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MYTHS AND LEGENDS

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"Biya and Katun"
<IMG alt="" hspace=10 src="images/culture/foto0054.jpg" align=left vspace=10 border=0>"Some time ago the rivers Biy and Katun (Kedun-Khansha) used to be a husband and a wife. The wife was shrewish and difficult to deal with, while the husband was placid, quiet and intelligent. He could get o要 with other rivers, lived in peace with giants - mountains. His shrewish wife Katun quarreled with all the rivers and mountains and would give her husband no peace. Then all the rivers and mountains advised Biy to race with his wife, i.e. to make a bet. The o要e who wins the race becomes the leading spirit of their family.
They arranged a race up to the mountain Babyrgan. Thus the race started. Taiga and mountains o要 Biy's way moved aside to let him go through, because their sympathy was o要 Biy's side. o要 the contrary, the mountains moved closer o要 Katun's way, strong rocks were barriers for her. Having hardly overcome all the barriers, the shrewish Katun forged to the valley and reached the mountain of Babyrgan, confident of being the first. But to her surprise, Biy had long ago passed the mountain. Babyrgan saw Katun, lagging behind her husband and laughed loudly.
"What are you laughing at with your mouth wide open?" - asked the shrewish Katun and heard the following answer:
"Your husband's been waiting for you in the valley for quite a long time and you are still trudging along!"
Getting even angrier, Katun slapped Babyrgan with all her might, but after thinking better of it, she said: "Although I've lost the bet, I am still the wife of Biy - the Master." Since that time the two rivers have these names.
Both the rivers - the Biya and the Katun - having joined together, made their way to the north - to Altyn Kazyk (the Polar Star), forming the river Ob, which means "a willful and unsatiable master" in the Oirot-Altaian language.
Many of the famous shamans-kams appealed to "Tobojdym", i.e. to the Ob in their mysteries."

The Lake Teletskoye

"In the days gone by, there was hunger all over Altai. A rich man had a very large golden ingot, but having gone all around Altai, he couldn't buy a single slice of bread for it. The vexed man flung his ingot of gold into the lake and perished himself in the waters of the lake. That's why the Teletskoye Lake is called "Altyn Kyol" or the Golden Lake in the Oirot-Altaian language."

The Bogatyrs of the Katun<IMG alt="" hspace=10 src="images/culture/art_foto_2a.jpg" align=left vspace=10 border=0>

"Two Katun bogatyrs - Sartakpai and his son - decided to build a bridge over the tempestuous Katun. The work started. Good spirit Ulgen helped them under the condition that they keep themselves tidy. Huge rocks were raining down from the both sides of the willful river. There left o要ly few of them in the middle to form the arch for water to flow under it. But the dusk was falling and the bogatyrs gave themselves to rest. Ulgen - the good spirit - guided their sleep. In the morning they woke up. Sartakpai grabbed a heap of stones with his strong arms and saw that most of the rocks had been swallowed up by the Katun, because his son did not observe the conditions of the good spirit. Outraged, Sartakpai sat at the nearest rock and looked sadly at the unfinished building. The imprints of Sartakpai and his bare feet were printed o要 the rocks and preserved until now o要 the territory a little bit higher from the mouth of the river Tchemal."

"After the unlucky bridge-building, Sartakpai looked down the river and saw a cliff barring the way of the tempestuous Katun at the mouth of the river Tchemal. Sartakpai tightened his bow, shot an arrow down the river and said: "Jol Bolzyn", which means "Let there be road". The arrow hit the Tchemal cliff, pierced it and flung a split "sogon tash" 13-15 versts (1 v = 3,500 feet) away from the territory of Askat. That's why the split of rock sits apart from the all the rest o要 the bank of the river Katun."

"Being in Kor-Kechu, Sartakpai threw a stone into a flying flock of geese. The flown stone fell near the river of Mena in the Tchuya valley. This stone lies o要 the Tchoiskaya Road, 5 versts away from Tchibit and 120 versts away from Kor-Kechu. This is a round, 7-pound stone."

The Aya Lake and Telbegen
<IMG alt="" hspace=10 src="images/culture/aya.jpg" align=left vspace=10 border=0>Ages ago, there lived a happy nation in Altai. They shepherded cattle and gathered harvest. But the time came and there appeared a formidable 7-headed dragon Telbegen. The struggle between the people and Telbegen lasted until the former were exhausted. Then the people appealed to Kyun-the Sun for help. Kyun-the Sun tried to catch Telbegen, but when he approached the earth, all the plants and all the forests started to burn. Since that time no trees grow o要 cone-shaped hills.
Kyun-the Sun asked Ai-the Moon to help people and sent him to the earth. He went down to the earth and caught the formidable 7-headed Telbegen. The formidable dragon did not want to leave the earth and got hold of a willow, "tal", lonely growing there. Ai lifted Telbegen with the tree high from the ground. There appeared a huge crater and the stones from the tree roots fell directly in the crater.
In due course, there appeared a round lake with a stone in the middle at the place where Ai-the Moon caught Telbegen. The lake is called Ai-Kyoli, i.e. the Moon Lake. And high in the sky there is Ai-the Moon - the savior.
When the moon is full, you can see the shadows of mysterious Telbegen o要 Ai.

CULTS AND BELIEFS OF THE OIROT-ALTAIANS

Various cults which include various complexes of the laws of existence and prohibitions (taboos) play a considerable role in beliefs of the Oirot-Altaians. Most cults are connected with the people's economic activity - blacksmith's production, cattle-breeding, farming, hunting and others.

Fire Cult ("Ot-Ochoktyn Baaiy")

The Oirot-Altaian fire cult, called "Ot-Ochoktyn Baaiy" which means - "Sanctity of Fire-Hearth", is a whole complex of fire worshipping. The Oirot-Altaians consider fire a live creature and address it - "Ot-eezi" which means "Master of Fire". Ot-eezi - kin-keeper - is the symbol of family or clan happiness. Since the moment a family "is born" - the fire is to be kept in yurta. The young bride is not allowed to near the fire before wedding, because she belongs to another clan. At the wedding the bride hidden by a white screen is taken to ail, where "Ot-Ochok" burns; the bride is shown to the fire until her fiance following his uncle around "Fire Hearth" clockwise, finishes the procedure of happiness-wishing and entertaining of the future "Fire Hearth" of a new family. After that, the bridegroom's brother or, sometimes, the bridegroom himself, opens the screen with his lash or a rifle, which gives the right to the bride to be the mistress of the new ail, to keep her family's "Ot - the Hearth" carefully till the end of her days and then pass it to the next generations.
<IMG alt="" hspace=10 src="images/culture/foto0088.jpg" align=left vspace=10 border=0>The fire was to be taken care of. It was prohibited to take it out of the dwelling. The time of its taking-out was strictly regulated. It was not allowed to a person from another clan to treat fire in the ail. Lighting-up of a pipe was also regulated. The ail's master had to light up the guest's pipe and handed it to the guest. o要e was to smoke pipe while sitting near the hearth; and when it was necessary to leave the ail, o要e had to clean the pipe against the footsole or against a log burning in the hearth.
Functions of fire diverse extremely. Apart from being the guarding spirit of a clan or hearth, fire has a purifying function. The fire is believed not to let evil spirits into the house, to dispel a man's evil thoughts. Various household utilities, a new-born's cradle, cattle enclosures, etc. are fumigated-purified by the fire and holy heather. That's the way, the negative energy is banished.
Taboos of the home fire-hearth: to point at the fire with sharp things - ax, knife, etc., to pour salt and other bitter or poisonous substances into the fire, to curse, to swear, to kick up a row, etc.
These are o要ly the basic notions of the people's fire cult. To enumerate the multitude of other rituals and taboos connected with fire will make a whole book.

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