Symbolism of Western Siberian Graves
Religious Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Stories
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Submitted by: Yuri Klitsenko

Photos 01-03 - Traditional Sel'kup graves;




Photos 04-05 - "Cross & tree" graves (Sel'kup or Forest Nenets?); in accordance with Pagan tradition there must be two trees at the grave - dead dry tree at the western side (the tree of death) and living tree at the eastern side (the tree of life), the same symbolism as in Evenki shaman tent. Now Christian cross (the Tree of Life) usually substitutes the living tree at the east;



Photo 06 - Khanty graves with metallic boat for river journey;


Photos 07-08 - Khanty grave: veneration of Russian gods - fallen Orthodox cross with wooden communist star at the top of the cross;



Photos 09-12 - Sel'kup Christian graves with "communication holes", normally the hole in the wooden "dead human's house" for contacts with other world is closed by special wooden stopper ("cork"), it can be opened when communication is needed and then closed again. Khanty make "communication hole" differently - on the side of the "house" and close it with "cork" and three planks.





Photos 13-15 - Forest Nenets graves with "communication bells", normally Nenets don't make crosses but always hang bell above every grave - for communication with different worlds Nenets ring bells.

1) Male Forest Nenets grave is traditionally equipped with the bell and the chain (chain also rings well)

2) Female Forest Nenets grave is traditionally equipped with the teapot and the chain (tea drinking is very important for all Native Siberians)





Do they sacrifice reindeer at the grave? - yes, they do: Nenets more often than Khantys and Sel'kups. Nenets, Khantys and Sel'kups give reindeer and sledge to dead human, sometimes - boat. Sledge - Western Siberians can't saddle and ride on reindeer's back - only Evenkis do that, Evenki reindeer are biggest and strongest in Siberia, for example not very big Evenki reindeer could easily carry me. Unfortunately Evenki reindeer are dying out fast because of industrial pollution and human crime.

[Ed. Note] When Christianity came to these cultures, it should have ended their 'need' to sacrifice any animal, since Jesus Christ was the final sacrifice.

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