Twin mythology of the Udegeys, distant relatives of the Ainup

Excerpt from “Ude-e

The most ancient population lived along the Ussuri River from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic Age. It consisted of groups that came from SE Asia. In various periods groups of settlers from the west, later on from the Northwest, came here. Local and wider “multi-layer” culture included remains of previous cultures. Medieval Tungus-Manchu states of the 8-9th, 12th and 16-17th century also influenced the ethnic history of Udege. The Udege lang. has both a strong Evenk layer and elements of the Jurchen, Mongol, Turkic, Ainu, and Nivkh languages, as well as traces of some substratum, possibly of Paleo-Asian or Old Korean origin.

Hunting and fishing were basic occupations of the Udege. Big game—elk, Siberian stag—was hunted with bows and arrows, spears (gida), crossbows (tege). Udege used palmas—a long knife with a long handle. In spring the ungulates were tracked over ice crust, in winter over deep snow. In summer they were hunted in water reservoirs. Deer were hunted with help of pipe calls from birch bark (buniku); dags were sold. Loops were set on paths for roe- and musk-deer; the game was lured with sounds of yelpers made of thin birch bark.

A variant of the myth about the twins—a story of the two Kamdziga brothers (from the name of birch bark pannier kamisi) and Sulyaydzinga (from sulaisi—to lie), who became the ancestors of two clans—is typical. Other stories reproduce popular beliefs about the life of Udeges in former times—about crocodiles that used to be found in the Khor River and monkeys that lived in taiga. There are traces of influence of other cultures, perhaps of historical memories of the Jurchens Tungus-Manchu state (the 12th century). There are stories about Udeges who used to live as animals, without shelter and clothing and eating raw meat; about cave dwellers chased by thunder; about the Ainus who left for Sakhalin. Ethnogenetic legends relating to telungu narrate about historical ties of Udeges with neighboring peoples and between various Udege clans.”

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