Ritual Role of the Horse in Funeral Rites

Becbalak, Korlan

Ritual Role of the Horse in Funeral Rites

(45th Meeting of the PIAC, Budapest 2002)

A horse takes the special place in spiritual life of the Eurasian steppe nomads. The horse reverence was formed in Scythian-saki epoch as written and archeological sources testify. At that particular time the horse played a relevant ritual role in the funeral and sacrifice rites. One of the tribes in Scythian-saki epoch that is called “Vedicheskie arii” had the horse sacrifice accompanied funerals of a king and aristocracy.

In this aspect the materials of Berel’sky burial mound are valuable and unique, where 13 horses have ritual nature in the rite with horse burying accompanying the king in the other world. At the same time, a color of sacrificial horses played the essential role in king’s funerals. That was a red color.

The horses from Berel’sky burial mound, fitted on a color were the king’s property and were intended for fulfillment of ritual rites. Thus, a complex of the rites implemented with a king’s death was identified with transition into the other world — on “celestial pastures”; the leader accustomed to eternal life and remained still omnipotent, immortal.