A Study of Various Motifs: THE PLEIADES AS OPENINGS, THE MILKY WAY AS THE PATH OF BIRDS, AND THE GIRL ON THE MOON: CULTURAL LINKS ACROSS NORTHERN EURASIA

3 cosmic motifs’ distribution coincide in E. Baltic and Middle Volga region – Cosmic vocabulary of the Balts and B. Finns are the same:

  •  Milky Way path of birds (Amur Evenki);
  •  Pleiades as sieve (E. Europe-Siberia);
  •  water-carrier motif/ (orphan)girl (sometimes with boy Arkhangelsk Prov) with bucket on moon (Balts and Slavs)

Water-carrier motif particularly known across Eurasia (E of Yenissei, Yakut, Buryat, Evenki) from E Baltic to the Sea of Okhotsk -Khalkha Mongols, Buryats (pre-Mongol phase of stepdaughter water-carrier) and Japan
This motif is absent in CAS-Altai, except for the myth that the ogre abducted him as he went to fetch water and a yoke and pail in his hands / Tofa – orphan boy / Darkhao boys went after water, ended up on the Moon –
Tilbegen/Jelbegen got to the moon but the Moon abducted Ainu girl with bucket, but see lunar disc as a boy insulted the Moon; Ryukyu (Okinawa & Miyako) boy who insulted ends up on the Moon
Kirghiz (stepdaughter went to draw water, ended up on the moon)-Pamir region, Kazakh(spots on the moon),
Ireland: two boys carried a stick with a pail of water on it/two men held yokes with water-tubs/Scandinavia – two children with a yoke and a pail/two old men tried to drown Moon with water / woman who insults – version know over in NW coast of N America and Fraser River basin

Note:  The path of birds overlaps with water-carrier motif – N. Russian, Ukrainian, Volgan-Permian reigon

The Path of birds (migratory birds or waterfowl) also known to Lusitanian Sorbians, Lithuanians and Poles
Path of cranes, birds’ path, trace of the route of birds, sometimes=’route of dead souls’ Milky Way River
Milky Way=’sky trace’ among the Ob-Ugrians connected to myth of the hunt of the sky elk / Samoyeds, E Siberia, Lower Amur and Alaska
Russians call the Milky Way ‘path of geese’ and in Siberia and Evenki (Middle Amur)
Path of birds: Khanty Mansi, Hungarians, Turks, BUT NOT Sayan-Altai peoples, Algonkians, Ojibwa.
Among the Southern Tutchone Athabascans: path of the loon who had cured the blind hunter
Path of birds motif appeared in Eurasia before the split of Proto-Uralic into two branches.

Coincidental area – Finno-Ugric and Baltic, Saami, Turksi (Milky Way concept overlaps with Pleiades = ‘sieve’)
Pleiades as sieve known to Hungarians, Italians

Girl on the moon – typical for Macedonia and NE Bulgaria, Romania

Saami – Pleiades = girls / Chukchi Pleiades = ‘group of women’  Orochi, Uilta of Sakhalin – Pleiades = seven openings and Lower Amur: ‘seven women’ (usually connected to lakeside or [S. and W. of Baltic Sea – absent]

Therefore, there is a difference in that there is a boundary between Balts and Slavs.
Concepts that are cognates for  the Pleiades include:

1) Hen with its chickens/brood W,S,C. Europe; Balkans; W. Ukraine (absent among Yugoslavia, Spanish Pyrenees)… except Basque W. Africa the Sudan, NE India and SEAs…Near East??? N. Africa? Touaregs (a Berber people in the Sahara, N. Africa) Pleiades are called ‘chickens’ (late spread into Europe)

2) Wild duck’s nest (egg, eggs) of wild duck, or a flock of ducks – Nenets, Komi-Zyrians, Udmurts, Ob-Ugrians Siberia, NE Europe=Uralic coinciding cosmonyms; among Turkic Khakas Pleiades.=also a ‘duck’s nest’ or a ‘flock of ducks’; pre-Slavic N. Russians the ‘duck’s nest’-brought motif to E. of Urals – Siberia ; Yakuts, Kamchadals??? duck shrine and Kofun haniwa images of ducks and waterfowl//duck’s nest equated with Uralic territory & language spread – Connection between Samoyeds and Finno-Ugrians

3) Sieve: continuous N. Eurasia / N.-E Siberian continuum / Canadian Ojibwa: stars or constellation in the sky dome/vault with openings – E. Baltics-Volga distribution: Chukchi, Koryaks(Asian NE)‘small sieve’ Ke’tmet and Katmac; in Dagestan (Kumyks, Laks, Avars, Andi, Dargins,Tavli); kazakh, Astrakhan Tatars; in Russian Vologda prov; in the Middle Volga (Chuvash, Bashkirs, Udmurts, Tatars, Mari E. Baltic Prussians, Lithuanians, Letts, Livonians, Estonians, Votians, Finns
Later, from the Volga region, spread, transmitted from Finno-Ugrians to Turkic peoples; in Europe, Pleiades as sieve only recorded in the Alto Adige district of N. Italy. Sieve=crivello or shovel for winnowing grain, note Lithuanians and Laks: sky sieve used by god to winnow cereal grain.

Hungarians only ones in Europe to see sieve as openings in sky =may mean idea borrowed from the East. And Yakuts – wolf skin used to plug holes in sky

Japan: late Buddhist imagery Myoken and dead ancestor souls go to take spot in sky openings beside North Pole

*Stars as openings in firmament also known to (Miao); S. China; Borneo, Malay, Kayan, Mentawei, Klemantan,

Also among Estonians, Mari, Komi, Nenets, Nganasans, Khanty, Kets, Yakuts, Evenes, Negidals, and among Central Yupiq, Inupiat, Mackenzie Delta, Netsilik and Iglulik Eskimo; and maybe Chukchi and Kamchadal
Image of a particular star Polaris as an opening through which souls penetrate to the Upper World
Stars=persons/spirits/living creatures: Am natives, Australia, Oceania, Indo-Pacific Asia

Odd ones out:

Persian-Arabic Soraya – Pleiades =’cluster of lamps’ or ‘chandelier’ [but close enough as ‘lights in the darkness’ therefore similar to stars in the dark sky 

Mordvinians – Pleiades = beehive / nest of wasps: Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Hungarians

Selkup – Pleiades =’hare’s droppings’ or ‘hare’s shelves’

Nganasans – Pleiades= hunters who catch souls of dead men and reindeer

. .. However, the aerial patterns of the motifs reviewed above make us suggest that there was also some migration
taking place from the East.

Even if the Evenki and Algonkian data concerning ‘the path of birds’ are ignored and the motif of stars as sky-openings is not considered specific enough, the pattern of the spread of the ‘water-carrier on the Moon’ makes the hypothesis of trans-Eurasian migration plausible. Remembering the detailed American and Polynesian parallels for the Eastern and Southern Siberian variants, the Northern Eurasian East, rather than the West should be suggested as the earliest zone of the spread of this motif. The Bulgarian-Macedonian enclave of the ‘water-carrier’ clearly cannot be a source for Siberian, not to speak of Amerindian and Polynesian myths, and Bulgarian materials rather demonstrate the existence of some late Baltic-Balkan links

Source: THE PLEIADES AS OPENINGS, THE MILKY WAY AS THE PATH OF BIRDS, AND THE GIRL ON THE MOON: CULTURAL LINKS ACROSS NORTHERN EURASIA by Yuri Berezkin

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