RUSS 2231 Quiz 1 Review
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What is the difference between a memorate and a fabulate?
In a memorate, the narrator has witnessed what he/she is relating, whereas in a fabulate the narrator cannot possibly verify the tale but knows or trusts someone who can (both are considered true, though).
- The chief god of the Slavs; a god of war (as well as thunder and lightning, and by implication the rain).
- Associated with Elijah
- a god of commerce and also cattle
- Associated with St. Vlas
- a goddess of fertility and the earth.
- She gives life to what comes out of earth.
- Women would ask her for help in matters of marriage, husbandry, and childbirth.
- Associated with Paraskeva
What is the meaning of dvoeverie? Give a specific example of it in practice.
- Literally, it means “two faiths.”
- It describes the unique interweaving of Pagan & Christian rituals and beliefs that characterizes Christianity among the Russian peasants.
- People would wear a cross around their neck as well as bear claw, both talismans of protection but one from Christianity and one from paganism
- To maintain good favor with domovoi, upon moving the head of the house would hold an icon in one hand, food for the god in the other, and cross himself in the Christian custom.
- Christian occasions were often superimposed on to existing festivals, so that painting Easter eggs was a celebration of the traditional pagan festival of spring.
Describe the ritual of “ploughing out death,” as described by Warner, referring to its purpose, its participants, and the procedure for carrying out this ritual.
- During epidemics affecting humans and cattle a ritual furrow was ploughed around the village.
- The purpose was to release the generative and therefore death- and deisease-defying forces of the earth.
- Only women participated in the ritual (one harnessed to the plow, another guided the handles, and others followed behind).
- The women — who stripped down and loosened their hair — marched around making as much noise as possible (banging pots & scythes) to “flush out” death and disease.
According to Warner, “It was not only in the strictly agricultural context that people revealed their belief in the earth’s power and sanctity” (p. 29). Give two examples of how peasants demonstrated their belief in the “power and sanctity [holiness]” of the earth.
- People would swear upon it as they would swear upon G-d. (e.g. saying “May the earth choke me if I act falsely” peasants would say, placing a lump of earth in their mouth as they paced the boundaries of their fields in order to settle a disputed claim to the land.
- Peasants believed that the earth would not accept bodies of unrepenteant sinners. (sinners came back to life)
- compassionate, merciful, and gave gifts anonymously / secretly.
- the patron saint of sea-farers/fisherman, cattle, hunters, horses… almost anything (the “catch-all saint”)
- vengeful, pagan connection to Perun.
- He threw lightning at devils in whatever form they may take and brought rain.
- Protector of sheep and cattle
- pagan connection to Volos
- people blessed their cattle on his day
- unmerciful, demonic personage.
- His day occurs Feb 29th
- No one works on that day, because he has an evil eye that opens only on that day (anything he looks at whithers)
- virgin who refused to renounce her faith & was killed
- she’s associated with fertility, bounty/abundance of crops, and protects women.
- She rewards those who acknowledge her, and punishes those who don’t.
- 12 Fridays per year women couldn't work
Which of the elemental forces could be exploited for evil purposes? How?
- It could sweep away the soil and carry bad things on it such as disease.
- Spells could travel on it (speak a spell and the wind carries it to the person).
- Whirlwinds and storms are associated with evil spirits coming/going/dancing.
Explain the concept of “tsar” or “living” fire. In what respect, and by what evidence, was such fire considered sacred?
- Tsar/living fires were lit for ritual protection or purification via friction on wood.
- It was considered sacred as evidenced by the fact that
- women were not allowed to light it
- all other fires in the village were extinguished prior to lighting the tsar fire (they were subsequently relit with this flame).
- Other answers? Used in folk medicine, throw clay body part in fire, run diseased cattle thru fire, young men & women jumped over fire for potential marriage
Know proper behavior regarding the stove fire, and what not to do in regard to the stove fire, lest one invite misfortune.
- Home of the domovoi
- Place newborns on it
- Seat new brides beside it
- Transfer embers from old home to new home
- Maintain respectful demeanor and avoid profanities while lighting
- DO NOT:
- Spit on it.
- Let the fire go out
- Lend fire to anyone else
10. Be familiar with the story of Sadko, as summarized/described in Warner. How does this tale relate to popular beliefs about the beings which have power over the waters, or over those who sail on them?
Musician from Novgorod. Water tsar likes his music, has him make a wager with merchants that he’ll catch a golden fish. He wins, and uses his winnings to build a merchant fleet. However, he doesn’t honor the water tsar for 12 years and is nearly consumed in a storm. He throws himself into the sea, goes to the bottom, and must entertain the water tsar. This causes a storm, St. Nikolai intervenes (tells Sadko to break his strings) Relations:
- The water tsar dances and causes disastrous storms on top
- He must be acknowledged with gratitude (usually bread & salt) or else they will wreak havoc.
11. Who is the idol sunken in the mud at the bottom of the river in On the Banks of the Yaryn? Give two reasons as to how we know his identity.
It was Perun because he used to:
- Live in the sky (roar with laughter = thunder)
- Ride in a chariot and escort devils with fiery arrows (lightning)
- Had gold moustache & silver beard (classic of a Perun statue)
12. Knowing that conceptions of space in part determined the degree of fear the peasant felt towards various spirits, which of the spirits we’ve discussed occupied “one’s own” space? According to Warner, which “of all the spaces…most clearly represents the world of ‘the other’”?
Domovoi occupied one’s own space
Leshii occupied the world of the other.
13. Aside from obvious differences such as dwelling space and function, in what respect is the domovoi “substantially different from other unclean spirits” (Warner).
He was not afraid of cock-crow
He resided as of right within the space regarded as “one’s own” by the peasants and his presence there was welcomed (not feared)
14. How does Kondratiev’s depiction of the leshii in his novel On the Banks of the Yaryn correspond with popular belief about the forest spirit as described in Warner’s text?
Shaggy, goat-like appearance
- He claims he determines the success of a hunt by driving animals towards those that pay respect to him
- He’s appeased (at least temporarily) with food gifts
- He has a wife
15. Aside from the inherent dangers associated with the bathhouse, and even aside from the bannik and devils that were believed to live there, why was one considered especially vulnerable while using the bathhouse?
Bathers removed the cross from around their neck, the belt from their waist, and any other protective amulets
Bath-houses were a boundary between the natural and super-natural. They were used for purging the “bad stuff” – both physically and spiritually, and all of that bad-stuff ran into the ground beneath the floor.
16. What is the difference between the popular image of the rusalka in southern Russia, and her image in the north-eastern parts of Russia?
Southern: they had beauty and charm to counterbalance their deadly intentions
North-East: the feminism of the rusalki was distorted into something grotesque and repulsive (ancient, haglike creatures with tangled mops of hair, sharp claws and enormous bosoms). They would snatch travelers from pathways alongside gloomy marshy places and drag them to a wet muddy death
17. According to Warner, what does modern scholarship favor as the origin of the name Rusalka?
Derivation from the ancient Slavonic festival in honour of the dead known as rusalii
18. What was the best time to collect medicinal herbs, as explained in Ryan’s article, “Magical Times”? In other words, when was the healing power of those herbs “greatly enhanced” over any other time?
St. John’s Eve or the morning of St. John’s Day
19. What “magical places” were to be specifically avoided by a wedding procession, as cited by Ryan in his article, “Magical Places and Directions”? And, from that same article, what are some examples of “magical” directions?
Avoid crossroads & cemeteries.
- Face east in spells (West is the devil’s side)
- Right = good, correct, true, just. Left = unlucky, unjust, bad, secret, demonic.
- Angel on the right, devil on the left
- Clockwise vs. Anti-clockwise (same as left/right)
- Walking backwards deceives demons into leaving their victim
- Turning somersaults (over a knife) is part of the procedure to become a were-animal or magician
20. Give the literal translations of roditeli and zalozhnye, and explain the meaning of these terms.
Roditeli = “parents” or “ancestors”
- Buried in holy earth after completion of all the rites designed to ensure a safe and swift passage into the afterlife
- Not expected to haunt the living
- Zalozhyne = “covered up”
- Flung into ditches or left above ground under branches, stones, & debris
- Those who died too early
- Could not pass into the other world until their proper time came
- Doomed to remain on earth for the intervening years;
21. According to Warner, what do Russian folk narratives suggest is “the greatest danger from the walking dead”?
Their appetite for human flesh / blood.
22. Referring to the article “East European Vampires,” can people be made vampires even after death? Explain.
Yes. If a human or unclean aniumal (cat or dog) steps over a body or a bird flies over it.
These acts are evidently connected with the idea that insufficient respect or care for the dead is shown. To avoid this, relatives keep constant vigil over the dead.
23. Referring to the article “East European Vampires,” what is the exact definition of a vampire (as given by Jan Perkowski, in that article)?
A being which derives sustenance from a victim, who is weakened by the experience. The sustenance may be physical or emotional in nature
24. According to Oinas, what is “the most common” idea about the origin of vampires? In other words, what individuals were expected to become vampires, or under what circumstances might an individual become a vampire?
Most common: sorcerers, witches, werewolves, excommunicates, and those who died unatural deaths (suicides/drunkards) become vampires at their deaths
- Destined from birth
- Werewolf or devil + witch = vampire.
- Born with caul on their head, theeth showing, contiguous eyebrows, on Christmas Day (because their presumptious mothers conceived on the same day as the Virgin Mary)
- Caul can be fixed. Burn it and feed the child the ashes at age 7
25. Referring to the Oinas article, how can one give the dead a “peaceful rest” and thus render a vampire harmless? What are some “sterner” (physical, invasive, often violent) ways of rendering a vampire harmless? What is the SUREST method of disposing of a vampire?
- place miniature poplar crosses in the coffin
- place sand and poppy seeds into the coffin
- pile a heap of stones onto the coffin
- Sterner measures
- pierce the body with a sharpened stake (hawthorn or aspen) by beating it into the chest or back, between the shoulder blades, or to drive a stake/nail into the head
- place thorns under the tongue to keep the vampire from sucking blood
- bind the hands of the corpse behind its back
- main the heels and cut the tendons under the knees
- strike off the head in a single blow then place it between the legs
- hack the body to pieces
- Surest measure = completely annihilate the body by burning it and scattering the ashes
26. Be familiar with burial preparations as discussed in Warner’s article “Russian Peasant Beliefs and Practices Concerning Death and the Supernatural.” What was the traditional color of the “death clothes” in which the dead were buried; what clothing items were essential parts of the “death clothes;” etc., and why.
- Wash the corpse (so he can present himself clean)
- Dress the body in “death clothes,” which are all white and must be new (parts hand-sewn)
- Essentials: slippers, socks, trousers, underpants, shirt (all white), plus a belt and cross
- Place a shroud (a.k.a. savan) outer garment over the body--its a sort of cape-like thing without sleeves--then pull the hood over his head
- Hands and feet are bound together to stop them inadvertently springing apart, but the restraints were removed prior to burial.
- White garments refer “to the promise which the deceased gave at baptism to lead a life of purity and holiness.” It is also an indication of the relictual tendencies of the ritual since it probably also refers to the raw linen from which the East Slavs made their garments in the past.
27. Referring to Warner’s “Russian Peasant Beliefs and Practices Concerning Death and the Supernatural,” why was the deceased sometimes placed facing the icon corner? Why was it necessary to pin the pillow to the bedding in the coffin? What explanation is given for the custom of tossing handfuls of dirt onto the coffin once it was lowered in the ground?
Placed this way so that the deceased is looking towards G-d, not with his back to Him, and could pray if he wanted to.
- Pin the pillow because in the other world a person takes everything that was in the coffin with him. If you don’t fix the pillow, he’ll keep on picking it up and picking it up. He’ll be confused
- Handfuls of dirt are thrown on because after that, “he won’t feel anything anymore. While he’s being carried he can still feel.”
28. From Warner’s article: In what respect was the deceased considered to be in a liminal/transitional state? What aspects of burial preparation suggest or support this belief? What is done with the clothing in which the deceased died; the water in which the corpse was bathed; and the wood chips and shavings from the preparation of his coffin?
At death, the body enters upon a brief liminal stage which ends at the commital. The body still retains some vestige of life, as life departs only in slow stages
- Aspects supporting this:
- the corpse is laid so that it can “see” the icons
- There’s a common interdiction on lamenting in the moments immediately following death lest the corpse be roused
- The clothing is burnt
- The water is poured outside of the house under the so-called “front” corner (since it’s fenced off)
- Woodchips/shavings are placed inside the coffin to form part of the mattress
29. What was the “dead cross” described in Ryan’s article “Christian Objects as Talismans,” and what was it used for? What are other “magical” applications of the Christian cross, as described in Ryan’s article?
Dead cross = a pectoral cross which had to be taken from a corpse in a grave and would make you so thin that you could avoid conscription into the Army. It can also cure fever, fright, and nervous illness.
- Other “magical” applications:
- It can disconcert demons/devils
- A buried cross can recover a stray cow
- A melted down cross turned into a bullet can kill a wizard
- A cross drawn on the door can keep witches away
- A cross drawn on doors on the night of the Epiphany could be used as medicament thereafter
30. Aside from being objects of worship, what other purposes could icons serve, as discussed in Ryan’s article? What are some of the beliefs and stories about the magical (or supernatural) qualities of icons?
They can have miraculous, usually healing, powers
- Images of the Virgin could protect a home from fire, cure blindness, help in a difficult childbirth, etc. One in particular saved several towns from the plague.
- Some have divination powers (example of finding a thief), some perform as oracles
- Icons can bless water in which they are placed (and that water can have healing properties)
- Bogoliubskaia Virgin cured plague victims and was credited with saving several towns and villages from the plague
- St. Nicholas at Zaraisk protects flocks
- Patriarch Photius took the vestment of the VIrgin from the church at Blachernae and dipped it in the sea, whereupon a great storm arose
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