Animal Spouse in Mongolian Mythology and Folklore (a case of mutual connection of culture and nature in the Altaic world)
(63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021)
The present paper is a part of the author’s project aiming at the multilateral elaboration of the mythology of various Mongolian ethnic groups. The animals (both domesticated livestock and various species of beasts) comprise a considerable part of the mythological conceptions inherited from the hunting and nomadic societies.
Besides the “pure” totemistic concept preserved in ethnogenic myths, the human and animal marriage motif appears in aetiological narratives (myths, legends and folktales). The occurrence of animal spouse in the tradition, like the swan maiden, the she-wolf and the doe wives and the serpent, the frog and the owl husbands, etc., are not only significant mythologemes but refer to particular economic, social and cultural phenomena of the society. The paper discusses the role of the animal spouse in mythological and social contexts, referring to the problems of “cultura and natura”, legitimisation and transformation. For the analysis of the discussed phenomenon, some sample texts of the above-mentioned Mongolian corpus will be analysed with an outlook on some Altaic parallels.
A previous article dedicated to this topic: Birtalan, Ágnes: A kígyó: pusztító erő, segítőszellem, házastárs. A kígyó-motívum változatai a kalmük mesehagyományban. In: Keréknyomok. Orientalisztikai és Buddhológiai Folyóirat 8. (2014) pp. 33–56. [Snake: Harming Force, Spouse, Helping Spirit. Varieties of the Snake-motif in Kalmyk Folk Tales].