Evenk Children's Game: Umukon Khalganchuluk

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Evenk Children's Game: Umukon Khalganchuluk

By Yuri Klitsenko

English translation of Umukon Khalganchuluk performance from the repertoire of Evenk folk ensemble Oronchikan

The majority of Evenks living in the Stony Tunguska watershed know the game “Umukon Khalganchuluk” ("One with one leg"). Many of the senior generation played Khalganchuluk in their childhood, and young Evenks get to know ancient customs in the performances of Oronchikan folk ensemble ("Reindeer fawn") organized in the school of Surinda national settlement on the initiative of the Evenk language teacher Martha Alekseevna Konoryonok.

"Evenkiyskaya zhizn" (Evenk life) paper (No. 49 dated December 13, 2007) reported that a turn "Channit-Khalganchuluk" staged in assembly hall of Baikit boarding-school by Surinda children was greeted with applause: "Hunter Dance" and "Fire Dance" performed by Slava Gayulsky and Sasha Kayanovich, turn "Channit-Khalganchuluk", songs with lines by A. Nemtushkin was greeted by a storm of applause".


Khalganchuluk is one-legged, one-armed, one-eyed evil spirit from Evenki mythology. Evenki "green man", who steals children, a very bad guy indeed.

On August 8-9, 2009, Khalganchuluk game was included in the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People celebration program in Surinda. Then at request of reindeer herders M.A.Konoryonok and Oronchikan presented Umukon Khalganchuluk tradition in the forest brigades of Surinda reindeer farm.

Below see Russian translation of a version of Umukon Khalganuluk performance from the repertoire of Evenk school folk ensemble Oronchikan The original in the Evenk language was presented by M. А. Konoryonok.

Khalganchuluk is one of names of one-legged, one-armed, one-eyed evil spirit from Evenk mythology. Representing argish – Evenk reindeer caravan – children hopped on twigs - reindeer - and evil spirit Khalganchuluk chased the caravan on one leg. When argish stopped for a night, and people went to rest in tents, Khalganchuluk stole sleeping children.

Professor M.G.Turov (Irkutsk State University) noted that "Khalganchuluk" game is a sort of present day implication (collage) of some ancient faiths and rites, related to image of wild one-legged monsters "chulugdy".

In opinion of the author, the didactic function of Khalganchuluk game is based on basic ethic categories of Stony Tunguska Evenks - "ngolomo" and "nyongo" [К.А. Alyokhin, Certain issues of communicative culture of taiga Evenks, Siberian ethnographic bulletin, No. 3 (4), Novosibirsk, 2000].

Frequently the appearance of an evil spirit was perceived as materialization of committed sin ("ngolomo"). Evenks told that the role of Khalganchuluk was given to the most reasonable and fair among the children, who could reason on the topics of good and evil during the game. Interpretations of the issues of life and death through cause and effect concept of sin and reward are widespread among Evenks.


When “argish” stopped for a night, and people went to rest in tents, Khalganchuluk counted sleeping children saying: live, die, live, die.

On the other hand, Khalganchuluk game taught its participants excessive sense of bad omens and signs ("nyongo"). "Nyongo" as sign of fate brought instability and injustice in life of an Evenk that were not related to a breach of morals.

According to K.А.Alyokhin, "life of an Evenk is like a game against death under strictly determined rules. Violation of rules inevitably results in a loss, but their observance does not guarantee reward. This scheme should not be described in terms of optimism or pessimism" (K.А.Alyokhin, Ethnocultural characteristic of local community: on the materials of Surinda Evenks. Communicative culture issues, Novosibirsk, 2001).

M. A. Konoryonok: Umukon Khalganchuluk turn

Author: A long time ago Evenks – man, woman and a child - wandered in taiga. Once their argish (caravan) was moving through the forest along river bank. They crossed the river and reached a pasture for reindeer. They chose a place for a fire and arranged a night camp. They set up a tent, sat down and started drinking tea and talking.

Man told to his wife: Tomorrow morning we will move to another camp.

Woman: It is not good here. We should get away quickly - it is dangerous to stay here. This place seems weird to me.

Man: Go to rest, I'll smoke.

Author: The woman put tableware to the basket, put a child to sleep and went to rest. The man smoked pipe and cleaned his rifle. He sat like this for a long while, but finally fell asleep. It grew dark. That night was especially dark. The Evenks slept in the tent. Suddenly Khalganchuluk came out of the darkness He entered the tent, looked around and saw: people were lying. He started counting Evenks saying: bukel-ekel, take or take not, live or die.

Khalganchuluk: bukel-ekel, bukel-ekel. Let me take the child - it is small, and a grown up will be hard to carry.

Author: The one-legged stole the child and disappeared in the darkness of the forest. Day broke, sun rose. Man and woman woke up and saw: no child in the tent. They looked for it everywhere but did not find. They got a fright.

Man: Khalganchuluk took our child.

Woman: Let's run from here, it is a place where evil spirits live.

Author: Man caught reindeer, quickly loaded their things, got onto reindeer and moved to a different nomadic camp.


Evenki girls imitating reindeer