Vessel, early 20th c.
Vessel, early 20th c.
МАЭ № 2336-1
early 20th c.
Arseniev Vladimir
birchbark, cotton, tendon thread, sueded leather (rovduga), glass, brown bear bone, artificial colourant, natural colourant
height 22.2; diameter 9.8-10.6; thickness 0.5
This ritual vessel is called "sufulyachi mafa-gilyamani". It was given to the Museum in 1913 by Vladimir Arseniev, a famous explorer of Amur, who at the time occupied the position of the Special Missions Official at the office of the governor-general of Outer Manchuria (Priamurie). He bought this vessel from the Udege people who inhabited the Strait of Tartary and the banks of the Samarga River. This is a cylinder-shaped vessel made of a rectangular piece of birch bark that was purified and boiled down in water. The neck and the bottom are decorated with a spiral pattern and symbolic images of birds painted in black and red paint over a carved outline. Fifteen bear penises are attached to the upper part of the vessel. It is designed for keeping ritual spoons used to serve boiled bear meat during a bear feast. In the mythical beliefs of the Udege people, as well as of many other peoples of the Amur region, the bear was viewed as the ancestor of people, their relative and totem, as well as the master of forests, mountains and animals and the patron of hunt. Bear hunt and the feast that followed it was accompanied by numerous rituals that played an important role in the sacral life of the peoples of the Amur region. This feast is usually referred to in literature as the “bear festival”. When a bear carcass was cut, the hunter who killed the animal received its penis and handed it over to his wife or another close female relative. This organ symbolized the relation between the man and the bear and was considered a powerful charm that could help heal infertility or alleviate childbirth.
Ethnography of Siberia