Sacralization of space as a way of psychological adaptation the Russians and Komi in Western Siberia

Golubkova O.V. (Novosibirsk, Russian Federation), Kononova Yu.B. (Independent researcher)


                  page 108–117


Ancestor worship was one of the most significant elements of traditional beliefs. In many cultures it is believed that the ancestors can become mythical patrons of a clan or a family (chur, domovoy (hobgoblin)). They help their descendants, protect them from the negative impact of alien spirits, sorcerers, and harmful corpses (navs). Our conclusions are based on the ethnographic field material, collected in different regions of Western Siberia, mainly among the Russians and Komi, as well as among the Ukrainians, Belarusians, Mordovians. The ancestors of these people settled in Siberia relatively recently (it took several generations, many of them remember the places from where their ancestors migrated behind the Urals, keep family traditions associated with «homeland» and migration to Siberia). For them, sacred dangerous loci are sanctuaries and cemeteries of the peoples who had settled in Siberia earlier (Khanty, Mansi, Tatars, indigenous peoples). The informants (Russian, Komi) consider abandoned graves of «aliens» and «infidels» as especially frightening places. They believe that other methods of burial and ritual ceremonies of other nations do not guarantee safety for a living person, especially for «outsiders». The field materials reflect emotional stories about ghosts and hostile spirits associated with the previous population of Western Siberia. Thus, we face the facts of ethnic and cultural divergence, based on the opposition of Orthodox and «non-Christian» (pagan, Muslim) worship. Besides, many informants (Russian, Komi) believe that the Siberian peoples have special secret knowledge and magical abilities. The Russians and the Komi used Christian amulets in order to provide protection from hostile spirits and wizards of the indigenous peoples. In addition, they seek mystical protection of their ancestors. This was true in isolation from their roots, from their native land.


Key words: mythology,sacralization, Russian, Komi, Western Siberia, «own — alien», the cult of ancestors, psychological adaptation.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2018-40-1-108-117




O.V. Golubkova

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Siberian Branch RAS, pr. Akademika Lavrentieva, 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russian Federation



Yu.B. Kononova

Independent researcher