[Mozhzhevelovye kresty i magicheskaia razvilka: semantika i ritual’aia praktika]
Type of publication: Research Article
Karelians, Veps, juniper cross, tombstone sign with fork, use of forks in magic, semantics of fork
The article examines the practice and tradition of installing juniper crosses on tombstones, which can be observed in some areas of Karelia and the Leningrad region where Ludic Karelians, Tikhvin Karelians, and Vepsians live. Sometimes, a barked juniper branch could be used in place of such crosses, as in the case of the Southern Veps or certain Lutheran districts of Ingria. Juniper crosses were also used in graveyards of the Seto of South-Eastern Estonia, among whom there had probably once existed the cult of this tree. Furthermore, an interesting case of the split cross has been reported among the Tikhvin Karelians and Southern Komi. Typologically, it is reminiscent of the Karelian karsikko tree or Komi vozha pu tree – that is, a specific tree with a fork that was often planted in burial grounds. The tree was meant to signify a demarcation line between this and the other world. There is ample evidence that the figure of fork (such as the fork of a tree, river, or road) has been generally significant in traditional beliefs as pointing to the boundary between different worlds, the place where contact with supernatural powers was possible, and the site where purgation and rebirth could be achieved.
Konkka, A.P. 2020. Juniper Crosses and the Magical Fork: Semantics and Ritual Practice [Mozhzhevelovye kresty i magicheskaia razvilka: semantika i ritual’aia praktika]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 1: 95–113. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150008760-6
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