The specifics of cutting and decorations of the guardians spirit caps of the Northern Mansi 

Bogordayeva A.À. (Tymen, Russian Federation)


                      page 153–161


The article deals with a study and classification of guardian spirit caps found in Mansi sacred places. The study aims to conduct a comparative and typological analysis of the caps and to reveal special features of their cutting and decorations. The research is based on data of the author’s own fieldwork records (collected during several expedition trips to the communities of Northern Mansi living along the Northern Sosva and Lyapin rivers) and on published ethnographic sources. In the course of the expeditions, the author made descriptions of 34 caps, 21 of them were parts of guardian spirit vestments, 10 were gifts to the guardian spirits and 3 were tailor-made. It is pointed out that the caps are one of the principal and necessary attributes of the male guardian spirits of Northern Mansi. According to Northern Mansi mythology, caps are part of the image and an indispensable attribute of clothes of many Mansi supreme deities, including Mir-Susne-Hum, Kuly-Otir, Samsaj-oyka, etc. The caps are included in the costume kits of the figures of the guardian spirits that are kept in sacred places; they are also a part of the vestments of those people who perform a role of the guardian spirits at on the Bear festival. There are two types of the guardian spirit caps: made of fur and of woolen cloth. The caps made out of woolen cloth are the most common. Depending on the shape of the crown, the caps can be divided into three main groups: cone-shaped, semi-spherical and trapezoidal. Each of these groups is represented by several variations which differ in quantity and shape of details of their cutting. It was noted that the shape, cutting of caps and decoration of a cap are not related to the duties of the corresponding a guardian spirit. Today there is no evidence of use of the fur caps in the Mansi sacred places, though there are many references to their previous use as a head-dress of the guardian spirits in ethnographic sources. Obviously, fur caps, as well as fur-trimmed woolen caps, indicated high social status of their owners.


Key words: Mansi, caps, clothes, costume, guardian spirits, sacred places, cutting, fabric, fur, woolen cloth, typological analysis, Northern Sosva river, Lyapin river, images of deities, ethnographic research, Mir-Susne-Hum, Kuly-Otir, Samsaj-oyka.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2016-33-2-153-161




A.À. Bogordayeva

Institute of the problems of Northern development SB RAS, Malygin st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation