“Mammoths” in Russian Folklore II

The Yukagirian Legend about Mammoths

 recorded in Yukagirian and Russian languages

by W.Johelson, Kolyma region, 1896.

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The Yukagir people had a great and powerful Shaman whom they called the Old One. In summer the Shaman with his wife roamed from place to place along the Kolyma river by boat.

In winter time by dog sledding like all the Yukagir people. The Shaman’s grown-up son with his young wife traveled together with them.

But his son’s family was unhappy: the children were born had died.

The son’s soul began to go somewhere at nights.

The Old One Shaman decided to find out where his son’s soul was and he had followed his footprints.

The footprints took him to a big lake. There was his son with a bow in his arms on the lakeside.

What are you doing here? – the Old One asked.

Father, can’t you see my suffering? The Evil Shaman eats my children’s souls. He turned into a loon and he’s swimming in the middle of the lake. I want to revenge upon him for my children! – son answered.

I’ll help you. I am more powerful than he! – the Old Shaman said, and called his spirit-helper, the Mammoth. There came an enormous beast with tusks-fangs.

The father with son sat on Mammoth’s back.

The Mammoth swam to the middle of the lake where the loon was.

The Old One directed his Mammoth to the sunrise, looked back and saw the loon floating on its back.

You see, my Mammoth is more powerful than the loon! Now shoot the loon! – the Old Shaman rejoiced. The son shot an arrow and killed the loon.

The father and son went home happily.

Since that time the children of the Shaman’s family didn’t die but grew healthy and strong.



  • all-creatures.org

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