The Mongolian Aphorisms in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (Russian Academy of Sciences)

The Mongolian Aphorisms in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (Russian Academy of Sciences)

Irina Kulganek

(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)

The largest amount of Mongolian-language materials is concentrated in the Orientalists’ Archive and in the Manuscripts’ Fund at the IOM RAS, which, in the best traditions of Russian Mongolian studies, brought together the strongest specialists in the field.

At the current time there are 16 manuscripts (Mongolian: 10, Buryat: 2, Kalmyk: 4) representing collections of Mongolian-language proverbs and sayings in the Manuscripts’ Fund. The manuscripts have brought by A.M.Pozdneev (5), Ts. Zh. Zhamtsarano (4), Samdanov (2), K. F. Golstunskiy (1), B. I. Pankratov (1). Some Mongolian riddles with answers and proverbs are contained in the following manuscripts: A-36, B-121, B-213, D-136, E-88, F-532, G-131, F-130, F-269.

The folklore materials in the Orientalists’ Archive are found in 5 collections and make 36 items, which contain more than some hundreds work of folklore.

The major part of the Mongolian-language aphorisms was collected in the Buryatia by Russian and Buryat specialists. Among these materials are fascinating examples of folk literature in various dialects of the Mongols (khalkha, darkhat, ordos, chakhar, abaga, sunit, udzumchin, bargu, uriankhai, derbet), Buryats (khorin, aga, ekhirit, kizhingin, barguzin, bulgat, alar) and Kalmuks (Don, Stavropo). Some of them date from the late XIX and the early XX centuries, when there was great interest in dialect differences, living dialects and folk literature.

Aside from the expeditionary folklore recordings, the Orientalists’ Archive also contains collections drawn up on the basis of the genre.

The category “Aphoristic genres: proverbs, sayings, riddles” (dzuir tsetsen üg) presents for the most part aphorisms collected by Ts. Zh. Zhamtsarano and B. Baradiin during their ethno-linguistic mission  to Transbaikal and Mongolia at the beginning of the twentieth century on behalf of the Russian Committee for the study of Central and Eastern Asia.

Of value to folklorists are commentaries by collectors in the manner and occasions of their performance, notes on informants and the place where the materials was gathered. Collectors sometimes grouped them into a single quire along thematic lines.