Sacred deer


shamanistic cosmolog

               According to the Even religious beliefs, every tree has a soul - Hanyang.  Inside some trees live spirits - the owners of a particular area.  The spirits-masters of the area could appear to people in the form of a dog, a crow, a gray-haired old woman.  They lived in the middle world with people.  Deer in the herd, suddenly frightened, according to the Evens, thereby discovered that the owner of the area was nearby.  Therefore, there was a custom to appease spirits, for which some of them were preserved during the hunt for wild deer.  It was believed that otherwise the spirit master of the area might be offended and take luck.

              According to Evens, all nature, land, air, water, mountains, valleys, the whole tundra was inhabited by invisible creatures that were always nearby and constantly influenced people's lives, depending on the attitude of each person to them and to that natural sphere, which  these creatures represented.  So in the everyday life of the ethnos, the ecological connection between man and nature was realized.

 Evens never expressed dissatisfaction with natural phenomena, whether it was snowstorm, heavy snow, rain, heat or wind, as it was believed that in nature there is some balance between good and bad natural phenomena, and the weather depends on human behavior, on observance of traditions,  customs, ethnic norms.  So, the Evens wore soft shoes sewn from reindeer skins with their socks up, so as not to injure the ground.

               The Evens had customs that expressed their attitude towards nature.  The places of constant hunting or the route of reindeer herds were called Eungyn tuur - "mother earth - homeland", they were perceived as a native home, therefore they treated and "fed" the fire of the fire.  The Evens devoted gifts to the fire - multi-colored fabric or mottled fur shreds, hanging them on trees.

               A man did not distinguish himself from the animal kingdom and could even attribute his genus to any group of animals or birds that acquired the functions of a totem.  According to Evens, animals also have reason, understand human speech, they cannot be offended.  It was believed that the animals voluntarily gave themselves to kill the hunter, but after death they existed in other substances or forms.

 Since hunting was the most important source of Evens existence, as a sign of respect for the nature of Evens, they strictly followed ethical standards related to hunting activities.  So, it was forbidden to walk on bones, scales, throw them into the mud.  Butchering the carcass of the beast was accompanied by a number of precautions: it was impossible to spill the blood of the animal on the ground, skulls and tubular bones were buried.  At the beginning of the release of blood, the slaughtered animal in gratitude for the prey and the apology for the slain beast, the hunter sprayed it in different directions, referring to the spirit of the forest.  The whole process of carcass cutting took 15 minutes, and the carcass was divided into joints, without breaking the tubular bones.  With rich prey, the hunter smeared the dead fox, lynx, sable face with fat or oil, saying: "Eat, help yourself, and we will be friends!".  He talked with the dead beast, expressed some kind of request.  It was believed that by eating an animal-deity, a person joined his world, got the opportunity to fulfill his desire, since the beast, according to his ideas, allowed himself to be killed, thereby granting luck and success to the hunter.  As a rule, these animal deities were marked by rare signs and omens.  For example, animals with a rare suit - motley squirrel, white speakers, pinto bear, silver-gray deer.

             Attribute of hunting activity - a personal knife was kept clean, decorated.  Even in this, the hunter showed his respect for nature.

 The Evens had an unwritten law of Davydyn, related to luck on the hunt, regulating the ethical standards of relations between hunters.  Since only one person could be lucky in hunting, to prevent enmity, envy, they said: “This time, the Great Patron of Hunting gave luck to only one of us, but next time luck will smile at the other.”

             Future hunters from childhood accustomed to the etiquette of hunting.  Unnecessarily, birds and animals were never killed, chicks were taken from the nest only during a severe famine, but even then 1-2 chicks were left.  It was forbidden to kill birds and animals, even rodents, who came to a person, fleeing persecution of predators, natural disasters.  Thus, the laws of mutual assistance were observed, according to which the tundra lived.

            A special place in the religious representations of the Evens, like that of the Yukagirs, was occupied by worship of the sun, to which deer were sacrificed.  There was also a bear cult widely spread in North Asia.  So, the Even, who received the bear as a nimat, arranged a public holiday where the bear meat was eaten, the bones were buried on a pile platform, stacking them in a strictly anatomical order.  In some places, the ancient rite of the funeral of the skull of the bear was preserved by strengthening it on the top of a low larch.

            Even shamanism remains unexplored to this day.  There are no special studies on Evenism shamanism.  The costume of the Evenki shaman differs from the Evenki and Yakut shavers in less complexity, in particular, in the absence of wrought iron images of spirits.  Shamanic tambourines, close to the Amur version, are relatively narrow-shaped, round, of small diameter.

             In the XVII-XVIII centuries.  during the burial, it was customary to dress the dead man in the best dress according to the season.  The deceased was placed in a wooden deck, which was installed on trees or on poles.  They slaughtered several deers, their blood stained the coffin and trees. Chym of the deceased, his utensils and other things were left under the trees.  I.A.  Khudyakov wrote that the Indigir Lamuts (Evens) buried their dead with their heads to the west, for they believed that he would "go east."  Tompon Evens, based on V.A.  Tugolukov, they tied the dead in clothes sewn without knots, "in order to make it easier for the soul to free itself from the body when it begins its journey."  According to scientists, the tradition of strangling deer during a funeral rite among Evens is the most ancient Tungus method of killing sacrificial animals


Kamlanie Tunguska Shaman Save

Источник и фото из кн: Алексеев, А.А. Эвены Верхоянья: история и культура (конец XIX – 80-е гг.ХХ в.) / А.А. Алексеев. – СПб: ВВМ, 2006.

Гоголев, А.И. История Якутии: учеб. пособие для вузов / А.И. Гоголев. - 2-е изд., доп. – Якутск: Изд. дом СВФУ, 2013.