Tofalar - Religion and Expressive Cultures

Religious Beliefs and Practices. The Tofalar were shamanists. Their conversion to Christianity after their incorporation into Russia was primarily formal and did not influence their shamanistic views. There were shamans among the Tofalar until their total suppression in 1930.

Because of their nomadic way of life, the Tofalar had neither local religious practitioners nor regular ceremonies or services; nor were there professional shamans. Any person, man or woman, who felt the inclination, could act as shaman. The rites of shamanism were carried out as needed; the rest of the time a shaman lived the usual work-filled life. At the present time there are neither shamans nor priests among the Tofalar.

Art. Representational art was not developed among the Tofalar. The most popular and evolved folklore genre was and remains the song. Preeminent among musical instruments were the chadygan (a stringed instrument like a gusli ) and the charty-hobus (balalaika), which were used to accompany songs and dances at festivals.

Medicine. The Tofalar did not have professional doctors or curers. Almost everyone was competent in the techniques of folk medicine, of curing with herbs. Sometimes the Tofalar turned for healing to the Buriat lama-curers.

Death and Afterlife. The Tofalar believed in life after death, in what they called the Kingdom of Erlik. Personal belongings were buried with the deceased, in the belief that he or she would need them in the next life. Since the world of the dead was conceptualized as one where everything is the wrong way around, the objects accompanying the deceased had to be damaged. The contemporary Tofalar burial ritual has been subjected to significant Christian influence; this is why the Tofalar, like all Russian Christians, mark the ninth and fortieth days, the sixth month, and the first year after the death of a relative.

Also read article about Tofalar from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: