Mammoth in Iranian and Evenk Culture
Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
From All Creatures Articles Archive

Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko

Baulo A.V., 2002. Iranian and Central Asian vessels in the rituals of the Ob Ugrians. // Problems of interethnic communication of peoples of Siberia. Novosibirsk.

Ob-Ugrians recognized "Mammoth" in Iranian silver elephant. Silver "Mammoth" was protecting entrance of sanctuary and had almost the same functions as Mammoth in Evenk shaman's tent.


One of the most mysterious things - cast silver figure of an elephant. With the exception of the owners it was seen by several people at the end of the 19th century, the picture of the elephant was sent to a well-known scholar of archeology and ethnography of the Finnish and Ugrian peoples D. N. Anuchin by a mining engineer Lebedzinsky, who worked on the r. Sev. Sosva on a road building project. This picture was published with D. N. Anuchin's paper and later in Ya. I. Smirnov's atlas «Oriental Silver».

It seems that the second European who could see the silver elephant was S. N. Chernetsov. He wrote in the field diary of his expedition on the r. Sev. Sosva (1933-34): «He (eagle-owl, the totem Khal-paul) is guarded by Yapping ui, the silver figure of an elephant described by Anuchin.

The elephant is so heavy, that it takes four strong men to lift it». And he wrote further: «When I opened the labaz taking out the front wall, I saw in front of me the famous elephant. It was covered with numerous kerchiefs, 3 or 4 of which were tied under his belly, and 5-6 under the neck. On the tusks there were silver and copper rings".

Attachment: “Old mammoth.” (A. Fantalov, 1997)

The mammoth is the most surprising monster of Ob-Ugrians (Ostyak - Hant and Vogul - Mansi). They imagine it like a huge fish or pangolin, leaving in the whirlpool. There we can see Mir-Susne-Hum in the capacity of mediator between the great eagle and the mammoth (between sky and earth, as Scandinavian Odin).

Evenk Mammoth is monster with elk's head and horns, fish's body and fish's tale


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