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13. Animus

Before the Tungus, as before any ethnical group which observes the milieu, there arises the problem of the matter with its aspects in time and changes, and human reactions on it. The fundamental idea of the Tungus, including the Manchus, is that matter in so far as, it may be perceived in certain forms distinguished by them, consists of two elements: the material substance and the immaterial substance; for convenience I shall call them matter and animus.

Every thing which may be touched and felt, seen, heard, and smelled as a physical body is matter. So a stone, wood, or a piece of skin etc. are simply «matter». They may be distinct and classified as such. The Tungus language, in so far as I know, possesses no general term for it, and designates «matter» by specified terms: «stone», «wood», «iron», «akin». The further classification of the various forma of the matter is based upon their practical utility, e.g.jolo — «stone» - may be used in referring to any mineral, not possessing characteristics of any pure and composite metal, as iron and brass, and being in the solid state, not reduced to powder or solution. However, the stone reduced to powder is recognized to be «the stone reduced to powder». The rocks are built up of stone. If the stone has some particular application, e. g. for painting — davik, davuk or daviksa (of several dialects) — the «ochre»; as medicine jolo amun'in (Ner.) — the stone «purgative», — it will have a proper name (davik) or with specification (amun 'in, from amun — to evacuate.) If the stone is considered as a characteristic feature of river deposit — the «pebble» — it will have a special term, e. g. ingga, enga, inga (in various dialects), but it may also be called joio (biran'i joio — the river pebble). Thus jolo is «stone-matter», and «stone».

The same may be seen in the conception of «wood» mo. The wood may be specified as we have seen in the case of «stone». However, it is different with the metals which are known to the Tungus from other and different ethnical groups and are called by different names: «iron», «brass», «copper», «silver», «gold» etc. which show no uniformity amongst different groups and in most cases they may be traced back to their linguistical source. As far as I know there is no term for «metal» (common language) but it does not mean that the Tungus have no such a conception. When a Tungus wants to designate «metal» he would distinguish it from other and different forma of matter by negative definition; it is not «stone», nor «wood» , nor «meat» etc. and he would be surprised if one should not under-stand that there is something in common in all metals which has no general name. Let us remark that the Tungus did not yet need to have such a general term, but the notion of «metal» does exist.

Now it will be clear that the Tungus may have no term for «matter» but they do possess such a notion.

Let us now suppose we have a wooden stick, about 110 centimetres long, ornamented and with a handle, used as a special instrument by women for maintaining their equilibrium when riding reindeer back, called tijavun. It may even now be replaced by a simple piece of wood with a natural handle. An long as it preserves its integrity, is not broken, it may be used as tijavun and so called. However, when it is broken into two pieces it is no more tijavun, but — two pieces of wood (mo), it is «broken tijavun» . The tijavun loses something which is proper to it and becomes simple matter — «wood matter». This «something» is the immaterial substance which is liberated when the piece is broken. This is the animus.

The evidence of the existence of the «animus» is seen in Tungus practice, at least among some groups, of breaking the articles placed in the coffin with the corpse. Their idea is that the matter will not follow the animus of the dead, but the immaterial substance will follow the immaterial substance of the dead, and in this way the dead will have everything he needs. The liberation of the animus may be attained by leaving wooden and other perishable materials to decompose. As will be later seen the Tungus do not accept this conception without criticism. There are some Tungus who would doubt in some cases whether animus is present or lacking; for instance, naturally formed phenomenon, the pebble, which when broken may be regarded by some Tungus as «stone» while by the others as «a broken pebble». The same question arises with the broken tijavun, which after repairing may be again used as tijavun. The controversy amongst the Tungus originates but usually it is left without further considering the question. So that the conception of animus is subject to variations among the groups and individuals which form the groups. Indeed, such deviations in opinion are conditioned by the conception itself and flexibility of Tungus mind, as well as by tolerance characteristic of the Tungus.

The conception of «animus» has no special term, just as «matter», for the Tungus does not need one. In fact, the process is like this: a wooden piece made with definite purpose is called by a certain name (sounding starter) which produces a certain process of conditioned reflexes; when the piece is broken it cannot be defined by the same name, while potentially, as a complex of conditioned reflexes, does exist.

It may be compared with the «idea». However, this identification is not complete for the Tungus suppose that the continuity of the existence of «animus» is not interrupted and it has certain «reality», when we look closer at their conception, even a material reality. Perhaps, the Tungus point of view may be compared with that of European dualistic complex which opposes the «matter» to the «spirit». However, as shown there are some essential differences too. So I do not intend to identify these conceptions and still less do I intend to bring the Tungus conception into a diffusional dependence on the European complex. We do not need this hypothesis, for the conception seems to be very old, older than the existing ethnical units, bearers of the European ethnographical complex.

It is very likely that a more careful investigation amongst the other ethnical groups, not only in Asia, but in other continents as well, will show great similarity in this fundamental conception, which results from the fact that the existing milieu is conceived through the psychomental complex and the «animus» actually is the perceived cognition of the elements forming the milieu. The further complications and «explanations» of the fundamental conception are responsible for the varieties of the philosophical conceptions observed among different groups, because the psychomental complexes are different and approach one another in spite of their varieties, the fundamental conception being the same.

From this broad point of view the Tungus philosophical conception may be called «animism», but this term loses its value for such an «animism» is characteristic of almost all ethnical groups including the European groups. It may also be noted that this Tungus conception has sometimes been mistaken by the investigators for the idea of spirits. As will be later seen the animus and spirit are different conceptions. The source of misunderstanding is that the Tungus when they speak to foreigners use Russian terms dux, dusha («spirit», «soul» etc.) having no term animus in their own language. However, I have many a time experimented to find out the Tungus and alien reactions. The result always was the same if my experiment was correctly arranged. In the cases when I intentionally used the method of checking through the wrong identification of «spirit-soul» and animus, the Tungus smiled at my naivety and tried to explain to me the difference between them. When an investigator does not speak the language of the people investigated, the Tungus leave him alone with his erroneous identification, for they are not able to explain the matter in terms of an alien (e. g. Russian) complex. The same would happen in case the investigator, even speaking their language, should approach Tungus with his own ready made conceptions. In their eyes it would be hopeless to explain to him the Tungus idea of animus as it would be hopeless in the case of explaining to an European farmer the idea of totemism, logos, tao etc. So it is not surprising that the ethnographical descriptions abound in the most extraordinary absurdities ascribed to the ethnical units which possess non-European complexes.

In this short section I have thus shown that the Tungus possess abstract conceptions for which they have sometimes no corresponding terms. The lack of terms cannot be treated as indication of a lack of conceptions. We have also found that the Tungus recognize existence of matter and animus the latter being independent of the matter. The animus cannot be identified with the idea, nor spirit.

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