Waterfowl symbolism and genetic links between Finno-Ugric Kanty-Mansi peoples and the Japanese, Buryats, Xiongnu, Yakut, other Northeast Asia populations and the Finnish peoples together

During the Kofun Period of Japan, the numerous giant tumuli were lined with or surrounded by haniwa terracotta horses, cocks and chickens and waterfowl…evidence of the cock and waterfowl symbolism in mortuary practices and their significance as guides in the Underworld and Afterlife beliefs. Prior to the mega-tumuli-building period, bird and waterfowl beliefs were also evident through the bird motifs, found on ritual staffs, sceptres or totems and from depictions of “feathered” shamanic headdresses, sometimes riding the “Boat of the Dead” (iconography shared by the Ob River peoples). Waterfowl imagery are shared by many of continental peoples of Northeast Asia, also seen in the bird totems of Korea; in the iconic waterfowl depictions on petrogylphs of the Buryat peoples around Lake Baikal; in the Siberian shamanic bird implements and clothing or headdress; in waterfowl worship of Finnic-Ugric peoples also known as the Khanty-Mansi.

The distribution of these waterfowl populations and cultural zones of Northeast Asia, Siberia and Japan incidentally coincide with the East Asian Flyway – geographical corridors of bird migration. Many of the cultural swan bird myths, beliefs and rituals, for example, occur and correlate well to the breeding and migratory range of the Whooper Swan  (see Mark Brazil’s “Swan Cultures“). Today, both its current generic (Cygnus)and specific (cygnus) names in Latin are derived from the Greek for swan, which was kuknos “the honker”. Its name took two forms, spelled either cycnus or cygnus, thus the scientific name in use today for the Whooper Swan can trace its roots backwards through Latin, to classical Greek and ultimately to the words used for swans in the language of the ancients whose language, and descendent languages, travelled westwards to Europe from regions far to the east.

Flyways of waders/shorebirds – Left to right: East Atlantic Flyway: Black Sea/Mediterranean Flyway; West Asia/East Africa; Central Asia Flyway; and furthest right is the East Asia/Australasia Flyway Adapted from Boere and Stroud, p. 42 International Wader Study Group

Y-DNA N1c hg-Tat C marker appears to tie waterfowl creation myths and symbolism to the waterfowl cultures of the Finno-Ugric Khanty and Mansi peoples and South Siberians to the Japanese, Buryats, Xiongnu, Yakut, other Northeast populations together. According to Matsumoto Hideo ,the highest frequency of the Gm ab3st gene, is found in the northernmost Buryat population (north Baikal) displayed the highest frequency which indicates gene flow from the Baikal area to the Japanese Archipelagos

A survey of aspects of waterfowl culture of the differing peoples

The whooper swan has religious connotations and is a sacred bird for a number of cultures: the Evenks, the Kets, Nganasans Ostyaks, Sel’kups,Yakuts and Zyryans of the Lake Baikal region and other regions of eastern Siberia, many of whom also believed that they were descended from the wild swans.

Khorinskie Buryats apparently considered the the Whooper Swan to be the Mother of their tribes (the eagle their father) and they greet the swans as they arrive in spring with gifts of tea and milk (see Mark Brazil’s “Swan Culture”).

The swan is also revered by the Tungus and Yakut tribes who carve swan totems and Russian shamans, as well as Siberian shamans (Wilmore 1974) who believe that swans harbour human souls and who have a hunting taboo that is also shared with the Irish.

Tribes that had taboos against hunting the wild swans, included the Ugrys and Kumandins (who believed that swans had been people in past lives) as well as the Slavic peoples who believed that swans embody the souls of humans, and that misfortune would follow if you shot one (Boreiko& Grishchenko 1999).

Several versions of the famous swan-maiden myth are found among the Siberian Buryats:

“a hunter watched as three swans arrived at a lake to swim leaving their feathered cloaks on the shore. Taking one of the cloaks he married the woman to which it belonged. Many years later when he allowed her to try on her cloak once more she flew out of the smoke-hole of their tent crying that each spring when the swans fly north and each autumn when they return south her husband must honour them with ceremonies.

Those ceremonies were retained in the giving of prayers and libations to the first swans to arrive each year. The conjunction of ritual, or ceremony, with myth typically indicates a more archaic survival than either one without the other. Even if not actually the case here among the Buryats, where the garment-theft motif may have been incorporated later in to their cult, nevertheless it is among the likes of these Siberian peoples, from the range of the Whooper Swan, with their animistic bird-animal-human links, that the original swan-maiden legend may have originated (Armstrong 1958).”

The Japanese too have their own version of the Swan Maiden myth which is likely the common heritage handed down by the shared genetic lineages of mtDNA haplogroup B and of northern Mongoloid Gm markers and gene flow of Gm ag and ab3st) in common with Baikal Buryats. Called the O-hakucho, the great white bird, is revered as a messenger of Raiden, god of thunder and lightning, in Kominato, a small town on the coast of Aomori Prefecture, in northernmost Honshu. It was believed in that region that harming birds would earn divine punishment;so sick swans were nursed to health at the local shrine, where hunting was prohibited as early as 1896. More is written of swan beliefs in Japan by Brazil:

“…swans are not so anciently recorded, though they do appear as early as 712 AD in the Kojiki and in 720 AD in the Nihonshoki, among the earliest of Japanese literature. Heavenly swans flying overhead were credited in the Nihonshoki with having helped the mutes on of Emperor Suinin to learn to speak and so began the tradition of the imperial court capturing and rearing swans. To this day, swans grace the moat surrounding the Imperial  Palace in Tokyo. From the indigenous Ainu in the north of Japan (where Whooper Swans are common on migration and inwinter)to the Okinawans in the south (where any swans are accidental; Brazil 1991) there are stories relating to reverence for swans. Their qualities were seen as including courage and strength and people offered prayers to them in the hope of emulating their virtues. Remnants of that reverence are retained at a handful of “Shiratori”(literally white bird) shrines in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Miyagi Prefecture where altars exist to honour swans as protective deities. Birds depicted at “White Bird”shrines in China are clearly Whooper Swans,(Ma & Cai 2000)…”

According to Mark Brazil’s study, swan legends and motifs, frequently depicted in Bronze and Iron Age art, are interlinked throughout Eurasia, and that the swan-maiden myth travelled part way with the megalith builders of Europe and its various versions the result of successive waves of cultural transmission and invasion.

All the swan stories of Asia remind us of the swan maiden legends on the other side of the world … such as the Celtic goddesses could likewise shapeshift into swan form. Many Celtic legends involve magical maidens who transform into swan, the most famous among them is perhaps, the children of Lir , the Irish sea-god, whose children are magically transformed into swans by their jealous stepmother. of which are perhaps s; these are identifiable through the magical chains of precious metal they wear. Perhaps the most famous Celtic swan-tale is of the children of Lir , the Irish sea-god, whose children are magically transformed into swans by their jealous stepmother. The swan was the sacred bird of Angus (see “The Birds of Angus Og“, son of the Sun and–the fair Youth of the Tuatha-de-Danann, the Ancient People).

The Golden Goose idol of the Khanty-Mansi:   The passage below on the preeminent idols of the Mansi is extracted from The Mansi – History and Present Day by Aado Lintrop, Institute of the Estonian Language

“Ugria (Yugra or Yura) is mentioned already in the works of old Arabian authors. The missionary and traveller Al Garnati writes: “But beyond Visu 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). If the country called Visu has been identified with ancient Vepsaland (due to linguistic affinity with the Russian word for Vepsans, ‘ves’) or with Perm (due to geographical vicinity with Yugra), Yugra itself has been unanimously associated with the Ob-Ugrians – the Khanty and the Mansi. In the giant tree mentioned by Al Garnati we can recognise the World Tree, familiar from the mythologies of various North-European peoples. Some authors have also related the following report of Al Garnati’s to the Ugrians: “And from Bulgar merchants travel to the land of heathens, called Visu; marvellous beaver skins come from there, and they take there wedge-shaped unpolished swords made in Aserbaijan in their turn… But the inhabitants of Visu take these swords to the land that lies near the Darkness by the Black 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; and they sail out to the fish in their ships and carve its flesh for months on end.” (ibid:58-59). Nevertheless, it ought to be clear that the vicinity of the Darkness and the Black Sea (the polar regions and the Arctic Ocean) is not characteristic of Ugria alone, and that the last report regards peoples who derived a substantial part of their livelihood from whaling.

The rich military vocabulary of the Ob-Ugrians and several motifs in their mythology and folklore imply contacts with the cattle-breeding cultures of the steppe area. Presumably, not all the Ugrian cattle-breeders made their way together with the Huns or after them through the steppes between the Urals and the Aral and Caspian Seas into Europe to evolve into Hungarian tribes in the grassy plains of Bashkiria, but part of them were forced by the flux of the Great Migration to the West Siberian Lowlands where they assimilated among the local Ugrian hunters and fishers. Moreover, it is likely that part of the Ugrian tribes that reached Europe also moved up along the rivers Volga and Kama and came into contact with the Ugrian population of the upper Pechora river. …

In 1562, ten years after the conquest of Kazan by Ivan IV had laid the foundations of the Russian Empire, a new map of Russia was printed in London by Anthony Jenkinson, featuring Yugria located on the lower course of the Ob. An illustration shows Yugrans kneeling before a Madonna-like idol. The explanatory note reads: “Zlata Baba, that is the Golden Dame of the Obians, zealously worshipped by the Yugrans. This idol is consulted by the priest as to what they must do or where they must go; and she (the miraculous oracle) gives answers to some that seek her counsel, and certain consequences follow.”

The first reports of the Golden Lady of the Obians are found in the 14th-century Novgorod Chronicles, with reference to 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 European we know of to comment on the golden lady is Mathias from Miechov, Professor of Krakow University. 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). In actual fact, 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). Grounds for that kind of rumours were provided by the Ob-Ugrian folklore, where Kaltesh-ekva is usually described as golden. An extract from a Mansi song, collected by Munkácsi, gives the following description of her:

The elder sister, Kaltesh the Golden,
Goes to the courtyard, lets down her braids –
Through one mouth, seven Obs flow,
Through one mouth, seven seas rise.
From her braids, the day does dawn,
From her braids rises the moon.
In a birch-tree behind the house –
Golden her leaves, her branches of gold –
Sit seven cuckoos with golden wings,
Golden their tails;
Seven days they sing,
Seven nights they sing.
There is no end of joy
Neither by night nor day;
Such is their song – like to
Silver coins falling from their mouths;
Such is their song – like to
Gold coins falling from their mouths.
Everywhere in the world
Poorly shod, poorly garbed people
All live through their song
Survive till our day.
(Mansi text from The Great Bear: 109 < Vassili Kirillich Nomin, Nyaksimvol. My translation.)

Novitsky, however, wrote about the above mentioned goose-idol: “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…” (Novitsky: 61). We might add that the goose was one of the shapes of appearances of the most popular god of the Ob-Ugrians the World Surveyor Man, and that Belogorye is still sometimes referred to as his home. Novitsky also describes a site for worshipping the 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)….

The words of the village elder and the caretaker of the sanctuary Nahratch Yeplayev have been recorded: “We all know why you have come here — you want to pervert us from our ancient beliefs with your smooth-tongued flattery and damage and destroy our revered helper, but it is all in vain for you may take our heads but this we will not let you do.” (Novitsky: 92-93) Novitsky describes the above mentioned idol as follows: “The idol was carved of wood, attired in green clothes, the evil looking face was covered with white iron, a black fox skin was placed on its head; the whole sanctuary, especially his site which was higher than anywhere else, was decorated with purple broadcloth. Other smaller idols nearby which where placed lower were called the servants of the real idol. I think there were many other things in front of him – caftans, squirrel skins, etc…” (Ibid.: 93) The village people requested that the sanctuary be left untouched, saying: “And even if the highest order of your powerful ruler is to destroy our idols and sanctuaries, still, we ask you to impose a tax on them, as Yermak did in his days by taking 3 roubles a year; let us raise the tax and we will give you four (roubles) a year if you will disobey the order.” (Ibid.: 94) At last Nahratsh who has consulted the elders proposes a compromise: “We will now obey the ruler’s regulations and ukase. So we will not discard your teaching,” said he to the clergyman,” we only beg you not to reject the idol so revered by our fathers and grandfathers, and if you wish to christen us, honour also our idol, christen it in a more honourable manner – with a golden cross. Then we will decorate and build a church with all the icons ourselves, as a custom goes, and we will place ours also among these..”

Images and symbols of Whooper Swans appeared in stone, metal by the time of the Iron Age(around 500 BC) and legend, bearing witness to their continued symbolism as “magnificent magical, sacred and supernatural creatures” (Wilmore 1974).

Siberian waterfowl bird-diver motifs

Comparisons and surveys have been made of the Ket Earth-diver motif of Siberian Kets,  shared by the Samoyedic peoples, Ob-Ugric and Uralic peoples in their creation mythologies/cosmologies. The common version of the myth is that of the creator of the world being helped by a water fowl as the bird dives under the water and fetches earth so that the creator can make land out of it.

Shamanic bird-symbolic practices

Ostyak and Samoyedic shamans are also known to infuse their drums with magic in a ceremony, usually coinciding with the spring migration. There the shaman would go into into a trance and “fly with the birds” south to the place where the seven suns shine upon the rocks.

Magyar shamans (who are according to “On Magyar migration” are closest to the Finno-Ugric Khanty-Mansi populations), also make this journey by entering a trance, during which time they fly with their totem animal to the far lands of the dead to ask favors for their tribe. The trance is begun usually by imitating bird voices to summon the spirit of the Koori mystic bird  who is they believe, show the way to the spiritlands, and the trance is always concluded with the imitation of the eagle’s call. In the absence of the shaman, nine poles are erected in a row with peeled bark, connected with a ribbon, which points along the path of the migrating birds. The top of each of them has the carved image of a loon, raven, or cuckoo.

Korean bird totems Sotdae


“While traveling in rural Korea, it is not uncommon to come across bird figurines sitting atop tall wooden poles, frightening human face sculptures, or large trees with multi-colored cloths and wishing paper hanging from their branches. …

Sotdae Messenger of Heaven and Earth Sotdae (솟대) are tall wooden poles with bird figurines on top. According to ancient records, shamans and priests of a sacred place called Sodo first erected sotdae as a symbol of sanctity during the Samhan Era (1st century BC-3rd century AD). More recently, sotdae have come to represent prayers for protection from evil spirits and for abundant harvest. They are erected at the entrance of villages, and bags of rice are placed beside them during the twelfth month of the lunar calendar. The poles symbolize the earnest prayers of village folks to Heaven. The bird, usually a duck or goose, symbolizes a messenger between Heaven and Earth. Some sotdae feature a bird with a fish in its beak, illustrating people’s wish to feed a bird on a long journey to Heaven.” — In search of Korea’s folk religion

“In ancient times, Koreans believed that Hwanin (god) lives in the sky and those things reaching into the sky (mountains and especially trees) could communicate with god. Birds were viewed as messengers from Hwanin. Sot’dae were poles with bird figures perched on top. It symbolized the bird’s role as a messenger connecting heaven and earth. Residents placed sot’dae at the village entrance to wish for human beings’ survival and abundance on the earth. Sot’dae is where Koreans would pray toward the sky when they were happy or sad. Sot’dae Hanul (Hanul means sky) describes the place where the souls of Korean ancestors dwell.

Many villages erected a pangsa-t’ap (protective stone tower) outside the village walls to guard against evil spirits. Usually about 2 meters in height, people believed the tower of rocks could protect the village on all sides, even though it was placed near the entrance. Pangsa-t’ap often have a bird figure on top, with symbolism similar to that of sot’dae” – Sotdae/Pangsa-t’ap

Sotdae birds may be representations of wild geese, gulls, ibises, Korean magpies or crows, but most common ones are the ducks. Ducks give an important symbolic meaning to sotdae. They are able to travel on water as well as on land and in the air and also can go under water. Because of the relation to water, ducks were regarded to have an ability to control rain and thunder, to survive in the floods and to protect a village from fire.

Later practices include erecting a sot’dae as a celebratory or commemorative symbol.  With ducks, as migratory birds, being construed thus as seasonal fertility cult symbols, the meanings of sotdae diversified with the influx of fengshui and Taoist ideas so that sot’dae took on protective as well as luck-prosperity prayer totems.  Sotdae-like objects are commonly known in North Asia. Figures or patterns on Bronze Age relics depicting a pole with a bird on it were discovered in these areas.

Waterfowl worship and the genetic link: N1c- Tat C-polymorphism or biallelic marker 

What ties the Khanty and Mansi peoples to the Japanese, Buryats, Xiongnu, as well as to Yakut, other Northeast populations and at the extremities, Finnish peoples together … is the N1c-Tat C marker as well as their waterfowl bird creation legends and myths.

According to Jukka Rislakki in “The Finno-Ugric connection, genetics-wise, could be bigger than imagined | Even the Balts are relatives, despite their language“, the Finns are connected to East Asians and Siberians via the N1c Tat C marker:

“The latest genetics research indicates that we Finns have a great many “relatives” out there in Eastern Europe and Siberia, and that these peoples share a common ancestor who was apparently Finno-Ugric in origin. …The peculiar Y chromosomal DNA variant, known as Tat C, is also dominant in almost all the indigenous peoples of Siberia, from the nomadic Yakuts right across to the Chukchis and Siberian Inuits living on the shores of the Bering Strait – regardless of what language they may communicate in. …

The Finno-Ugric connection, genetics-wise, could be bigger than imagined. … among the Finno-Ugric races of Europe this genetic inheritance is much more diverse, more multibranched, and hence apparently older than among any of the Siberian peoples.

It is characteristic of the European Finno-Ugrians both in the area of the Baltic Sea and in the Volga region (the ethnic Maris living in the Mari Republic east of Nizhni-Novgorod and west of the Urals). It is an original Finn-Ugric feature.”

However,  Estonian professor of evolutionary biology Richard Villems …

“asserts that the contrary is true, however: the movement was one from west to east and not westwards from Siberia. He argues that the genetic variant could have been transported for instance by warriors. “And at the same time they could possibly have carried the proto Finno-Ugric language with them”.

The same gene morphism has been found from the Inuits of Greenland. On seeing how this mutation has spread right the way across the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere and nowhere else, the professor has started to wonder if we might be dealing with a gene that somehow helps us to acclimatise ourselves – to withstand extreme cold.

He also believes that our Finno-Ugrian ancestors might well have been living here a good while before the last Ice Age (around 20,000 years ago). “They could perhaps have arrived even at the same sort of time as the first great wave of migration as man spread into Europe some 40,000 years ago.”There were people living the whole time along the southern fringes of the continental ice mass. When the ice sheets were was at their most extensive, the Finno-Ugric tribe would have lived for some time down in the region between the Don and Dniester rivers, in what is now part of the Ukraine. Radio carbon dating studies show that this area was more densely settled during the Ice Age than it was either before or afterwards. Professor Villems sides with those scholars of linguistics who claim that the original Finno-Ugric tongue was spoken widely through Northern Europe – in Fenno-Scandia and the Baltic region all the way down to the German coast” .

“The Y-DNA haplogroup N1c (Tat (M46), P105) is typical of the Sakha and Uralic peoples, with a moderate distribution throughout North Eurasia (Source: NOP Haplogroups)

An alternative view of origins of Tat C is of Jeffrey T. Lell’s espoused in The Dual Origin and Siberian Affinities of Native American Y Chromosomes ‘ Am. J. Hum. Genet., 70:192-206, 2002, The American Society of Human Genetics.
The Tat-C haplogroup was observed at significant frequencies in each of  the southern Middle Siberian populations studied. Surprisingly, it reached its highest frequency in the Siberian Eskimos and Chukchi from the Chukotkan peninsula. The Tat-C haplogroup was absent in the Lower Amur and Sea of Okhotsk region populations that have maintained greater geographic
and/or linguistic isolation (e.g., the Udegeys, Nivkhs, and Upriver Negidals) and was only detected in the populations likely to have had recent contact or shared origins with the populations of southern Middle Siberia (e.g., the Okhotsk Evenks, Ulchi/Nanai, and Downriver Negidals). Because the Tat-C polymorphism originated on a Y chromosome containing the DYS7C deletion (haplogroup 7C), which was present only in the Middle Siberian Tuvans, Buryats, Tofalars, and Yenisey Evenks, the Tat-C haplogroup probably entered the Lower Amur and eastern Siberia from southern Middle Siberia. This conclusion is consistent with the previous hypothesis that the Tat-C and 7C haplogroups arose in central Asia and migrated west to northern Europe and east to Chukotka (Zerjal et al. 1997).

See also the abstract of the Genetic journey of the N1c haplogroup by Pamjav H, Nemeth E, Feher T, Volgyi A – presented at the DNA IN FORENSICS 2012 “EXPLORING THE PHYLOGENIES” 5th EMPOP Meeting 8th Y-Chromosomal User Workshop at Innsbruck, Sep 06-08 2012:

Binary and Y-STR polymorphisms associated with the NRY region of the human Y chromosome preserve the paternal genetic legacy that has persisted to the present, permitting inference of human evolution, population migration and demographic history.The NRY region of the Y chromosome acts much like mtDNA to reveal the structure among human populations and possiblyto infer the order and timing of their descents. In the present study, we have investigated the originof haplogroup N1c-Tat phylogeographic structure and the genetic relationship of Eurasianpopulations by examining STR variation in a large number of individuals. We have identified 54samples as the haplogroup N1c-Tat from 5 population groups (N=632). To place the results into awider geographic context, we included 209 samples from published sources and 296 samples from the FTDNA public database into the phylogenetic analysis. According to previous studieshaplogroup N-M231 is of East Asian ancestry. Our results suggest that N1c-Tat mutation probably originated in South Siberia 8-9 thousand years ago and had spread through the Urals into the European part of present-day Russia. Its distribution is not fully correlated with the spread of Uralic languages. Turkic-speaking ethnic groups in South Siberia have high N1c-Tat presence and STR variance, while the N1c-L550 subgroup largely occurs among non-Uralic-speaking European populations. Only the European N1c-Tat (xL550) subgroup can be linked to the spread of Finno-Ugric languages from the Kama-Urals area ~6,000 years ago. The subgroup N1c-L550 cannot be considered Finno-Ugric origin and its carriers might have been assimilated by Indo-European groups, resulting in their spread across Europe in historical times with Vikings and Balto-Slavs. Based on the present study Buryats were dominated by a young, about 800-years old N1c-Tat cluster, which suggest that this ethnic group could be a relatively recent admixture of Mongolian conquerors with a Paleo-Siberian population groups.

The Russian Journal of Genetics Editor in Chief, Georgii P. Georgiev, Institute of Gene Biology, Moscow, Russia, in its
March 2003 edition, observed that no definite conclusion could be made as to the racial origin of Tat-C, and confirmed that it could well be a Caucasoid marker spread amongst several racial groupings:

M. V. Derenko in “Polymorphism of the Y-Chromosome Diallelic Loci in Ethnic Groups of the AltaiSayan Region”   Russian Journal of Genetics 38(3): 309-314; Mar 2002 was of the view that:

“Haplotype 3, defined by the TAT-C allele and found in 14.6% of Tuvinians, 5.4% of Altaians, 11.8% of Sojots, and 18.8% of Khakassians, cannot be unambiguously attributed to either Mongoloid or Caucasoid lineages. It is established that TAT-C allele of the RBF5 locus is distributed predominantly in Northern Eurasia.

Maximum frequencies of this allele were observed in Yakuts (86%), Buryats from Mongolia (52%), and also in such Finno-Ugric peoples as Finns (61%), Estonians (37%), and Maris (33%) [12, 17]. The TAT-C allele was also found in populations of the Volga-Ural region with the frequencies varying from 9% in Mordovians to 68% in Udmurts. Zerial et al. suggested that this mutation first arose in the populations of Asia and then dispersed over the territory of Northern Europe reaching Finland, which can indicate substantial genetic contribution of Mongoloids to the development of Northern European peoples. These authors also advanced an alternative hypothesis concerning the origin of the TAT-C allele. Specifically, high

frequency of the ancestral, in respect of the TAT-C allele, Y-chromosome variant LLY22g-A (17%) revealed in Maris is considered to be the evidence of the emergence of the TAT-C allele in this particular population.
The presence of the TAT-C allele in the Russian gene pool with frequencies varying from 15 to 21% is explained by the presence of considerable proportion of the Finno-Ugric and/or Turkic admixture in the modern Russians.
Since in Tuvinians the tribe attribution is determined down the male lineage, it is thus possible to correlate the information on the origin of certain tribal groups with the Y-chromosome variants. For instance, the carriers of the TAT-C allele in Tuvinian population are the representatives of the Irgit tribe. This allele was found in the five of six members of the tribe examined. In addition, this allele is a marker for Y chromosomes in the representatives of three other tribes, namely, the Turkic by its origin Oorzhak tribe and two Mongolian tribes (Salchak and Mongush). Thereby, TAT-C haplotype in the Tuvinian gene pool may be either of Turkic, or of Mongolian descent. Some authors also suggest the Samoyedic origin of the Irgit tribee]. This in turn can serve as a confirmation of the Finno-Ugric origin of the TAT-C allele. The use of a combined approach based on the analysis of Y-chromosome diallelic and microsatellite loci variation along with the inclusion in the analysis of other Turkic and Finno-Ugric populations would provide detailed estimation of the contributions of different by the descent components to the gene pool of the present-day population of the region examined.”

From Xiongnu Genetics that provides a summary of the research on archaeogenetics:

“Haplogroup N (left, Rootsi; right, annals of Human This Tat-polymorphism is a biallelic marker (that defines the N1c (N3-Tat) Y-DNA haplogroup),what has so far been observed only in populations from Asia and migrating in a counter-clockwise path from modern day regions of Mongolia and northern China to as far as northeastern Europe genetics 2004) and Tat C (almost absent in Mongolia and China) are very frequent in northern Eurasia including Finland and the Khanty-Mansi area

… contacts between European and Asian populations were anterior to the Xiongnu culture, and it confirms results reported for two samples from an early 3rd century B.C. Scytho-Siberian population (Clisson et al. 2002). Also it indicated that a possibly Turkic component emerged and originated from the former Xiongnu area at the end of the Xiongnu period (it could signal a partial population replacement too [1]).

The second study[2] from 2004 screened ancient samples from the Egyin Gol necropolis for the Y-DNA Tat marker. This Tat-polymorphism is a biallelic marker (that defines the N1c (N3-Tat) Y-DNA haplogroup), what has so far been observed only in populations from Asia and northern Europe. It reaches its highest frequency in Yakuts, Buryats, northeastern Siberian populations, and northern Finno-Ugrians. Opinions differ about whether the geographic origin of the T-C mutation lies in Asia or northern Eurasia. Zerjal et al. suggested that this mutation first arose in the populations of Central Asia; they proposed Mongolia as a candidate location for the origin of the T-C polymorphism. In contrast, for Lahermo et al. the wide distribution of the mutation in north Eurasian populations suggests that it arose in northern Eurasia. According to them, the estimated time of the C mutation is ~ 2400 – 4440 years ago. (The presence of N1c (N3-Tat) and N1b in modern Siberian and other Eurasian populations is considered to reflect an ancient substratum, speaking Uralic/Finno-Ugric languages.[3, 4, 5, 6]). Concerning the Xiongnu people, two of them from the older sections harboured the mutation, confirming that the Tat polymorphism already existed in Mongolia 2300 years ago. (The next archaeogenetical occurrence of this N-Tat type ancient DNA was found in Hungary among the so-called Homeconqueror Hungarians, 2 of 7 remains from the early 10th century revealed it. (Csányi 2008. [7, 8]) Similarly the mtDNA of the ancient Hungarians also showed a high percentage of similarity

Another study of 2006 [10], aimed at the contacts between Siberian and steppe peoples with the analysis of a Siberian grave of Pokrovsk recently discovered near the Lena River and dated from 2,400 to 2,200 years B.P., proved the existence of previous (ancient) contacts between autochthonous hunters of Siberia and the nomadic horse breeders from the Altai-Baikal area (Mongolia and Buryatia). Indeed, the stone arrowhead and the harpoons relate this Pokrovsk man to the traditional hunters of the Taiga. Some artifacts made of horse bone and the pieces of armor, however, are related to the tribes of Mongolia and Buryatia of the Xiongnu period (3rd century B.C.). This affinity has been confirmed by the match of the mitochondrial haplotype of this subject with a woman of the Egyin Gol necropolis (2nd/3rd century A.D.). This haplotype was attributed to the mtDNA D haplogroup. The paternal lineage of the Pokrovsk subject seems to differ from the lineages found in the modern population. The mtDNA sequence was compared with databases and the haplotype matched two Buryats from the Baikal area, two West Siberian Khantys, two Mansis, one Evenk, one older and two modern Yakuts, and one female from the Egyin Gol necropolis. This mitochondrial haplotype is not found in Koryaks, Chukchi, Itelmen, or Yukaghirs, sometimes considered “Paleo-Asiatic” ethnic groups, or in Central Asian populations. The similarity of the mitochondrial haplotype of the Pokrovsk subject with Buryats and a skeleton from the Egyin Gol necropolis, located 2,000 km to the south, confirms the occurrence of ancient contacts between the Altai-Baikal region and Oriental Siberia before the end of the Xiong Nu period (3rd century B.C. to 2nd century A.D.). Some female ancestors of this Pokrovsk hunter may originate from the First Empire of the Steppes, well known for its military expansion to the south (China) and to the west. However, the man of the Pokrovsk grave shows that these nomadic people may have also tried to explore the north by diffusion along the rivers. The match of our sequence with two Mansis from the Ural Mountains and two western Siberian Khantys could be related to an extensive gene flow along the Ienissei River (Starikovskaya et al. 2005). Considering the important frequency of Asian haplogroups present in the Mansi (Derbeneva et al. 2002), this similarity may stem from the wide expansion of the nomadic tribes from the southern steppe to the Ural Mountains. Thus the gene flow seems to have affected autochthonous populations from Oriental and Occidental Siberia during the Xiong Nu period since the 3rd century B.C. The analysis of the Pokrovsk grave corroborates the great influence of the Xiongnu Empire over the Siberian populations and the early admixture between populations from the southern steppe and Central Siberia aboriginals.

Another 2006 study observed genetic similarity among Mongolian samples from different periods and geographic areas including 2,300-year-old Xiongnu population of the Egiyn Gol Valley. This results supports the hypothesis that the succession over time of different Turkic and Mongolian tribes in the current territory of Mongolia resulted in cultural rather than genetic exchanges. Furthermore, it appears that the Yakuts probably did not find their origin among the Xiongnu tribes as previously hypothesised.[11]
A research study of 2006 [12] focused on Y-DNAs of the Egyin Gol site, and besides the confirmation of the above mentioned two N3-Tats, it also identified a Q haplogroup from the middle period and a C haplogroup from the later (2nd century AD). The Q is one of the haplogroups of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (though this is not this subclade), and a minor in Siberia and Central Asia. Only two groups in the Old World are high majority Q groups. These are the Uralic-Samoyed Selkups and the Yeniseian Kets. They live in western and middle Siberia, together with the Ugric Khantys. The Kets originally lived in southern Siberia. The Samoyeds were an old people of the Sayan-Baikal region, migrated northwest around the 1st/2nd century AD. According to the Uralistic literature [13] the swift migration and disjunction of the Samoyedic peoples might be connected to a heavy warring in the region, probably due to the dissolution of the Xiongnu Empire in the period of the Battle of Ikh Bayan. The mutation defining this haplogroup C, is restrained in North and Eastern-Asia and in America (Bergen et al. 1998. 1999.) (Lell et al. 2002.). The highest frequencies of Haplogroup C3 are found among the populations of Mongolia and the Russian Far East, where it is generally the modal haplogroup. Haplogroup C3 is the only variety of Haplogroup C to be found among Native Americans, among whom it reaches its highest frequency in Na-Dene populations.
A research project of 2007 (Yi Chuan, 2007 [14]) was aimed at the genetic affinities between Tuoba Xianbei and Xiongnu populations. Some mtDNA sequences from Tuoba Xianbei remains in Dong Han period were analyzed. Comparing with the published data of Xiongnu, the results indicated that the Tuoba Xianbei presented some close affinities to the Xiongnu, which implied that there was a gene flow between Tuoba Xianbei and Xiongnu during the 2 southward migrations.
A recent examination [15] in a Xiongnu cemetery in Duurlig Nars revealed a male with maternal U2e1 and paternal R1a1 haplogroups and two other DNAs: a female with mtDNA haplogroup D4 and a male with Y-haplogroup C3 and mtDNA haplogroup D4.


Sources and References

A Bird’s Eye View on Flyways

Magyar shamans and On Magyar migration 

HVS-I polymorphism screening of ancient human mitochondrial DNA provides evidence for N9a discontinuity and East Asian haplogroups in the Neolithic Hungary, by Zsuzsanna Guba et al. Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 15 September 2011; doi: 10.1038/jhg.2011.103

East to West across Eurasia DNA IN FORENSICS 2012 “EXPLORING THE PHYLOGENIES” 5th EMPOP Meeting 8th Y-Chromosomal User Workshop contains an abstract from the DNA in Forenscics 2012 “Genetic journey of the N1c haplogroup, by Pamjav H, Nemeth E, Feher T, Volgyi A

Huns in Bavaria? Genetic analyses of an artificially deformed skull from an early medieval cemetery in Burgweinting (Regensburg, Germany), by Schleuder R, Wilde S, Burger J, Grupe G, Forster P, Harbeck M, DNA IN FORENSICS 2012 “EXPLORING THE PHYLOGENIES” 5th EMPOP Meeting 8th Y-Chromosomal User Workshop [ancestry of a woman with artificially deformed skull found to be of Asian origin] via the Dienekes Blog

Study: Isolated Finns have unique genes (FIMM Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland study) /

The new Finnish Gene Atlas places Finns on the world’s genetic map (FINN, 2010-03-17)

Finland and the Tat-C Controversy Part 14: FINLAND, THE LAPPS AND THE TAT-C

Sotdae (Wikipedia)

Swan Culture“, J.Rakuno Gakuen Univ.,28 (1):65~83 (2003) by Mark BRAZIL (June 2003)

The origin of the Japanese race based on genetic markers of immunoglobulin G | 免疫グロブリンGの標識遺伝子に基づく日本民族の起源” byHideo MATSUMOTO 松本秀雄著, Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series B”(Vol. 85 (2009) , No. 2

Making sense of DNA data and the origins of the Japanese

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