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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2018 year, number 2


E.F. Fursova
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography SB RAS, 17, Acad. Lavrent’ev av., Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
Keywords: антропоморфный принцип, календарные обряды, Западная Сибирь, снежные бабы, похороны кукушки, купалинушка, чучело, anthropomorphic principle, calendar ceremonies, West Siberia, snow-capped women, cuckoo funeral, kupalinushka, effigy


An anthropomorphic principle manifested in the mutual aid of nature and man through anthropomorphic images permeated the calendar-ritual cycle of the Slavic peasants of the first half of the year - from winter to summer solstice days. Anthropomorphic images were also included in the autumn rites. The article is based on field materials collected in the 1980-1990s among the East Slavic peoples of West Siberia. The study significantly expanded the scope of use of anthropomorphic images in the folk calendar, allowed evaluating in a new way their functions and symbolism. The Siberian characters originality was provided by using a natural material in winter and spring rituals, such as snow, in which one can see the motives of the Russian folk tale about the Snow Maiden. It is supposed, that the myth about the natural spirits that disappear with seasons changing is reflected in the fairy tale. Slavic traditions of using old things and rags, straw are preserved in spring-summer rites, sheaves of a new crop with the appropriate terminology - in autumn rituals. The symbolism of the initial materials to make ritual figures is important, which reflects a gradual change of cultural meanings - from snow and rag waste consisted of processed flax fiber (hemp), straw, to anthropomorphic images made from spikes of a new crop. In the first half of the calendar cycle, the topic of getting rid of unnecessary, and therefore harmful, old things, from snow as a factor hindering the revival of nature was sounded as actual: they were torn, burned, or supposed to evaporate when melting. In the second half of the year, ritual figures made of sheaves played an honorary role and were placed in the fields, in a red corner with icons, etc. Thus, the notion of anthropomorphic images was an organic part of the people’s worldview, which formed the content and cultural meanings of the calendar rituals of the East Slavs transferred to Siberia.