Religion and Folklore

Traditional Even beliefs included shamanism and animistic beliefs in nature spirits. Before Christian funeral rites were adopted in the 17th century, they buried the dead on a wooden pile, and put a raven wooden figure in the coffin. Since the 19th century, they have buried the dead in the ground, constructing a log house with a cross over the grave. They often engraved a bird picture on the cross. They put the dead person's belongings (saddle, dishes, and bedclothes) near the grave.

The cult of the sun was popular, and Even sacrificed reindeers to the sun when a member of the community was sick. The whole community took part in the sacrifice, eating the meat and hanging the reindeer's skin on a pole. A shaman chose the reindeer or it was chosen by a divination for a sacrifice. The bear cult was also popular. A hunter must greet and thank the bear he killed; a celebration was organized and everybody ate bear meat. The meat of the bear's head and the front part of the carcass were considered to be sacred, and women were not permitted to eat it. Bear bones were arranged in anatomic order and buried on a pile planking. Sometimes they hung the skull at the top of a larch tree.

Even folklore consisted of fairy tales, legends, byli-nas of bogatyrs (epic sagas of heros), songs, riddles, and sayings. In bygone days, the ritual folklore of Evens was represented by shaman song-charms and entreaties to the spirits. Fairy tales about animals are known, some of which have plots similar to Evenk and Koryak ones. The main musical instrument was the jew's harp. A circle dance, similar to the Evenk one, was popular. Arts included women's embroidery and applique decoration of clothing, men's wood carving, production of copper and brass pendants with representations of animals and solar symbols, and the blacksmith's trade (they obtained iron mainly from the Yakuts).

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