Aba tös — the bear fetish in traditional beliefs and ritual practices of the Khakass (end of XIX — mid XX century) 

Burnakov V.A., Tsydenova D.T. (Novosibirsk, Russian Federation)


                      page 113–122


The article deals with studying the phenomenon of bear fetish called Aba tös by the Khakass people. The cult of tös is a phenomenon that has arisen and existed in a traditional environment, where the shape of the relationship between visible (rational) and invisible (irrational) peace is characterized by the absence of hard insurmountable borders. Moreover, the religious-mythological consciousness of the people has an idea (as a common thread) of direct intersection of these worlds and their constant interaction with each other. Periodic violation of these relations, as believers considered, may turn into an imbalance of nature and human life. For the latter, this is turning into a variety of disasters and misfortunes. The ritual practice of the traditional society, in this case, was focused on the restoration of the balance and as a consequence, on the resolution of conflicts arising between the worlds as well as on the protection of vital interests of the people. A huge role in this process was assigned to ministers of religion, including the shamans, as well as directly — tös'es.

There was analyzed the myth-ritual complex associated with the cult of tös’es, based on a broad range of sources, including some archive materials brought for the first time into scientific circulation and museum collections. According Khakass belief, the image of the bear was surrounded by an aura of sanctity and therefore enjoyed special respect. In the traditional consciousness the bear was regarded as a formidable ruler of taiga area and all its inhabitants. At the same time, the believers might deemits image asaguardian spirit. This fact contri-buted to its general symbolization and fetishization. In the cult practice of Khakases, the bear, honored as a deity, has several symbolic images. Sacred features of Aba tös' were extensive. The people believed in its apotropaic, healing and protective powers, regarded it as a totem and ancestral spirit. There was created a special ritual for Aba tös' consisted of periodic sacrifices with prayers and other ceremonies. Herewith, the ritual ceremony was strictly regulated and included some special requirements for participants, certain sequence of actions and the special food composition.


Key words: Khakass, traditional world, ritual, sacrifice, the cult of the bear, the symbol, fetish, Aba tös.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2016-32-1-113-122




V.A. Burnakov

Novosibirsk State University, Pirogov str., 2, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russian Federation



D.T. Tsydenova

Novosibirsk State University, Pirogov str., 2, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russian Federation