«BULLETIN OF THE IRKUTSK STATE UNIVERSITY. GEOARCHAEOLOGY, ETHNOLOGY, AND ANTHROPOLOGY SERIES»
ISSN 2227-2380 (Print)

List of issues > «Geoarchaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology Series». 2018. Vol. 26

Mother’s Cult in the Social-Forming System of Kinship among the Buryats

Author(s)
D. A. Nikolaeva
Abstract

Analysis of kinship terminology in the system of social-forming elements among the Buryats (such as genus, family, relatives, and heredity) revealed traces of the archaic Mother’s cult. The cult of the mother influenced the formation of the structure of society. Its relevance is confirmed by the developed system of kinship terminology including the different terms, which define: 1) the relationship of the Buryat tribes according to maternal lines, when the children call all women «mother» and all men «father»; 2) kinship through a common mother, when the female and male descendants belonged to the families of their mothers; 3) names of several Buryat tribes from their progenitor; 4) succession law on the status of a person, when the mother-progenitor performed the priestly functions associated with fire and sun. With the spread of patrilocal relations among Buryats, the kinship terminology is strictly divided according to paternal and maternal lines. In the kinship terms according to male lines mainly such concepts are indicated as “father”, “father’s children”, “father’s grandchildren”, “father's relatives”, while in kinship terms according to female line there are indications of their relationship to calendar and wedding ceremonies in honor of fertility and female tribal deities. The cult of the mother also determined the content of the structure of society. The relevance of kinship through mother and importance of maternal right is confirmed by the existence of a special status of “brother by mother”, who performed the functions of the kin’s patron. The cross-cousin marriage when the bride was taken only from the maternal parentage also proves the idea about the mother's influence on the formation of man and society. And finally, the concept of genetic heritage was associated with maternal influence. As we can see, the Mother’s cult is a key foundation in the formation of vital elements in the Buryat society: its external structures, linguistic definition and internal content. The results of our study indicate the ambiguity of genetic and cultural processes, in the light of which our ideas about the historical and ethno-cultural heritage of society are expanding. This is important both for the history of the Buryats and for preserving the memory of their original culture.

About the Authors

Nikolaeva Darima Anatolievna, Doctor of Sciences (History), Professor, Department of Ethnology and Folk art Culture, East-Siberian State Institute of Culture; 1, Tereshkova st., Ulan-Ude, 670031, Russian Federation, e-mail: darimn@rambler.ru

For citation

Nikolaeva D. A. Mother’s Cult in the Socio-Forming System of Kinship Among the Buryats. Bulletin of the Irkutsk State University. Geoarchaeology, Ethnology, and Anthropology Series. 2018, Vol. 26, pp. 125–133. https://doi.org/10.26516/2227-2380.2018.26.125 (in Russ.)

Keywords
Socio-forming system, Mother’s cult, female deity, terms of kinship, kinship by the mother, heredity
UDC
392.313 (=512.31)
DOI
https://doi.org/10.26516/2227-2380.2018.26.125
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