Russian Eskimo Folklore
Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
From All Creatures Articles Archive

Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko

I visited the exhibition fair: "Northern civilization. Region Expo" in Moscow.

It was interesting experience. I saw children-reindeers, children-ravens, women-seagulls, woman-loon and woman-goose at the exhibition.

Sending you some photos (see below)

I continue to read about "barbarians" of Russian Far East.

In Russian Eskimo folklore Tykyvak is grandfather of frost and spirit of
underground world. Great shaman Alintituna defeated all kinds of evil spirits and was not afraid of Tykyvak. Alintituna used to harpoon demons, which could swim in dry land like sea animals do in the waters.

Eventually brave exorcist was killed by the powerful monster of frost.

Stories about mushroom-girls are even more exiting. Petroglyphs of Pegtymel'in Chukoyka depict naked girls with fly-agaric mushrooms appended to their heads. One of fly-agaric girls entices hunters into the world of hallucinations.

Another fly-agaric mushroom leads a boat of hunters striking big whale with harpoons.

Fly-agaric girls are known from Kamchadal folk stories and dances, but I prefer girls-seagulls and girls-loons.

"Their arms are like wings, their voices like seagulls‚ and they dance in ornately decorated white dresses. A seagull flying suddenly overhead during their outdoor performance draws attention to the uncanny resemblance. This dance, called "the Seagull," is the signature work of Mengo, a 21-member dance and theatre troupe from Kamchatka in Russia's Far East.

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[Ed. Note] We often wonder if these kinds of folklore stories weren't started to justify the people's way of life, much in the same way that ancient Greek and Roman gods were created.  This is probably the reason that Jesus' message of love, compassion, and peacemaking for the whole of God's creation seemed so radical, and why so many in the church, today, hide from His teaching.

Just as we want to live and enjoy life, we know that other humans and animals want to do the same, so humans have to harden themselves to these facts in order to justify what we do to each other.

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

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