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32. Group Consciousness

From the previous exposition we have seen that the Tungus individual is under the control of his own clan. However, he comes into contact with the other clans of the same ethnical groups and with the other ethnical groups. At the present time amongst most of the Tungus groups there exists preferential intermarriage between two clans. With great probability we may suppose that originally the ethnical Tungus groups always consisted of two intermarrying clans only. In the Tungus mind there were thus aki-nokun (his own clan besides his own father, and grandfather) and the world outside of them and particularly the clan from where his mother, his wife and all women were taken as wives. So that even in this case the Tungus needed no conception of the clan as a social unit. The relations between these two ere established and continued on the principle of exogamy, the cognition of the clans not being responsible for the preferential intermarrying between the two clans. This practice may be maintained even when the aki-nokun (clan) might come into contact with other clans. In this case the maintenance of the relation would be based upon the connections of personal relations established between the aki-nokun and the group of guisin-ina, who are aki-nokun of their wives and mothers. An extension of the marital relations over other groups of aki-nokun, — potential guisin-ina, — is not obstructed by the obligatory dual organization which has never been cognized but which in spite of that was maintained prior to the formation of larger Tungus ethnical units.

For the Tungus mentality it is typical that members of a clan, even those living in the other clans, do preserve their relations with and dependence upon their native clan owing to which there may originate special problems concerning the interest of both clans. It is evident that in case there are only two clans in the unit, the questions actually will be brought for discussion to the whole unit, although there will be no cognition of the fact of existence of such a unit. The relations with the mother's clan and cognition of these relations are based on the same classi-ficatory terms of relationship which in their turn are based upon the blood relationship between the group of guisin-ina of «my mother's clan», and that of aki-nokun of «my father's clan».

In so far as my observations are advance, I may suppose that the cognition of the clan as an exogamic unit may come from another source; namely, the disequilibrium between the sexes in one of the clans bound by the marital relations, and disequilibrium between two clans one of which may become more numerous than the other and thus a large portion of young men will not be married. I do not know cases when the cognition of the clan existence was due to this condition, but since the Tungus give, as the reason of divisions of clans, the above mentioned difficulties in marital relations, it is possible that such occurrences might have taken place before and in this way the existence of clans was discovered. It may be noted that the cognition of the fact of existence of the clan as a social unit has greatly helped the Tungus in the regulation of marital and other relations. They might divide the clan into new exogamic units as is now practiced by all Tungus groups. Indeed, since such an act must be justified, the Tungus have found a good way of doing it by referring the whole matter of division to the highest spirit buya {vide infra). It is interesting from the point of view of Tungus mentality, that in spite of the fact that this matter concerns other clans as well, the overgrown clan would make its decision with no intervention on the part of other clans.

With the inclusion of other clans in the marital sphere, which does not depend on marital relations and does not depend on the fact of existence of the clans, there comes the cognition of the clans as units opposed one to another. In such a «pluriclanal» unit the process of cognition of the individual clan is facilitated by the fact that there are different names of groups of aki-nokun needed first for regulation of the relations between the clan and the world and afterwards between the clans which maintain marital relations in the dual system. From the fact of relations which may originate between two clans on the ground of preservation of the dependence on the native clan even after the marriage especially with the women, also with the man who stays in the wife's family, there is formed no complex of relations cognized as those of the ethnical unit which is actually formed by two clans. Such two clan units bound by regular marital relations would not make any further increase of relations cognized as those of the new unit formed of two clans. These relations would be understood as exclusively marital relations. The relations perceived as internal, ethnical relations would not appear even in the case of the pluriclanal system although the complex of the relations such as, for instance, cross-marriage between four clans, would be in function. Together with the cognition of the clan, its name assumes great importance in the Tungus system for the individual belonging to the clan is identified by the clan name. We have seen how this problem is solved by the Tungus when they have to create new exogamic unit-clans. But the case of partial migration of the clans is also common, so that the survival of the same names even amongst the Tungus ethnical units which at the present time do not know each other is also common. In case two Tungus groups should discover similar clan names in different ethnical units they would suppose that there was an earlier separation of the clans in question. And they would try to compare different clan names for showing their common origin.

In fact the Tungus ethnical units cognized by themselves owing to some other functions, for instance, the administrative functions of alien origin, as seen when the Kumarchen oppose themselves to the Birarchen, which are Manchu administrative units, or when the Barguzin Tungus oppose themselves to the Nerchinsk Tungus on the same ground, created by the Russians. Yet when the unit is opposed by other similar units, or by the alien groups the cognition of the ethnical unit may be achieved. Here the interethnical pressure coming from the related Tungus groups or from entirely different groups is responsible for the appearance of a new idea, a conception of the ethnical unit.

Naturally there is no special term for designation of ethnical unit in general, for the number of such units in the vicinity is not large. The Tungus dialects (of Manchuria) may use the Manchu term gurun, already assimilated by some Northern Tungus which may be referred not only to the ethnical units but also to distinct groups of animals in the sense of «animal kind», particularly species, race, also political units, nations etc. However, this term is familiar only to those Tungus who are familiar with Manchu, i.e. the educated group, while the other Tungus groups are satisfied with naming particular groups by their names, e.g. Nercugan (the Nerchinsk Tungus), borel (the Buriats), kitat (the Chinese) etc.

I have shown in SONT the very interesting phenomenon of the names by which the Tungus designate themselves, and I have shown that the original name evenki used by the Northern Tungus may disappear altogether if there are several Tungus groups living side by side and differing in some cultural respects. As a matter of fact, this is a general phenomenon. In many cases we may trace from historic evidences how and why the name evenki was lost. Yet, we have also seen that some Tungus deny the right of other groups to name themselves evenki. These facts are indicative of the Tungus ethnical consciousness.

The discovery of the groups which style themselves by the name evenki may meet with two reactions; namely, (1) mutual denying of the correct use of this name which very often happens in the case of great difference in cultural complex, and (2) the recognition of the correct use. From the latter the inference is made that the groups are of the same origin, for they call themselves by the same name. The Tungus would proceed furthermore in their establishment of the relationships between the groups as would the ethnographer; namely, they would compare the language, by comparing words, and compare other cultural elements within reach of their cognition. There the Tungus are liable to commit error for in the most of the cases they would be inclined to consider their own complex to be the genuine one, while that of all other groups, in so far as distinct elements were perceived, would be looked upon as borrowed from the other ethnical and very distinct groups. In many instances they make absolutely correct inference by comparing the complex of another group in its distinct elements with that of other ethnical groups. Yet, aberrations are also possible and common.

Let us take examples. The Kumarchen who call themselves evenki believe that their present cultural complex is the genuine evenki complex. When they speak of the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria they admit that they may be evenki too, but not very well preserved owing to the Yakut influence and a late, at least partial, Russianization. The differences in dialects they would explain by the same influences. However, the situation is not quite so. The Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria would admit that the Kumarchen are evenki, but they would also point out that the Kumarchen have fallen under a strong Manchu (more exactly bogdo — the Manchus and Chinese ruled by the Manchus) influence, whence there have originated a new type of ornamented clothing, Manchu words, habits, manners, inclination for robbery (which is a wrong statement); this is connected with the fact of their serving in the Manchu military organization and pressure on the part of the government; the Reindeer Tungus would not deny that they themselves were under the Yakut influence, and that they have adopted some Russian elements, of which two influences they are proud; but they would strongly protest against the Kumarchen's opinion as to the reindeer breeding, some types of clothing etc. which according to them are genuine Tungus elements. The conflict of these two opinions cannot be amicably solved in their discussions and will serve as a new support for distinction of the groups in question.

The Nomad Tungus of Mankova recognize in the Tungus of the Urulga a related group which, however, was so much influenced by the Buriats that they are no longer Tungus, but like the Buriats themselves. In some instances even minor differences may suffice for justifying a distinction. Such differences may be isolated words, shape of clothing, even shoes, etc.

The Tungus also pay attention to the physical type and they are quite sensitive as to the alien admixture which they recognize as well as do the European populations accustomed to certain anthropological and physiognomical types met with in their area. The admixture of the Chinese and Russians is very easily recognized. The same is true of the Yakuts. The Tungus would use these characters for nicknames of individuals. Indeed, these questions put in an awkward manner may be embarrassing. In fact, the cases of Tungus women who come into contact with alien men are not rare but are usually disapproved. So in some instances one may receive a reply concealing the actual well.


This may hold good for other ethnical groups as distinguishing of the Tungus, by themselves as compared with other ethnical groups, is based on the same principle. The alien groups are recognized by their external appearance as seen in the clothing and general physical attributes of the material culture, in manners and in physical features. Indeed, in the eyes of the Tungus, language is an essential character. The Tungus are very familiar with the characteristics of the neighbouring groups for which they may have General names and even slight regional differences are noted. For instance, the Tungus of Manchuria who are living near the Russian frontier distinguish the groups such as the cossacks, and non-cossacks, the workmen, peasants etc. Among the Manchus, they distinguish those speaking Manchu and those who do not speak it. The Barguzin Tungus distinguish the Russians from the Jews, the Buriats of Barguzin district — from those of the Amalat River (tributary of the Vitim River). These distinctions are based upon the minor differences in manners, clothing, behavior, and language.

Their interest in other ethnical groups goes much further than that of the neighbouring groups. They collect their information from various sources which sometimes supply them with very inaccurate information and oftentimes, the products of imagination. Naturally, the groups whose representatives are met in Tungus territory are better known, while the groups which are known only by report are often conceived in a distorted picture. The field of their knowledge, however, spreads over all Asia, excluding the populations of India and the South Sea Islands about which they know very little, to America through the Tungus groups who have encountered Eskimos and American whale-hunters, to Europe through contacts with Russians and Chinese who give them this information although the Europeans are rarely met. The well known groups are the Russians, the Chinese, the Buriats and Mongols, also Manchus, Dahurs, Yakuts, Koreans and Japanese and less frequently encountered Tibetans. It is interesting that the Tungus living in Transbaikalia and in Manchuria know very little about such groups as Chukchis, Gilaks, Ainos, Koriaks and other groups in the adjacent territories.

The Tungus as any other ethnical group believe their own people to be the best — they like themselves. Most Tungus would admit their superiority at least in so far as their professions are concerned, i.e. the hunting and reindeer breeding. They would also be positive in their preference for the Tungus beauty.

However, they would also admit that in some respects the other ethnical groups may be superior and yet those Tungus who have already fallen under a strong alien influence may prefer the foreigners to their own people. Indeed, these are cases of ethnical disintegration and thus they are not typical of the Tungus complex. The experience of personal intercourse with various groups and the information regarding the present (1912-1918) position of various groups have convinced the Tungus of the fact of their relative weakness. The Tungus did not at once accept the policy of resignation. At the beginning, when the Russians penetrated their area in small numbers, the Tungus fought them with all available means and the Russian records of early meetings with the Tungus are unanimous as to the Tungus bravery, military skill and cunning in warfare [216]. The same experience convinced the Tungus of the Yakut superiority after which wars with the Yakuts were discontinued [217]. In so far one may rely upon the folklore, the Tungus fought the Manchus also before accepting their political rule [218]. Owing to this submission the power of the ethnical resistance is greatly reduced amongst all Tungus groups including the Manchus. Nevertheless, they have not lost their hope as to the possibility of Tungus revival. In my SONT I have given some facts which may characterize the Tungus attitude and so I shall not repeat them here. In this respect the Tungus have quite realistic ideas and therefore do not allow themselves to be lulled by unreasonable hope of resistance to the enormous interethnical pressure.

From the description and analysis of the Tungus ideas and attitudes towards the phenomena of social organization and ethnical relations it may be seen that the Tungus treat them as other natural phenomena. They observe the facts, some of which are cognized while others escape their attention and thus are beyond their complex. In this respect the Tungus mentality does not differ from that of others with which we are familiar. As a matter of fact, the social phenomena may exist and function without being cognized. After an analysis, the Tungus classify the facts perceived in a way which responds to their needs. In this respect the Tungus reveal the characters already pointed out, namely, inquisitiveness and ability to draw correct inferences. So we may now state that they possess a certain objectivity, in so far as it is not affected by the ethnocentric complex, in their judgment as to other ethnical groups; the result of their analysis of the relationship between the ethnical groups, which requires rather complex operations with the historic, ethnographic and particularly linguistic evidences, is very close to an objective representation of the actual relations.

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.

216. cf. e.g. Miller op. cit.

217. V. L. Sieroszewski's Yakuts, p. 223.

218. The Manchu epic poem written down by me contains description of the wars between the Northern Tungus groups and the Manchus.

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