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20. World And Orientation

The observation of the stars, planets, sun and moon leads the Tungus to the idea of the structure of the world. These ideas amongst the Tungus are subject to great variations because of the intrusion of alien complexes. What was their own conception, I believe, it is now impossible to say.

We have already seen that the earth is considered as a flat solid body, of very large size. The idea that the earth approaches the round form is unknown to the Tungus if we omit the case of the Tungus who receive their education in Russian and Chinese schools.

Amongst the Tungus of Transbaikalia including the Mankova Tungus the most common conception of structure is that the universe, which is called turu, consists of three parts — the upper world — uyidunda, the middle world — dunda, which consists of the solid earth jorko [113], and the sea — lamu in the middle of which is the solid earth jorko; at least, the lower world — orgidunda. The names are interesting. The name for «universe» turu, and tiru in some dialects, is used in the sense of «soil» «earth», so we have tur (Kurn. Bir. Khin.), tor (Oxotsk.), tui (Neg Sch where r —> i). It is very likely that turu in the sense of universe is of secondary origin, the original being «the earth-soil». The meaning of the word dunda does not seem to be of Tungus origin, but it looks a Buriat conception of the world [114]. As a matter of fact this meaning has rather limited geographical distribution amongst the Tungus. The additions uyi and orgi have a very definite meaning «upper» and «lower». So these «three worlds» are reflecting the Lamaistic system. If the Tungus are pressed with additional questions they give explanations of minor subdivisions of the upper and lower worlds. This conception finds new support from Christianity.

The system of the world among the Tungus of Manchuria in the main lines is the same as that of the Tungus of Transbaikalia. There are three worlds the names of which reflect directions, e. g. uyillan (Bir. Kum.), — «upwards», and the idea of human life, e.g. buni (Bir. Khin. Kurn.), — «the world of dead people». The Manchus are seemingly responsible for this system. Among the Tungus of Transbaikalia there is also a system of worlds of «living» and «dead» people.

These systems seem to overlie an older system in which the universe was called buya. The same term is used in the sense of «locality» and even «mile»; buya is used for resignation of the highest spirit [also «weather» and «sky» (Neg. Sch.) which will be discussed later]. It is impossible to assert whether we have here the same original conception or several conceptions and fusing of different «meanings» owing to the similarity of the starters. In the Tungus dialects buya is subject to variations and in some dialects it has been reduced (or preserved) to particular meanings, e.g. we have in Manchu the contracted form ba [of. boa (Goldi), bua (Bir.)] used only in the sense of «locality», «place». I believe it is now impossible to restore the old complex.

The original system of orientation in so far as it may be restored from the analysis of the terms of orientation amongst the Tungus [115] is not connected with their ideas as to the structure of the world, but it is based upon the orientation with regard to the local course of rivers and position of the mountains in reference to the sun. So that if we do not connect in our minds their orientation with regard to the sun with our own system of orientation, their system will appear as pure and simple local orientation. In fact, the «South» and «North» are. recognized and called: the southern slope — ant(a) — of the mountain which is characteristically distinct from the point of view of vegetation and insolation (an essential condition for the Tungus), when compared with the northern slope — boso — of the same mountain. These two terms have no other meanings.

The travellers amongst the Tungus and investigators have recorded a great number of terms of orientation with regard to «West» and «East». The analysis of these terms brings us to the conclusion that they are only designations of the courses of the rivers, usual directions of migrations, well known geographical places, e.g. Lake Baikal, the sea and great rivers, e.g. the Lena, the Amur. This system of orientation might suffice for small local groups of which the Tungus originally consisted. For practical orientation they would use indication of the locality, position of the sun and at night, position of the Polar Star. In fact, there are terms for both «West» and «East» — soloki and ajaki, — which in different groups are used in opposing senses and mean: the upper course and the lower course of the rivers or more literally, — upwards and downwards, against or with the river current. There are terms like bargila — «the opposite side of the river», — also names of local winds, etc. However, soloki, ajaki, bargila, etc. may also be locally used in the sense of «North», and «South» as well. The case of the Tungus is not an isolated one. The same system is observed among the Lolos who have their orientation according to the course of a river [116]. Theoretically, the same system may be expected to be found amongst other ethnical groups in Asia and elsewhere. The difficulty of its discovery consists chiefly in the investigator's attitude who «translates» from and into his own language.

The old Tungus system has been covered by other systems of orientation. So we may distinguish at least two systems, namely, the orientation with relation to the East, viz. when the speaker faces the East and finds on his left the North and on his right the South. Such a system existed among the ancestors of the Manchus, — the Nuichen. Whether this system was their original invention or borrowed from their southern and western neighbours is not important for us. The early Mongols, according to the supposition of W. L. Kotwicz [117], also had the orientation with relation to the East and the groups of Middle and East Asia, like the Uigurs, and Kithans, had their orientation with regard to the East [118]. The recognition of the mode of orientation (points of orientation) in most of cases may be based only on the analysis of the terms, for we have no direct evidence regarding theories. This system of orientation is often found amongst some Northern Tungus groups which term the East «front», «in front», «frontwards» etc. It may be found in amalgamation with the old system of terms of local orientation. As the basis of this system amongst the Tungus is taken the movement of the sun which «rises» and «falls» when the meridian is passed (the midday). The same idea, i.e. orientation according to the movement of the sun seems to be found in the Buriat system. This is a new conception of orientation according to the Tungus koklon {vide supra). The second system which covers the original one and the above discussed is orientation in which the principal point is «South». It spread amongst the ancestors of the Manchus and Mongols and at least reached the Tungus who borrowed it together with the Manchu and Mongol terminology. Perhaps there existed other orientations as well, but in so far as I can see no traces can be surely established [119].

The orientation with relation to the East is particularly interesting because it is connected with the theory of the three worlds which as stated above, is also connected with the spreading of Buddhism (Lamaism) also adapted by some Tungus groups. Let us point out that the orientation with regard to the East is that which prevails; in India and regions being under a strong Indian influence. It must not be inferred that the whole complex of Buddhism (even in the form of Lamaism) has influenced these groups, but it is much safer to consider the incorporation of the orientation with relation to the East as one of elements which might be useful for the ethnical units which began to spread their influence over small ethnical groups living within restricted regions. In other words, the complex of the three worlds and the orientation with regard to the East must not be regarded as a complex which as a whole penetrated among the Tungus; the system probably penetrated element by element, one after another, as is usually observed in the spreading of complexes.

113. I do not venture to give the etymology of this word.

114. Dunda in the sense of «earth» is met with chiefly in western groups of dialects e.g. Barg. Ner. Ang. and only rarely used in the sense of «earth-ground» (Enissy) (missionaries).

115. Vide my study: Northern Tungus terms of orientation.

116. cf. A. F. Legendre, T'oung Pao, Series II. Vol. X, p. 605.

117. cf. W. L. Kotwicz, Sur la mode d'orientation en Asie Centrale, R. O. Vol. V, pp. 68-91.

118. The two different things must not be confounded, namely the orientation of habitations and that of the points of orientation. The dwellings can be oriented according to the local conditions, e.g. topography, winds, etc. while the points of orientation chiefly have their importance for migrations and location of neighbours and regions of interest. So I maintain my opinion as to the orientation amongst the Manchu in spite of considerations brought forth by W. L. Kotwicz (cf. op. cit. p. 82.).

119. As to the details of terms vide my study Northern Tungus terms of orientation.

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