian folktale (SPFF)} and can appear in this form in front of their bereaved.

According to the Voguls the souls ... can become black beetles. ... According to a Vogul legend the World-man on duty put his father after having died into the abdomen of a water beetle. {cf. Osage water-beetle deity; and Kic^e` day-name Imox ‘beetle’ as aequivalent to Maya hieroglyphic day-sign of waterlily} and when time expired he raised him from the dead".


region of the Sosva :- "The soul of the dead going up the river Ob,

crossing the sea,

then getting through a hole

it reaches the land of the dead. There it is dark and the moon shines. The rivers flow upwards, back to their head spring in order to get to earth again".


forest-Samoyed :- "On the way to the home of the dead the shaman and the spirit of the dead have to cross three rivers; the first is full of trees, planks and pieces of usable haehe-sledges,

the second of pieces of magic drum,

the third of iron-pieces which were the cervical vertebrae of dead shamans.

With the help of jorra-birds they get a free pass and reach the great water where the always getting younger dead live, in the same way as they used to live on earth.

The charmer takes the dead person to his folk, he calls out to them, "I have brought you a man, come and fetch him." But before their canoe reaches the shore the shaman pushes the dead person to them and he himself leaves the place as quickly as he can [so as] not to be drawn to them. To the earth he returns by a different way."


"On his way home the shaman goes up the river, develops [becomes] a pike[, and] later on the moor a reindeer, but only its squama [and] respectively its skin remains there as a symbols of his bringing the fisherman’s and the hunter’s luck back.

The same he does with a black grouse.


At the spring of a river the [shaman?] arrives at a tent where people live, they start hunting together but can find only hares.

Then he finds himself among people who stalk reindeer by means of a big sky-high net and even a bull [reindeer] jumps over the net. They kill only one reindeer, when they try to bag another the pursuer stabs into his own foot. This scene indicates the destruction of the dead spirit’s image, ... the image made after his death. When consuming the reindeer the shaman ... In secret ... cuts bristles out of the reindeer’s back {cf. farmers’ conserving of bristles of slaughtered pet pigs, for luck} and a piece of his tongue and puts it into his own mouth; so he brings luck to the reindeer-stalker living on earth.

Following the reindeer’s trails the shaman gets to the streaming river where the sun of the world [of the living] shines already. Then he stops singing and sets the shadow of the dead person on fire."

SPFF = http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=orczy&book=hungarian&story=suitors


pp. 179-186 I. N. Gemuev : "Bear Cult in Western Siberia".





Ostyak-Samoyed (Selkup) :- "every bear embodies the soul of an ancestor. When a bear is killed, the hunter will cut off the bear’s front paw and throw it up into the air, calling the names of the dead old men. And when the paw falls down with its palm upward, the respective name is given to the bear".

"The Selkups never eat bear kidneys as the latter are just like those of a dead man."

"Getting together the men of a Narym Selkup village boiled and ate the bear head."


"When it was ... a "great" shaman who died, ... Before burying the dead they severed his right-hand thumb."


"The "great" shaman’s thumb bone became the main fetish of the shamans who were descendants of the dead man."


 "In a legend of Trans-Bajkal Buryats they describe a giant "whom people could not defeat", but God cut off his thumb and turned him into a bear". {cf. "Thumbling" & "Tom Thumb", rival to (HTTh) Grizzle (grizzly bear?)}


 "The Selkups say that "should the bear have a fifth toe, he would have destroyed the whole of the earth". The Negidals -- living in the Amur basin -- also consider the bear to have four toes though in fact he or she has five". {cf. genus Ateles '4-fingered spider-monkey' (MA; SHW, p. 294, fn. *)}


 Altai (Oirat) heroic epic :- "the soul and strength of Alai-Buuchai was in his thumb".


 "the Selkups wore a bear tooth (corgo-teeme) or a dried bear paw pending on a string from the belt. When a man encountered a bear these objects were supposed to serve as a pass-word."

 HTTh = http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/TTEssay.htm

MA = http://www.wku.edu/~smithch/wallace/S008.htm

SHW = Sharon Turner : The Sacred History of the World. NY : Harper, 1832.


pp. 187-232 E`va Schmidt : "Bear Cult and Mythology of the Northern Ob-Ugrians".





por 'fox'


mos` 'hare'


luw 'horse'

p. 202 Vogul sibling-incest myth

"The mos` woman, by false pretenses, contracts an incestuous marriage with her own brother. A son is born to them, and the latter, on learning the secretdivulges it to his father. The mos` man slays his sister and his son. ...

{UdeGe :- A woman, praetending to be a different woman, incestuously marrieth her brother. They have a son and a daughter. Their son is told by a sparrow that his parents are mutual siblings, and informeth his father of this. The father-brother slayeth his own sister-wife.

From the heroine's blood there grows a plant called poriG. It is eaten by a female bear, which ... enjoins on her daughter the taboo of eating bear's flesh. ...

"A mother bear adopts the children ... This is why a sister must not eat the meat of a bear killed by her brother." (GU, pp. 514-519 : cited in TBM, p. 11)}

her ursine relatives turn into constellations and ascend to the sky."


GU = Irina Nikolaeva : A Grammar of Udeghe. Leiden, 1999.

TBM = http://src-h.slav.hokudai.ac.jp/publictn/acta/20/asi20-001-janhunen.pdf

pp. 206-207 Vogul myth of origin of bears




"the seven god's sons arrive at the lake in the country of the dead, on which 7 loons / small divers are swimming. The eldest boy warns his brothers not to shoot before he has shot. The youngest does not listen to him; it is the fleeing birds wounded by his arrow that spread the diseases on


the earth. The eldest son grows incensed against his brother. ... Awaking from his sleep, the eldest boy goes mad; he gnaws asunder his armour and his weapons and, turning them into the body-parts of a bear, spits them onto himself." {cf. crunching of jewels by Izana-gi; [Nepalese myth of] jewels as armor for deer}

"In the more complete Lozva version, the boy turning into a bear ... cannot get drunk from his mother's beer; yet, he does fall into a trance from the fly agaric received from his wife. ... He gnaws his armour into bits etc."

pp. 216-225 Sacred Town Elder


Sacred Town Elder


"he also married the daughter of the Vanzevat Elder = Lord of the Nether Regions".


"in the "Song of the Elder of Tegi", ... the main hero's bride-to-be is the daughter of a certain "Horse end man" ..., who has seven warlord brothers. ... We get a description of the journey ... from the village of Tegi : towards the south, they first proceed along the Little Ob and then, touching a section of the Sosva ..., they again reach the Ob. They row along it until they reach the source, and, crossing the sea there, they find the town".


"The members of the Sacred Town Elder's household impersonated at the S^erkal Ostyak bear feasts include his tax-collecting clowns ..., his two female servants playing on the Jew's harp ... and, among the Voguls of the Sosva, his old serving woman".


S^erkal Ostyak :- "If someone falls gravely ill, his soul-bird, flying away, is caught by the Sacred Town Elder, who sends it back".


"it refers to the "dream-birds" Vog. ulm ujris`at, of which men have five and women have four ...

the "dream-bird" ... has the form of a grouse and lives outside man".

"the end-of-the-braid-of-hair soul-birds under the name "(breath) soul" Vog. lili {cf. [Sumerian] /lil/ 'wind'} or "small (shadow) soul" Vog. man` is".


"The hero of a Sova Vogul belief-legend, while on travel, foreced to spend the night ... near a dead female relative of his. Attacked by the corpse, he is saved only when the Sacred Town Elder, appearing in the form of a bear, tears apart the assailant". {cf. [Gilyak myth of] attack on man by his own sister (TBM, p. 10)}

"If the dead person takes with him the soul of someone, ... a shaman ..., in turn, dispatches a guardian spirit to retrieve from the grave the object containing the soul ... The Ostyaks of the mouth of the Kazym understand that the spirit best suited for that purpose is the Sacred Town Elder because, in the form of a bear, he can dig the corpse from its grave more easily."


"the number of days that a person can live is determined at his birth by the goddess Kaltes {cf. the Moira Lakhesis}, who notches it on a tally ... She does not change her decision later on. Due to various causes (... selfishness etc.), a person can live less than the days allotted to him, but no more."


feminine account (by mistress of the Vezhakori festivals) :- "prior to his death, a person's soul visits in succession the guardian spirits determining his destiny, in order to ask them for their intercession. ... First of all, the soul starts toward the south {cf. [Hindu] the southward direction travelled by souls of the dead led by god Yama}, to Kaltysyani, the sacred place of the goddess Kaltesh, and asks if his days have indeed been completed. If so, the goddess "allows him to move on" {"allows" implying eagerness to die},

after which he turns to the World Surveyor Man ... presumably located in the sacred place of the World Surveyor Man, in the district of the mouth of the Irtys^ (between the villages of Belogore and Troickoe) [to the southeast, as indicated on map on p. 224]. If he too allows the soul to move on,

it ... weeping and crying {for joy?}, ... goes to Vezhakori, to the Sacred Town Elder. The latter's decision is particularly important, as

the next stage is already Vanzevat, lying north of the mouth of the Kazym, -- the village of the Lord of Disease ... and the "Lower-World Elder" ... The[se] two spirits, ... as brothers, are seated neighboring Little Vanzevat (aj wan`s`aw... ) and in (Great) Vanzevat (/won/ wan`s`aw...) {cf. [Skt.] vams`a 'reed, dynasty', whereof there were twain mythic ones, the solar & the lunar}. ... If they do let it proceed,

the soul finally sets off for the north, the land of the dead, near the mouth of the Ob."


"The above ... were ... authenticated by the play "The Sacred Town Elder and the dead person", of the bear feast repertory of the S^erkal Ostyaks, further to the south. ... In a version ..., a man lies on the ground, singing that, after his illness, he has already been put in the grave. Offering a horse in sacrifice, he invokes the World Surveyor Man and then the goddess Kaltes {the difference in sequence here from that in the above possibly being due to difference in gender, viz., recited by a man instead of by a woman}, but they fail to come to save him. In the depths of despair, he appeals to the Sacred Town Elder, who appears and, digging him out of the grave with his stick, revives him."


"he was "dug out" of the grave by a player dressed as a bear." {cf. [Chinese] royal funeral director wearing 4-eyed bear-mask in grave}


[Vogul] "When healing, the shaman usually invokes several guardian spirits ... If it is the Sacred Town Elder, he invariably appears in the form of a bear, from underneath -- in contrast with the other spirits, which arrive through the roof".


ETHNOLOGICA URALICA, 1 = Miha`ly Hoppa`l & Juha Pentika:inen (eds.) : Uralic Mythology and Folklore. Budapest : Ethnographic Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Helsinki : Finnish Literature Society, 1989. pp. 155-232 = Part IV "Comparative Aspects of Mythology".