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Horse in Religious and Mythological Beliefs of the Udmurts

[Kon’ v religiozno-mifologicheskikh predstavleniiakh udmurtov]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522010109

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 15.06.21

Accepted:  24.09.21

About author(s)

Nadezhda Shutova | https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6288-8573 | nad_shutova@mail.ru | Udmurt Institute of History, Language and Literature, Udmurt Federal Research
Center of the Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences (Tatiana Baramzina St. 34, Izhevsk, 426067, Russia)


Udmurts, horse, belief system, rituals, legends, images, motifs


The article examines the place and image of the horse in Udmurt religious beliefs, mythology, and ritual practices. A variety of archaic, both universal and unique, elements associated with the horse and its significance in the traditional worldview and rites came to be reflected in the folk system of beliefs and practices. Evidence supplied by the archaeology of the Middle Age period and folklore-ethnographic data point to the sustainability of ideas about the horse as a middle world creature related to the female deity of fertility, the heavenly dome, and the chthonic ground. It was an object of sacrificial offerings to the gods, the spirits of diseases, and dead ancestors. It also was a symbol of wealth and well-being; it played an important role in the rites of worshipping the mountain and meant to protect the clan’s luck and happiness. Thus, the horse symbolized the productive forces of nature and performed important functions in wedding, calendar, and funeral rituals. The Udmurt materials demonstrate that the eastern (Indo-Iranian and Turkic-Mongolian) mythological images and motifs associated with the horse had been altered and adapted in accordance with the ideas and beliefs of the Finno-Ugric forest peoples.


Shutova, N.I. 2022. Kon’ v religiozno-mifologicheskikh predstavleniiakh udmurtov [Horse in Religious and Mythological Beliefs of the Udmurts]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 1: 158–177. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522010109

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