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

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2019 Volume XXV

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2019.25.687-692

УДК 398.4

Mythological Characters in the Study of Ethnic and Cultural Identity of the Local Groups of Eastern Slavs in Western Siberia

Golubkova O.V.

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The article presents the results of interdisciplinary linguistic and ethnographic study into the mythological characters of domovoy, kikimora, leshiy, and rusalka among the Eastern Slavic population of Western Siberia. Based on ethnographic field materials, regional distinctiveness of popular beliefs associated with these characters as well as typical beliefs related to them among the contemporary urban and rural residents have been established. Reflection of the best known characters of lower Slavic demonology in the vocabulary and linguistic picture of the world has been considered. Domovoy is well known to urban and rural residents, and their beliefs about him mostly correspond to traditional beliefs, while local and regional differences are associated with the name of that home spirit. The perception of kikimom has significantly changed. In the contemporary vocabulary, the word “kikimora” is used as a derogatory name for an untidy and mean woman; kikimora is no longer perceived as a mythological character. Beliefs about kikimora as a home spirit surface very rarely. Beliefs associated with leshiy are well known and widespread. Local ethic specific features of oral prose tales about children abducted by forest spirits have been identified. Clear regional distinctiveness of beliefs concerning rusalkas among various groups of Russians, Ukrainians, and Byelorussians in Western Siberia are associated with the beliefs of “ancestral” places of Siberian migrants. Continuity of traditional culture among rural residents contributed to preservation of popular beliefs typical for specific region. Beliefs about mythological characters have become greatly simplified among Russian old-timers; many beliefs have already been forgotten. Conversely, the Siberian “new settlers” -migrants from the southern provinces of the Russian Empire, Ukraine, and Byelorussia - have preserved and broadcasted vivid emotional stories with detailed descriptions of the characters and related events. Thus, the imagery of key Eastern Slavic mythological characters in worldview, folklore, and vocabulary can be considered as one of the tools for establishing the ethnic and cultural identity of the local groups.


mythology, domovoy, kikimora, leshiy, rusalka, popular beliefs, ethnic and cultural identity

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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