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31. Cognition Of The Social Organization

The systems of social organization among the Northern Tungus and Manchus have been described and analysed in two monographs previously published. In these two studies I have shown that amongst the groups here treated there are great varieties of the forms of social organization based upon two variable institutions, namely, the clan in the sense of the exogamic unit and the family. Yet, it has been shown how these forms are adapted to the other elements of the Tungus cultural complexes, and to the needs of self-reproduction of the Tungus groups. The elements of which the complex of the social organization is built up may be of various origin in the sense of their pre-existence amongst other and distinct groups.

The attitude of the Tungus groups towards their social organization is neither simple nor uniform. The social organization, which naturally existed amongst the Tungus and their ancestors longer than any other cultural complex [205], was based upon the distinction of social position of the individuals as in any other ethnical group [206]. The latter was connected with the bearers of certain classificatory terms of relationship. So the Tungus naturally had their social organization functioning in so far as the differences of relationship, — terms and the rights and obligations connected with them - were understood. However, the fact of the existence of the social organization did not reach the Tungus mind, and thus they did not need to explain it. Such was the situation as long as the existing organization, as a whole, remained untouched and unchanged. When it began to change in a noticeable manner, attention was attracted to it. Such a change occurred under the influence of a slowly changing system of rights and obligations connected with the bearers of classificatory terms of relationship and also under the pressure of other ethnical groups which compelled the Tungus to change their organization not from the bottom but from the top.

When a Tungus used a certain term of relationship in his mind the terms, rights and obligations were the same; e.g. gusin is the mother's brother and as such he is in a certain relationship to the speaker (ego), or he who was in such a relation to the speaker that was gusin. Owing to this the man conventionally called gusin, even without being physically the mother's brother, eo ipso appropriates all the rights and obligations. Therefore the persons who are not bound by the relations of their respective origin when named by certain terms, assume a certain social (relationship) position corresponding to the names, so the children of the widowers belonging to different clans cannot intermarry when their parents are again re-married; the persons; who are bound by the relationship of aki-noku and belonging to different clans (seemingly a recent practice) cannot intermarry their children, and so on. Indeed, the relation at one time was based upon the actual relation which existed between man or woman and their parents, also other persons from the point of view of their physical connections of origin. This does not presume that all the terms met with in the original Tungus system have originated from the blood relationship, but there is no doubt that at a certain moment this point of view was prevalent. Later on together with the formation of the complex of social organization, i.e. the fixed relations between the persons forming the unit, the relation began to be understood as an element of the complex which existed by itself and independent of the actual relation. This may still be observed in the Tungus language in its secondary manifestations. So the Barguzin and Nercinsk Tungus for designation of the mother's husband who is not the speaker's father use the term amiran — i.e. ami (father) + ran (instead of) (SONT p. 182), while amongst the Tungus of Manchuria there is now in use simply ami, and even ama (the grandfather, as a term of honour) [207]. In the last case the present meaning is that of a social relation based upon the idea of observation of the relations. There is only one step to be taken to introduce the practice of general abstraction of the formal relations, — and this will be the present system found amongst the Tungus of Manchuria. Such a state of things is not a primitive state and it does not reflect the original Tungus attitude in this matter. As will be later shown, the process of disintegration of the older forms is responsible for the change of the Tungus attitude.

The Tungus did not understand the fact of existence of the clan which was, in their eyes, merely a group of persons connected by a certain complex of rights and obligations, bearers of terms, and they could not intermarry. In this way they were connected with the previous generations, whence came the idea of continuity and theoretical inference: The original founder of the group must have been a man, an earlier ancestor [208]. One of the reasons is that the clans now included in the same ethnical units were numerous and it is likely that the tendency was to include only two intermarrying clans which were distinguished by the proper names. It is not surprising that amongst the Northern Tungus we find no Tungus term for such a fundamental unit, as «clan» is in the Tungus social organization. I have analysed this situation amongst the Tungus and found that they had to adapt some terms of alien origin either at the moment of change of the social organization, with the transition from the matrilineal system to the patrilineal system or even perhaps under pressure of their powerful neighbours. In fact, many Tungus groups as for instance the Tungus of the Barguzin and Nerchinsk taiga, and the Enissy Tungus say that before they had no clan organization and the latter was established by the Russians, they lived as «wild animals» bojuja. The same idea is characteristic of the Tungus of Manchuria, e.g. the Birarchen who assert that they were first organized by the Manchus in the seventeenth (or even eighteenth) century. These Tungus ideas as to the origin of their organization my be understood either as a confounding of the administrative organization, which actually was the aim of the Russians and Manchus, with the clan organization, or as a simple naming and clear perception of the phenomenon of clan organization as a unit until that moment not understood and not noticed. In this respect the Manchus give an exactly opposite picture, for they all the time, perhaps beginning from the sixteenth century, changed the term for the exogamic unit «clan» which was subsequently designated as alman, xala, gargan, at last mokun. This might be due, as I have shown, to the fact that the Manchus already had written records and intensively migrated and multiplied in connection with their particular interethnical position. Yet, the Chinese cultural complex had also its influence in the sense of association of the exogamy, as a legal institution, with the clan names (s'in) very often violated owing to the spreading of the bearers of clan names and their disassociation. So that amongst the Manchus the idea of «clan» as a social institution was clearly understood and used as a basis for their administrative and partly military system. Amongst the Northern Tungus of Siberia the situation shows a different aspect, — the «establishment of the clans» was associated with the establishment of the administrative units, so that together with the disintegration of the clan organization and preservation of the administrative units the term clan borrowed from the various groups was referred to the administrative units only.

We have just seen that the phenomenon of social organization in its form of the clan was not noticed and understood. This case is not isolated in the Tungus psychomental complex and it is not characteristic of the Tungus only. In fact, when the process of changes proceeds at a very slow tempo the living generations do not perceive it for the changes are so insignificant that there is nothing to be compared, and thus perceived as a change. The attention of the unit is not attracted to the phenomena which remain so to say beyond the consciousness, as grammar is lacking in the consciousness of illiterate people. When the change is going rapidly it may be noticed and the phenomenon is perceived. In this way understanding of the existence of the social institutions depends on the tempo of their changes, variations.

Amongst the Tungus we have thus different attitudes towards the existing institutions. Questions as to the origin and reasons for some institutions are not asked; these things are taken for granted and even not perfectly perceived. If they are designated, named and understood, with the help of alien terms, their origin and establishment may be referred to the alien groups as it is with the «clan» amongst the Tungus of Manchuria which is connected with the Manchus. Yet, the reasons that are given in explanation of existence, may be different. So it may be explained as an institution imposed by powerful neighbours (Manchus, Russians, Buriats) or it may be explained as one which has always existed and beyond human control. In this case there actually is no explanation for the fact is accepted, taken for granted. Therefore, the interference of higher spirits in the life of the clan is rarely met with amongst the Tungus. This is true among the Tungus of Manchuria (Birarchen and Kumarchen and whether or not this is true among the Khingan group, I cannot say) so that they make appeal to the spirit of world -buya — (vide infra) only in the case of the clan division.

The FAMILY is found to be nearly in the same position. Although the family exists amongst all Tungus groups it is not actually named. However, what is named is not the family but the complex wigwam-economic unit. Owing to this in Tungus the term for «family» in the sense of social-biological-economic unit seems to be borrowed from different neighbouring groups, and perhaps especially from the Chinese. The Tungus formed their idea of the family from the fact of this unit living in the wigwam, which is also perceived in its economic functions, also from the fact of the biological function of the family, namely, reproduction of the species. These two aspects of the family come to the Tungus mind when the family is observed. However, the family as a social unit has escaped their attention altogether. So it is natural that the Tungus believe that before their going under Manchu, Mongol and Russian influence, they had no family as a social institution and lived as wild animals. In fact, we have already seen that in the Tungus mind the animals may have family for self-reproduction, as for instance the bears, and thus the family in a biological sense is not a particularly human institution. With the intrusion of alien ideas and influences the existence of the family as a social institution was perceived, named with alien terms, and thus understood.

The organization of the family amongst the Tungus is based upon the economic efficiency of the unit which must contain at least a person supplying skins, and meat, and another person who makes the skins and looks after the household. As a matter of fact such relations may be established between the persons who might not be husband and wife. However, the Tungus recognize that the real family must consist of the male and female who may be potentially able to reproduce the unit, i.e. might have children, for there is no other place for rearing children except the family. The relations within the family, as it is with the clan, are recognized by the terms of kinship. So that since there is a father, mother, the sons and daughters, who need not be connected by the actual relations of husband and wife, progenitors and progeny, — the family exists. The adoption of children is based upon this mechanism of perception of the family as a biological and economic unit.

Since the clan and family as social units of the Tungus are not understood as such, the whole complex of relations which exists between these institutions must be regulated by a system of relations which are not understood as social relations, but which are understood both as economic and as biological. The first are seen in the clan intervention in the life of the family when the latter shows inefficiency; the second, in the clan control of marital relations of the family members. Owing to this no conflict exists between these two distinct units. Such a smooth functioning of these two units may produce on the travellers an impression of the human relations which may exist only as an ideal norm: they are perfect from the point of view of adjustment. It is not so actually, at least amongst the Tungus who merely do not perceive these units as distinct social institutions and groups of people who are conscious of the existence of such distinct groups. From this point of view one cannot speak of actual adjustment as an act of consciousness and will. So peace between the clan and family reigns not because of an ideal adjustment but because of the lack of these relations in the psychomental complex of the Tungus.

The situation entirely changes when these units are understood by the Tungus as distinct social groupings, i.e. as the family which is opposed to the clan. This is the case of the Tungus who may have a strong organization of the clan as well as of the family, clearly distinguished by the names, but the conflict would be frequent and strong, sometimes resulting in the separation of the family from the clan. In such position are found the Birarchen and the Kumarchen. This process usually coincides with the disintegration of the clan organization, which as a matter of fact on Tungus soil is only a different aspect of the process of self-determination of the family as a unit. The ideas borrowed from alien groups in this case have very great importance as a pattern which may be imitated.

* * *

The institution of EXOGAMY is not understood in its function and it is accepted as a condition taken for granted. Indeed, without exogamy, the existence of the clan is impossible. The Tungus who do not perceive the clan as a social institution do not naturally understand exogamy as connected with the clan, but as a prohibition of intermarriage between the bearers of certain classificatory relationship terms (names). Therefore the existence of the clan is possible even when the name of the clan does not exist; so it is e.g. amongst the Manchus where mokun as a rule does not possess its own names and it is opposite amongst the Tungus who may have exogamy confined to the small units which preserve their original names by the side of the new ones. Yet, the exogamy may survive still longer even after the dissolution of the former units. It is likely that it would take, in this case, the form justified by the imitation of alien groups, e.g. the Russians.

The Tungus ask themselves no question as to the existence of the MARRIAGE as an institution. They accept it as a matter of fact which must not be transgressed. The reasons of non-violation may be different, e.g. they would make reference to the tradition which is accepted as practically verified, or they may refer to the intervention of the spirits in the case of transgression. Marriage for them consists of the complex of customs and acts which must be performed in a certain sequence and which under the pressure of circumstances and alien influences may be modified. The lack of some elements may annul the validity of the customs and acts performed. Owing to this, marriage as a whole is not named [209]. As a whole, it is designated by a descriptive expression, namely asiva gadan. i.e. the woman (wife) (he) takes, but the person who takes may be either the marrying person or his relatives who «take» her for him. In case the bridegroom joins his wife's parents they would say kurakanma gadan, i.e. the son-in-law he or they take, the persons who take may be senior relatives or the parents of the woman. However, the customs and acts are named, and many of them are designated by terms borrowed from the alien groups. Under the pressure of alien groups the Tungus may accept some innovations which would not change anything in their cognition of the marriage. For instance, the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria are supposed to be baptized and to be Christians and are required to celebrate their marriages in the Russian churches. Since the legal minimum age of the bride is eighteen, the Tungus bring the couples, married sometimes several years before, according to the Tungus complex of customs and acts, to the church for legalizing the marriage in the eyes of Russian authorities. So this act now becomes a necessary component of the complex of marriage [210].

The analysis of the elements of which the complex of marriage consists shows that all of them may be explained by the Tungus with elementary reasons. The taking of a woman into the family as wife of a young son would be understood and explained as an act aiming to get a working woman in the family. The limitations as to the choice and preferences again would be explained either by the need of maintaining good relations with another clan which supplies the women, or by the lack of women in other clans except one of them, or even by a simple reference to the impossibility of violation of an old custom, which would be opposed by the seniors. The carrying out of the ceremony of wedding which consists of different elements would be explained as a desire of the clan and members of the families involved to have an occasion of having unusually good food, and remain on good terms with the other clans and persons. The sacrifice made by the bride would be explained as a preventive measure for avoiding a hostile attitude of the family spirits towards the new member of the family. The act of prima nox preceding the day of the wedding ceremony would be explained as no objection against the love pleasure at the moment of a near celebration of the wedding. In this way all the acts are «rationalized» and then they receive recognition as acts worthy of being done. So they may not exist in the Tungus mind as a whole, as a complex, which we designate here as marriage. When the rationalization» becomes impossible the element may be dropped altogether, or be replaced by some newly introduced and «rationalized» practises. Indeed, the empoverishing of the complex may lead to its disappearance which will not be perhaps noticed at all. Again in the case if alien groups interfere with this institution and a sudden change of the whole complex takes place and in the case of mixed marriages with other ethnical groups, the complex may be understood as a whole, and it may receive recognition and name. In this position are found those Tungus groups which have recently changed their complex, as for instance the Nomad Tungus who have adopted the Mongol (Buriat) complex, also perhaps, if not totally then partially, the Tungus of Manchuria.

The complex of the customs and practices concerning the RIGHT of property, inheritance, also judicial functions of the clans, the rights of the seniors and juniors, and generally all particular forms of right as it has been shown, are accepted by the Tungus either by tradition as institutions existing among the previous generations and thus imitated together with their rationalization, or they are accepted as imposed by the authorities of alien groups. Yet, there are some regulations which are implied by the new conditions of life and introduced into the existing practices on the same basis as any other customs, i.e. by practice and establishment of a tradition. The Tungus mind would be satisfied with a simple reference: «Such is the custom.» As a rule the Tungus do not appeal to the authority of the spirits, although such an occurrence is possible when there is no other way of rationalization [211].

The existing relations between the members of a clan are regulated and there is no question amongst the Tungus as to the nature of these regulations, — they are not explained and very often, if not usually, connected with the positions of the members in the system of relationship. More than this, the rights and obligations in the Tungus mind cannot be separated from the name by which the person is designated in the system of the clan organization. The inequality in the Tungus organization depends upon the inequality of age and origin fixed in the terms of relationship. Usually the age and the social position correspond one to another for which there are special reasons [212], but in rare cases it may happen that socially the person younger in age is senior, and this will result in an adjustment, both conditions being considered by the Tungus. They would not break down observation of formalities designating the inequality of persons [213]. The woman's position greatly differs from that of man and the woman is prohibited in many respects. There are different reasons for these prohibitions. The limitation of her movements in the wigwam which is erected by her and where she is living, is conditioned by the theoretical considerations regarding the spirits, while some other prohibitions and avoidances, as for instance that connected with her economic and physiological activities, are based upon the physical and psychic differences which exist between the sexes amongst the Tungus. Although she is bound by these regulations she does not occupy a position subordinate to her husband. The Tungus have no idea of «equality» or «inequality» between the sexes. The men are also bound by a complex of prohibitions and avoidance customs, and in the case of senior-junior relations they must obey the women as they obey the men. In family the men. In family life the direction of affairs belongs to the one who is able to direct, either man or woman. However, owing to the peculiarities of the woman's functions (physiological and psychological) the chance of her becoming the chief of the family is smaller than that of the male. These differences in the position of the men and women are not fixed by any conception of «right» which may exist independently of the concrete cases of particular relations and may influence the establishment of relations. Naturally such a situation may exist only on the condition of its recognition on the part of both men and women.

In respect to the transgressors of the existing customs the Tungus recognize an absolute right of the clan to punish the CRIMINAL by any means at hand, including capital punishment. Naturally such a decision may be taken by the clan only on the condition of recognition of the clan authority, for individually any criminal may runaway and leave his clan. Running away actually occurs, as we have seen, in the cases when the runner may have protection of alien groups. This, however, means at least partial disintegration of the Tungus organization and therefore is not typical of them. Criminality is understood by the Tungus as it is by any other ethnical group, i.e. as a breaking of the existing relations which may have importance for the Tungus, i.e. for clan. In the class of serious offenses are included those which in the eyes of representatives of other ethnical groups may appear quite unimportant, while some acts looked upon by the Tungus as minor misconduct may be held by other units to be heavy crime. If we make an abstraction of the qualifications of crime and consider only the spirit of penal practice amongst the Tungus we may consider it severe, and criminality a frequent phenomenon. Indeed it ought to be taken into consideration that the Tungus have limited facilities as to the choice of methods of punishment and, on the other hand, all Tungus groups which may be now observed are found in the state of intensive variation, chiefly under the influence of reduction of territory and important changes in the system of cultural adaptation. The last condition is greatly responsible for the increase of criminality. For understanding of the psycho-mental complex among the Tungus, two facts of importance may be pointed out. The first is the principle of conditioned punishment when the criminal is sentenced, better to say, when the crime is qualified, and thus the punishment is understood and execution is not carried out unless the criminal again falls into the hands of clan justice. This time the punishment is increased as it is with the recidivists. By these practices the clan policy becomes elastic and leaves to the criminal a chance to change his criminal inclinations. Second, another characteristic of the Tungus mentality is that in their qualification of crime they consider the mental and nervous state of the offender. In such a ease the diagnosis will receive the form of an explanation of the mental and nervous disorder produced by the spirits. To this aspect, I shall return in further chapters. Thus, the Tungus justice is not formalistic and the Tungus experts are important witnesses in judicial procedure.

In the above given instances we have seen that the Tungus did not originally suspect the existence of these institutions, did not name them, and in many a case, did not notice the process of changes especially when these were proceeding at a slow tempo, Indeed, in the eyes of those who know these institutions and who understand them the attitude of the Tungus would appear as one characteristic of primitive mentality, while what is observed amongst the so-called civilized groups does not differ from the Tungus complex. In fact, the «structure» of the present societies, as they exist among the «civilized» groups, is far from being clear to their members and the problem of description of this society still stands before science of sociology. Many phenomena are far beyond the understanding and even cognition, — the new phenomena appear in the process of adaptation and so remain unnoticed. The fact of the existence of various «points of view» from which the society is discussed, is indicative of the lack of understanding [214]. However, only theoretically may we assume that sooner or later there will be found methods for cognition of the social organization beyond this ethnocentric attitude. Furthermore, we may theoretically also foresee that this goal will be beyond reach until the phenomena of social organization are understood as functions which cannot be described in terms of static thinking. Indeed, the new social phenomena, which with impulsive variations, are always created, perhaps will never be cognized immediately but will remain unnoticed for a certain period, as it was before and as it is now. An exhaustive cognition of the social phenomena perhaps is possible only on condition of a complete arrest of variations or that of a reduction of the social organization. However, the first supposition is a mere abstraction in fact never observed, while with reduction of the social organization it is very likely that the sociologists will disappear altogether and there will be no specialists to cognize the process of reduction, and the social organization thus existing at any given moment [215].

The revision of other elements of the social organization within the clan and family will bring us no new aspects of the Tungus psychomental complex, therefore I shall proceed to other forms of relations which originate between human groups.

205. This is a fact hypothetically restored. The complex of the material culture amongst the Tungus has changed several times, but in so far as it is logical to think, there was no such a state amongst the Tungus when the material culture was lacking altogether. Such a state in reference to the Tungus would be a purely imaginary condition which cannot be considered as one to be taken into account in our investigation of the Tungus.

206. I think this is not a proposition to be proved. The social organization presumes that there is a distinction as to the position of members forming the unit which possesses a social organization. The latter may be based only upon the distinction of sex and age groups but it will exist if such a distinction is made in the unit. The human unit deprived of the social organization is an abstraction. Such a unit has never been observed living and capable of surviving. Indeed, the cases of ethnical disintegration as well cannot be taken as evidence of the possible and historic existence, - i.e. as a reality, — of the human ethnical units. Thus, when I say that the social organization existed longer than any other cultural complex, I mean that the existing cultural complexes, as e.g. the reindeer breeding, the horse breeding, the hunting etc. are more recent (the elements can be traced either historically or ethnically) than the social organization as a method of adaptation and regardless of the forms of the organization.

207. Suffix -ran here understood as «instead of», may have other functions as well, e.g. «equal to», «acting as», «even as», etc. 208. There is no little doubt as to the renewing of the blood in the clans; which adopt members of other clans (with the patrilineal system, the male line being continuous) and thus the theory of a single ancestor responsible for the existence of the clan cannot be admitted. As a matter of fact in some cases it is possible to trace back to a certain historic person the origins of the clan, its formation, but the Tungus go much further and very often suppose that clans have originated in this manner and probably (here they are not always sure) all of the clans. Indeed, since the change of original matrilineal system into a patrilineal system is very likely, if not sure, the whole construction of the Tungus as to the clan origin remains a foundationless hypothesis.

209. The lack of names or mokun in this case may depend upon the fact of existence of the written records in which the names of old exogamic units are jealously preserved.

210. The consummation of marriage nowadays takes place after this ceremony (vide SONT p. 218).

211. In my experience I have not met with such a justification of Tungus justice.

212. First of all the Tungus clans are not numerous. Second, the period during which a father may have children by his wife (the remarrying of widowers is rather rare) is limited so that the ages of the children do not differ, much as among other groups. The distinction of only two groups aki and nokun also simplifies the problem.

213. Observation of these practices is possible for the Tungus consider it useful to preserve the existing organization. Yet, this is not difficult for the Tungus, for such cases as shown are relatively rare. The attitude of the Tungus in this case would be something like that of the so called civilized groups when the old statesmen express their obedience to the young hereditary monarch, or when honest statesmen do the same toward the chief of the state who may be dishonest, etc. This attitude is not characteristic of the «primitive» psychomental complex.

214. Indeed, the conviction that from a certain «point of view» one may understand society and the conviction that one knows it greatly handicaps the process of cognition of the actual social organization.

215. Here I do not have in view the «applied sociology» which may exist and does exist under pressure of practical needs of society and thus in functioning as any other ethnographical complex. This may have no connection with the science of sociology.

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