The bone version of the anthropomorphic model in the traditional worldview of the Turko-Mongols of Inner Asia:

images, meaning, functions  

Sodnompilova M.M., Nanzatov B.Z. (Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation)


              page 207217


The human body, its structure, appears as a universal model of the structure of the world around us and the society. Through the anatomical code, the Universal chaos is set in order, structures arise, hierarchies are established. The most illustrative example of a structure is the human skeleton. The purpose of this article is to identify the entire known corpus of information about this anthropomorphic model and to reconstruct the meaning and functions of the bone system in the worldview and life of the Turko-Mongols of Inner Asia. Historical, ethnographic and folklore materials represented the sources of the research. The methods used were comparative historical analysis which helps to identify common features in understanding and interpretation of natural phenomena and cultural objects in the Turko-Mongolian world, and the method of cultural and historical reconstruction, which allows to determine the logic of the archaic conceptions. In the culture of the TurkoMongolian populations of Inner Asia, the anthropomorphic model in one of its variants, expressed in the skeleton, is extremely important for organising and regulating the life of society. In the nomadic culture, an extensive complex of ideas has been identified, related to the bone version of the anthropomorphic model and representing different ideas. The main ideas consider bones of a person as a life resource of their family (in case of animals their species), closely connected with the generation counting system and the perception of the degree of kinship. These perceptions substantiate the ideas of the necessity to preserve the skeleton after the death of a person (and all living creatures in general, especially revered animals), and funeral traditions, also confirmed by linguistic data. The evolution of beliefs based on vitality contained in the bones was reflected in the religious customs of the hunting and fishing complex, the ritual practices of the daily life of nomads, accompanied by the slaughter of animals. The concept of bone and its derivatives in the worldview of the Turko-Mongols is associated with views about the social structure of the community, the state of the entire organism as a whole, the dignity and character of a person.

Key words: Turko-Mongolian peoples, Inner Asia, traditional world view, anthropomorphic model, bone.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 07.09.2020

Article is published: 27.11.2020


Sodnompilova M.M.

Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan of Siberian Branch RAS, Sakhyanovoi st., 6, Ulan-Ude, 670047, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Sodnompilova M.M.)


Nanzatov  B.Z.

Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan of Siberian Branch RAS, Sakhyanovoi st., 6, Ulan-Ude, 670047, Russian Federation

E-mail: (Nanzatov B.Z.)