Samoyed Mythology

Topics: Human, Folklore, Reindeer Pages: 9 (2901 words) Published: April 29, 2011
Dyekiss Virág

Sihirtes, sigies, olasnes - mythical creatures of North-Samoyed peoples

The mythical peoples of Nenets folklore, especially the sihirtes, have been in the focus of scientific interest. The classical article of Chernetsov[1] and of Vasiljev[2] presents us the theory that sihirtes were the ancient inhabitants of North-Siberia. This theory inspired several continuing researches, especially in the field of archaeology of Yamal peninsula, but after the summary of sihirte-legends there aren't any comparative studies about the parallel phenomena of the other North-Samoyed peoples. Besides, the other mythical peoples of Nenetses, Enetses and Nganasans have to be taken into account, also. It's important to collect the semantic signs of these creatures, so we can see the connection among them. Unfortunately from the Enets we haven't got as many data as from the two other languages, but still some conclusions can be made.

1. Nenets mythical peoples - sjudba, parne, sihirte

First of all, I would like to present these mythical peoples as the myths of sihirte-people are typical in Nenets folklore. The fact that Nenets folklore is rich in giants is a common knowledge. In the first folklore collections, collected by M.A. Castrén and T. Lehtisalo, we find several narratives about these creatures.

The most common mythical being of Nenets folklore is called sjudba. These creatures mainly described as giants. We can compose two bigger groups of the texts containing data of sjudba-s. In the first group we find the Nenets mythical narratives[3]. In the second one there are the narratives that are versions of world-wide known tale-types or similar to them. The contemporary collections contain more texts from the second type. The first collections focused in the archaic myths and mythical texts.

From the narratives it is clear that the sjudba-s are in enmity with humans, they eat them, if they can. In spite of this, sometimes they use the help of humans. (Or, we have to say heroes, as they are deity ancestors of humans) They live mainly in iron tents, mountains or peninsulas of rivers, but as punishment they have to live further under the earth. The heroes kill them and send them under the world as they ate their brothers or sisters or the hero himself. In this last case he cuts himself out from the stomach of the sjudba[4]. The sjudba-s are killed or approached by the heroes in form of small birds. Sjudba-s have reindeer sleight, but their rein is a mamooth (rein of the earth) or bears in a fewer version[5]. They are hunters, do not have reindeer-herds. About their appearance we know only a little. They don't look have really special looks, even their big size is not mentioned in the original texts. In the newer texts they are the giant helpers of the hero, and in a special text a chaser dresses up as a sjudba, and frightens a girl in the forest[6]. So in these texts their enormous size is important.

Sjudba-girls can marry with heroes, and heroes take the fancy of sjudba-girls easily[7]. Sjudba-s don't meet with human beings, as they live on other world and there are no connection, exept for shamans. As we get to know from shaman songs and charmings they can be helping spirits as well[8]. There are some special types of sjudba-s: hairy sjudba and resin-sjudba[9] .

The tale-like narratives are mainly belong to several stupid ogre types[10] (e.g. ATU 1086[11], ATU 1091[12]), when the human is much smarter than the stupid giant. There is an adaptation[13] of AT 301B, The Strong Man and Companions, which is a worldwide known fairy tale.

The sjudba-s live on the same place of parne-s. Parne appears often in myths, its figure wasn't adapted into newer types of tales. Parne is a completely negative figure, which is rare in these folklores. Parne-s are mainly women, but in some myths there are whole parne-families[14]. Parne-s are enmity with humans. They appear in forests, they come out from holes of...
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