New Data About the Kumady Shamanism
(45th Meeting of the PIAC, Budapest 2002)
The Kumady is a little group living in the Northern part of the Altai Republic (Russian Federation). They speak a South Siberian Turkic dialect, which is a transition between the Altai Kizhi, Telengit (South Altai) dialects and the Abakan Tatar (Khakas), Shor dialects. The Kumandy together with the close dialects of Chalkandy and Tuba compose the Northern Altai group of dialects. This dialect is now disappearing, because Russians and Altai kizhi, who constitute the majority of the republic, are assimilating these small groups. The official languages of the Altai Republic are also Russian and Altai (based on the Southern dialects). The Kumdandy nowadays live in about 10-15 villages in the North of the republic, along the River Biy and in Kemerovo Region along the border.
Very few material has been collected from the Kumandy, the first Turkologist Wilhelm Radloff also collected mainly among the southern groups. We know much less about their Shamanism, which has disappeared almost completely during the Soviet period. This is also true about the shamanism of the Shors, Telengets and other Abakan Tatar groups of Khakasia. Vilmos Didszegi (1923–72) the famous ethnographer and philologist was one of the first researchers to do field trips to Southern Siberia especially to collect material about their Shamanism. Between 1957–64 he visited the region three times and collected material between the Tofas of Nizhneudinks (Karagas), Tozhu (Todzhinci) and Hövsögöl (Tsaatan), the Tuvas of Kaa-Hem and Hemzhik, Sagais (Agban Tatar, Hakas) around Tashtyp, Telengit of Kosh-Agash, and the Kumadys. During his one-month filed trip among the Kumandys a young Kumandy historian, Satlajev, accompanied him. They collected Shamanic song form two shamans, who had stopped practising a long time ago. Now that many new information arose about their materials and collection I would like to try to present date about their filed trip to the Kumandys and their material, which never has been published.