ON THE FUNERAL CUSTOMS OF THE NORTHERN KHANTS IN THE LAST QUARTER OF THE 20TH CENTURY

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A doll image. Ovgort village, the Shuryshkary region, Tyumen province. 1979.



“The Khants believe that a human being has several souls … [T]he Khants maintain that a woman has four souls and a man has five … The first one is a shadow-soul, is-hor, which is described as a visible shadow. After death this soul goes to the grave together with the body. The second soul, urt, is described as man- or bird-shaped. After death it goes to the realm of the dead. The third one is wood grouse-shaped. It is inside a human being only when he is asleep, that is why it is called the sleep soul - ulem-is. This is the one that dies together with the human being. The fourth one, lil, is a breath soul. It is a renascent, reincarnating soul, which, after the person’s death, goes into a doll image specially made for it - ittyrma, and later on into a newborn baby of the same kin. The doll image for a dead person’s soul is still made today. If the deceased is a female, the doll is dressed in women’s clothes, and if it is a male, in men’s clothes … And now what is the fifth soul of a Khant man? Some Khants believe that it is the energy of a man but others think that a man has two reincarnating souls.”