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Article by the staff members of the MAE RAS in the British journal “Folklore”

 

The latest issue of the “Folklore” magazine, which has been issued in London since 1878 and is one of the oldest in the field of folklore, published an article by the staff members of the Department of America of the MAE RAS Yuri Berezkin and Evgeny Duvakin “Volga-Ural and West Siberian Components in the Folklore of the Sámi and the Baltic Finns”.

The processing of tens of thousands of texts, performed on a global scale, allowed the authors to identify a group of specific folklore parallels between the Baltic-Finnish and Sámi traditions, on the one hand, and the indigenous peoples of Siberia, on the other. The article analyzes data on ten such motifs, among which there are concepts related to cosmology and etiology, and episodes of trickster and adventure nature. On the territory of Europe, they are extremely rare and - in most cases - only among the Sámi and the Baltic-Finnish peoples. In Siberia, these motives are recorded more widely and mainly among the Ob Ugrians, Samoyeds and Yeniseians. The information obtained correlates with linguistic data on the settlement of the Ural peoples from their ancestral home, as well as with the evidence of paleoanthropology and genetics about migrations that led to the appearance of components of Siberian origin in Fennoscandia and began no later than the Bronze Age. One part of the discovered motifs could have penetrated into the area together with the speakers of the Finno-Permian dialects and potentially goes back to the Proto-Ural tradition. Another could have been inherited by these groups directly in Fennoscandia from an earlier local population who spoke languages ​​of unknown origin and historically are also associated with the populations of North Asia. In both cases, we are talking about the preservation in the Sámi and Baltic-Finnish traditions of ancient elements, the spread of which in Europe was the result of migrations and cultural impulses from the Siberian region.

The work was carried out based on a unique database of world folklore and within the framework of the project “Borders and Contacts: Transcultural Contacts in the Old World Based on the Analysis of the Areal Distribution of Folklore and Mythological Motifs” (Russian Science Foundation grant No. 18-18-00361).

Новость

World distribution of the "Space Hunt - Pleiades" motif: in the tales of the space hunt, the object of persecution or hunters are identified with the Pleiades. In Europe, the motif has been recorded among the Western Sámi, and in Siberia among the Khanty, Nenets, Nganasan, Khakass, Evens, and Koryaks (Berezkin & Duvakin 2022: fig. 1).

Новость

World distribution of the "Heavenly Net" motif: one of the constellations is associated with a fishing or hunting net. In Europe, the motif has been recorded among the Finns and Hungarians, and in Siberia, among the Khanty, Selkups, Nganasans, and Kets (Berezkin & Duvakin 2022: fig. 3).

Новость

World distribution of the “Bloody Sunset” motif: blood gushing from a killed or wounded person or animal turns the sky or vegetation red (the origin of dawn, the reddish hues of the northern lights or golden autumn). In Europe, the motif was recorded among the Eastern Sámi, and in Siberia, among the Mansi, Nenets, and Chukchi (Berezkin & Duvakin 2022: fig. 4).

Новость

World distribution of the “False mother” motif: a character (most often supernatural or zoomorphic) kidnaps a boy and tells that (s)he himself/herself is his/her mother or father; the kidnapped learns the truth, abandons the kidnapper. Like the previous examples, the motif is extremely rare in Europe - it is known there in the folklore of the Western and Eastern Sámi - and is more common in Siberia, where the corresponding records were made among the Mansi, Selkups, Kets, Yugas, Tofalars, Koryaks, Chukchi and Eskimos (Berezkin & Duvakin 2022: fig. 8).