Dialogue on the Threshold

Диалог на пороге

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Vogul eschatology

When a corpse is buried, the soul of the deceased descends into the underworld - called the 'lower land' or the 'lower world' in all Vogul dialects. (...) Among the Voguls this lower world is identified as being in the Arctic Ocean. The Northern Voguls speak of a 'Prince of the Underworld', xuḽ-ōtәr, who lives in the Arctic Ocean. When a Vogul dies, in fact, his or her soul travels down the Ob river to the Arctic Ocean. There is a particular hole through which the soul travels to reach the underworld. (...) The deceased continues life in much the same way as before his or her death. They reside with the same possessions and at the same age they had at the moment of death. (...) Punishment after death for evil deeds is occassionally mentioned among the Northern Voguls, but this idea is probably borrowed from the Russian - "Do not steal, you will be punished for it in the future life." But it should be noted that death itself is often referred to as 'gone to torment/agony' and the cemetery as 'the place of agony.' (...) An informant on the lower Konda reports that the 'place beyond' is always as dim as a summer night. The inhabitants live in subterranean huts and they are ruled by the Prince of the Underworld (...) There is also a folk poem about an underworld woman who lives at a 'goose-rich lake, a duck-rich lake' to whom the gods send the deceased.

Otto J. von Sadovsky, Aspects of Vogul Religion (based on A. Kannistor, E. A. Virtanen, M. Liimola, Materialen zur Mythologie der Wogulen, MSFOu 113, Helsinki, 1958), in Vogul Folklore, collected by Bernát Munkácsi, selected and edited by Otto J. von Sadovsky and Mihály Hoppál, translated by Bálint Sebestyén, ISTOR (Internataional Society for Trans-Oceanic Research) Books 4, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1995, pp. 160-161.

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