Sacrificial complexes with clothes from cemeteries of the Vetluga-Vyatka interfluve area of the IXXI centuries

Nikitina T.B. (Yoshkar-Ola, Russian Federation)

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Sacrificial complexes in the intersepulchral space (SC) as explorative signs of the Mari Medieval burial grounds were designated by the author in the 90-s. Four variants of the SC are singled out, among which the variants III and IV are the most characteristic and mass scale for the Mari culture monuments. The article describes and introduces into scientific discourse 26 complexes from Rusenikhinskiy and Vyzhumskiy burial grounds, excavated by the author of this article in 20102015. Emergence of additional materials has allowed disclosing semantics of these objects in a new way. Internal contents of the complexes are represented by dishes, instrument of labour or welfare items, clothes and jewelry. With the help of an improved technique of excavation of these objects, opening and fixing by layers from 1 to 3 cm, level bedding of jewelry and elements of clothes in vertical direction from the head the legs is found out. Elements of headdresses and footwear, caftans, dresses or rectangular pieces of fabric were successfully distinguished among the fragments from certain objects. Judging by the external signs: abundance of fabrics, fragments of clothes (doth underclothes and top garments), structure and localization of jewelry in certain vertical zonal distribution corresponding to the place of a certain ornament or suit element it is possible to assume that a doll made of clothes of a dead person was placed in these complexes. Connection of the soul of a dead person with clothes of the Maris is confirmed by ethnographic and folklore data. The ceremony of making dolls from clothes of the dead is known at Ugrian (Khanty, Mansi) and Turkic people. In spite of the fact that this ceremony has different names and various material forms of expression at diffe-rent peoples, but its essence is the same: the doll is a temporary receptacle of soul the of the dead. It is obvious that the complexes at the intersepulchral space or stock lines of sepulchral holes with a set of clothes in the Mari Medieval burial grounds were commemorative, they served as a receptacle of the souls of the ancestors and contributed to the transition of souls to the other world after a certain time period. This ceremony could appear under the influence of the Ugrian or Turkic tradition. The word for a doll kurchak favours the last version, because it corresponds to the Kyrgyz word for a doll (kkurchak) and coincides with the name of images of female ancestral spirits at the Shors (qurtujaq), the Kumandins (urtyjaq), and the Barabinsk Tatars (kurtsak).


Key words: funeral and memorial rites, the Mari, the Mordovians, the Middle Ages, the Turks, sacrificial complex, clothes, seat of the soul.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2017-36-1-021-032




T.B. Nikitina

Mari El Language, Literature and History Research Institute, Krasnoarmeyskaya st., 44, Yoshkar-Ola, 424036, Russian Federation