Huns - Contents
Ogur and Oguz
Western Huns 4th-10th cc.
Western Huns Income In Gold
Eastern Hun Anabasis
Stearns P.N. Zhou Synopsis
E. de la Vaissiere Eastern Huns
Bagley R. Hun archeology in China
Faux D. Kurgan Culture in Scandinavia
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World
HUN COUNTRY AT THE CASPIAN GATE
Caspian Dagestan during epoch of the Great Movement of Peoples
Dagestan Publishing, Makhachkala 1995, ISÂN 5-297-01099-3
RELIGION, CONVERSIONS, BURIALS
Posting introduction see the contents page.
Poor print quality hurts the accuracy of this posting, but fortunately the contents are not impacted. Page numbers of the original are shown at the beginning of the page in blue. Page breaks in continuous text are indicated by //. Posting notes and explanations, added to the text of the author and not noted specially, are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers.
9. GODS AND CULTS
The question of the religious etiology of the North-East Caucasus Huns was repeatedly raised in literature in relation to various aspects of the Khazar history, as well as the ethnic history of the Northern Caucasus (M.I. Artamonov, 1962. pp. 186-189; Pletneva, S.A. 1986. C . 33-34; Fedorov, Ya.A. 1972. pp. 23-24; Gadlo A.V. 1979. pp. 144-149).
The pantheon of the North Caucasian Huns is the subject of special works, which traced its connection with the mythology of the ancient Central Asian Türks and religious beliefs of the Iranian-speaking population (Klyashtorny S.G. 1981, p. 64, 1984. pp. 18-22; Gmyrya L.B. 1980. pp. 42-44, 1986. pp. 90-108).
Researchers noted that the first and most powerful political union of the Caucasus
nomads, the “kingdom of Huns”, formed on multi-ethnic basis, which included, in addition
to the Türkic-speaking tribes, also the Iranian-speaking and autochthonous populations.
As was shown above, covering various aspects of socio-economic and political history of
the Dagestan tribes in the 4th - 7th cc. AD, the ancient writers often called with a
common ethnonym “Huns” not only politically dominating tribe, but also other //217//
non-Türkic ethnic entities in the Hunnic confederation, including the local population
(Lazarev Ya., 1859. pp. 2-10. 17 Gadlo A.V. 1980, p. 41; Gmyrya L.B. 1988, p. 111).
In this regard, the data of the written sources on religious conceptions of the North-East Caucasus Huns is important for understanding complex formation processes of ideological vision of this region population during early medieval period.
Most complete written testimony on this subject is in the “History of Alvan country” by Movses Kalankatuatsi, which contains valuable and succinct information about pagan beliefs of the “country of Huns” population, about a complex political struggle by members of spiritual and secular elite, which led to the religious reform in the Hunnic society (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 124-131).
Some fragmentary evidence about the Huns beliefs is in the works of Ammianus Marcellinus, Pseudo-Zacharias, Agathias (Ammianus Marcellinus. II. pp. 242-243; Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 150; Agathias, p. 158).
M.I. Artamonov noted that the Huns religion “finds many matches in cult traditions,
residually preserved in the Caucasus” (M.I. Artamonov, 1962, p. 188). The rudiments of
pagan rituals in the calendar celebrations, funeral ceremonies, and folklore of the
Dagestan peoples recorded by researchers are important additional sources contributing to
understanding of the complex forming processes of the Northeast Caucasus population
ideological worldviews //218// in the early
In the Hunnic society of the 4 - 7 cc. AD the dominant were pagan cults: veneration of elemental forces of nature, Fertility cult, and ancestor cult; they were joined by some other beliefs and cult rituals (belief in fate, fortune telling, sorcery, etc.).
1. Deities of Nature
One of the main Hunnic gods is thought to be the thunder god Kuar (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. C 124). Living beings and objects struck by lightning at the Huns were becoming sacred, they were revered and were offered sacrifices. Sun, moon, fire and water were regarded as deities (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 124, 126 - 127).
The sources do not inform on the role assigned in the Huns' worldview to the deified
forces of nature, however, many similarities in the pagan beliefs of many peoples suggest
that the veneration of the natural forces was primarily because of the dependence from
the raw forces of nature. Folklore and ethnographic modernity of the Dagestani peoples
preserved relic echoes from the pagan worship of elemental forces of nature, including
celestial bodies. The Sun and Moon were regarded as protectors of human life (Gadjiyeva
S. Sh. and others 1980, p.63; Gadjiyeva, G.A. 1991. pp. 157 - 159; Alimova, B.M. 1992, p.
229). The entire well-being was associated with the influence of the Sun //219//
(Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1991, p. 329; Bulatova A.1971, p. 170, M. Khalilov X.M. 1984, p.
77), were common oaths by the Sun and Moon (M. Khalilov X.M. 1984, p. 69; Alimova, B.M.
1992. pp. 72-73)
(This historical reconstruction projects backwards non-specific
folk traits of 20th c. to specific people of 2nd c. With that kind of reconstruction, all
Picts wearing Scythian hats in Caledonia were Anglicans and resented Pope).
S.G. Klyashtorny rightly believes that the worship of Kuar God was taken by Huns in the Caucasus, from the local Iranian-speaking population (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 21). Some of the Dagestani people remained worship of thunder and lightning, as well as items damaged by lightning (Gadjiyeva, G.A. 1991. pp. 159 - 160) (Considering the commanding post S.G Klyashtorny occupied in Soviet and post-Soviet time, his opinion is as holy as that of another commanding Turkologist, F.Engels. But... a better description of Kuar in Tengriism would be an Alp, or a patron, instead of god, and not of destruction, but of military success, his symbol was a sword. The Scythian ceremonies described by Herodotus are nearly identical to those depicted for the Eastern and Western Huns of the following millennium. For the Western Huns, the name of the God of war was recorded as Kuar, and the Chinese rendition was Ching Lu, which kind of excludes the S.G Klyashtorny's insinuation. Moreover, except for the Ossetians, who have about 10% of the distorted Iranisms, no other significant group in the Caucasus has any relation to the Iranian languages, defying Klyashtorny's figment. The parallels described for god Hor in Egyptian mythology, Sumerian Ishkur, Persian Gurchesh, Roman Mars, all point to cultural borrowings, even though the Sumerian Ishkur was recorded as early as 26th c. BC. The Türkic god is reconstructed as Kur, in Chinese transcription Ching Lu; Kur falls into the same phonetical group as Hor, Ishkur, and Gurchesh. Possibly, it is too presumptuous to suggest that Türkic Kur was a model for the following gods of war, but in Sumer the word “kur“means “foreign hostile country“, hinting of invaders. The Türkic proper name Kur/Chur describes a military leader, with slight dialectal variations it was geographically widely spread and temporally, first mentioned for the leaders, and later as a popular appellative. Among Türkic names and titles are Gur-Khan, Gur as part of tribal names, Gurchi and Kuarchi for royal bodyguards for Chingizids and Safavids, Charik for Khan's guard regiment, Jenichars for Ottoman swordsmen, Gorgud and Korkut for prophets. The sources elaborate that “pile of firewood“ is actually a kurgan, or a natural hill, on top of which is set up a platform, where a sword is mounted and ceremonies held. We have records describing this service ritual for Scythians, Eastern and Western Huns, and Caucasian Türks. Ref. Z.Gasanov “Royal Scythians“, p. 233 on. In the Caucasus lays another Kur - the Chor passage without etymological tracing. If in 160 AD the strategic point was a seat of a Masgut/Alanian/Hunnic Prince entitled Kur/Chur/Chor, that passage would be naturally called Chor Pass, suggesting a version for etymology. If the phonetics can be trusted, literally Kuar in Türkic means White Warrior, synonymous with the Noble Warrior, since White means Noble, Upper, Supreme. Under Iranian-speaking population in the Caucasus S.G Klyashtorny means Masguts/Alans, who are Iranian-speaking only in the V.I.Abaev's creative mythology-making).
An integral part of the solar cult at the Dagestan peoples was a veneration of fire, which played a large role in the of spring and summer rituals of the calendar cycle (Gadjiyeva S. Sh.1961, pp. 323-325; Bulatova A. 1971. pp. 176-177). Water also was one of the elements with rudiments of reverence surviving until recent in the rituals associated with spring and summer festivals. In the ancient pagan pantheon of Kumyks the Goddess of water was Zemirah (Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1961, p. 323), whose function included providing moisture for everything alive, and also the Goddess Suvanasy - a helper of the Goddess of the water, a guardian of water sources (Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1961. pp. 324-325) (Suvanasy = Su/Suv ~ Water + Ana ~ Mother + -sy ~ affix, i.e. Mother Water, a Tengrian Patron Angel in charge of the Department of Water (Su) listed in the boxed comment above. The nomads of the arid steppes probably appreciated water more than many other occupations, and had in fact many do's and don'ts connected with water and water sources unknown to other peoples. The “Solar Cult” is mentioned unspecifically, and not without a reason: there likely is no people in the world who did not notice the Sun, and who did not celebrate some calendar event timed by the Sun procession. Türkic tradition was to greet the sunrise, pray at the sunrise, bury their dead oriented to the sunrise, the home entrances faced sunrise, and so on. The Sun was assigned its own Patron Angel, and he or she could be mollified by praying for favors. Ironically, the traditional Tengrian reverence to the Sun never reached the height it reached in Christianity, which made the Sun day a holy day of the week, see for example E. J. Waggoner, 1891, Sunday: The Origin Of Its Observance In The Christian Church.).
In the religious ceremonies of the Dagestani peoples in a transformed form appear
concepts on the need to sacrifice to the elements of nature. During rituals associated
with the call for rain, blood of animal was shed into a lake, into a water source was
lowered a skull a horse, were thrown down river boulders //220//
(Bulatova, A. 1980, p. 100, 102, 104, Khalilov X. M , 1984. (p. 76).
Some of the Dagestani people were throwing into water one of the ritual personalities (an imitation of human sacrifice), the water deity Suvanasy was seen as an evil creature, craving for human sacrifice (Khalilov X. M. 1984. C 76, Bulatova, A. 1980, p. 103; Mythology. 1984, p. 162). Perhaps the events of self-immolation by the maidens, noted by S.Sh. Gadjiyeva (Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1961, p. 322), reflected vestiges of ritual human sacrifice to the Sun deity, transformed later into a ritual of jumping over the fire during the “Meeting of Spring” festival ( Gadjiyeva S. Sh. 1961, p. 322; Khalilov, X.M. 1984, p. 69, Bulatova A. 1971, p. 177).
2. Fertility cult
Among main elements associated with the
Fertility cult, Huns held the Sun, fire, water, vegetation, the Earth held a central place. The Huns considered Earth a progenitor of all living things, to the forces of the
Earth prayed magicians in their incantations (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 197, 199).
Movses Kalankatuatsi has a definition of the “country of Huns” as “Native land
motherland” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 199). Apparently, the Deity of Fertility in the
Hun pantheon appears in the form of Mother Earth, who grants anything connected with
fertility. Huns sacrificed to the Earth by pouring on the ground blood of sacrificial
animals (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 199).
The echoes of the ritual sacrificial offerings of blood to the Earth survived in the funeral folklore of Kumyks (Gadjiyeva S. Sh. et al. 1980, p. 64), a relic of the past sacrifices is preserved in the ritual burial of the people during a First Furrow celebration (imitation of human sacrifice) (Bulatova, A. 1984, p. 87), presenting the plowed land with agricultural produce (Bulatova, A. 1971, p. 169, 1984, p. 87). As an evil spirit of the Earth, hungry for human sacrifices, can be seen the image of a mythical creature “K'an tuluk” (wineskin filled with blood) (Mythology. 1984, p. 174), a belief in which held the southern Kumyks (With the Russian blindness to the indigenous population, a la “Indians” of the New World, it is likely that the “Northern Kumyks ” and “Southern Kumyks” are completely unrelated by their origin, and traditions ascribed to them belong to somebody else). With the deity of Earth can be identified the image of Mother Earth, preserved in the folklore of several Dagestani peoples, where the Earth stands out among the other forces of nature, and is revered as a main Deity (Mythology. 1984. pp. 161-163) (Tentatively, the Kumyk tradition may be traced to the Kimak Kaganate, where agriculture was a mainstay of economy. Kimak Kaganate united local agricultural and foot hunter populations with nomadic refugees from the Mongolian steppes, under a leadership of the dynastic clan of the Saka/Se/Se(yanto)/塞, called Shad in their origination legend. Kumans migrated to the Eastern Europe with the first wave of the Kimak Kaganate migrants, Kimaks migrated with the later waves, but in either case their traditions came from much more northern area then the Hunnic traditions, and they reached Caucasus almost a millennia later. Kumyks and Huns may have had similar dialects, and the same religion, but in no case their traditions can be equated, especially when transmitted via a late Soviet chauvinistic publication “Mythology”, 1984).
One of the attributes of the Fertility cult were sacred trees (oaks) and sacred
groves. The Sacred Groves were public sanctuaries. The oldest and tall oak - the “Elder,
the mother of high trees” in the Hun beliefs was seen as endowed with powerful forces, it
was considered a “savior of gods, life-giving and giver all blessings”, a guardian and
defender of the country (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 199, 201). The sacred trees
were worshipped, they were sacrificed to, they were particularly guarded. The religious
beliefs of the Huns had a ban, under a threat of terrible punishment and even death, to
use the fruits, fallen branches, and stumps //222//
of the revered trees (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 201). It is interesting to note that
among some of the Dagestani peoples the “sacred” trees also were considered inviolable
(Alimova, B.M. 1992, p. 230).
The historiography of the issue related to the tree cult in pagan persuasions is very extensive, and no consensus yet evolved on the origins of the phenomenon. In the views of many peoples, who retained vestiges of pagan beliefs, the tree is the counterpart of a man, sharing his fate; the tree is a seat of a spirit, the tree is a fetish, the tree is a carrier of the fruitful force, casting the harvest, a carrier of erotic potency (Alekseev, N.A. 1980. C . 76-77; Kurotkin A.V. 1982, p. 156, 158, Tokarev, S.A. et al. 1983, p. 157, Pokrovskaya, L.V. 1983. pp. 68-69). The holiday tree, decorated eggs, nuts, pastry, and sweets is a symbol of the nature's fruitful powers in agricultural and wedding ceremonies of some Dagestani peoples (Modern Culture. 1971, p. 219; Bulatova A. 1984. pp. 85-86, 94; Alimova B.M. 1992. pp. 176-177).
Mighty trees and groves of old trees, apparently were perceived by the Huns as
fruits of their deified Earth, which absorbed the strength of the Earth and its ability
to bring anything connected with fertility. The cult clergy associated abundance in the
country with actions of mighty forces of the sacred trees.
The “History of the Alvan country” allows to think that with the beginning of social differentiation within the Hun society, //223// the sacred trees as symbols of power become relics of the evolved upper crust of the feudalizing nobility led by Alp Ilitver. Movses Kalankatuatsi indicates that this prince and nobility worshipped and brought sacrifice to the oldest, most powerful and revered tree (Movses Kalankatuatsi, p. 199, 201). Separate Hunnic families and tribal groups also had their own sacred trees. The priests, listing troubles that may befall to a person who despoiled revered trees, in addition to various tortures, craze, and death, also pointed to destruction of home, and the whole clan that violated prohibition (Movses Kalankatuatsi, I, p. 201). Such phenomena, when separate clans and evolved upper crust of nobility had a patron sacred tree, are found at some Türkic peoples of Siberia (Alekseev, N.A. 1980, p. 69, 76-77) (Mixing perverted Marxism with flummoxed missionary Christianity leads to weird concoctions: “beginning of social differentiation” applied to people who entered history well differentiated socially, “feodalizing nobility” in egalitarian democratic society, “priests” in a priestless society; stringing one nonsense citation to another almost completely obscures few facts recorded by disoriented eyewitness).
The process of ethnogenetical integration also affected population's spiritual
culture, like religious percepts that are noted for conservatism and long-term stability.
The etiological perceptions of the Dagestani Huns reflected mutual ideological
interaction with the local agricultural population, and the worldview of the nomadic
pastoralists transitioning to a sedentary lifestyle (of the Türkic and Iranian-speaking
circles) (Gmyrya L.B. 1986, p. 94).
Sacred trees in the perceptions of the Northeast Caucasus ancient population were symbols not just of the fertile force, but first of all the attributes of the vegetational fertility. A.V. Gadlo //224// noted that in the “country of Huns” the priests mentioned their particular function - bringing about rain, without mentioning the livestock (Gadlo A.V. 1979, p. 145), and pointed to the connection of their cults with agricultural activities of the population. The presence of a Fertility cult at the Huns was caused by productive activities of the population. The cult of vegetational fertility undoubtedly reflects etiological views of the local people with deep agricultural tradition. The forged etiological syncretism of the population was manifested not only in the pantheon of the Dagestani Huns, but also in the religious rituals (sacrifices), where main sacrificial animals were horses. It is known that horse played a leading role in the nomadic economy, and Huns sacrificed horses to the gods of vegetational fertility.
In connection with the Huns' worship of sacred trees is interesting a message of the
Arabian author Ibn Rustah, who wrote in the early 10th c. He tells of a custom of the city Rnhs residents, somewhere 10 farsahs from Haidan (V.F. Minorsky believes that it was
Haidak), to worship a huge tree that does not bear fruit. He writes: “On Wednesdays, the
inhabitants of the city are gathering /around/ a tree, hang on it different fruits, they
bow in front of it, and offer sacrifices” (Ibn Rustah, p. 220). Is the subject of Ibn
Rustah some city in the “country of Huns”, where residents in the 10th c. continued
worshipping mighty trees? (Yes, thanks to Ibn Rustah we know that
in the 10th c., Tengriism was alive and kicking in the N. Caucasus, centuries after a
promulgated adoption of Islam and Christianity)
In connection with the Fertility cult, which dominated in the beliefs of the Caspian Huns (sic!), should be addressed the image of the Goddess, mentioned in passing in the “History of Alvan country”. The author transmitted her name as Aphrodite. Possibly, the author denoted the Hunnic Goddess with the name of the ancient Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty Aphrodite because of identity of their functions. The Aphrodite of the ancient Greeks absorbed traits of Goddesses of the Middle Eastern cults - Semitic Goddess of Fertility, Goddess of Love and Heaven Astarte, and the Great Mother of Asia Minor (Dictionary of Antiquity. 1989, p. 66).
The Hun Goddess of Love is mentioned by Movses Kalankatuatsi once, as somewhat
indirectly. The Great Prince of the Huns Alp Ilitver offered to settle dispute between
the Christian preacher Bishop Israil and Hun ministers of the pagan cults by
demonstration by the ministers of the verity of the ancient beliefs. The ministers
had, with magical spells and incantations, to cause a death or punishment to Israi, who
commanded to destroy the pagan sanctities. The author describes the actions of the cult
ministers so: “Then the magicians, sorcerers and enchanters /of the Goddess/ Aphrodite
began their violent witchcraft, began to appeal to the Earth with false calls, uttering
absurd and meaningless exclamations...”. (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 129).
In this laconic account about Hunnic Aphrodite attention is drawn to two things: 1) the cult of the Goddess Aphrodite was attended by magicians, sorcerers and enchanters, that is, the circle of the Goddess of Love clergy was //226// clearly defined, and 2) magicians, sorcerers and enchanters appealed for sending down punishment not to the Goddess (Aphrodite), but to the Earth (Apparently, to the Angel-Protector Yer-Su, who was in charge of the earthly affairs. With Aphrodite Yer-Su can be connected by the part Su = Water, and Yer is Earth mentioned by M. Kagankatvatsi. On more elaborate mythological parallels, Aphrodite is older then Zeus, and Yer-Su is closer to Tengri, making Aphrodite and Yer-Su acceptable counterparts in status, providing that M. Kagankatvatsi sufficiently knew different Heavenly hierarchies, which is inconsistent with his other appellations. Also apparently, M. Kagankatvatsi knew enough Türkic to catch Yer as Earth and Su as Water.
On a more interesting level, Herodotus equated the Greek Aphrodite Urania with the Scythian Argimpasa, whose name reads in Türkic as Head Oracle/Main Oracle, agglutinated from Arği = prophesy and mas/pas/bash = head, i.e. the Scythian Aphrodite was an oracle, or fortuneteller, or a prophet, an earthling without executive power, while Yer-Su was an Angel-Protector with executive powers).
The available concise information may help to identify main functions of the Huns' Goddess of Love. The source makes it possible to assume that the Goddess of Love and Mother Earth in the pantheon of the Caspian Huns are identical or interchangeable notions. Attending to the cult of Hunnic Aphrodite ministers, i.e. mediators between the Goddess and people seeking help, were appealing to the Earth, as the author points out. Thus, the Huns' Goddess of Love, was embodied in the image of the sacred Earth. As mentioned above, the Earth was central to the Huns' cult of the Fertility, the “country of Huns” was defined as “Earth-born native land”. Based on the concept of equating the Huns' “Goddess of Love” with the “Mother Earth”, the ancestor of all living things was precisely the Goddess “Aphrodite”, i.e. her main function was a gift of life. Because of this, the Hunnic Goddess of Love can be defined as a Goddess of Fertility.
The image of the Goddess of Fertility is twofold. She is not only a giver of life
Goddess, she also possesses a punitive beginning. What punishment could send the holy
Earth - the Goddess of Fertility? The source identified the following: intimidation,
serious illness, death (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 129). The same penalties fell upon
those who dared to pick up fallen branches and leaves from the “sacred oak”, which was the
“guardian and protector” of the “country of Huns”, but in //227//
that case the violators of the ban could also undergo destruction of the house and of the
clan (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 128-129).
Apparently, the worst punishment was not even the death of the individual who violated traditional prohibitions, but a destruction of the house and family, which the Fertility Goddess - the “sacred” Earth could inflict.
S.G. Klyashtorny was first to point out the undoubted connection between the Fertility Goddess of the Caspian Huns and the Goddess Umai of the Ancient Türks (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 22). In the ancient Türkic pantheon the Goddess Umai was a Goddess of Fertility and births (Klyashtorny. S.G. 1984, p. 19), although she has other functions, seemingly unrelated to her core area of creation, the protection of soldiers, hunters and shepherds.
A.M. Sagalaev, from the analysis of mythological storylines of the Türkic-speaking
population in the Ural-Altai region, gives a detailed description of the Mother Goddess
Umai image. The primary meaning of the name Umai is “bosom”, “womb”, “umbilical”
(Sagalaev A.M. 1991, p. 61). The name of the Goddess depicts her main function, to give
birth to every living thing, give life. In the ancient Türkic pantheon, the Goddess Umai
was held very high. She was a wife of the God of Heaven Tengri (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p.
19). And if Tengri in the Türkic mythology rules the fate of the people, Umai is in
charge of the births of the people (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 19), and also gives life to
beasts and birds (Sagalaev A.M. 1991, p. 61).
In the Türkic pantheon the image of the Goddess //228// Umai is dual. She not only approves the birth of the living, gives birth to all living, but in her power also was to deprive of descendants (she was kidnapping and devouring infants) (Sagalaev A.M. 1991, p. 61). Such opposing transformations are natural for the Mother Goddess in charge of offsprings, thinks S.Y. Neklyudov (See: Sagalaev A.M. 1991, p. 61). The mythology of the Urals and southern Siberia Türkic speaking. peoples is full of examples of the Goddess Umai opposite actions: She helps the giving birth, she protects baby from evil spirits, and she could strangle a child in the womb, she could forgo the child, and evil spirits were devouring an infant (Sagalaev A. M . 1991, p. 67; Potapov, L.P. 1991, p. 288, 291).
In the Türkic epic in Ural-Altai region Umai is represented by an image of usually a
young woman with golden or red hair, let loose or braided into two plaits (Sagalaev A.M.
1991. pp. 55-58). Some peoples saw her as an old woman with white loose hair. The symbols
of the Goddess Umai among the Türkic-speaking peoples were tawdry yarn (gold, silver,
white and green), cowrie shells, small bows and arrows, small cribs (Sagalaev A.M. 1991.
pp. 55-56). The Goddess dwelled, in the beliefs of the Türkic-speaking peoples, on a
mountain, in a cave, in a a narrow crevice, i.e., within the objects associated
with the Earth.
In the religious conceptions of the modern Türkic-speaking Dagestani peoples the name Umai, that symbolizes the image of the Fertility Goddess, has not been preserved, although the veneration of the “sacred” land exists, as was mentioned above. However, with the image of the Goddess Umai can be compared some female mythical creatures that survived as vestiges of the so-called folk beliefs of the population. Before turning to the characterization of these mythical images, should be noted that they have about the same function, and to a some extent identical to the functions of the ancient Türkic Umai, but the names (appellations) of mythical images sometimes vary even within the same ethnic group, although they may be similar at ethnically different groups.
Closest to the ancient Türkic Umai by her main function is a female deity “Kyune”
(with a glottal stop), the mythical stories of which
were recorded in Darg's village Mekegi (Alikhanova A.A. 1978. pp. 156 - 161). Submissions
Mekegin “Kyune” - is the protectress of babies, but at the same time, the deity can steal
the baby from the womb of the mother, or deprive a person of childbearing potential
(Alikhanova A.A. 1978. pp. 157-158), which ultimately reduces the destruction of nature.
In Kumyks with. Bashlykent preserved representation of the mythical image of the
“Kan-tuluk” which translates as “wineskin filled with blood” (Mythology. 1984, p. 174).
This is also a female spirit, but a good start it has already met its primary function -
a thirst for human sacrifice.
To the female deities, in a role similar to Türkic Umai, can also be attributed “Albasly K'atyn”, a figure preserved in the Kumyk beliefs of the village Bashlykent. But it is again a malevolent creature that strangles her victims, especially ruthless Albasly is to pregnant women, which she can kill by eating their lungs and liver (Gadjiyeva S. Sh. 1961, p. 325). She also can deprive a person of child-bearing ability. (Mythology. 1984, p. 167). The Laks of the village Vachi have a mythical image of “Mantuli” that also had an ability to destroy a clan (Mythology. 1984, p. 172). In another Lak village Ahar in the views of people existed a female image “Suhalutu” who in a rage could strangle a child in a cradle (Mythology. 1984, p. 172). The Laks of the village Vihli have a male spirit “Avdal” who, like the mythical creature “Kyune” at Mekegians, could take away a child from the womb of a mother (Mythology. 1984, p. 163).
Lezgins of the village Kasumkent have a female spirit “Alpab” (Red Alp, in Türkic?), evil and ruthless in her quest to destroy the human race (Vagabova F.I., Alikhanova A.A. 1978, p. 159).
Thus, we see that all above mythical images relate to pregnant women, infants,
child-bearing abilities of the people and ultimately to preservation of the human race.
But only the Darg's “Kyune” has a dual character (good and evil beginnings), all the rest
are creatures with strong, harmful to humans ability.
As was noted above, the divine being in whose power rests the existence of the human kind are female deities. People visualized these creatures as females, usually of extraordinary beauty, with long, reaching toe hair or braids (“Kyune”. “Albasly”, “Mantuli”, “Alpab”). The hair is usually red (“Kyune”, “Alpab”), reddish (“Mantuli”) or wheat color (“Albasly”). The childbearing properties of these mythical figures is expressed clearly - they have large breasts, cast over the shoulder (“Kyune”, “Albasly K'atyn”), sometimes it is a spirit in the form of a wineskin in a shape of a breast (“K'an-tuluk”). As is seen, by the external characteristics (young beautiful woman with long red (red) or gold (wheat) hair) the female mythical deities, preserved by some Dagestani peoples, have their analogue in the image of the Goddess Umai, preserved in the Türkic epos of the Ural-Altai region.
The abode of the Female Goddesses - counterparts of the Goddess Umai at the Dagestani
peoples as a rule was nature - a dense forest (“Albasly”, “Alpab”), a cave (“Albasly
K'atyn”), sometimes it is a tomb of a mean woman (“K'an-tuluk”) or a space somewhere
outside a home (“Mantuli”, “Suhalutu”). Only at the Mekegians was documented a notion
that “Kyune” lives in the house, in the ceiling.
It should be noted that all the denoted above //232// female mythical creatures with influence on the existence of a clan, although analogous to the ancient Türkic Goddess of Fertility and Babies Umai, but their status is much lower in comparison with Umai's position in the pantheon of ancient Türks. They are usually not a deities, but only spirits, and in addition are single-function (inflicting punishment to humans). L.P. Potapov noted the similar reduced status of Umai in the pantheon of the Altai-Sayan shamans (Potapov, L.P. 1991, p. 291). Apparently, this is due to the time effect in transformation of the “sacred” image.
So far, the iconographic embodiment of the Goddess Umai is not clear (No wonder, it does not exist. The iconography is a Christian idea, and iconoclasm was an influence of the Tengriist tradition, that's why Christianity fought it so furiously). S.G. Klyashtorny suggests that the Goddess Umai is depicted ona stone found in Kudyrge burials in the Altai, in the depiction of a woman with tri-horn hat and rich attire (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 19) (Horned hats were recorded for Yetha-Hephtalites married women by Sung Yun and Xuanzang/Huen Tsiang, reportedly women wore horns on their hats to indicate the number of polyandrous husbands). However, L.P. Potapov in his book gives compelling in our view arguments against identification of the image on the Kudyrge rock with the image of Goddess Umai (Potapov, L.P. 1991, p. 293-298).
In this regard, a particular interest presents the semantics of the depiction on a
bronze pendant from a catacomb burial in the Upper Chir Yurt burials dated by early
medieval time, known in the publications as pendant in a form of image of woman with baby
(Putintseva N.D. 1961, p. 252. Fig. 11 (8). M.M. Mammayev interpreted the as an amulet //233// with image of the Christian Mother of God (Mammayev M. M. 1976. pp. 97-102). But
there are reasons to believe that the semantic meaning in the design of the pendant is
The center of the pendant composition isa figure in the form of eight-pointed
cross, placed in a concentric frame (Fig. 6). M.M. Mammayev sees this part of the
pendant as a monogrammatic //234// cross-chrism.
It is known that cross-chrism was a monogram of the letter “X” and “P” (Bank A. 1966,
p. 13. Fig. 18-19); inset in a circle of the cross-chrism took a form of a “wheel with
six spokes” (Rybakov B.A. 1981, p. 300) - six-pointed cross. The figure of eight-point
cross in the base of the pendant can be regarded as a solar symbol - an image of the Sun
in motion (Gmyrya L.B. 1986. pp. 101-102). With an inscribed A circle with inset of
four-, six-, or eight-pointed cross is an ancient Sun symbol, known at many peoples
(Rybakov, B.A. 1981. pp. 297-298; Darkevitch V.P. 1960, p. 59). The decorated with a
spruce ornament frame, within which is placed a solar symbol in our opinion is a
stylistic depiction of a branch of the sacred tree, the so-called “Tree of Life”, which
symbolizes fertility and abundance. The filigreed or stamped belts in the form of
“braid”, “rope”, “hem”, “spruce” are one of the features in the design of armaments,
horse harnesses and decorations in nomadic antiquities of the Eastern. Europe and Central
Asia in the 5th-8th cc. AD. The subject of the “tree of life” was one of the main
subjects in the Dagestan art in the Middle Ages. It was recorded in the ornamentation of
ceramic vessel and toreutics (Mammayev M. 1967, p. 149, 152). The spherical projections
at the center of the composition, and the branches of the “sacred tree” can be regarded
as symbols of its fruit.
At the top of the pendant is placed a bust picture of a woman with child, depicted conditionally-schematical, with barely indicate facial features. The image of the woman abruptly rises above the main composition of the pendant, at the same time the image of the lying on the mother hands child does not extend beyond the frame, making its upper part culminating branches of the “tree of life”. The long braids of the women gently slope towards the frame, clasping and thereby uniting into a whole the composition of the pendant's graphic plot, salient in its laconism and voluminosity of expressive means.
It seems that the pendant from the catacomb burial of the Upper Chir Yurt burials with image of a women depicted the pagan Fertility Goddess, Mother Earth of the “country of Huns” - the Goddess Umai, the giver of all every abundance and fertility (tree of life with fruits), born under the life-giving warmth of the Sun (central composition of the solar symbol enveloped by branches of the sacred tree). In this story, the child perhaps represents an idea of eternity and rebirth of life (Gmyrya L.B. 1986, p. 102).
Cult of the Great Female Deity is known at many nations of antiquity (Grach A.D. 1980,
p. 68). The Great Goddess is also present in the ancient Türkic pantheon under a name of
the Goddess Umai (Grach A.D. 1980, p. 69; Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 19). In the ancient
art the Great Goddess was depicted as a woman with figure decorated with //236//
agricultural symbols (tree branches, multi-rayed crosses).
There are also images of the Great Goddess depicted as a mother, breast-feeding a child (See: Gmyrya L.B. 1986. Note.133-134). B.A. Rybakov said that the “cult of the Great Goddess gradually acquires features of the cult of the Earth, earth fertility, and in that form lives for thousands of years ... as a folk agricultural complex of beliefs and magical rituals” (Rybakov, B.A. 1981, p. 366).
3. God Tengri Khan
The God Tengri-Khan in the Caspian Huns' vision was the Supreme God (Tengri in Türkic is the same as God in English, Allah in Arabic, etc. In English the phrase reads: “The God God-Khan in the Caspian Huns' vision was the Supreme God”). In the “History of the Alvan country”, He is bestowed with laudatory epithets: “mighty Hero”, “unbridled giant”, “brave and gigantic Spandiat” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 197, 201). “The Cult of Tengri-Khan - says S.G. Klyashtorny, was a central cult in the realm of Alp Ilishver” (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984. C 21) (Elteber => Ilitver => Ilishver. Not bad...). Several researchers identified Tengri-Khan of the Dagestani Huns with the Heaven God Tengri of the Türks (M.I. Artamonov, 1962, p. 187; Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 21; Gadlo A.V. 1979. C 146) (These giants of thought identified Tengri with Tengri, what a feat!). The Supreme God of the Pra-Bulgars (i.e. Bulgars in the lingo of Slavic chauvinists and Soviet double-talk) also bore the name Tangra (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 18) (Tengri => Tangra. Not bad...).
Analysis of the
“History of Alvan country” indicates that the Heavenly God Tengri of the ancient Türkic
people in the conditions of the mounting social //237//
differentiation of the Hun society was transformed into a God-Ancestor, God-Hero,
endowed with strength, courage, veneration of Him was bringing to the “country of Huns”
success and abundance..
The noted above accreditation of the most revered trees with protectant function, guarding, and ability to produce benefits to the evolved upper crust of the Hunnic society is reflected in the religious conceptions of the Huns, where a correlation between the image of the Supreme Deity Tengri Khan, and the revered trees (sacrifices to the “sacred” tree were offered in veneration of the God Tengri-Khan, heads and skins of sacrificed horses were hung on the branches of the tree). Perhaps the Huns believed that it was the main Deity who bestowed power and prosperity to the Prince of the Huns and his servants.
S.G. Klyashtorny believes that not only tall trees, but the Sun, moon, thunder were symbols of the Tengri Khan cult (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 21).
Concluding description of the pantheon of the North Caucasian Huns, is
necessary to dwell on one more aspect. Movses Kalankatuatsi indicates that the Huns
honored some gods of roads (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 193). S.G. Klyashtorny notes
similarity of the gods of ways of the Huns with the ancient Türkic deity
“Yol-Tengri”, ensuring contact of the Heavenly God Tengri (Deity of the Upper World) with
the Deities of the Middle World (Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 22). Probably, the especially
noted in the pantheon of the North Caucasus //238//
Huns the Gods of Travel were Patrons of the nomads as Deities with a function of
protecting from any mishaps during seasonal migrational coachings.
4. Amulets and fetishes
Some Huns' objects were fetishes and were used in the pagan rituals (Fig. 7). To that class can be attributed mentioned in the source pagan amulets - “golden and silver images of dragon”, and also the dice (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 198, 205).
Although the geography of the dragon-snake cult is quite wide, at almost all peoples the image of a dragon-serpent is associated with the abundance of water (Reshetov A.M. 1981, p. 87 - 90), and in the mythology of the Altaians the dragon served as a master of clouds (Sychev L. P . 1972, p. 146). At the peoples of Dagestan the snake is not only a spirit of precipitation (Bulatova, A. 1971, p. 184; 1980, p. 101), but also a good spirit of home, guarding the welfare of the family (M. Khalilov, Kh.M 1984, p. 71; Khalidov M.R. 1984, p. 105).
Pagan amulets with an image of a dragon apparently were not only fetishes, but the
distinguishing signs of the cult clergy, whose main activity was performing rituals
associated with the success in the productive activities of the “country of Huns”
population. The insights obtained from the analysis of some ancient Türkic terms suggest
that the ritual garb of the clergy differed //240//
from the clothing of the general population (N.I. Djidalaev p. 1984. pp. 153-156, 159)
and the amulets, apparently, were a necessary complement to the garb.
The dice, which during the fight against the Huns' pagan beliefs were burned down, perhaps originally were attributes of magical rituals connected with worship of the Sun god. Indirect evidence of that is the prohibition of games of dice during droughts, that existed among some Dagestani peoples (Bulatova, A. 1971, p. 177). (Dice is found in the oldest Kurgan burials, especially of children, together with their other toys. Any archeologist digging in the Türkic areas should know it as a primary course of education. The knucklebone, or astragal gaming dice is endemic to the Türkic culture across Eurasia, and it is a known trait of the Germanic culture)
5. Priests and cult ministers
In the Hun society stood out an estate of clergy, whose functions were performing pagan rituals. Among the clergy was a cult hierarchy, a higher position occupied priests and main magicians (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 205). Apparently, existed a kind of the clergy specialization, as the author of “History of Alvan country” mentions priest-enchanters, magicians, sorcerers, servants of sanctuaries and sacred groves (Movses Kalankatuatsi. KS. 185, 205) (If the ancient author of history believes in organized religion where is none, in miracles, in priests-charmers, magicians, conjurers and the like, should the scholarly author also believe in that, and propagate the Early Middle Age prejudices without expressing any doubts on the credibility of the source? The missionary's desultoriness is rambling about phantom temples, sanctuaries, phantom might and reaches of the priestly class, the phantom property of that phantom class apparently to justify the violence done to the people where religion is a fiber of the family, taught in the family, and exercised solely in the family, and that fiction is spiced with no less desultory phantom class categories of the primitive Marxism).
By the end of 7th c. the
priestly caste was a very influential force in the Hun society, . Alp Ilitver encountered
stubborn resistance of the priesthood during Christianization of the Huns (682). Drastic
violence against the opponents of Christianity
(Actually, not of Christianity, to which the Huns were open, but of forced
Christianization. In today's Christianity the violence and murders instigated by Bishop
Israel are condemned as barbaric and not Christian) (imprisonment and trial of
upper ministers of the priestly caste, execution of some of them), undertaken by Alp
Ilitver shows not //241// only the great influence
of the priesthood over the masses of the Hunnic population, which the Hun prince
(actually, an Ashina viceroy of the Türkic Kaganate, a breed alien to the Savirs)
set out to weaken, but the ruthlessness of the killings was to undermine the economic
power of the priestly caste.
Reproaching the Hun Prince for the blasphemy
against the pagan gods and holy places (sanctuaries burned, destruction of sacred trees
and groves), the priesthood expressed their outrage at the devastation and plunder of the
pagan temples, which apparently were places of wealth concentration of the temple
demesnes (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 200). A.P. Novoseltsev said that the major cause
of Christianization of the S.Caucasian countries was excessively grown material wealth of
the pagan temples (Novoseltsev A.P. 1980, p. 246) (Aparently,
Novoseltsev refers to the aboriginal temples, since the Huns had none). The
(sic!) sought to limit the power and authority of the
priestly caste, the finale of this policy was the adoption of Christianity in the
Caucasus (Novoseltsev A.P. 1980. C 136). Written sources do not contain direct evidence
about the nature of the Hunnic priesthood's property, but still in the “History of Alvan
country” the priestly caste appears powerful and influential force of the Hunnic society,
fighting to the last for their privileges. The religious reform, attempted by the Hun
Prince, was aimed not only at reinforcing authority and economic power of the supreme
ruler. Religious reform was essentially an act of redistribution of economic and
political power within the tribal elite feudalizing nobility.
The presence among the cult officials of the witches, sorcerers, and magicians testifies to the existence among the population of the Northeast Caucasus in the Early Medieval Period of the beliefs connected, like among many pagan nations, with the needs of daily life (medical, domestic, wedding magic) (Was it any different in the heart of Rome, Constantinople, or Jerusalem in 682?). Ammianus Marcellinus described some of the Hun actions connected with a belief in fate. “By tying into a bundle straight willow twigs, they parse them at some definite time with some sort of mysterious spells, and get very specific portents about what is predicted” (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 243).
10. ON THE ROAD TO WORLD RELIGIONS
The population of the Northeast Caucasus constantly experienced a strong political, economic and ideological influence of the developed agricultural countries in the S.Caucasia (Armenia, Albania), and through them the influence of Byzantine. The Dagestan Huns were drawn in the fighting between Persia and Byzantine for the Caucasus. The “Country of Huns”, occupying a strategic position, and with substantial material and human resources, was a significant political force, which the world powers could not ignore in their fight. The S.Caucasian states sought to subject population of the Northeast Caucasus to their influence since the time the Huns settled in the Caspian steppes. And one of the most important means for achieving their goal was to impose Christianity among the Dagestani Huns.
Christianization of the Hun circle tribes has
its own history. In the 330's a successfully initiated campaign of the Christian preacher
Grigoris among the Hunno-Masgut tribes ended with his tragic death.
The history of Christianization of the Hunnic
tribes in the 330's was first described by Favstos Buzand (5th c.), then with various
details it was recounted by Movses Kalankatuatsi. Bishop Grigoris was ordained to a high
clerical rank at 15 years old. He began his missionary activities in Iberia and Aluank
(Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 37). After that he went to the “country of Mazkuts”, taking
along his students. Bishop Grigoris first succeeded in persuading the Mazkut
(Maskut) King Sanesan and his subject Hun troops to
adoption of Christianity, but when the Huns realized that with the adoption of
Christianity they would be deprived of the opportunities for plundering raids in the
Caucasus, the Sanesan's troops rebelled. The Armenian historian relays the arguments of
the opponents of Christianization thus, “How can we live, if not mount our horses in
accordance with our eternal custom?” (Favstos Buzand, p. 14). And then the author states:
“The king changed his mind and heed the words of his army” (Favstos Buzand, p. 14). The
king was forced to heed the will of his troops, that apparently constituted most of the
people in the “country of Mazkuts”. Bishop Grigoris received a martyr's death: “Then they
caught a wild horse, tied the young Grigoris to its tail, and released it in the field
along the shore of the great Northern Sea, outside of their camp, in the Vatnean
(?) field” (Favstos Buzand, p. 14). It is believed that the field was on the
Caspian Sea shore, somewhere south of Derbent. The disciples brought the slain Bishop to
the city Amaras and buried him in the church (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 38).
Although the first attempt at Christianization of the Hun circle's tribes was not successful, the pursuit of the objective did not wane. Movses Kalanlatuatsi reports that St. Mashtots, who created alphabets for “Armenians, Aluans, and Ivers”, was preaching Christianity “in the gavar (district) Uti, in Aluank, in Lpink, in Caspi, to the gates of Chor” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 60). Probably, the Mazkut tribes living south of Chor, were repeatedly Christianized. But the disunity of the Hun tribes, the nomadic nature of the Hun economy made these attempts failures. The level of socio-economic development of the Hun circle's tribes did not favor to form conditions for the adoption of a monotheistic religion (I.e. while people were rich in horses, they did not need to switch to subjugated subsistence hoeing, until they became likewise impoverished and powerless. Funny, the dumb enserfed peasantry, deprived of liberty and personal rights, bound to a plot of land, that constituted 90%+ of the sedentary populations is being sold as a height of intellectual development worthy of tri-partite tri-monotheistic Christianity).
In the first third of the 6th c. AD (ca. 515) to the Caspian
Huns arrived Armenian Bishop Kardost with five priests, “baptized many and taught (some)
of the Huns” (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 166). His embassy missionary work lasted for 14 years,
and “produced there (520) a Scripture in the Hunnic language”. Pseudo-Zacharias
writes, “came out a Scripture in their language about how it is arranged by the Lord” (Pseudo-Zacharias,
p. 165). Kardost was replaced by another Armenian Bishop Makar, who
is credited with construction of a brick church (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 167). Apparently,
the missionary activities of the Bishops Kardost and Makar affected only some part of the
The “Chronicle” of Pseudo-Zacharias reported that a Byzantine detachment that was repulsing Persians from the fortress Dary, //246// located in Mesopotamia on the border of Byzantine and Persia, during its siege, was headed by the “Suniks man, a former Hun commander, who was baptized after finding refuge with Romans...” (Pseudo-Zacharias, p. 162). The message is dated by 530's. A change of religion caused serious consequences, prompting Suniks to leave his home and go into the Byzantine service.
By the 6th c. belongs a reference of Movses Kalankatuatsi “Hun's Bishop Iunana”, who also, like its predecessors Grigoris and Mashtots, was preaching to Mazkuts (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 45).
Some separate units of the Hun army, who participated in military campaigns in the S.Caucasus countries, also adopted Christianity (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 45).
In the 6th., divided into separate tribes Hun society did not yet have ripe conditions
for Christianity. Albanian Bishop Israil in the late 7th c. found “Hunnia” still pagan.
Although one comment of Movses Kalankatuatsi indicates that some part of the population
of the “country of Huns” adhered to Christianity, but in a distorted form. The author
writes that Bishop Israil “was disappointed and saddened to see much evil and split
faith, because there were people who called themselves God-followers, but renounced the
power (of God) and were alien to it” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 124). But probably by
the end of the 7th c. from Christianization of the first third of the 6th c. in Hunnia
was left no trace. Alp Ilitver in a letter to the Catholicos of Armenia Sahak and Prince
Grigor //247// writes that Huns of the Christ “knew
only a little from the rumours, from the time of our attacks on your country and Aluank...” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II,
In 682, to the Alp Ilitver's “land of Huns” arrived a mission of Bishop Israil, with a goal of implementing into reality one of the main clauses of the treaty between Albania and the “land of Huns” - adoption by the Huns of the Christian faith.
In the “country of Huns” Christianity first of all adopted the Huns' Great Prince the
Alp-Ilitver and nobility of the Hun society (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 198 - 199). For
a long time priesthood resisted the new religion, but was forced to resign and to also
accept the new creed. As was noted above, the priesthood was a powerful force in the Hun
society. To subdue the resistance of the Christianization opponents, Alp Ilitver isolated
“high priests and main sorcerers” from the society. However, only after a long
imprisonment of the top ministers of pagan cults in “heavy shackles”, massacre of some of
them (burning at the stake), and after the trial of most persistent of then, the priests
“accused themselves, acknowledging their sins, and turned to the true faith” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I,
(Before the arrival of Christianity, Huns did not know such
marvelous invention of Christian civilization as burning at the stake. Never before, but
but very many times after). Communion of the ministers of the pagan cults to
the Christian doctrine was completed with an act of burning main attributes of the pagan
cult of ancestors. K. Patkanov translated the name of this object as “Royal tombs”
(Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 206).
Sh.V. Smbatian translated it differently - “thunderous cemetery of chop called Darkunand” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 131). The translator notes (162 and 163) explain that Darkunand is the name of the sacred grove of Huns, where were conducted sacrifices of horses. But by the time of the senior priests trial the sacred groves of oak and the most revered among the Huns old oak tree were already destroyed, the temples of pagan gods destroyed and ruined, pagan amulets destroyed. And the “Royal Tombs” must be burned, as notes Moses Kalankatuatsi, “by the hands of the faithful priests” (Kurgan can't be burnt, apparently the idea is to burn the wooden memorial at the top of the kurgan, the equivalent to the modern gravestones and Christian crosses, where people were coming to for commemorations). The day of burning temples and baptism of the priesthood among the Huns became a socially important date, “holiday of holidays and cathedral of cathedrals”. Perhaps, after adoption of the Christianity by the priesthood, this religious doctrine was also adopted by the townspeople of Varachan (Belenjer).
In our opinion, attention should be given to the methods of execution clergy at the Huns.
Movses Kalankatuatsi writes that Israil ordered “some of them burnt at the stake” (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. II. 130). The same way also threatened to crush the recalcitrant cult
ministers the Huns' Great Prince - “sorcerers and enchanters who would not want to accept
the new faith, I will burn with fire...”. (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 132). Other Huns,
probably commoners, Alp Ilitver threatened to “put to the sword” if they do not accept
the new faith. Still Herodotus (484 - 425 BC) among the customs of the Black Sea
Scythians noted burning of the augurs, if //249// their prophecies turned out to be false
(Herodotus, p. 270)
(The capital treatment was described for other Türkic states,
minus very Christian burning of live people. For innately immortal Tengrians the idea of
burning alive must have been most terrifying, because proper send-off funeral was a
necessary condition for arriving back to Tengri, and improper funeral was breaking off
the cycle of immortality, the most terrible consequence for an eternal soul. The Türkic
punishment of rulers and augurs was to send them back to Tengri for repairs, not to
infringe on their Tengri-given immortality. Cremation and inhumation were both practiced
among Huns and pre-Islam Türkic peoples).
We believe that the existence of such a custom at the Caspian Huns at the end of the of the 7th c. indicates, as noted above some other facts, about mixed nature of the population culture in the “country of Huns”, encompassing the components of culture and the Iranian tribes (Is that an allusion that killing and torture-killing of dissidents is a linguistic, and not a religious trait? Or to the Persian persecution of unsanctioned religions? This appears to be a logical disconnect. The only tribe that is classed “Iranian” in the Russian official doctrine is the tribe of Masguts/Alans, and nowhere in this work or any other work were ever shown any ethnological or linguistic differences between the Huns and Masguts. Quite the opposite, Masguts were a component of the Eastern European Hunnic and Türkic peoples, they followed the same Tengrian religion, buried according to the Kurgan tradition, and can't be blamed for introducing burning of live people at the stake into Türkic practice).
On Christianization of the general population in the “country of Huns” exists no data. There is no accurate records if a church was built in Varachan (Belenjer). Movses Kalankatuatsi in one place of his narrative says that made of sacred oak and decorated cross was installed “east of the Royal Palace” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. 130). Probably, the church was built later, since in praising the work of Alp Ilitver the author notes that in many places he erected churches...” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p.128).
Erected near the Royal Palace cross, described by the author of “History of Alvan
country”, was extraordinarily beautiful. It was made from trees felled in the sacred
grove. Bishop Israil “...ordered to bring them into the city Varachan
(Belenjer), mobilised skilled carpenters of the city,
and ordered them to make a beautiful, roundish cross; decorated it with various pictures
and glued to it pictures of animals copied with careful accuracy, and painted it from top
to bottom with paint. Also on the right side he attached with strong nails beautiful
light crosses. At the bottom was a hole carved on all four sides like a lily. In it //250//
stood a silver cross with a relict from the cross of the Lord” (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 203 - 204).
Sh B. Smbatian objects to the description of the shape of the cross erected at the Huns in Varachan (Belenjer) as “roundish”, in the belief that roundish were the logs of which the cross was made of. However, it is known that in the S.Caucasus at that time gained wide distribution the Maltese cross shape with rounded ends of branches; apparently, such a cross was erected in a Varachan at the Huns (Equilateral cross was a Tengrian symbol of God called “adji” long before Christianity, and it was introduced into Christian symbology synchronously with the arrival of the Huns to the Caucasus in the 2nd c. AD. The sign of Tengri was embroidered on battle banners, worn on the chest, hung on a chain, tattooed on forehead, weaved into ornaments. See Murad Adji, “Kipchaks”, Saint George Publishing, ISBN 5-88149-044-4).
Christianity was a profitable ideological cover, containing idea of one God, who gives unlimited power to the supreme ruler of a society. The adoption of Christianity in the “country of Huns” was to strengthen the Union of Hunnic tribes formed by the 7th c., to elevate the powers to be and to increase the might of the Hun Prince, and also to consolidate processes of social differentiation in the Hun society affecting the feudalizing nobility and the masses. It was a logical culmination of the socio-economic development of the new society (The author does not spell out what was new in 682 vs., say, 582; the fact is, economically nothing was new; the Huns controlled their territory, their sedentary subjects, had their herds and army intact, had all the wealth they needed; the changes came in political re-alignment, political restructuring, and in coming threat of the Arabs, a new devil that replaced the old familiar devil The “new” Hunnic union was already 400 years old, not exactly a newborn baby).
Christianity found a fertile soil among the Caspian Huns, but it did not spread. The Arab
expansion in the Caucasus, the defeat of Armenia and Albania, the long Arab-Khazar war
interrupted for a long time the progressive processes of socio-economic development,
thereby slowing down the growth of the state in the “country of Huns”, and the religious
policy of the Arabs, enforcing //251// Islam,
undercut the process of settling the Christianization of the North-East Caucasus
population (Dagestan History. 1967. pp. 150 - 159) (History of
Dagestan ca 1967 was concocted in Moscow, it tells about its contents, objectives and
A.R. Shikhsaidov noted that from the late 7th c. and until the 10th c. Dagestan did not have conditions for “accelerating the speed of Christianity's penetration”. Moreover, the “political influence of the Arabs in the Derbent region was the beginning of penetration of Islam and slow displacement of Christianity” (Shikhsaidov A.R. 1957, p. 65).
Movses Kalankatuatsi very concisely reports on the further fate of Christianity in the
“land of Huns”. He writes that the Great Prince Alp Ilitver lived to an honorable old
age, he was erecting churches in his country, and Bishop Israil at the same time headed
the Christian cathedras in his gavar (district) in
Caucasian Albania and in the “country of Huns”. But his fate was tragic, a new Catholicos
of Albania Bakur exiled Bishop Israil (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II, p. 148). Christianity in
the “country of Huns” apparently lasted to the first campaigns of the Arabs in the
Caspian in the early 8th c.
(I.e. 20-30 years) Only in the 980's in Samandar, which became a new capital
of the “country of Huns”, the Christians lived together along with Muslims and Jews (Ibn
Hawqal, p. 114; al-Mukkadasi, p. 5). Ibn Hawqal also reported that in Samandar were
Christian churches. But what Christians were they, the descendants of the inhabitants of
the “country of Huns”, baptized in 682, or those who accepted Christianity later by other
means, the sources do not report.
Concluding this section, it should be noted that for the “country of Huns” of the late 7th c. the change in ideology was a natural phenomenon. The level of socio-economic development of the Hun society, the nature of ideological concepts dominating there, indicate a beginning of the formation in the North-East Caucasus of an early class state (Gmyrya L.B. 1988, p. 31). The fledgling state was in need of an ideology that would lead to the further development of the classes, strengthen and enhance the authority of the supreme ruler. The religious reform of 682 was not only aimed at enhancing the authority and economic power of the supreme ruler (in his hands the Hun ruler has concentrated all power, which covered virtually all areas of the inner and outer life of the Hunnic society). Religious reform was essentially an act of redistribution of economic and political power within the tribal elite of the feudalizing nobility.
2. Islam and Judaism
Islam began to take root in Dagestan during
the following Arab-Khazar wars, characterized by particularly persistent and systematic
advance of the Arabs in the Caspian region (708-733). The Arab historians writings of the
9th-10th cc. retained numerous records about Arab policy principles among the population
of //253// the conquered countries - it is
destruction of those who showed hostility to the Arab army (al-Kufi. pp. 9, 41, 53),
relocation to other areas if the residents who asked for peace initially resisted their
troops (al-Kufi, p. 18, 41), payment of annual tribute (al-aman) if population asked for
mercy without resistance and provided lounging for the Arab forces (al-Kufi, p. 9), in
some cases, in addition to the money tribute were captives (young men and maidens),
cattle, and produce (al-Kufi, p. 55 - 56).
No evidence is recorded that the population of the Dagestan conquered territories in the 8th c. was subjected to forced Islamization. It is known that Arabs practiced religious tolerance to Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians (Novoseltsev. A.P. 1990, p. 148) (Religious tolerance on the Soviet scale: If you are not killed, I am tolerant; tolerance to Zoroastrism is Novoseltsev's dscovery), but to the Gentiles was a single attitude - they were to accept Islam. But judging from the data of the sources, in the first decade of the 8th c. Christians were only the inhabitants of the “country of Huns”, in mountain areas were worshiped pagan gods. But having captured a number of of Dagestan (738) mountainous areas, the Arabs demanded from the population tribute; sources do not mention acceptance of Islam.
From the sources are known single cases of the Caspian Dagestan people embracing Islam
in the period from 708 to 737. Thus, al-Kufi and other Arab authors report that a Khazar
warrior defending Derbent besieged in 713/714 by the Arab commander Maslama expressed a
willingness to convert to Islam on standard Arab conditions - paying him to support his
family. //254// Having adopted Islam, the soldier
came up with a way to capture an impregnable fortress (al-Kufi, p. 14).
In 722/723 the Arab commander Jarrah captured Balanjar. The ruler of Balanjar with 50 soldiers fled to Samandar, his wife, children, servants, and property were purchased by Jarrah. The Arabs decided to pardon the ruler of Balanjar and return him his power, property, family, and servants (al-Kufi, p. 19). But what were the the terms it was done the author does not state. Was it only with a duty to secretly inform the Arabs on the movements of the Khazar troops (al-Kufi, p. 20)? At least, the author did not report on the acceptance of Islam by the ruler of Balanjar.
In the same year (722/723) the residents of the “Vabandar territory”, besieged by the troops of Jarrah, recognized the authority of the Arab Caliph and concluded a peace “under the terms of a payment of a defined amount each year” (Ibn al-Athir, p. 25). Al-Kufi talks about a large monetary tribute (al-Kufi, p. 20). Were the residents of Vabandar forced to convert to Islam is unknown.
The Khazar King, according to the sources, converted to Islam in 737 (al-Kufi, p. 52).
It happened after the Arab leader sacked the “country of Khazars”, having defeated
the 40,000strong army of the King. The King sued for peace, one of the peace conditions
was his acceptance of Islam. Al-Kufi reported, “The Khazar King converted to Islam, and
with him from among his relatives and fellow tribesmen a lot of people converted to
Islam”. The power remained in the hands of the Khazar King, but 40 thousand Khazars were
resettled in the S.Caucasus.
A.P. Novoseltsev doubted whether the Khazar King in fact converted to Islam, or only promised to do so (Novoseltsev A.P. L.P. 1990, p. 148).
The Khazar Princess married to the Arab ruler of Arran (752/753) adopted Islam. (Al-Kufi. pp. 62 - 63).
The sources preserved information about religion of the Semender residents in the 10th c. Almost all Arab geographers state that the in the city lived many Muslims (al-Balkhi, p. 62; al-Istahri, p. 47) and there were mosques (Ibn Hawqal, p. 114; al-Muqaddasi, p. 5). Who were these Muslims, local residents or immigrants, the sources did not answer. A.R. Shikhsaidov believes that in Samandar at this time could live Arab settlers (Shikhsaidov A.R. 1969, p. 94). In the mid-10th c. (943 ) the king of Haidak, according to al-Masoudi, was a Muslim (al-Masoudi. I, p. 202).
In the early 12th c., according to the Arab traveler al-Garnati, the inhabitants of
Derbent and many areas adjacent to Derbent, including residents of Haidak, were Muslims,
(al-Garnati. I, p. 26 - 27; II. C . 49). Infidels, i.e. non-Muslims, were only the people
of Zidihgaran (al-Garnati. II, p. 50) and the Caspian population north of Derbent
(al-Garnati. I, p. 24). According to Al-Garnati, by the beginning of the 12th c. 70
Dagestani peoples converted to Islam (al-Garnati. II, p. 49).
A.R. Shikhsaidov concluded that information of the local historical sources, and the data of al-Garnati about acceptance of Islam in most areas //256// of Dagestan by the 12th c. “reflected that short-term phase which ended with complete independence of the overwhelming majority of Dagestan's possessions, and return to pre-monotheistic (Pre-monotheistic is a nice way to phrase a praise to Islam in the Soviet publication, where Islam was routinely demonized in favor of slightly less demonized Russian Orthodox Church) beliefs in those areas where Islam was perhaps adopted” (Shikhsaidov A.R. 1969, p. 102). But that was not the time of end of the intensive Islamization in Dagestan, but still only its beginning (Shikhsaidov A.R. 1969, p. 103).
Judaism buttressed in Khazaria, according to the Arab geographer al-Masoudi, during the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashnd (786-809) (al-Masoudi. II, p. 193). Mostly, the Judeans were members of the royal family and the King himself. There is a wide debate about exactly when and under what circumstances it happened. A.P. Novoseltsev believes the Khazar King converted to Judaism in about the last quarter of the 8th c. (Novoseltsev A.P. 1990. pp. 150 - 151). In his view, the bulk of the population professed Islam and Christianity, or worshiped pagan gods, and only the King and his entourage were Judeans (Novoseltsev A.P. A, p. 1990, p. 53).
A different view holds Gumilev. He believes that in 718, a leader of Persian Jewish
migrants that lived in Khazaria in the area between the rivers Terek, Sulak, and who bore
the Türkic name Bulan (Bulan < Bülün = army soldier, apparently
Ogur word), “restored the Jewish rites for his people” (Gumilev L.N. 1992, p.
121). Gumilev stresses that Jewish rites were restored only for the Jewish settlers:
“conversion of Khazars” to Judaism did not happen, and //257// could not happen, because
“in the Middle Ages ... to the service of the cult were admitted only members of the
clan, even if the clan grew up into ethnicity” (Gumilev, L.N. 1992, p. 122).
According to Gumilev, in 802/803 an influential Jew Obadiah took power (in Khazaria -
L.G.) in his hands, turned the Khan from the Ashina dynasty into a puppet, and made the
rabbinic Judaism a state religion of Khazaria” (Gumilev L.N. 1992, p. 135).
The Arab geographers of the 10th c. state that the King of Semender was a Judean, and they emphasize that he was a relative of the Khazar King (perhaps only because of that circumstance he professed Judaism) (al-Balkhi, p. 62; al-Istahri, p. 47; Ibn Hawqal, : p. 144). Only Ibn Hawqal reports that in the Samandar, along with Christian churches and Muslim mosques, were synagogues (Ibn Hiukal, p. 114).
In science, the position about religious tolerance of th Khazar Kings is firmly established. However, Gumilev believes that the tolerance was compelled, “because it covered expenses from the transit trade. But as soon as someone touched the interests of overseas Jewish communities, the Khazar King answered with repressions” (Gumilev L.N. 1992, p. 145).
1. Burial ritual
The Huns held burial of the deceased a social
event, people were gathering for it, apparently, next of kin. The Huns had a dual
attitude toward the death. On the one hand, they had a fear of harmful effect of the
death on the well-being of living, on the other hand they believed in the afterlife of
the deceased. All ritual acts of the Huns associated with burial of the deceased
reflected this duality. To prevent harmful effect of death on the living, the gathered
relatives with cries and loud weeping, roll of drums and clanking created noise,
apparently believing that that would scare off the evil forces of death. The burial
ritual also included inflicting cuts to the corpse with knives and swords (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 193). In the literature was even expressed an opinion that the
laceration ritual upon the deceased reflected vestiges of more archaic actions: a member
of the community who has grown old and weak was once killed to prevent its subverting
effect on //259// the well-being of the group
(Veletskaya N.N. 1978 . pp. 47, 59; Gadjiyeva S. Sh. 1985, p. 292).
Such practice, according to al-Masoudi, had the inhabitants of as-Sarir. He wrote: “When one of them dies, they put him on a stretcher and carry him to an open space (maidan” pleschad? “), where he is left for three days on the stretcher. Then residents of the city mount their horses and put on armor and chain mail. They go to the edge (of that) place (and from there) prance with their spears onto the dead body (lying) on the stretcher. They circle around the stretcher, directing spears onto the body, but not piercing it” (al-Masoudi. II, p. 219 - 220).The author claims that this custom existed among the inhabitants of that city for 300 years (from about 600 AD). Such remark by al-Masoudi indicates that the described funeral rite was common to local tribes.
The burial ritual of the Huns was probably accompanied by ritual music, perceived by the eyewitness as noise and ringing. According to researchers, the music was seen by the Gentiles as a mediator between two worlds, a means of communication with the ancestors and gods (Veletskaya. N.N. 1978. pp. 151).
Associated with the burial of the deceased rituals also included self-tormenting of
the funeral rite participants: infliction of cuts on the face and body (Movses
Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 124, 128). Agathias describes an episode, where in a moment of
mortal danger, the Hun warriors “... cut with knives their cheeks to express //260//
their grief by their custom” (p. 158 Agathias.).
Infliction of cuts, resulting in shedding blood, was apparently a vestige of more archaic acts, with human sacrifices to the gods. Self-tormenting rituals in the funeral rites of the ancient Türks are noted in the Chinese chronicles. According to the Chinese author of the 6th - first half of the 7th c., a noble Türk was buried as follows: “The body of the deceased is laid in a tent. The sons, grandsons and relatives of both sexes slaughter horses and sheep and laying them in front of the tent, offer sacrifice; seven times ride around the tent on the horses, then before entering the tent cut their faces with knife and cry weeping, blood and tears pour down together. In such fashion, do it seven times and conclude. Then on an appointed day take the horse which the deceased rode, and things that he used, and cremate them along with the deceased; the ashes are collected and buried at a certain season in the grave ... On the day of the funeral, like on the day of the death, they offer sacrifice, gallop on horses and cut their faces...”. (Bichurin N.Ya. 1950, p. 230).
Novoseltsev believes that the ritual of cutting face and body as an expression of grief,
described by Movses Kalankatuatsi, to some extent is similar to the burial custom of the
Scythians, which in his opinion, “proves the continuity between the ancient Iranian
nomads and Khazars of the 7th c”. (Novoseltsev. A.P. 1990, p. 145)
(Novoseltsev demonstrates that for the convinced Iranianist nothing is impossible:
even looking at the obvious ethnological connection between the Khazars, or Huns, and the
Scythians, he would sooner make Khazars and Huns the Iranians than make the Scythians
Türks. Born to crawl can not fly. A Chinese princess was given for the Uighur Kagan. When
Kagan died, she was supposed to be buried with him as a concubine. But she got off with
cutting her face and crying hysterically . So who here the Scythians, the Uighur Kagan or
Chinese princess , dear Mr. Novoseltsev? Such examples are plethora.).
It seems that //261// it is not quite true, although some common base in the customs of the Scythians and the inhabitants of the “country of Huns” can be seen, it may be connected with the overall continuity of the Great Steppe population in Antiquity and Early Middle Ages. Herodotus writes: “Those to whom the deceased is brought... every man chops off a piece of his ear, crops his hair close, and makes a cut all round his arm, lacerates his forehead and his nose, and thrusts an arrow through his left hand” (Herodotus, p. 271, 4.71). As can be seen, at Scythians the face was not lacerated. Ammianus Marcellinus, apparently aware of this Hun custom, associates it with specific actions that prevent growth of male facial hair. He wrote that the Huns lacerate cheeks of their kids so that hair would not grow (Ammianus Marcellinus. II, p. 1021).
A.P. Novoseltsev takes Movses Kalankatuatsi description of their funeral rites with some mistrust, believing that the author “sometimes distorts them to depict “Hons” as savages...”. (Novoseltsev A.P. 1990, p. 145). Meanwhile, traces of the ritual accompanied by laceration of the face as an expression of mourning for a deceased family member was recorded by ethnographers among some Dagestani peoples (Prjetslavsky p. 1860, p. 297; Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1961, p. 281, 1985, p. 294 , 298; Agashirinova p. 1978, p. 249; Gadjiyeva S. Sh. et al. 1980, p. 49, 51, Gadjiyeva, G.A. 1980. pp. 39 - 40, 1991, p. 143; Alimova B.M. 1992, p. 169, 17). In a poetic form of this ritual is recorded in a mythological story of the Mekegins about “Kyune”. Telling a traveler a sad news, “Kyune” instructs him //262// him:
“Fingers like red grapes,
Alikhanova A.A., 1978, p. 157.
2. Funeral rituals
In a of the Huns had a ritual with peculiar
competition of men, held near the cemetery: battle with swords and fighting in the nude.
As illustration of this ritual may serve the image on the bottom of a silver ladle of the
8th - 9th cc. (Fig. 8) (Darkevitch V.P. 1974. Fig. I.; 1976. Table. 54 (5).
V.P.Darkevitch believes that the ladle is a product of the Khazaria metalworkers,
and the image at the bottom is the scene of the collective Kam ritual of the ancient
Türks, as described by Moses Kalankatuatsi (Darkevitch V.P. 1974. Note 4). The ritual may
have reflected a phallic cult, known among many nations. Phallus, as a symbol of
productive forces of nature, symbol of continuation of life, among many nations was
transformed into an antipode symbol of death, and in daily sense it became a symbol of
resistance to various diseases (Ksenofontova R.A. 1981, p. 74.) Echoes of phallic worship
were recorded among some Dagestani peoples in rituals associated with festivals of
meeting the spring, and of the first //263// furrow
(Bulatova, A. 1980, p. 96, 1984, p. 91; Khalilov Kh.M. 1984. C 69).
The Huns' funeral ritual also included dances and ritual songs (Movses Kalankatuatsi.
II. pp. 124). The main function of the dance performances in the Gentile ideas is to
establish a mutual relationship between //264//
ancestors and descendants, facilitating the entry of the deceased's soul to the host of
ancestors (Veletskaya N. 1978. C 151).
The ritual chant, perceived by the witness of the Hun funeral ritual as “raging outcry” also was done to facilitate the the entry of the deceased to the host of ancestors. The lamenting songs in the funeral rites of some Dagestani peoples were praising qualities of the deceased, listed all ancestors, and contained the idea of the deceased's initiation to the world of ancestors (Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1961. 281, 1985, p. 299; Gadjiyeva S. Sh. et al 1980, p. 50, 63; Djidalaev N.I. 1984. pp. 156 - 159; Gadjiyeva, G.A. 1991, p. 142).
The Hun funeral ritual included a number of orgiastic acts with erotic tinge, showing connection between the cult of Ancestors with Fertility cult. These include the noted by the source ritual games, and sexual freedom (Movses Kalankatuatsi. II. pp. 124).
S.A. Tokarev, determining the place of erotic rituals in the agricultural activities
of the heathen nations, noted that in the agricultural communities they served the
purpose of material well-being (Tokarev, S.A. 1983, p. 104). Apparently, the Huns,
attributing the ancestor with mighty powers, associating him with forces of nature, with
erotic actions solicited from the ancestor leaving to the “other world” fertility in the
broadest sense - life fertility.
Vestiges of pagan funeral dance can be traced in the funeral ceremony “shag'alay” of Kumyks, described by S. Sh. Gadjiyeva (Gadjiyeva S. Sh. et al. 1980, p. 51; Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1985, p. 303).
In the beliefs of many pagan nations are known ceremonial role of the agricultural nudity, belief in the magical power of the naked body, which can serve as a factor in fertility (Tokarev, S.A. 1983, p. 104.) Fairly clear this phenomenon is manifested in the burial rituals of the Dagestan peoples, can be traced belief in the fecund strength of their ancestors. Among Kumyks was recorded uncovering by women of their upper body during the mourning for the deceased ritual (Prjetslavsky p. 1860, p. 297). Among Lezgins healing tools for childless women were considered water left after washing deceased who had many children, crossing road in front of the funeral procession, or under a stretcher where was carried a deceased who had many children, and walking around old cemetery (Gadjiyeva, G.A. 1980. pp. 33 - 36).
An attribute of the Huns' funeral rituals also were equestrian events. Horse racing, as part of the ritual remembrance of the deceased were noted at ancient Türks (Bichurin N.Ya. 1950, p. 124; Klyashtorny S.G. 1984, p. 22), as well as a vestige of pagan beliefs among some Türko-Mongolian peoples (Lipetz R.S. 1982, p. 232), and among Dagestani peoples (Dibirov M.A. 1986, p. 210).
3. Cult of ancestors
The Huns' Fertility cult was closely associated with the Ancestor cult. The Ancestor cult displayed the Huns' idea of the soul and afterlife, the cult was most visible in the burial ritual and the wake over the deceased. “Hitory of the Alvan country” suggest that the tombs of the noble ancestors (tribal chiefs, commanders, priests) were becoming places of worship. Movses Kalankatuatsi among the pagan shrines destroyed during Christianization of the Huns also listed “Royal tombs” (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I, p. 206). In the fire of the burned “Royal Tombs” were incinerated “vile hides of the sacrificed effigies” (Movses Kalankatuatsi, p. 206). It is possible that the objects are the mummies of particularly revered ancestors.
The Arab poets and historians of the 9th - 13th cc. tell that the famous Arabic commander Salman
(Salman ibn Rabiah al-Bahili),
killed in the battle for the city of Belenjer, was not buried, as all fallen
warriors. The coffin with his body was placed in a temple, and during drought, city residents
would take the coffin out, remove its lid, and pray the gods for the rain. People of Belenjer
attributed to the fallen famous enemy magical power, helping the living in
earthly affairs. Apparently, the people of Varachan
(Belenjer) also prayed to the gods for prosperity and wealth of their country with
the help of the mummies of their revered ancestors (Movses Kalankatuatsi. I. C 200) (That supposition is a nonsense, and
one can write a dissertation on why. It can't e ascribed to the Huns or Savirs, it
conflicts with the body of material on Tenriism and its rituals; but it is consistent
with the Christian cult of relicts).
Echoes of the Ancestor cult worship are recorded in the ethnographic modernity of many peoples. Revered ancestors, Many Dagestani peoples attributed function of rainmaking to the revered ancestors (Bulatova, A. 1980. pp. 97, 101 - 103; Gadjiyeva, G.A. 1980, p. 43, 1991, p. 78, 80, Alimova, B.M. 1992. C . 78), help at the time of disasters, healing people and animals from the diseases, childbearing ability of women (Gadjiyeva S. Sh, p. 1961, p. 332).
The funeral ritualism of the Dagestani Huns, recorded in the “History of Alvan country”, the architecture of the commemorative structures, and much of the funeral cults coincide in detail with the ritualism described in Chinese sources about funerary rituals of the Central Asian Türks. In our view, this testifies that the funeral rites of the migrant Türkic-speaking population practically did not absorb the ideological influence of the local farming population. The Türkic tribes of the North-Eastern Caucasus almost completely preserved the ancient traditions of the funeral rituals established in their vast Central Asian homeland, and apparently by the end of the 7th c. AD the typical for the Hunno-Bulgars burial rituals became dominant among the population of the Dagestan “country of Huns”.
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ABBREVIATIONS (not properly edited)
BAH - Bulletin of the history. M.
WI - Questions of history. M.
Vlad. - Vladikavkaz.
ZhMNP - Journal of the Ministry of Education. SPb.
IIYAL - Institute of History, Language and Literature
MAD - Materials on the Archaeology of Dagestan.
Makhachkala. - Makhachkala
Novosnb. - Novosibirsk
Ordj. - Ordjonikidze
PVL - Chronicle Tale of bygone years
Stavr - Stavropol
SMOMPK - Collection of materials for the description of places and tribes of the Caucasus. Tiflis
Works of VOI RW - Proceedings of the Eastern Branch of the Imperial Russian Archaeological Society. SPb.
Works of IV - Proceedings of the Institute of Oriental Studies. Moscow, Leningrad
Huns - Contents
Ogur and Oguz
Western Huns 4th-10th cc.
Western Huns Income In Gold
Eastern Hun Anabasis
Stearns P.N. Zhou Synopsis
E. de la Vaissiere Eastern Huns
Bagley R. Hun archeology in China
Faux D. Kurgan Culture in Scandinavia
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World