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

ISSN 2658-6193 (Online)

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2020 Volume XXVI

DOI: 10.17746/2658-6193.2020.26.723-729

УДК 398’54

The Hare in Traditional Beliefs and Rituals of the Buryats

Badmaev А.А.

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The image of the hare is one of the most important and common cultural symbols in Eurasia. In Buryat ethnography, this zoomorphic image has still remained understudied. This article intends to establish the role of the hare by analyzing traditional beliefs and rituals of the Buryats, using linguistic, folklore, and ethnographic evidence and following the structural-semiotic method for identifying the symbolism of this animal. It has been discovered that mythological views of the Buryats reveal polysemantic image of the hare with ambivalent connotations. Hares were endowed with cosmogonic, solar-lunar, celestial, meteorological, and fire symbolism, and were a symbol of Earth renewal. Hares were associated with shapeshifting, motives of the soul, and crossing the path. In Buryat folklore, hares personified cowardice and were associated with the masculine principle. It has been established that this animal was considered to be a mediator between the worlds and in that capacity it was a part of shamanic rituals. The semantics of the hare fetish has undergone a transformation from the role of the patron of hunters and warriors to the protective amulet of infants. In shamanic rituals, the image of this animal was endowed with special sacred powers: people revered the hare as a generic totem of shamans and recognized its primacy among the zoomorphic images of shaman’s spirit-assistants. It was believed that the hare could perform shamanic rituals and was perceived as a transport of the shaman to other worlds. It has been demonstrated that the Buryat mythological beliefs about the hare manifest some parallels in the worldview of other peoples of Eurasia (the Mongols, Southern Siberian Turkic peoples, and Russians), which indicates the universal and typological nature of the phenomenon in the Buryat set of beliefs related to this animal.


Buryats, traditional worldview, hare, folklore, rituals

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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