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Key words
prayers, ritual, text, initial order, Chuvash
About the Author
Доктор исторических наук, ведущий научный сотрудник Музея антропологии и этнографии им. Петра Великого (Кунсткамера) РАН:
Российская Федерация, 199034, г. Санкт-Петербург, Университетская наб., д. 3;
тел.: +7 (812) 328-08-12; e-mail:

The ritual world of the Chuvash is rich and diversified, and the author has sufficiently made certain of this when dealing with the issues of systematics and semantics of rituals and religious faiths. Words also hold a prominent place in rituals and faiths. “Word” is related to the Greek “mifos” —  “speech, speaking”. Myths are traditional sacred narrative texts which describe indigenous events which formed the Universe. As defined by V. N. Toporov, a myth is an item “which is spoken when something is being done”, a verbal text serves “as a footnote or a comment” to a ritual. Ritual verbal folklore together with the ritual ceremony comprise a single sense-bearing text.

A spoken word confirms an action, reinforces it, and helps retain the sense of what is being done. Certainly, the most sacral words are those addressed to presiding deities. Verbal religious and ritual texts of the Chuvash are represented primarily by such genres as a prayer, a legend, a benediction, a magic spell, a speech of the elder best man, and dialogues. Traditions and other less significant samples may be a trigger for continuation of the subject.

As regards prayers, one can distinguish a number of determining features. The most notable of them is absence of texts with negative emotional coloring. The focus on positive emotions and the establishment of initial order are the supreme values of prayers. Ritual action and praying taken together create a text with an integrated content. In praying, words accompany action, bearing the respective meaning, resulting in a ritual text in a broad ethno-cultural sense. Note: resort to the same objects (e. g., spirits and deities Shyvri, Kiremet, etc.) in different verbal genres is determined by their subjects of such genres.


Akhmetyanov R. G. (1978) Sravnitel’noye issledovaniye tatarskogo i chuvashskogo yazykov (fonetika i leksika) [Comparative studies of Tatar and Chuvash languages (phonetics and lexicology]. Moscow. In Russian.

Zhukovskaya N. I. (1993) Molitva [Prayer]. In: Svod etnograficheskikh ponyatii i terminov [Code of ethnographic notions and terms]. Issue 5. Moscow. P. 124. In Russian.