Oroqen - Religion and Expressive Culture

The Oroqen were animists. They worshiped many natural objects and elements with shamans acting as messengers between human beings and gods. Shamans were those who had experienced prolonged illness. Though Oroqens hunted bears, tigers, and wolves, they never dared to mention these animal names as they also would not mention the names of their own ancestors. They called tiger "old man" or "great grandfather" ( wutaqi ) and bear "grandfather," "grandmother," or "maternal uncle" ( yatai, taitie, and amaha respectively). They held rituals asking for forgiveness before they ate the meat of the bear, and carried out a formal burial for it. Among the gods they worshiped were the mountain god who ensured successful hunting, the fire goddess who provided warmth, and others such as the rain god, thunder god, sun god, moon god, etc. Behind their tents, they hung birch boxes containing their gods, which were not to be touched by women. Women should avoid going behind the tent altogether. In childbirth, a woman had to stay in a small hut built specially for the purpose.

There were many taboos in Oroqen life. They never made specific plans for hunting, believing that animals had the power to detect such schemes. Every year each family held rituals to worship the fire god, offering meat and wine, and at the same time offering prayers for happiness. During the New Year, guests would bring their own meat and wine, and began their visit by worshiping the fire god with the host family. Ancestor worship formed a part of their belief system. Wind burial was practiced, in which the deceased was placed in a hollowed tree trunk suspended on tree studs 1.5 meters from the ground. If the coffin did not fall to the ground within three years, a special ritual was held to redeem the sins of the dead, so that, like others, he or she would be recalled by the sun god to heaven and become a star.

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