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The Sun, the Moon and Firmament in Chukchi Mythology and on the Relations of Celestial Bodies and Sacrifices

Author(s): Ülo Siimets

Journal: Folklore (Tartu)
ISSN 1406-0957

Volume: 32;
Start page: 129;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: astral mythology | the Moon | sacrifices | reindeer herding | the Sun | celestial bodies | Chukchi religion | constellations

This article gives a brief overview of the most common Chukchi myths, notions and beliefs related to celestial bodies at the end of the 19th and during the 20th century. The firmament of Chukchi world view is connected with their main source of subsistence – reindeer herding. Chukchis are one of the very few Siberian indigenous people who have preserved their religion. Similarly to many other nations, the peoples of the Far North as well as Chukchis personify the Sun, the Moon and stars. The article also points out thesimilarities between Chukchi notions and these of other peoples. Till now Chukchi reindeer herders seek the supposed help or influence of a constellation or planet when making important sacrifices (for example, offering sacrifices in a full moon). According to the Chukchi religion the most important celestial character is the Sun. It is spoken of as an individual being (vaśrgśn). In addition to the Sun, the Creator, Dawn, Zenith, Midday and the North Star also belong to the ranks of special (superior) beings. The Moon in Chukchi mythology is a man and a being in one person. It is as the ketlja (evil spirit)of the Sun. Chukchi myths about several stars (such as the North Star and Betelgeuse) resemble to a great extent these of other peoples.
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