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Siberian Mammoth in Religious Rites

Submitted by Yuri Klitsenko, Russia

1) Evenki drum baton - Eastern Siberia, Enisei Guberniya; Late 19th century; Evenk (Tungus); Wood, leather, mammoth bone.

The wooden baton is covered with reindeer skin. A plate of mammoth bone with metal anthropomorphic figures is attached to the back side. An anthropomorphic image symbolizing the guardian spirit of the Evenk shaman is carved in the handle of the baton. The baton was one of the first attributes received by the shaman. Its name, gis or gisun literally means "speaking, object for speaking-foretelling." The baton was considered a live mediator between the human world and the spirit world. It was with the baton's help that the shaman would obtain answers put by fellow tribesmen.

2) Orthodox Mitre (mitra - a liturgical head-dress) made of mammoth bone in 1916 by baptized Koryaks for their bishop Nestor of Kamchatka. It is interesting that Koryaks thought that mammoth bone is the best material for decorating liturgical vestments.

[Ed. Note:] Christianity is to teach us about life and loving, compassionate, and peaceful ways of living.  When "religious" people include the products of death and suffering into their gatherings, teachings, and rites, they undermine Jesus' message.

Yuri Klitsenko is a Russian living in Moscow.  He works for the Russian Orthodox Church.

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