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Key words
funeral songs, tradition, Western Buryats
About the Author
Tel.: + 7 (3012) 43-32-64
6, Sakhyanovoy str., Ulan-Ude, Buryatia Republic, 670042, Russian Federation
PhD (Arts), senior researcher, Institute of Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, Siberian
Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences

This paper is first to present funeral “ükheley duunuud” songs, existing as a living tradition in contemporary ceremonial culture of the Western Buryats. In the Buryat ethnographic literature there are extremely poor data on tradition of funeral singing among the Buryats. Apparently, sacrality of a funeral ceremony and closedness of funeral singing didn’t allow carriers of tradition to speak about it avowedly, being afraid for life, health and wellbeing of close relatives. An analysis of the funeral song tradition and some musical features of funeral songs “ükheley duunuud” among the Western Buryats is undertaken for the first time. It is based on field materials of musical-ethnographic expeditions of the author to Alar and Nukut districts of Irkutsk region in 2011–2012. Funeral song tradition is discussed in the context of religious and mythological beliefs and ritually regulated conduct of the Buryats. Probably, there in ceremonial culture of the Western Buryats performance of the funeral songs ükheley duunuud has been a component of funeral rites that ensured sacred communication between relatives and the soul of the descended, among earthly and afterlife worlds. Genesis of funeral songs ükheley duunuud still needs to be enlightened by further investigations. Discovery and study of the funeral song tradition allows you to enter a new genre of traditional ritual music of the Western Buryats ükheley duunuud into scholarly use in Russian and Buryat ethnomusicology and folklore studies.


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