A.B. Anokhin's letter “On shamanism among the Altai tribes” 

Malinov A.V.





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The paper is dedicated to Andrey Viktorovich Anokhin, a renowned scholar of shamanism of the Turkic peoples of Siberia. The paper precedes publication of A.V. Anokhin's letter to ethnographer Lev Yakovlevich Sternberg discovered in the St. Petersburg Branch of the Archive of RAS. The main subject of the letter is female characters-deities in Altai shamanism, with whom Kam enters into an intimate relationship. Anokhin elaborates on this subject using examples primarily from Teleut shamanism, and only briefly mentions shamanic practices of the Shorians, Kumandins, and other peoples of Southern Siberia. Anokhin's material is supplemented by information from his unpublished “Report on Teleut Shamanism” (1912) and his article “The Soul and Its Properties in the Perception of the Teleuts” (1929). In particular, information is given about female deities residing in the fourth celestial sphere (kat); Enem-Jajuchy — the Mother of the Creator; daughters of Eligeni, dwelling on the fourteenth celestial sphere (kat); and about female ancestors worshipped by the Teleuts. The letter of Anokhin was written during a school expedition led by him in the Teleut village of Cherga in the Altai Mountains. In the letter itself, Anokhin gave details of the female characters inhabiting the third, fourth, seventh, and fourteenth celestial spheres (kat). It is noted that in the beginning of the research work initiated by G.N. Potanin, Anokhin started recording Turkic and Mongolian folklore in Southern Siberia and Mongolia, but the Russian Committee for the Study of Central and Eastern Asia of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, which funded the expedition, was interested in the study of shamanistic cult. For this reason, shamanism of the Turkic peoples of the Altai, including the Teleuts, became the main direction of Anokhin's research. The letter by Anokhin is a fragment of the correspondence between the two scientists, partly already published, that started in connection with publication of Anokhin's main work “Materials on Shamanism of the Altaians” (1924). The letter by Anokhin coincides with the publication of the book and represents the answer to a question of L.Y. Sternberg probably posed during the preparation of this publication.

Keywords: shamanism, female characters, Anokhin, Teleuts, Altai ethnography, epistolary heritage.


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

Accepted: 02.06.2022

Article is published: 15.03.2023


Malinov A.V., St. Petersburg University, Universitetskaya nab., 7-9, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation, Sociological Institute of the RAS — a branch of the Federal State Budgetary Institution of Science of the Federal Research Sociological Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 7-ya Krasnoarmeyskaya st., 25/14, St. Petersburg, 190005, Russian Federation, E-mail: a.v.malinov@gmail.com, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1252-9193