Personal Mythic-Ritual Tunes in the Culture of the Ob-Ugrians

Key words
the Khanty, the Mansi, folk musical instruments, music and ritual, ethnomusicology
Galina E. Soldatova
About the Author
Галина Евлампьевна Солдатова
Кандидат искусствоведения, ведущий научный сотрудник сектора фольклора народов Сибири Института филологии СО РАН:
Российская Федерация, 630090, г. Новосибирск, ул. Николаева, д. 8;
тел.: +7 (383) 330-14-52; e-mail:
Date of publication

This article is devoted to personal mythological melodies (naigryshi) — ​a phenomenon of the culture of the Ob-Ugrians (Khanty and Mansi). The author systematizes musical notes and audio materials from published and unpublished sources, including field materials collected in the Ob North during the expeditions of the 1980s‑2000s. In the repertoire of Ob-Ugric musicians there are two groups of tunes. The first includes melodies of deities and patron spirits, including the bear. The second includes tunes from a variety of games related to people and animals: dances (which distinguish people by ethno-local, gender and age characteristics); depictions of labor processes; those showing the habits and voices of animals; instrumental “transcriptions” of songs; and tunes included in narratives. Most of the instrumental melodies are played during rituals — ​the bear festival, shamanic sessions, sacrifices. Personal mythological tunes are dedicated to a specific deity or patron spirit and are performed only on a stringed instrument and only by a man. The tunes are distributed locally in the following ways: the melodies of deities common to the Khanty and Mansi are found in all groups of the Ob-Ugrians; the endowment of patron spirits with their own melodies is characteristic of the Mansi, and this phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the Sygvin and Verkhnelozvin traditions. Each deity becomes recognizable through a musical characteristic. This is achieved via stable melodic-rhythmic turns in the structure of the tunes and a common melodic fund of personal tunes for different rites. For the first time in Ugric musical studies the article describes the phenomenon of personal mythic-ritual tunes. This is necessary for conducting comparative studies of folk musical cultures and for understanding the interrelationships of music and ritual.


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For citation

Soldatova G. E. Personal Mythic-Ritual Tunes in the Culture of the Ob-Ugrians. Traditional Culture. 2021. Vol. 22. No. 1. Pp. 27–38. In Russian.