Problems of Archaeology, Ethnography, Anthropology of
Siberia and Neighboring Territories

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2019 Volume XXV

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2019.25.672-675

УДК 39:34

Images of Spider and Worm in the Worldview of the Buryats

Badmaev А.А.

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Vivid zoomorphic images in the traditional worldview of different peoples of Europe and Asia include the images of spider and worm. These representatives of fauna have not yet been studied using the Buryat evidence. This article identifies and compares traditional beliefs of the Buryats associated with these animals using folklore and lexical information, including the works of various genres of Buryat folklore and ethnographic field materials. The structural-semiotic method used in the study has made it possible to select the symbols associated with spider and worm. In Buryat traditional worldview, they were endowed with ambivalent features. The common elements in their imagery were associated with enemy, disease, and demonic principle, as well as shapeshifting of evil forces. Differences in their images have been established. The boundaries of the category of worm, “khorkhoi” in the traditional worldview of the Buryats were blurry. Worm in the Buryat beliefs had a chthonic origin, symbolized some human vices (voluptuousness, greed) and physical infirmity, and was likened to livestock. Spider was considered to be a mediator between the worlds (Upper and Middle); it was treated with respect which might have been associated with its perceived “kinship” with the humans. The study has shown that a number of traditional beliefs of the Buryats related to spider and worm manifest some parallels with beliefs of the Turkic-Mongolian peoples (particularly, the Kalmyks), which proves the existence of close ethnic and cultural contacts between their ancestors in the past.


Buryats, traditional worldview, zoomorphic images, worm, spider, folklore

Chief Editor
Academician A.P. Derevyanko

Deputy Chief Editor
Academician V.I. Molodin

17, Аkademika Lavrentieva prosp., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

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