RIZA TASKYNGALIYEVNA ALMUKHANOVA, Senior researcher of M.O.Auezov Institute of literature and art, Almaty, Kazakhstan.
UMAI AND ANTIQUE IMAGES
The comparative study of Umai with antique myths has resulted in new findings.
Geya’s fertility feature has developed through Demetra and as she was a Goddess of fertility we can observe that she wanted to continue functions of Mother-Land and she wanted Demofon who was Keley’s son to live eternally.
When Zevs embrassed his wife Gera the land began blooming. After Heracl has performed his famous twelve feasts, Zevs gave permission for him to join the Gods.
Therefore he wanted to adopt him. The ritual taken in this regard seems similar with Turkic custom.
Zevs asked Gera to be kind to Heracl and they performed a ritual which is common when people adopt a child. It is written in the book “Historic library” written by Sicilian Diodor, i.e.: “Adopting a child happened in following way: Gera came up to the bed and put Heracl on her body and imitated real birth giving”,- it means that Kazakh people also when adopt a child they imitate birth giving. Author: “Same way do the barbarians till present day when they wish to adopt a child”- is written [1, p.122]. It is clear that when they say “barbarians” it means Asian people. Although Gera performed this ritual in antique way this plot was introduced into classic mythology about Gods life. Kazakh people kept this ritual till the beginning of XX century. This is the way how people who don’t have children give such names to child as “Satipaldy”, “Otepaldy” to adopt a child. Although there is a similar custom in two peoples, they are used differently. So, in Kazakh people this custom is used as a part of life and Gera performed this ritual as a Goddess that shows difference from stage type.
Umai is a wife of Tanir. The aim of this research is to show the scale of her functions and first of all to show polysyncretic development. We can’t say that Umai being Tanir’s wife completely repeats Gera’s actions. In order to identify Umai’s functions we shouldn’t restrict her with Gera’s or Geya’s functions but we should find common features.
In Greek mythology first Land was created and then she created a Sky from herself, and then nature forces were created.
There is no information that Umai is linked with space potential and that she has created nature forces. For example in the work “About world creation” it is written about Kazakh myths: «At that time there was no sky, no earth, no moon, no sun. It was an endless river, very deep, endless fire, wind, sand, and everything was boiling in one stream». So, Umai didn’t have a function of creator of the world. However relation of Umai with mountains shows that she fulfilled functions of Land-Mother.
In the process of research Umai’s two big features have been identified. According to the latest ideas Umai is a patron of home and children. For example in Shor people the children’s patron was Mai, in Toleuts she was called Mai ene. Oguz people considered Umai as a patron of babies who were in mothers’ womb and therefore woman who believes in Umai-mother will give birth to a son” [2, p. ].
In the process of research it was determined that Indian Uma, Turkic Umai images are not related with Humai bird. If it was so, the name of happiness bird would be Umai or Humai. To prove this idea we have searched for linking motives between images of Umai and Humai in Turkic folklore and we found that in Bashkurt folklore Humai was a bird and a girl and she didn’t perform functions of Land-Mother. It was necessary to look for connections between Humai and Land-Mother Goddess functions in Persian mythology. In Firdousi’s poem “Shahnama” when Rustem’s mother was suffering from hard baby delivery and she burnt Samruk bird’s feather to call for Samruk bird to help during baby delivery and this shows the use of bird totem for helping people. As Samruk bird is a linkage between worlds it seems that Humai is not connected with this bird.
Researcher in oriental studies Napil Bazilkhan said that in Mongolia near Orkhon lake in Karakorym place 35 km. from Turkic stones there is a mountain called by Mongolians as Umai mountain. Women who don’t have children go to this mountain and pray. This can be explained as a link with world folklore because the mountain in the center of the land can be considered as a center of world. In mythology of Het people who were the ancient people living in Minor Asia the Vashitta mountain was perceived as an image of birth giving woman [3, p.121].
Land-Mother- as cow image. E.M.Meletinsky wrote that in Greek mythology chaos is connected not with water but is connected with land and therefore he noted that there is a difference between Geya and Tiamat. It should be noted that Geya was not involved in theomahia (war between Gods when they change each other) and also she doesn’t have demonic features. Therefore although she was an archaic Goddess, the subsequent Gods didn’t kill her and didn’t cut her body into pieces and didn’t create space worlds [4, p.91–92].
Land-Mother is the same in Turkic mythology and there is also no information that she was “fighting” with Gods who were after her and her parts were not used for creating the space world and this shows that her image is linked with archaic features of Land-Mother. She was called Geya “big breast” because her feature of a Mother-Land was one of her main functions.
In Kyrgyz folklore Umai is described as Mother-Land who fed with her milk. Kyrgyz people believed that Umai provides crop and livestock yields. When there was good yield they said “This is milk from Umai-ene’s breast” [5, p. 276].
L.P.Potapov wrote that Shor people also had Umai [6, p.20] and it means that Sakha people who are very close to Shor people must also have Umai. In Sakha people [7, p.117] she is clever, free, honest woman with big breasts in a sable hat and she is a leader of people.
There is one more plot proving that Land-Mother had breasts showing that Umai’s origin comes from Indian myths. However there is no information about such features of Shiva’s second wife Uma. Untill Indra became the main God the Indian people worshiped Diavus (Zevs). So, the myth about Diavus’ wife Prithivi tells that the Land was tired because of the bad character of the ruler and stopped giving products. When people were starving from hunger ruler Prithi began war against Land. Then the Land was scared and turned into a cow and flew into the sky. But Prithi was chasing her. Finally the Land decided to make agreement with the ruler.
– If you forgive me, I will give food for people but I need a calf to produce milk- said she. As the Land asked Prithi made so that she had a calf. Then the land gave milk from her breasts for people and they got products and made food [8, p.43─44].
During ancient times there was an universal idea among ancient Indian and Greek people. However in Sakha and Kyrgyz folklore says that Land-Mother and Umai had milked with breasts and this fact shows that in Turkic people the archaic motives have conserved. Cow was a sacred animal not only in India but also in ancient Turkic people the cow was considered as a totem animal and Saha myths prove that it had features of Land-Mother image. “The patron of cattle Inahsit Hotun (Master Cow) lives under East sky or in the place where sky get close to the earth. Sometimes its image is similar to the image of the spirit-hostess of the land” [7, p.131],─ wrote G.U.Ergis. In Kazakh people “Blue cow”, Sakha people’s “Chopchookoon- Chopchookoon” [9, p.138─146] tales tell that cow is protecting orphans and therefore it is considered as a totem and to be a totem it should have special features. The cow is considered as a totem because it is perceived as the image of Land-Mother, and therefore there is milk in Umai’s breasts. The fact that Sakha people perceived Land-Mother as a cow, Greek people called Gera a cow eyed – all these shows an ancient common universal notion.
This can be proved by fact that in Gomer’s works and P.N.Ovidiy’s “Metamorphoses” poem the epithet “cow-eyed” is often used in regard of Gera. In India Uma was also called cow-eyed.
The fact that Gera was called cow-eyed in Gomer’s works i.e. during VIII century it was used as epithet means that it shows stages features, in Kazakh people the cow was considered only as a totem, Umai is shown as a classic image. Therefore it was revealed that the fact that Land-Mother was the God of fertility and welfare is connected with cow image.
Acording to archaic notions products are taken not only from Land, woman is also giving products as she is perceived as Land’s micro space. Therefore Umai’s features as a protector of home and children have been conserved. For example Shor people the protector of babies was named Mai and Toleut people named her Mai-ene. In Kyrgyz story “Manas” it is described how Zhakup’s elder wife was suffering during eight days giving birth to a child and Umai mother came and helped her [10, p.48]. Umai touched the woman’s body and moved a baby to come to the light. At present period in some regions, especially in the villages when babies have blue spot on their back, people say that this is “trace of Bibi Fatima’s hand showing that this baby is Moslem”. Here two ideas can be seen – the fact that Fatima’s hand is a holly appeared in Kazakh people and “Umai mother’s hand ” is possible. Alongside with examples related to Manas she also helps in babies delivery. People believed that Umai-ana as God like Gera helps babies, adults, warriors.
Besides in M.Kashgari’s “Turkic vocabulary”: “Umai: zholdas (it comes from woman’s womb when she gives birth to a baby… There is a saying: If one worships Umai- there will be a son, who helps to placenta will have a son”. Women hope for better.
This features has conserved in Turkic people (Hakas) and in Mongol and Buryat peoples. In these people Umai’s myth image of a God hasn’t been conserved but she is mentioned in baksi’s motives. Similar to M.Kashgari’s information there are signs of worshiping of Umai such as “”ehin altan Umai” –“altyn zhatyr ana” [11, p.8] which show that Umai was perceived as a God.
Umai’s relations with plants. It was used that Dikhan baba was farmers’ patron. His image was linked with a tree and meant that this was a totem sign. Before this in Sakha folklore there were signs that Land-Mother is also linked with a tree. Kazakh people put “rag” on trees meant that they gave “gifts” to the trees and it was not because Kazakh people worshiped holly people as it is used in Islam religion but it was because people gave “gifts” to Land-Mother. G.U.Ergis and I.V.Pukhov also wrote about this. When Olonkho warrior started his long trip he usually came to the tree and asked advice from the tree as if from his mother. “Usually responding to the request the old woman came up and blessed him and then gave her breast. People say that milk from God of Land gives strength to the hero and makes him bogatyr” [12, p.62]- this shows one more feature of Land-Mother. Even if Land-Mother comes in a tree image she gives her milk to the bogatyr and this is her function. Indian Uma also has turned into a tree [8, p.49].
S.Valikhanov wrote about wonderful feature of the fire “Kazakh people put oil into the fire as a sacrifice”. As putting oil into the fire was considered a sacrifice, Kazakh people considered it as a holly thing and it shouldn’t be restricted by fetish features.
When daughter-in-law says “Ot-ana, Mai-ana” it means that she worships fire and Umai. From this tradition we can see similar features in Mai-ana, Mai in Shora people who was babies’ protector and in Mai-ene in Toleut people.
In Kazakh folklore there is saying “like a man who is holding the sky” but there is no myth plot about this, however we can guess that such myth existed because this phrase has conserved. Same with a phrase “mai koten”, this phrase is now used very seldom. This expression was used concerning the girl who had a brother born after her. We consider that the word “mai” means “wealth”.
Based on E.K. Pekorsky’s “Dictionary of Yakut language” which was written in 1907, I.V.Pukhov also wrote: “Ayi- (from verb ay- create something), creation, creativity, creative beginning, kind beginning as a necessary element of creativity”. The researchers have found in the work of A.I.Gogolev, E.N.Romanova “Ancient South- Syberian substract in Yakut mythology” that the word ayi in Sakha language like āóu in Indian language in Avestada āóu word means “life nectar” [13, p.47]. Paying attention to this opinion, in Kazakh language the expression “mai koten” the word mai means good luck. So, the word Umai has such semantic meaning and it is linked with Land-Mother.
As in Turkic folklore the archaic myths didn’t undergo cyclization, there are no such Gods who die and then revive. Therefore the first function of Umai is that she is God of fertility and it is related to the cult of Dikhan baba. Although Dikhan baba is linked with tree cult, during mythology on Land-Mother when it was a matriarchate period the men images couldn’t be leading images. Therefore image of Dikhan baba could only become popular after disintegration of matriarchate period.
Umai is shown as a classic God in Toleut folklore which hasn’t experience Islam religion influence. The idea that golden items which provide eternal life to Gods shows that this idea is related to Umai-ana [14, p.169– 170]. When a baby is laying in the cradle people put a tree leaves and this shows that Umai image is under anthropomorphization process [14, p.171]. People were saying the following words during the ritual:
Kaigaktudi talbitpai! [14, p.169– 170],– this phraseologism is linked with Umai-Ana who performs babies protection function.
In conclusion: 1) in Turkic people Umai functions are combined with Land-Mother’s functions and still exist; 2) Umai is shown as protector of babies in families and feature of folklore batyrs-heroes such as “they don’t burn in fire and don’t sink in water” has developed under matriarchate period; 3) the name of the women’s placenta is Umai and this shows that women have function of giving birth to children; 4) the analysis of the etymology of the word Umai has been conducted and the word Uma from Indian motives and word Humai in Persian mythology have been considered. Geya and Gera, Demetra and Elena images exist in classic mythology in various plots and Turkic Umai is characterized by archaic functions.
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