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国际木文化学会 > 主题 > 木与生活 > Wood and the cult of Tree in the nomadic space of Kalmyks
Wood and the cult of Tree in the nomadic space of Kalmyks
国际木文化学会 | 240 view(s) | 2021/08/05

会议名称:“2021世界木材日”研讨会暨第三届国际林联(IUFRO) 林产品文化研究组讨论会
会议时间:2021年3月22日

报告嘉宾:Kermen Batyreva, Svetlana Batyreva
嘉宾简介:Kalmyk state university, Russia, Elista

摘要
Wood was widely used in the household of nomads who left Western Mongolia and settled in the steppes of the Northern Caspian. The traditions determined the use of wood among Russian Kalmyks, who imported wood from the Volga region and the North Caucasus under the conditions of the steppe treelessness. Structural details of the frame of the nomadic dwelling “kibitka”, furniture, dishes, household items, musical instruments were made of wood. Different types of wood were used to create household utensils, but, most often,  a maple, a walnut, a poplar. All small-sized utensils of livestock farming were made by carving, turning and chiselling wood.

The items were decorated with carved decor. Thus, wooden ladles "tsatsl" of various sizes and shapes with nine holes were used in the ritual sphere of life. Nomads performed sacrificial drink-offerings with dairy products during the child-bearing, wedding and funeral rites of Kalmyks' life cycle. The decorative design combined images of animals on the handle framed by patterned ornaments of happiness and an L-shaped meander, which personifies perpetual motion. Such items are on the permanent display of the Museum of Traditional Culture named after Zaya-Pandita of the Kalmyk Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

People's respect for wood has ancient origins in the culture of the Kalmyk people. Far beyond the borders of the steppe, the "Lonely Poplar" from Kalmykia is known, which won the third place in the international competition "European Tree of the Year 2020", in which unique old trees from 16 European countries took part. The poplar, growing near the village of Khar Buluk, Tselinny District of the Republic of Kalmykia, represented the Russian Federation in the competition. Before that, it became the winner of “The Russian Tree of the Year” national competition. In an online poll held from 1 to 29 February last year, the Lonely Poplar won 27,411 votes in the European Tree of the Year 2020 competition.

According to the legend, the giant poplar was planted by a Buddhist monk named Bogdokhna Khurlyn Purdash Lam in 1846. He brought poplar seeds from his pilgrimage to Tibet. Purdash-bagshi placed poplar seeds inside his walking stick, which he buried at the highest point of the local hill. Soon a poplar sprout appeared at this place near the village of Khar-Buluk. For more than 150 years, the tree has grown into a real giant. Today its height is 20 m, diameter is about 1.44 m. And it is included in the National Register of Old-Growing Trees of Russia under No. 390.

The tree is not only a natural monument, but also a sacred object for worship of buddhists. Believers from different parts of Russia and even foreign countries come here to pray.  There is a Buddhist sanctuary of stupas on white stone pedestals near the poplar. A sacred Buddhist pole rises among them, symbolizing the initial stay of the seed in it, which gave a life-giving shoot to the tree.

At the foot of the poplar there are healing springs that gave the name to the village of Khar Buluk (Pure Spring). Their water is unique and useful for humans, because it contains alum, acting destructively on all kinds of parasites. Pilgrims come to touch the tree, recharge with its energy, ask for the fulfillment of desires, and also drink healing water. The ancient origins of tree worship are associated with the cosmogony of the Kalmyks, which represents the original principles of the World. The structure of the human universe is formed by the all-embracing foundations of Being - Earth and Heaven, connected by a lonely poplar standing in the middle of a vast steppe space, and inspired by the Sun. The life-giving Sun is symbolized in a red brush on the headdress of Kalmyks (the ethnonym "ulan zalata khalmgud" - children of the Sun). The symbolism of figurative thinking is carried by the ancestral hearth, an analogue of the sun in the living space of nomads. In the exhibition model of the traditional Kalmyk universe, this is emphasized by the vertical axis of the symbolic tree rising from the hearth on the ground through a round chimney to the Eternal Blue Sky of the Mongolian peoples.