Culture and religion
Language and faith
People and herds constantly roamed in search of a better share, pastures and hunting, driven by the specter of hunger, threats of enemies - a long way, full of suffering, pain of loss. But always the goal of the road was Baikal - a reflection of the blue sky and a yurt - a native hearth. Neither a single celebration, nor any event in the life of the Buryat tribe happened without a fireplace. Near it, a shaman was calling, begging for happiness and blessing at the Eternal Blue Sky. The fire was a sacred creature. You could not throw garbage into the fire, stir the fire sharp, sit, stretching your legs to the fire, touch the coals with your foot.
While moving from place to place, the old fireplace was not extinguished, but left smoldering. The fire could not be defiled, stove with improper firewood or treated by unwashed hands. Before the meal, the Buryats paid homage to the Fire with pieces of meat, fat, or sprinkling milk vodka on it.
The language and faith gavethe strength and firmness to the nation. The nomadic pagan, cattle-breeder, hunter, living by the labor of his hands, were close to concepts that coincided with the moral foundations of just being. All the important works had their patrons, and before the beginning of the work they were made offerings of dairy food.
The Buryat was always followed with thehorse. Itwas not just saving the rider during the migrations and armed skirmishes, but also gave meat and koumiss. Horse hair were used to make ropes, the shoewas sewn fromleather, strong threads were tied from the tendons. All horses, say the Buryats, are pure. The horse was the main sacrificial animal on shaman mysteries - Tailagans. Ahorseshoe for luckwas hangedabove the door of the yurt, horse hair possessed a magical power to drive away evil spirits. Nobody dared to beat and scold the horse. The Milky Way, the Buryats believed, is the milk of the heavenly mare.
Groves and forests were sacred, inhabited by ejins - spirits of mountains, fire, forests and individual localities, they performed shamanistic rites. They were not supposed to cut down trees, mow the grass, it was impossible to visit at the wrong time. They were strictly protected from felling, pollution, desecration. The precept of immunity extended to animals, and breaking the rule was considered to be a grave sin. Over time, religious taboos, partly fulfilling the functions of security letters, lost their former importance, although their role in preserving certain landmarks of natural and cultural monuments was undoubtedly positive.
Shaman is the special and most important figure. Shamanic attire and ornaments were symbolic. The shaman's military cloak - orghoi - differed from an ordinary robe in that various decorations were hung on it-brushes of animal skins, metal pendants in the form of human figures, horses, birds, bells, mugs. The head of the shaman was crowned with a sacred headdress - a crown with pommels in the form of branched horns. The garment was crowned with conical tubules of the hilly, chains, plates. Required attributes of the shaman were a cane, a whip, a tambourine and a beater, a mirror (toil) made of bronze or jade, a knife. The cane helped the shaman to move into the other world, speak with spirits. The shaman was a priest, a doctor and a fortuneteller. The shaman was the central figure in mysterious Tailagans - prayers - requests from spirits-(Ejins) crops, the multiplication of livestock, lucky hunting, and family happiness.
Great and small sacrifices did not do without Ongones - images of the familyspirits. They were made of tin, clay, felt, leather, wood, wool and hair in the form of human figures and animals. Belief in the spirits, the spiritualization of nature and objects, communication with the animal world forced us to resort to ritual actions, without which no important business was accomplished, whether hunting, marriage, childbirth or funeral.
Currently, six shaman organizations are registered by the Ministry of Justice in Buryatia. Shaman mysteries are held in sacred places,and there are quite a few of them. Special installations – Oboo,- are made on these places. Modern shamans, like their ancestors, conduct prayer services to strengthen the physical and moral health of people, help solve problems, predict, pray for the welfare of Buryatia and Baikal, call for good, good weather, promote people's unity and harmonization of their relations with nature and the world.
In their everyday life shamans are engaged in ordinary affairs, develop contacts with their counterparts from other countries, but at the same time faithfully fulfill their basic role in society, as prescribed by the doctrine and the tribal root - to serve as intermediaries between the world of people and the world of spirits.
Shamanism and shamanistic rituals evoke great interest among tourists, as with the help of shamans they have the opportunity not only to look into the distant past, but also to better understand the present and imagine their future.
WHEEL OF SAMSARA
The first reliable news about the penetration of Buddhism to the shores of Lake Baikal dates back to 1441 - a bronze marching altar is kept in the national museum of Buryatia.
Yenisei Cossack foreman Konstantin Moskvitin mentions Buddhist temples (Dugans)in his reportsdated 1647. The documents say that 150 Mongolian and Tibetan lamas-preachers arrived to the Buryatia in 1712. The original generic cult underwent Lamaization: the master spirits were transformed into deities of the Buddhist pantheon, they were given Tibetan names. For example SagaanUbgan - the White Elder, a deity well known to the people by pre-Buddhist cults,was included into the pantheon of Lamaism.
In 1741, Empress Elizabeth Petrovnasigned the decree that recognized Buddhism as one of the traditional religions of Russia.
The very concept of "buddha" means "enlightened" and is not the name of a particular deity. The word "buddha" can be used in the plural and can be written with a small letter. Buddhist temples, datsans are constructed in the steppe and are visible from afar. Near the datsanprayer drums are installed (cylinders filled with sacred texts). One has to go around Datsanfrom left to right, scrolling prayer drums, and only after that is able to enter the temple.
Suburbans (stupas) - whitewashed buildings with conical completion; are erected in places of worship associated with the death of famous lamas, in memory of significant events in the history of Buddhism or monastic complexes. In all years, Buddhist monasteries were the focus of literacy and scholarship. Schools were founded, where Buryat youths studied philosophy, medicine, astrology.
Buddhism brought a literacyto Buryatia in the form of an old-Mongolian vertical letter, medicine and new canons of art. An indispensable attribute of the interior of any Buryatdatsan is the painting "SansarynKhurde" - the Wheel of Samsara (Being).
The wheel which has no end and no beginning is a symbol of the absoluteness of movement, where there is nothing eternal and permanent, but a continuous change of states.
Mantra (prayer, incantation) "Om Mani Badme Hum" (Skt.) is one of the most important mantras in Buddhism (especially characteristic of Lamaism). Often it is literally translated as "Oh! A pearl in a lotus flower!"In the Buddhist ritual tradition, the lunar calendar is adopted, which is almost a month shorter than the solar calendar, the dates of the holidays are calculated from astrological tables.
The first month of the year is the first month of spring. Most holidays are on a full moon (the 15th day of the lunar month).
Today in Russia there is a Traditional Sangha of Russia. Its head of PandidoHambo lama DambaAyusheev is a member of the confessional religious council under the President of the Russian Federation.
His residence is located in the Ivolginsky datsan of Buryatia.
Surkharban - holiday-rite of veneration of the Earth - was held in the summer and was considered the second most significant holiday of the year for the Buryats.
The ritual part of the feast usually passed on the mountain, where the sacrifices to the owners were made, - the spirits of the area near the Oboo.
After the moleben in the steppe, it was the turn of games and contests. They included archery, Buryat wrestling and horse racing. It was a truly national holiday, gathering crowds of people from all around.
In ancient times, archery targets were made from a leather belt - "sur", and the shooting competition "surkharban" became the name of the whole holiday. And not by chance: bows and arrows hung in a yurta in a place of honor, no one could cross them. The arrow played an important role in the rituals of invoking fertility, happiness, and served as talisman. The participants of the races competed at a distance of three to four kilometers. The owner of the running horse nursed her a month before the race. After the races, the praise of the horse, who came first, was uttered.
The main celebration of the year is Sagaalgan - the New Year (arrival of the White Month). It is held according to the lunar calendar of the first day of the first spring month, more often in February. Since 1990 it became an official holiday in Buryatia. The cult party of the holiday takes place in datsans. On the 30th of the last winter month, the "Dugzhuba" ritual is performed with the burning of "Sora", which symbolizes the destruction of all negative with the passing year and the coming of well-being in the coming year. During the night and until dawn of the first day of the new year, the magtaales (laudatory) are read in the datsans to the defender of the Teaching - the goddess BaldanLhamo. Then, when the New Year enters his rights, prayers dedicated to the miracles of the Buddha are read for 15 days.
In the national and domestic context, the preparation for the New Meeting begins long before its onset - with the preparation of national dishes, cleaning the house, the acquisition of rituals and numerous gifts for all relatives and friends. On the first day of the new year, children, if they live separately, necessarily come with congratulations and gifts to their parents or older relatives.
The manifestation of respect for elders is one of the main values of the holiday Sagaalgan. Of course, it begins with the offering of a white Khadak and white food - milk, cottage cheese, dried milky foam, rice porridge. "Another month before the holiday, even earlier, preparations for Sagaalgan begin: people talk about the fun awaiting everyone, sew the renovation, stock up on wines, prepare gifts and so on; but especially remarkable is the use of Khadaks,"DorzhiBanzarov wrote in 1846.
Khadak is granted by the younger one to the elder, holding the outstretched hands on the palms of his hands, and puts his hands on the hand, the elder shifts the Khadak to the right hand of the younger and connects his hands from the elbows to the hands.
In all traditional cultures, the dwelling was an image of the universe. The roof of the yurt corresponds with the celestial sphere; the smoke hole is revered as sacral: It is believed that happiness enters into the yurtthrough it, a connection with deities-celestialsis made.
The fireplace is the sacred and semantic center of the dwelling: the deity of the fire, the keeper of the well-being and happiness of the familylives in it. The traditional home of the Buryats is a yurt. Any object in a yurt can tell about the life style of the Buryat almost everything. One of its peculiarities is that it can serve as a kind of solar clock and compass.
Sunbeam, getting into the yurt through the upper circle and sliding on the wall, makes it possible to accurately determine the time of day. The sun in Buryatia shines almost all year round and according to the angle of the sunlight falling through the upper hole of the yurt, it was possible to determine the time to within five minutes.
The tone of the yurt is like a dial of a clock divided into 12 parts, the distance between them the sunbeam passed for two hours of real time. Each double hour had a name according to the signs of the zodiac of the Buryat calendar: mouse, bull, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog, pig. Midnight corresponded to the hour of the mouse, noon - the hour of the horse and so on.
The yurt appears in the middle of the first millennium, at the ancient Turkic nomads life.
The traditional yurt is divided into two main parts. The first relates to everything related to the skeleton, to the second - to the coating. The frame consists of wooden parts (lattices), the cover is made of felt and cloth. There is also a set of belts, straps and ropes, leather and woolen, fastening the skeleton and covering each other. The number of lattices in the installation of a yurt is usually even, usually 6 or 8. The upper ring of the yurt – toono - is a wide rim of a single piece of birch. It is fixed on two vertical pillars (thaenghi), resting on the floor of the yurt on both sides of the fireplace.
Toono serves not only as a smoke hole, but in most cases it is the only source of light. The part of the skeleton namedunyaa is straight slats connecting the lattice walls of the yurt with its upper ring. The outer covering of the yurt consists of large pieces of felt (tuurgha).
Felt is an invention of nomads, which has become part of the world culture. Most of all, felt is made of sheep's wool cut in autumn. Long rectangular pieces of the tuurgha cover the lattice walls. The roof was covered with four semicircular pieces of felt, forming two layers of a soft roof.
Ropes of horsehair are used as ligaments. Buryats and Mongols believed that spirits of ancestors from the upper world descend from heaven with grace and happinessusing the horse hair. In addition to the magical significance, hair ropes possessed another important property: getting wet from rain or snow, the rope did not change its length, so it in any condition tightly fixed the cover of the yurt. The yurt's door is most often turned to the south, because in the open winds of the steppe the warmest winds blow from the south.
The northern side of the yurt is the most honorable and significant. Here is a table with bronze figurines of deities of the Buddhist pantheon and their images on cloth and paper. A sacred fire islit, fragrances aresmoked, and food in metal utensils (sughse) isput before them from time to time. There is a hearth (fireplace)in the center of the yurt. Fire in the hearth should not go out and be given to members of another tribe.
In the female (eastern) half of yurt, to the right of the entrance, there are in order a bucket of water, a kitchen cupboard with utensils and food supplies, a bed of the elder unmarried woman (mother, sister or daughter of the owner). The hostess prepares food, standing on her own half. To the left of the entrance, in the male (western) part of the yurt, there is a saddle and harness, a whip, a wineskin for koumiss, behind him is the bed of the owner of the house along the wall, it is the matrimonial bed of the owners. The animal cycle around the yurt carried a certain symbolism.
Each animal determined the economic purpose of the place with which it was connected by tradition: the mouse is a sign of wealth and its accumulation; therefore, from the northern part of the yurt, the most expensive property is kept under the sign of the mouse, honorable guests sit down here. In the color symbolism ofBuryat, the place corresponded to a blue - the equivalent of eternity, permanence. The dog is a hunting symbol, it is in the north-western part of the yurt, where weapons are stored; personification - white color, a symbol of courage, nobility and the triumph of good beginnings. The dragon is a symbol of water, it is in the southeastern part of the yurt, utensils with water are stored under this sign, in color it was perceived in green - a symbol of growth, reproduction and unfading. Under the sign of the sheep (south-west) contained young lambs, under the sign of the bull (northeast) - provisions, etc.The door was placed under the sign of the horse, its distinctive color was red, adequate to the sun, fire, life, joy, happiness and triumph. In the permanent settlements of the Buryats, leading a sedentary or semi-sedentary lifestyle, wooden yurts were built. Their interior decoration exactly corresponded to the decoration of felt yurts. The division of the yurt into the male (left) and female (right) half is clearly observed.
There are tools and weapons, saddles and harnesses - special care items, located in the male part of the yurt. For nomads riding is a way of life. Female saddles, harnesses were decorated with corals, shells, silver plaques, metal ornament, brushes, bells.Housewares and food are stored, food is prepared in the female half of the yurt.
The northern part of the yurt is intended for guests. Ornamented "sheep" (boxes with legs) are standing near the wall of the yurt, several rows of white felt, blankets made of sheepskin, and pillowsare folded on them. Below, between the legs of the "sheep", tare (carpets) of horsehair are folded. This furnishingin the yurt clearly suggests that the owner has many sheep and goats.
Buryats decorated the dwelling and wooden chests, ornamented with the simplest patterns, larchesappearedlater, upholstered with tin and other materials, often repeating the former ornamentation of two disks. Boxes-chests, decorated with carving and painting,alsohaveancient origin.
Buryat costume is adapted to a nomadic way of life:horse-riding, sitting on the floor and climatic conditions. Male and female clothes differed little. The underwear consisted of a shirt and pants, the upper one consisted of a long free robe (deel) which was girded with a wide cloth or belt.
The robe was sewn on the lining, the winter one was padded with fur. The edges of the robes were lined with bright cloth or braid. Dressing the skin was considered a woman's work, eachBuryat woman could do it. The work required patience. The skin was chopped, scraped and fumigated for two weeks. Skins of the newborn lambs were used for collars, hats and were highly appreciated. Coats were made of sheepskin, boots– from leather, felt was used for stockings.
Traditionalshoes are low boots with a thick felt without a heel, with a toe curled upward. Ancestors of Buryats had appropriate dressfor each age. Babies were considered by the Buryats as genderless beings, and their clothes were the same. Caring parents wrapped newborns in fur blankets from sheepskin, and when they started walking, they sewed shirts and panties.
As the Buryats believed, the main thing is to help the child to come to this world and get accustomed to it, to protect him from evil spirits. And wolf-skin blankets were good for this goal. The signs of genderwere implemented tothe clothes of the child from the age of 3-4 years, but only for boys. Apparently, they wanted to emphasize the belonging of the baby to the genus of his father.
From ancient times, the belt is a magic objectfor many peoples; Buryats believed that it brings good luck, blessing parents and ancestors, and protects. Low boots with thick felt without a heel, with a curled up toe, were used in order not to harm the Mother-Earth.
Winter men's clothing consisted of a direct fur coat - Deel, the left clap flapped to the right and was fastened on the side, which made it possible to put and take things out from behind the bosom with right hand. On the right side of the belt were a pouch with tobacco and snuffbox, a knife in sheath and flint. A traditional headdress for men was a conical hat with an expanding band of fur, from which two ribbons descended on its back.
A married woman wore a vest over her dressing robe, she should not show herself to men without wearing a sleeveless jacket - Uuja.
Buryat women wore special long sarafans. The edges of the fastener and the hem of the sarafan were lined with velvet, colored matter, and sometimes with beaver fur.
According to the ancient beliefs of the Buryats, the sky should not have seen the hair of a woman. Men and women wore round hats with small fields and with a red tassel (zalaa) at the top. All the details, the color of the headdress have their own meaning. Fluttering at the top of the cap zalaasymbolizesinvincible spirit, happy destiny. Ulzystring means strength.
The pointed top of the hat symbolizes prosperity and well-being. Silver top of the hatdenze with a red coral on the top symbolizes the sun, illuminating the Universe with its rays. Girls braided up to 20 braids on their heads, and one of the braids was surely spun on the top of the head, two on the temples. During the wedding, the Buryat bride took a symbolic death to be reborn not as her father's daughter, but as belonging to the family of her husband. Her hair breaks into two - a symbol of the union of the male and female beginnings in a woman giving birth to children. On solemn days numerous chains and pendants were hung to the braids.
FOOD AND CULINARY TRADITIONS
The most famous Buryat dish is buuza: minced meat in a yurt-shaped dough, with a hole at the top. This dish for many centuries united the Buryat culture, traditions and customs, created the unity of the nation and was famous with its richest taste.
How to make buuza. Meat (lamb, beef, horse meat) 850 g, fat pork 220 g, 3 heads of onions, salt, pepper, wheat flour, one tablespoon (for a bunch of juice in minced meat), of water or milk.Dough: two glassesof flour, 2-3 eggs, salt. One Buuza is usually 20 grams of dough and 50 grams of minced meat. The dough is prepared the same as for dumplings. Roll it into a round tourniquet thick with a thumb, cut into small 2-4 cm pieces, which turn into thin mugs. Stuffing is applied insidemugs, the edges are tied, leaving a small hole for the steam to exit. Buuza are steamed about 18-20 minutes. Readiness is recognized by light juice.
The main advantage of Buryat cuisine is its simplicity in cooking and its naturalness.
The basis of Buryat cuisine is meat and milk. Wild-meat and fish are additional food to the basic diet. The Buryats have a saying "You will respect and treat a person - you will respect and treat yourself". Buryat cuisine has its own rules and traditions of eating at certain times of the year. Dishes from meat - a boukheler, Buuzas, bloody sausage - are loved not only in Buryatia, they are able to satisfy the tastes of different people.
Buryats can cook up to 50 different dishes from sheep meat. The whole sheep goes into food, nothing is thrown away. Guests are usually treated with lamb. The main festive dish is boiled meat; its serving is regulated by ancient rules of etiquette. The piece of meat served to the guest depended on his age, degree of kinship with the owner of the house, social status.
The most honorable dish was the lamb's head, and in the ZakamenskBuryats cuisine– horse head. Dish it was just an honor, not edible. The guest, who was offered a head, cut off pieces of skin from it and threw them into the fire. This was a sacrifice to the spirits of the ancestors and the "mistress" of the home.
Plants that are eaten by Buryats are roots of wild sheep and buckwheat, licorice roots, rhubarb, sorrel leaves, wild onion.
Tea in Buryat cuisine is special, it is brewed from leaves of cowberry, hawthorn fruit, ivan-tea leaves.
One of the traditional, favorite and necessary drinks - tea with milk, kuyruk and fried flour.Buryat tea, like that of the Mongols, appeared at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, it was brought from China, exchanged for cattle, leather, and wool.
Green tea was in great demand, pressed into "bricks",it was called "brick tea". It was brewed it iron boilers on fire, with milk, stirring thoroughly, raising the ladle high, thus filling the tea with oxygen.
Drinking tea without milk was considered blasphemy, an omen of the impoverishment of the family, the loss of basic wealth - livestock.
Food from milk takes a special place in Buryat traditions. Russians traditionally greet guests with bread and salt, and Buryats do it with milk. This custom is called "sagaalha." Often, in addition to milk, tea, and butter, the salt was added to the tea (to restore the salt balance in the body, which is violated in extreme heat), as wall as toasted barley flour, lightly fried lamb fat, bone marrow of ram, crushed and roasted jerky. Such tea was an energetic charge for the whole day. Dried curd, unleavened cakes, fried in fat slices of doughareserved with tea.
Nomads ate fishreluctantly, there was no tradition of catching, cooking and eating fish. With the advent of Russians in Siberia, the Buryats quickly mastered fishing gear, graylings, lenoks, pike. Religious prohibitions apply only to one fish - burbot. He was considered the totem progenitor of the Ekhirites, one of the four sub-ethnoses of the Buryat people.
The most popular fish of Buryatia is the Baikal omul. It is eaten in fried, boiled, smoked and salted condition. The latter is particularly piquant, since it has a specific odor, the so-called "omul with a scent", which is especially appreciated by connoisseurs and lovers of this product.