Notes: Golden woman(Zolotaya Baba) and Golden Goose (aka World Surveyor Man) of the Ob-Ugric or Finno-Uralic tribes

The extract below may throw light on the Eurasia-wide Shining or Luminous goddess cults of Eurasia and the possible provenance of the Amaterasu goddess:

MYSTERIES OF THE GOLDEN WOMAN OF UGRA by Paul Stonehill

Siberia is a part of the Asian territory of the Russian Federation between the Ural Mountains in the West and the mountains of the Russian Far East; and between the Arctic Ocean in the North and the steppes of Kazakhstan and Mongolia in the South. It is divided into Western Siberia (occupying predominantly Western lowlands and Altai mountains) and Eastern Siberia (comprising elevation occupying mostly the Mid Siberian plateau).

Western Siberia occupies the territory between the Ural Mountains in the East, and the Yenisey River in the West.

Konda is a river in Western Siberia, a tributary of the mighty Ob. The Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, is located in the central part of the Ob-Irtysh basin, by far the largest in Eurasia. Marshy forests surround Konda’s shores. Vast swamps, numerous rivers and lakes, richly forested, are the hallmarks of this territory. Winters are very cold, and snow covers the land for many months. Summers are humid, infamous for their floods and myriads of mosquitoes. Those who have lived in the area would keep fires in their huts year round to save themselves from swarms of ever-present insects.

This is the Ugra land, a place of some heretofore-unsolved ancient mysteries.

The land has populated by various tribes since ancient times, as far back as the Mesolithic age.

They left behind many tombs, settlements, artifacts and unsolved mysteries. One of them is the legend of the Golden Woman (Zolotaya Baba in Russian; baba is an archaic term for a woman; used today mostly as a slang word, demeaning to women; it also means grandma). …

During the Bronze and Early Iron Ages, forest-steppes of Western Siberia were roamed and inhabited by horse-breeding nomads. These nomads are considered to be the early Ugric tribes. The horse-breeders and hunter-fishermen from the North interacted closely. Then the Samoyed tribes invaded the northwestern Siberia by the end of the first millennium BCE. As a result of ethnic interactions, the Ugric nomads incorporated elements of the Samoyed culture.
The Ugric nomads, except for the Hungarians, largely remained in the forests-steppes or in the Arctic regions. The nomads left the northern areas around 2000 BCE and became “mounted nomads” in the steppes, living in a Turkic ethnic environment between the 4th and 9th centuries CE. Magyars left these wooded steppes in the 9th century CE to migrate to Central Europe, to form the Hungarian nation. Their Ugric brethren moved north. There they engaged in hunting, fishing and rain-deer breeding. They lived in log huts but during their hunting expeditions in the cold winters, tents made from animal skins were of better use to these people. Reindeer-herding tribes lived in special tents (chums) covered either with reindeer skin or birch bark in the winter.
The ancient Uralic Proto-language was in use between the Volga Bend in Eastern Russia and the Ob River in Western Siberia. This was the language of Khanty and Mansi ancestors. The language of Khanty and Mansi belongs to Finno-Ugric family that includes also the languages of Hungarians, Estonians, Saames, Udmurts, and Komis, etc.
The Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic languages form the Uralic language family. Nenets, Enets, Nganasan, Selkup, Kamas are related to the Samoyedic languages. The people speaking these languages live in the western Siberia, except most of the Nenets who live in the European North. Along the banks of the River Ob the Nenets settlements reach the dense forest area of the Siberian taiga.
Anthropologically, the Nenets are representatives of the Uralic race with stronger than average Mongoloid characteristics.
Hungarian language is classified as a member of the Ugric branch of the Uralic languages; and as such it is most closely related to the Ob-Ugric languages, Khanty and Mansi. It is also related, though more distantly, to Finnish and Estonian, each of which is (like Hungarian) a national language. Ancestors of the following (and still living) populations also spoke the Uralic Proto-language: Lapp, Karel, Veps, Izhora, Livonian; Mari, Mordva; Komi, Udmurt; Khanty, Mansi, Selkup, Nenets, Enets and Nganasan.
As official names, the words “Khanty” and “Mansi” were accepted after 1917, but in the old documents of the Russian Empire and scientific literature, Khanty people were called as “Ostyaki” and the Mansi people were called as Voguly or Vogulichi.
The term Ob-Ugric has been used in scientific writing to designate the Mansi and the Khanty as one entity. Yugra and Yugoria were Russian terms in the annals of the XI-XV centuries for the territory of the Arctic Urals, Western Siberia and the tribes who lived there…..
But I could not find any mention of such expeditions, which is not surprising, for I doubt that the mission and goal of such expeditions would be to bring the statue to a national museum. The Ukrainian researcher supposes that the Golden Woman is actually helping the Ob-Ugric people to hide her presence form the prying eyes. In 1962 an interesting piece of information about the statue attracted attention of Krapiva. That year, an elderly Russian hunter Anton Kadulin revealed a tale told to him by a Mansi, Danila Surguchev. The Mansi claimed that no one would ever find the Zolotaya Baba. He added that there is a tiny island among the taiga swamps. It is possible to reach it through the marshes, but no one knows the way there. However, there is one vorga (reindeer trail) to the island. One can find it by reading the katnos(secret signs). The sign is this: an arrow crossed by two other arrows.
Is there such an island among the swamps of the dark coniferous taiga? Do the menkvi guard the Chooros nai anki, the Golden Woman of Ugra, the one who is holding a saucer-shaped object in her hands, and is able give correct answers and predict the outcome of human affairs? Is there anyone who is able to service the guardians and the statue, update their programs, change parts…or is it all just a myth from a faraway land?
:::
From Wikipedia:

Yugra or Iuhra (Old Russian Югра, c.f. Byzantine Greek Οὔγγροι[clarification needed]) was the name of the lands between the Pechora River andNorthern Urals in the Russian annals of the 12th–17th centuries, as well as the name of the Khanty and partly Mansi tribes inhabiting these territories, later known as Voguls

The Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug of Russia is also called Yugra.

See map at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Herberstein-Moscovia-NE.png

Yugra (Iuhra), “the place of origin of Hungarians” (inde ungaroru origo) on Sigismund von Herberstein‘s 1549 map ofMoscovia. Herberstein placed the label Iuhraeast of the Ob River, while Aureanus (Golden Lady?), a.k.a. Slata baba (“Golden Laby”/”Golden Idol”) can be seen west of the Ob.

The 12th century missionary and traveller Abu Hamid al-Gharnati gives one of the earliest accounts of the region, which he calls Yura in Arabic:

“But beyond Wisu by the Sea of Darkness there lies a land known by the name of Yura. In summers the days are very long there, so that the Sun does not set for forty days, as the merchants say; but in winters the nights are equally long. The merchants report that Darkness is not far (from them), and that the people of Yura go there and enter it with torches, and find a huge tree there which is like a big village. But on top of the tree there sits a large creature, they say it is a bird. And they bring merchandise along, and each merchant sets down his goods apart from those of the others; and he makes a mark on them and leaves, but when he comes back, he finds commodities there, necessary for his own country…” (Al Garnati:32)

The Golden Lady of the Obians was apparently an idol of the Yugrans. The first reports of the Golden Lady are found in the 14th-century Novgorod Chronicles, with reference to Saint Stephan of Perm. Next, the golden idol is mentioned in the 16th century by the subjects of the Grand Duke of Moscow, commissioned to describe the trade and military routes of the expanding Russia. The first non-Russian we know of to comment on the golden lady is Mathias from Miechov, Professor of Krakow University. The golden idol appeared on Sigismund von Herberstein‘s map of Moscovia published on 1549, and on a number of later maps, e.g. Gerhard Mercator‘s “Map of the Arctic (1595)”, where it is labeled Zolotaia Baba (from Russian Золотая баба– “Golden Lady” or “Golden Idol“).

In connection with Yermak‘s campaign, the Siberian Chronicle also tells us about the golden woman: a hetman of Yermak’s, by the name of Ivan Bryazga, invaded the Belogorye region in 1582 and fought the Ob-Ugrians there, who were defending their holiest object – the golden woman. (See Karjalainen 1918:243-245, Shestalov 1987:347.) And Grigori Novitski‘s statement that in earlier days there used to be in one shrine in Belogorye together with the copper goose “the greatest real idol”, and that the superstitious people “preserved that idol and took it to Konda now that idol-worshipping is being rooted up”, has also been regarded as relating to the golden woman (Novitski:61). Actually, no European has ever seen that idol and most probably it never existed in the described form (as a full-length woman made of gold).

Of the “Copper Goose” Novitski wrote the following:

“The goose idol very much worshipped by them is cast of copper in the shape of a goose, its atrocious abode is in the Belogorye village on the great river of Ob. According to their superstition they worship the god of waterfowls – swans, geese and other birds swimming on water… His throne in the temple is made of different kinds of broadcloth, canvas and hide, built like a nest; in it sits the monster who is always highly revered, most of all at the times of catching waterfowls in nests… This idol is so notorious that people come from distant villages to perform atrocious sacrifice to it – offering cattle, mainly horses; and they are certain that it (the idol) is the bearer of many goods, mainly ensuring the richness of waterfowls…”

Comparisons of different Yugran traditions indicate that the goose was one of the shapes or appearances of the most popular god of the “World Surveyor Man”, and that Belogorye is still sometimes referred to as his home. Novitsky also describes a site for worshipping this “World Surveyor” or “Ob Master”:

“The home of the Ob Master was presumably near the stronghold Samarovo in the mouth of the river Irtysh. According to their heathen belief he was the god of the fish, depicted in a most impudent manner: a board of wood, nose like a tin tube, eyes of glass, little horns on top of the head, covered with rags, attired in a (gilt breasted) purple robe. Arms – bows, arrows, spears, armour, etc – were laid beside him. According to their heathen belief they say about the collected arms that he often has to fight in the water and conquer other vassals. The frenzy ones thought that the atrocious monster is especially horrifying in the darkness and in the large waters, that he comes through all the depths where he watches over all fish and aquatic animals and gives everyone as much as he pleases.” (Novitsky: 59).

…. Next, the golden idol is mentioned in the 16th century by the subjects of the Grand Duke of Moscow, commissioned to describe the trade and military routes of the expanding Russia. The first non-Russian we know of to comment on the golden lady is Mathias from Miechov, Professor of Krakow University. The golden idol appeared on Sigismund von Herberstein‘s map of Moscovia published on 1549, and on a number of later maps, e.g. Gerhard Mercator‘s “Map of the Arctic (1595)”, where it is labeled Zolotaia Baba (from Russian Золотая баба– “Golden Lady” or “Golden Idol“).

In connection with Yermak‘s campaign, the Siberian Chronicle also tells us about the golden woman: a hetman of Yermak’s, by the name of Ivan Bryazga, invaded the Belogorye region in 1582 and fought the Ob-Ugrians there, who were defending their holiest object – the golden woman. (See Karjalainen 1918:243-245, Shestalov 1987:347.) And Grigori Novitski‘s statement that in earlier days there used to be in one shrine in Belogorye together with the copper goose “the greatest real idol”, and that the superstitious people “preserved that idol and took it to Konda now that idol-worshipping is being rooted up”, has also been regarded as relating to the golden woman (Novitski:61). Actually, no European has ever seen that idol and most probably it never existed in the described form (as a full-length woman made of gold).

Of the “Copper Goose” Novitski wrote the following:

“The goose idol very much worshipped by them is cast of copper in the shape of a goose, its atrocious abode is in the Belogorye village on the great river of Ob. According to their superstition they worship the god of waterfowls – swans, geese and other birds swimming on water… His throne in the temple is made of different kinds of broadcloth, canvas and hide, built like a nest; in it sits the monster who is always highly revered, most of all at the times of catching waterfowls in nests… This idol is so notorious that people come from distant villages to perform atrocious sacrifice to it – offering cattle, mainly horses; and they are certain that it (the idol) is the bearer of many goods, mainly ensuring the richness of waterfowls…”

Comparisons of different Yugran traditions indicate that the goose was one of the shapes or appearances of the most popular god of the “World Surveyor Man”, and that Belogorye is still sometimes referred to as his home. Novitsky also describes a site for worshipping this “World Surveyor” or “Ob Master”:

“The home of the Ob Master was presumably near the stronghold Samarovo in the mouth of the river Irtysh. According to their heathen belief he was the god of the fish, depicted in a most impudent manner: a board of wood, nose like a tin tube, eyes of glass, little horns on top of the head, covered with rags, attired in a (gilt breasted) purple robe. Arms – bows, arrows, spears, armour, etc – were laid beside him. According to their heathen belief they say about the collected arms that he often has to fight in the water and conquer other vassals. The frenzy ones thought that the atrocious monster is especially horrifying in the darkness and in the large waters, that he comes through all the depths where he watches over all fish and aquatic animals and gives everyone as much as he pleases.” (Novitsky: 59).

There are three or four known proto-states of the Yugran inhabitants, both Khanty and Mansi. The Principality of Pelym (largely Khanty) was located in the basin of the Konda river and stretched from the mouth of the Sosva River near Tavda up to Tabory. The stronghold of the Pelym princes was also a significant religious centre; a sacred Siberian larch grew in its surroundings and even in the 18th century people used to hang the skins of sacrificed horses on its branches. Near the sacred tree was a worship storehouse with five idols of human figure, and smaller storehouses with high pillars and human-faced peaks around it for storing sacrificial instruments. The bones of sacrificial animals were stored in a separate building (Novitski: 81). The Principality of Konda (mainly Mansi) formed a large semi autonomous part of the Pelym principality, according to the tax registers from 1628/29 it was inhabited by 257 tax-paying Mansi. The treasures of Prince Agai of Konda who was imprisoned by the Russians in 1594 gives us a good picture of the wealth of the Yugran nobles of this period. Namely, the Russians confiscated two silver crowns, a silver spoon, a silver beaker, a silver spiral bracelet, “precious drapery” and numerous pelts and precious furs (Bahrushin 1955,2: 146). The third part of the Pelym principality was the region of Tabary, in which inhabited 102 adults in 1628/29. Preceding the coming of the Russians the Mansi of this region were farmers and according to the tradition Yermak collected tribute in the form of grain (Bahrushin 1955,2: 147).

It is believed that the Yugran people or Ob-Ugrians had made trade with many countries far and wide since the earliest times. This trade was described in journals attributed to Abu Hamid al-Gharnati the Arab traveller during the 12th century:

“And from Bolghar merchants travel to the land of heathens, called Wisu; marvellous beaver skins come from there, and they take there wedge-shaped unpolished swords made in Azerbaijan in their turn… But the inhabitants of Visu take these swords to the land that lies near the Darkness (Yugra) by the Black Sea (now known as the White Sea), and they trade the swords for sable skins. And these people take the swords and cast them into the Black Sea; but Allah the Almighty sends them a fish which size is like a mountain (a whale); and they sail out to the fish in their ships and carve its flesh for months on end.” (ibid:58-59)

 

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