Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko
As a follow up to: The Sisters - Cannibals
My good friend in Evenkia musician Oleg Chapogir belongs to Chapogir tribe, which practiced cannibalism. Oleg Chapogir (the human eater) is kind of "Bodhisattva of Compassion", he has got "bodhichitta" and talent of peacemaking.
Some scholars think that Chapogirs are "Changits" (cannibals) which accepted Evenki culture. I think that Chapogirs are Evenkis involved in inter-marriages with Changits (cannibals). Evenki tradition teaches to exterminate not only male cannibals but all members of cannibal's family. However stories about inter-marriages are known, such as "Father of girl Tukudak was Changit".
Changit girl Tukudak was adopted by Evenki family, but in time of hard hunger Changits accepted by Evenkis could return to cannibalism. Evenkis themselves didn't eat humans, but in time of hunger Evenkis could leave children in the forest. There are many Evenki stories about children found in the forest - thus again: children left in the forest was a real practice.
"One Evenki family had two children: the boy of five years - Kaptandyr and the girl of four years - Garpalyk. The time was so hard, that there were neither reindeers, nor game for hunting, humans ate berries only. When berries disappeared, the humans were about to die from hunger. Parents began to consult what to do. They have decided to leave children. Have dug out a hole, put children there and left them some berries, as much as possible, and departed to where eyes look. Children have eaten all berries, began to starve, and has got an idea to ask God for some bread. Children begun to ask God and suddenly the roll of bread has fallen down".
In time of hunger Evenkis could leave children in the forest. There are many Evenki stories about children found in the forest. It is interesting that in Evenki folklore children found in the forest are either spirits or humans with special relations with Evenki pagan spirits or with Russian Lord God. "Children begun to ask God and suddenly the roll of bread has fallen down". Were these poor kids "sacrificed"? Or, is it better to say "left for God and spirits"?
"An Evenk and his family spent their life wandering about the taiga. He had a wife, a baby and many deer. One day they settled on the bank of a big river. He left his family and deer for some time and went fishing far away. Having caught enough fish, he returned home. He found his wife crying and asked: "Why are you crying?" She answered: "There were robbers here and they stole all our deer. They didn't kill me because I hid myself and the baby in the taiga". Her husband said: "Oh, you, woman. You really frightened me. Just fancy, I thought, you had lost the needle." In the old days a woman could have only one needle for the whole family. If it was lost, they couldn't sew any clothes and it meant death for all the family. That was the price of the Evenk needle in the old days".
Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow. He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.