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A.V Baulo and N.V. Fedorova. The image of a spirit-guardian of the Kazym khants // Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 3(23) 2005. P.140-150

Introduction

The Kazym Khants is a local group of the Northern Khants. This group populates the basin of the Kazym River (the right-hand tributary of the Ob) of the Beloyarski Region of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region. In 1962, an image of a Kazym Khant female spirit-guardian Vut imi came into collections of the Khanty-Mansiysk Museum of Regional Studies. The image was previously kept in a sacred warehouse in the vicinity of the village of Yuilsk on the Kels-Yugan River. The spirit image consists of a wooden frame, textile shawls and metal decoration pieces including silver and brass plate-diadems, zoomorphic pendants of cast bronze, and paste beads. A brief description of the image and the circumstances of its discovery have been published elsewhere (Sokolova, 1971: 216 - 219) (Fig. 1). The catalogue recently issued by the Museum also provides a detailed description of the image and the relevant decorative set (Mifologicheskoe vremia, 2003: 100 - 103, 198 - 199). The present paper focuses on attributions of the metal plates of Vut imi and the assessment of the image's age.

Fig. 1. Figurine of the spirit-guardian of the Kazym Khants
Fig. 1. Figurine of the spirit-guardian of the Kazym Khants

Description of the image of the spirit-guardian

The whole figurine is about 100 cm long; the wooden frame is about 60 cm long. The frame consists of two parts. A planed stick 2-2.5 cm thick represents the main part of the wooden frame of the figurine. A shallow groove runs in a spiral along the stick. The stick is 43 cm long. The upper top of the stick is split into 14 thin ends, which are bent outward and fastened to the stick.

This globe-like construction is reinforced by three transversal rods attached to the bent slips. Another frame consisting of eight flat slips with sharpened ends is reinforced by six transversal rods, which are bound to the longitudinal slips with black cherry bark ribbons, and placed over the smaller globe.

The entire construction is reminiscent of a gimga, a fish catching basket (Fig. 2). Figurines of spirit-guardians dating from the 19th - 20th centuries and possessing such an elaborate construction have not been recorded yet. Flat frames made of rods representing anthropomorphic idols dating from the 8th - 9th centuries can be regarded as distant analogues of the present figurine. Such idols have been found in the environs of Surgut (Karacharov, 2002: 27, 33).

Fig. 2. Twig frame of the figurine.
Fig. 2. Twig frame of the figurine

The outer frame is wrapped in two shawls dating from the second half of the 19th century. The exterior shawl (55 x 60 cm) was sewn of two silk shawls and edged with a wide band of red fabric (probably dyed by the creators of the image). The edges of the shawl are fringed with long red woolen threads symbolizing the goddess's hair. Copper bells are attached at four corners of the shawl, two strings of light blue, green and white small beads and a silver ring are attached to the middle portions of the two sides of the shawl.

The interior grayish-brown shawl is 66 x 74 cm. The shawl was edged with a wide blue textile band fringed with long brown woolen threads and fastened to the stick forming the basis of the idol with two wide tapes with a fringe made of blue threads.

The main stick is attached to a handle, with the help of which the idol was held during the ceremonies outside the warehouse. Six skins of furbearers together with other items were attached to the handle. This set includes:

a)  a medieval bronze barrel-shaped bead (2 cm long, maximal diameter 2 cm);

b)  a bronze bird figurine, 7 x 6.5 cm. The figurine was cast in a mould consisting of two parts. Small hollows on the surface of the figurine and a vague decoration motif suggest insufficiency of the casting metal. The head is shown as a long curved rod. There is a hole at the figurine's head with a thread running through a leather strap. The figurine represents the side view of a standing bird. Two wings are shown on either side of the figurine. The wings demonstrate a special design: the shoulder portions of the wings are decorated with concentric circles, the lower portions shows "реаrl"-knobbles. Large feet resemble stylized bird heads, at the back of the foot there is a pendant feather. A miniature helmet made of red cloth was placed on the bird figurine (Fig. 3). This image probably represents Vut imi's assistant personified by a goose-hero;

Fig. 3. Bronze bird figurine.a  - with a helmet;
a
Fig. 3. Bronze bird figurine: b - without a helmet.
b
Fig. 3. Bronze bird figurine. a - with a helmet; b - without a helmet.

c) ten blue beads with white and light blue circular set- in made of a glass-like paste or glass (diameters 0.6 cm, 0.8 cm and 1.8 cm) and one black paste bead with a white zigzag pattern;

d) a gold painted brass ball 2.5 cm in diameter is attached to the handle with a woolen thread that ends in a lead figurine shaped as human legs.

The figurine of Vut imi is ornamented with metal plates fastened with cords one above the other to the idol's trunk.

Plate 1 (numeration corresponds to the original position of plates on the idol's trunk from top to bottom). This plate was made in Tobolsk or at one of the centers of handicrafts in the northern regions of Western Siberia in the 1830s. It was made of an alloy of tin and copper through hammering and engraving techniques (Fig. 4). The dimensions of the plate are 22.5 x 5.8 cm. The narrow ends of the plate have openings, through which runs a red woolen cord. The borders of the plate bear a zigzag pattern. The lower wide edge of the plate demonstrates nine semi­circular jags with openings at the bottoms. Three fish figurines attached to three jags have been preserved; the other six figurines are missing. The obverse side of the plate shows a hunting composition: a man in a fur coat holding a bow and aiming his arrow at a stag, a flying bird, two trees and shrubs.

Fig. 4. Plate 1.
Fig. 4. Plate 1

Plate 2 (24 x 6.2 cm) was made of silver through hammering and engraving techniques (Fig. 5) in Tobolsk in the early 19th century. Red cords ran through drilled openings at the narrow ends of the plate. The borders of the plate are decorated with a zigzag pattern. The lower wide edge of the plate demonstrates twelve semi-circular jags with openings at the bottoms. The obverse side of the plate shows a hunting scene: at either side of a tree in the center there is a hunter standing with his back to the tree. The hunters wear traditional winter dress malitsa and are holding bows in their hands; a deer and a tree are shown at the right hand portion of the scene; a fur-bearing animal on the tree and a dog at the tree are shown in the left-hand portion. The obverse side of the plate also bears the artisan's vague personal stamp in Cyrillic letters - П-Б.

Fig. 5. Plate 2
Fig. 5. Plate 2

Plate 3 (40.5 x 3.6) represents a long band with rounded ends (Fig. 6). The central long symmetry axis of this plate is marked by a line of 11 silver bead halves, of which seven are well preserved. The narrow ends of the plate bear openings, through which runs a red woolen thread.

Fig. 6. Plate 3
Fig. 6. Plate 3

The long plate was cut of a thin hammered silver sheet. The design was pressed over a template using the basma technique. It seems that the original plate was longer, but the ends were broken or fissured and the owner cut them out. There is another possibility that an artisan made larger blanks, which were cut into smaller decoration pieces.

Bead halves (to be more precise, silver semi-spheres bearing pressed design) were attached to the band with pieces of wire doubled up and inserted into the openings at the upper portion of a decorative semi-sphere attaching it to the band. The reverse side of the band shows the bent ends of the wire pieces. The centers of the most prominent parts of the bead bear small loops with four-link chains. Small pendants are attached to the free end of the chain. The pendants were pressed over a template on a thin silver sheet. Two pendants in the forms of small fish are preserved. Fish-pendants were cut from a whole silver sheet upon pressing the decorative design, a fact that is suggested by the edges slightly bending inward.

The plate bears a design in the form of a vine with outstretching leaves and branches. The vine forms large curls encircling fan-like leaves ornamented with rosettes in the center. The space between the large curls is occupied by four lateral small branches and a small leaf in between. Due to a rhythmic repetition of the motif, the entire design appears to be finished. The vegetative design is edged with a border in the form of a straight line in relief. The space between the border and the edge of the plate shows a motif of oblique incised lines.

The semi-spheres bear pressed design in the form of an eight-petal rosette.

Seven chains were preserved, only two of which are complete. It seems that originally all the chains have four links; each link represents a double-bent figure 8.

The fish are shown from above, so both eyes are rendered. The fish scale is shown through zigzag lines, the tail bears vertical-scanting short lines.

Plate 4 is shaped as a band with wider middle portion and straight narrow ends (Fig. 7). Its dimensions are 33 x 5.2 cm at the middle portion and 33 x 3.7 cm at the ends. In the middle of the long symmetry axis of the band there are five openings with five silver semi-spheres attached to them. At the tops of semi-spheres there are loops holding chains of three links each and pendants. The narrow ends of the band also have openings, through which runs a red woolen thread.

Fig. 7. Plate 4.
Fig. 7. Plate 4.

The band is cut of a hammered silver sheet. A design was made by pressing over a template in the basma technique. The template seems to have the same shape as the band pressed over it.

The silver semi-spheres were attached to the band in the same manner as was described above. The semi-spheres are smooth and do not have any design. The cordiform pendants were cut of a silver sheet.

The band is ornamented with an elaborate vegetative design in the form of a curling vine with outstretching leaves and branches. The center of the composition is occupied by a large diamond-shaped rosette.

Plate 5 (31 x 3.4 cm) represents a rectangular band; one of its ends is narrowed, the opposing end is roughly cut off (Fig. 8).

In the middle portion of the long symmetry axis, there are ten openings. Nine of them have silver semi-sphere decorations with pendants (only four pendants have been preserved). The remaining opening is located at the broken or cut offend and served as a hole for the red woolen thread. The opposing end shows a specially made opening for binding the thread.

Fig. 8. Plate 5
Fig. 8. Plate 5

The band is made of a thin hammered silver sheet. A design was made through pressing over a template in the basma technique. Plates 3 and 4 were likely shorter and narrower than the original silver sheet with the ornamental design. The edges dissect some features of design. Plate 10 seems to have been cut from the same sheet.

The decorative semi-spheres are ribbed. They are attached to the band in the way described above. The suspending chains are composed of two links; each link is made of wire curled as a double-bent figure eight. Pendants of various shapes are attached to the chain ends including a temple ring of three beads (only two beads are preserved), a fish figurine and an irregular plate fragment bearing traces of design. Semi-spheres do not form any common motif with the vegetative design of the whole piece.

The plate bears a design in the form of a vine with outstretching leaves and off-shoots. The vine forms large curls encircling fan-like leaves ornamented with rosettes in the center. The space between the large curls is filled with small off-shoots with small leaves. The lower border of the plate demonstrates "реаrl"-knobbles and is edged with two straight lines in relief; the design of the upper border is hardly visible.

The pendant in the form of a ring with three beads was made of a hard wire ring. The beads decorated with silver grains and twines are stringed on the ring. The central bead bearing ornamentation in the form of twining bands and pyramids of silver grains and a side bead, whose ornamentation pattern consists of lines of silver grains and twines, are preserved. The fish pendant is attached to the chain through its head. The fish figurine was cut of the silver sheet with the same decoration pattern as the band itself. The third pendant was also made of ornamented sheet.

Plate 6 (23 x 5.8 cm) (Fig. 9) was made of tinned copper through a hammering technique in Tobolsk or in some other handicraft center in the northern part of Western Siberia in 1831. The borders bear the zigzag decorative motif. The lower border shows eight semi­circular jags with openings at their lower portions. Four fish figurines attached to the ends of the jags are preserved; other pendants are missing. The plate shows a hunting scene: a hunter in a fur-coat holding a bow, two dogs, a flying bird, three trees and hills. Below the image of one of the dogs, there is the date of the plate's manufacture: 1831. The ends of the plate show drilled openings, red cords ran through them.

Beneath Plates 5 and 6, a sub-rectangular piece of gold lace, 29.5 X 14.5 cm, has been noted. The piece consists of four narrow lace-pieces sewn together with a white woolen thread. Reddish-yellow cords are attached to both ends of the piece. The gold lace imitates the metal (gold) cover of the figurine, probably highlighting the face of the Goddess.

Fig. 9. Plate 6
Fig. 9. Plate 6

Plate 7 (23 x 5.8 cm) (Fig. 10) was made of tinned copper with a hammering technique in Tobolsk or in some other handicraft center in the northern part of Western Siberia in 1831. The borders bear the zigzag decorative motif. The lower border shows nine semi-circular jags with openings at their lower portions. The plate shows a hunting scene: a hunter in a fur-coat holding a bow, two dogs, a flying bird, three trees and hills. Below the image of one of the dogs, there is a date of the plate manufacture: 1831. The ends of the plate show drilled openings, red cords ran through them.

Fig. 10. Plate 7
Fig. 10. Plate 7

Plate 8 (28 x 6.5 cm) (Fig. 11) was made of silver with hammering and engraving techniques in Tobolsk in the 1770s - 1780s. The borders bear the zigzag decorative motif. The lower border shows 14 semi­circular jags with openings at their lower portions. The preserved pendants include three fish and four bird figurines (other figurines are missing). The plate shows a hunting scene: a hunter holding a bow, a dog, a stag, five trees, shrubs and hills. In the right-hand upper corner, there is a hammered coat of arms of Siberia showing two rampant sables to the sides from the central image of two crossed arrows under a crown and a hallmark stamp in a rectangular frame (the right-hand portion is missing: the figures 17 at the top and Cyrillic letter Л and another broken letter at the bottom. This hallmark stamp might belong to Lev Vlasov who worked in Tobolsk in the 1757 -1780s (Postnikova-Loseva, Platonova, Ulianova, 1983: 253) at least until 1784 (Gemuev, Baulo, 1999: 54). One hallmark stamp "пч" belongs to some unknown artisan whose works are deposited in the State Historical Museum in Moscow and have been attributed to 1773 - 1776 (Postnikova, Loseva, Platonova, Ulianova, 1983: 253).

Fig. 11. Plate 8
Fig. 11. Plate 8

Plate 9 (27 x 6.8 cm) (Fig. 12) was made of tinned copper by hammering in Tobolsk or in some other handicraft center in the northern part of Western Siberia in the early 19th century. The borders bear the zigzag decorative motif. The lower border shows 16 semi­circular jags with openings at their lower portions. The plate shows two compositions conventionally separated by a tree in the center of the plate. The left-hand composition shows a hunter wearing a long girdled jacket. The hunter holds a bow in his hands and follows a stag who moves towards a tree at the leftmost part of the plate. Over the images of a hunter and a stag, the fishing net is set up in the form of festoonery, and a fish is shown coming close to the net. A bird sits at the central tree, a dog barks at the bird. The right-hand composition shows a fisherman wearing a long jacket and holding a fishing rod in his hands. One fish is caught, and two other fish are still in the river. Over the image of the fisherman, the fishing net is set up in the form of festoonery, and a fish coming close to the net is shown. At the rightmost part of the plate, a tree and a bird sitting on the tree are portrayed.

Fig. 12. Plate 9
Fig. 12. Plate 9

This composition, including the hunting scene and fishing with rod and nets, is a rare specimen.

Plate 10 (32.5 x 2.8 cm) (Fig. 13) represents a rectangular band with long narrower ends. There are openings at the ends through which a yellow woolen thread runs. Along the long axis of symmetry of the plate, seven openings were made, to which silver semi-spheres with suspending pendants are attached. The band was cut of a thin silver sheet. A design was made through pressing over a template in the basma technique. The template seems to be as long as the central broader portion of the band. Probably, initially, decoration design for several bands (two?) was pressed over a larger piece of silver sheet, then the sheet was cut into separate items. This supposition is supported by the noted uneven edges of the band; some elements of the pattern are cut off.

Fig. 13. Plate 10
Fig. 13. Plate 10

The band bears a design in the form of a vine with outstretching leaves and off-shoots. The vine forms large curls encircling fan-like leaves ornamented with rosettes in the center. The space between the large curls is occupied by four lateral small off-shoots and a small leaf in between. Due to the interchanging of the motifs, the design seems complete. The lower border of the plate demonstrates a line of "реаrl"-knobbles. The upper border bearing the motif of the "pearls" are set chequerwise, and two lines in relief are cut unevenly so that some elements are missing.

The decorative semi-spheres are ribbed and pressed over a template. The design of the semi-spheres and attached chains are the same as on Plate 5. The semi-spheres were fastened to the band through the similar technique as the one noted on other plates. All the two-link chains are preserved, while pendants were preserved only at two chains.

The pendants were cut of the same ornamented band (probably of fragments of Plate 5). One pendant is reminiscent of a flying bird, another represents a fish hung by the head. Both figurines show traces of a large rosette pattern, the fish figurine shows a line of "pearls" on the tail. The pendants were likely manufactured later than the plate itself, probably at a time when the plate was repaired.

Plate 11 (34 x 3.2 cm) (Fig. 14) resembles a band broadening in the middle and narrowing towards the ends. In the middle of the long axis of symmetry, seven openings were made, to which small silver semi-spheres were attached. Chains with pendants were attached to the tops of the semi-spheres. A yellow woolen thread runs through the openings at the ends of the band.

Fig. 14. Plate 11
Fig. 14. Plate 11

The band is cut from a thin hammered silver sheet. A design was made through pressing over a template in the basma technique. The original form of the template was rectangular. Some elements of the pattern are cut off. Only five chains with pendants are preserved.

The band bears a vegetative design of two patterns: a diamond-shaped rosette and an ornate four-petal flower.

The pendants slightly resembling fish are cut from the plate bearing the rosette design. The chains demonstrate the shape of figure 8 with a twisted middle part.

Attribution of the plates

Silver bands-diadems appeared in Siberia no earlier than in the 12th - 14th centuries (Zykov et al, 1994: 113, cat. N 271; Sokrovischa Priobia, 2003: 69, cat. N 32). Initially, such diadems had the form of a narrow silver band coated with gold leaf and nielloed (black enamel work), chased design was fine and elaborate. Such diadems were manufactured in Bulgaria on the Volga in the 12th - 14th centuries. The diadems represent a rather popular personal decoration despite their apparent dressy and even sacred characteristics. Three such diadems have been reported from archaeological sites: (1) a specimen from the Irtysh basin bears a decorative composition with boats carrying people; this specimen is located in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg (Smirnov, 1909: pi. 38); (2) a specimen recovered from tomb 31 at the Saigatinski III cemetery; this specimen bears the decoration pattern of a plated border and volute-shaped design (Zykov et al, 1994: 113); (3) a specimen bearing an ornate decoration pattern including a plated border framing fish images in the center; the provenance of this specimen is unknown; it is located in I.S. Shemanovsky Museum of the Yamal-Nenets Region. Also, a few fragments of such diadems have been reported from archaeological sites: one fragment has been recovered from the Peregrebnoe-1 settlement (Morozov, Parkhimovich, 1985: 93); two fragments probably belonging to a single diadem were utilized as rings; they were recovered from tomb 130 at the Ust-Balyk cemetery (Semenova, 2001: 88). Two more diadem fragments have been recovered from tomb 24 at the Kmiaminski-2 cemetery (Ibid.: 99) and another one from tomb 56 at the Saigatinski III cemetery (excavations by L.M. Terekhova). All these specimens represent typical items of Volga-Bulgaria manufactures and are well correlated with other products including silverware, items of ceremonial weaponry and personal ornaments (Fedorova, 2003: 144).

A new type of silver diadems appeared in the 14th - 15th centuries. Diadems were made in the form of a wide and thin band cut of a hammered silver sheet. Such diadems were decorated with engravings and chasing, some specimens bear traces of black enamel working. The major decoration elements of the diadems of this type were silver bead halves attached to the main band. The beads were decorated with silver grains and twines. Pendants in the form of waterfowl and fish manufactured through pressing against a silver foil were attached to the beads through chains. Diadems of this type have been reported from many archaeological sites and art collections: from the Esski cemetery (Yugorsk..., 1997: 52), from I.L Istomin's collection in the Shuryshkarski Region, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region (Sokrovischa Priobia, 2003: 73); from tomb 195 at the Ust-Balyk cemetery (Semenova, 2001: 80). It is not always easy to identify the place of manufacture of diadems of type 2. It is highly probable that ornate beads with decorations in the form of silver grains and twines (Yugorsk..., 1997: 52) were manufactured at a place different from that of the band manufacturing because the bands demonstrate considerably simpler decoration designs: the chasing was not very fine, and the black enamel working was executed without special preparation of the background (Ibid.), or it was just a simple decoration motif carried out with the help of a circular punch (Sokrovischa Priobia, 2003: 73). The beads are manufactured according to the Volga-Bulgaria traditions, yet it does not mean that the workshops were situated in Bulgaria on the Volga. The ornamentation patterns are well correlated to the ones noted on various metal ware produced in the western Upper Kama basin situated to the north from the Volga Bulgaria (e.g. (Shutova, 1992: 220, fig. 37, 9, 10)).

The noted combination of two different traditions on a single object may attest to migration of Bulgarian artisans to the Upper Kama basin, or to the manufacture of semi­finished products that were bought by artisans from the Kama and other regions and used in decorating their jewelry items. Diadems of this type were probably produced until the 16th and even 17th century. At least, bracelets with decoration patterns similar to the ones described here have been dated to the 16th - 17th century by N.I. Shutova (Ibid.: 31). The diadems were most probably imported from the western Upper Kama basin.

The diadems with the decorative patterns pressed over a template represent the chronologically latest type of such items (type 3). The band diadems of the Kazym Goddess as well as a diadem from the settlement of Yamgort (on the Synia River) (Baulo, 2004: 137, photo 21) and a diadem from the private collection from the Shuryshkarski Region of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region belong to type 3. The principal characteristic feature of this type is the pressed vegetative design covering the entire band. The pressing was likely carried out on a whole sheet rather than on separate bands. The sheet was later cut into separate bands; such a technique is suggestive of mass production of these personal decorations. The diadems of type 3 as well as diadems of types 1 and 2 bear additional decoration features in the form of halves of beads decorated with open­work and twine and ribbed silver semi-spheres with suspending bird and fish pendants on chains. With our present knowledge, it is difficult to identify the place and the time of its manufacture due to the lack of precise correlation with items from the well-dated complexes. However, we are able to advance some hypotheses. The vegetative design on the described diadems is reminiscent of the metal decoration plates covering Russian icons and the patterns on the Russian tiles of the 16th -17th centuries. Metal hollow beads pressed of silver and bronze appeared in Western Siberian assemblages as early as during the period of the Golden Horde. Dispersal of the cone-shaped buttons has been attributed to the late 16th -early 17th centuries (Zykov, Koksharov, 2001: 177). The ribbed semi-spheres ornamenting the diadems might also belong to that period. In case the diadems in the form of bands bearing pressed vegetative design are really attributable to the 16th - 17th centuries, a continuing typological sequence can be established linking the typical Volga Bulgarian diadem-bands of the 12th - 14th centuries and the Russian diadem-plates of the second half of the 13th century. It is interesting that the chronologically latest diadems also have the bird and fish pendants. The Russian silver-working in Western Siberia might arise from manufacturing diadem-bands with decoration patterns pressed against a template. Approximately in the middle of the 18th century, a few shops producing silver and bronze ware were established in Tobolsk, a large Siberian town and a center of Christianity in Siberia. Products of these shops were traded in the markets of Berezovo and Obdorsk, towns in the northern regions of Western Siberia. Fairs at the marketplaces of these northern towns traded in metal ware with the indigenous people, Ostyaks and Vogules, who used these items in their family and village sanctuaries. The plates were decorated with hunting scenes in accordance with the demands of the indigenous peoples.

In the 18th - 19th centuries, silver hallmarks consisted of a city or region blazon stamp of various forms, a personal plate mark indicating first letters of the Christian and family names of the assayer and in some cases the year of assay; also stamps with two figures indicating the silver share in the alloy were marked. Artisans, shops and plants had to mark their individual stamps indicating initial letters of the artisan prior to submission of the products to the assay office. Stamps with two or three initial letters of the artisan's name were made on plates of various shapes, the letter styles were also diverse (Postnikova-Loseva, Platonova, Ulianova, 1983: 128).

Siberian metal diadems can be subdivided into three categories according to the noted mark stamps. Category 1 includes the specimens bearing all the necessary set of stamps; category 2 includes the specimens bearing only the individual stamp of an artisan (i.e. they were not validated by the assay office); category 3 comprises diadems with the specified date of production or without any stamps.

Category 1 comprises the earliest currently known Russian plate-diadems dating from the second half of the 18th century. All these silver plates were manufactured in Tobolsk.

One of the plates of this category is a silver plate from the settlement of Lombovozh (24.5 x 5 cm) (Gemuev, Sagalaev, 1986: 91, fig. 83, 3). The plate bears a stamp of the blazon of Siberia. Such stamps have been reported from objects produced from 1765 to 1780 (Postnikova-Loseva, Platonova, Ulianova, 1983: 253). One more stamp with the Cyrillic letters JTB belonged to the assay master L. Vlasov who worked in Tobolsk in 1757 - 1784. Another stamp with Cyrillic letters ПШ encircled by a cordiform frame belong to an unknown artisan; yet a tray, a tea-pot and tea box with the same stamp are deposited in various museums of Russia (Ibid.). Thus, this plate was produced in the range of 1765 - 1784.

Plate 8 from the idol of Vut imi was made in Tobolsk in the 1770s - 1780s. One more plate can be included into this category. This plate (23.5 x 5.5 cm, produced in 1796) has been reported from the settlement of Vanzevat on the Ob (Baulo, 2004: 60). All the ten pendants, including five ducks and five fishes, are preserved. The diadem bears two stamps: a plate with the Tobolsk blazon (a pyramid on a pedestal, with a military armature, flags, trammel and pole-axes) and a stamp showing the figures and Cyrillic letters 1796/ М-Б identified as a personal stamp of M. Bogdanov, an assay master (Postnikova-Loseva, Platonova, Ulianova, 1983: 253).

Category 2 comprises silver ware without a hallmark stamp, but bearing the stamp П·Б in a rectangular frame belonging to an unknown artisan. Four saucers of this artisan dating from 1797, 1820 (two specimens) and 1822 and bearing stamps of assay masters from Tobolsk have been reported elsewhere (Gemuev, Sagalaev, 1986: 159, fig. 106, 1; Baulo, 2004: 67). These facts allow us to hypothesize that an artisan with the initials П·Б worked in Tobolsk in the late 18th - the first quarter of the 19th century. A few items manufactured in this shop have been reported from family sanctuary sets of the Ugrian population of the Lower Ob basin. Not all of these items show hallmark stamps. This set includes saucers (Gemuev, Sagalaev, 1986: 159; Gemuev, 1990: 76, 120; Gemuev, Baulo, 1999: 88) and two figurines (Baulo, 2004: photo 41). A rectangular plate from the house of P.E. Sheshkin in Lombovozh bears six stamps with letters П·Б (Gemuev, Sagalaev, 1986: 91, fig. 83,1). Plate 2 from the decoration set of Vut imi also belongs to this category.

It is curious that the share of silver in the П·Б shop products not having the hallmark stamp is higher than required (84). The collection N 5708 of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg) comprised of findings from the Lower Ob expedition of the Institute of Archaeology RAN of 1936 headed by V.S. Andrianov includes a silver saucer N 5708-1, at which the share of silver is 916 (tested by the assay master F. Liamina, 21.05.1953). Another saucer N 5708-2 from that collection demonstrates a personal artisan's stamp "IП·Б" in a rectangular frame and was also made of an alloy with the silver share of 916. The letters "П" on both specimens are identical, which fact is suggestive of the stamps " П·Б"and "П·Б" belonging to a single shop. Both saucers bear a unique design based on the drawings from I.G. Georgi's book (Prytkova, 1949: 44). The unusual design and the high share of silver in the metal allows us to hypothesize that these items were made by the orders of wealthy non-Russian people and from the raw material provided by these people.

Category 3 comprises copper and tin plates without any stamps (Gemuev, Sagalaev, 1986; Gemuev, 1990; Gemuev, Baulo, 1999; Baulo, 2004). The majority of the items of category 3 show compositions, the stylistic features of which are similar to those of the Tobolsk items. Some plates show the stamped dates: 1830 - 1834.

In sum, all the silver plates from Western Siberia known so far were manufactured in Tobolsk during the second half of the 18th century. The place of manufacture of copper and tin plates dating from the first third of the 19th century is hard to establish definitely. They can be produced either in the shops of Tobolsk or else in the small towns in the north of Western Siberia: Obdorsk, Berezovo, etc. Plates were traded in many towns and fairs in the north of Western Siberia. For instance, the records from the Obdorsk Fair of the year 1824 show that Russian merchants brought silver forehead plates: "these items are mostly used in decorating idols" (Prytkova, 1949: 42 - 43). It was also reported that Russian merchants ordered silver mitre-shaped crowns for idols and secretly sold such items to Christianized non-Russian local people in Obdorsk (Kushelevsky, 1868: 113).

Usage of silver plate diadems in the northern areas of Western Siberia

Apparently, silver diadems represent an item of some ceremonious apparel. For instance, the personal decoration set of Agai, Prince of Konda, is known to include two silver diadems (Bakhrushin, 1935: 28). However, available data are insufficient to establish the mode of wearing such things. It should be noted that such decoration pieces have been reported only from the Ob basin. Various metal (bronze) composite diadems representing a popular type of female headgear have been found within many Late Medieval complexes in the western Urals and the Volga basin, while the silver band diadems are rare. For instance, a band diadem has been recovered from a burial site of a twelve-year-old child, probably a girl, at the Saigatinski III cemetery. At the Ust-Balyk cemetery, such a band-diadem has also been recovered from a tomb containing the skeleton of an adolescent. The Esski band-diadem has been found at the place of a destroyed cemetery. The band- diadems from the collection of I.S. Shemanovsky Museum in Khanty-Mansiysk have been found on the banks of Lake Shuryshkarsky Sor, probably at the place of a former sanctuary.

More data have been collected in relation to the band-diadem from Yamgort. One of the men who played the role of a hero-ancestor in the course of the Bear Feast rituals would put this diadem on his head. The plate was bound to a narrow, thin, curved wooden plate with a leather strap. The entire construction was bound together with a red woolen cord; the free ends of the cord were tied on the nape (Baulo, 2004: 48).

The other data on the usage of band-diadems in the religious practice of the Ob Ugrian population hold that in the 17th century, a Russian priest was accused of stealing "a silver band-diadem, as thick as two fingers and half an arshin [1 arshin = 27 inches] long from the family sanctuary at the Siberian pine tree" on the Liapin River (Ogryzko, 1941: 118 - 119).

The earliest data on the usage of silver bands chronologically attributable to Russian manufacture were provided by V.F. Zuev (field materials from the years 1771 - 1772): "An idol personifying the supreme Ostyak God has been erected in the settlement of Voksarkovy Yurts, about seventy versts downstream from Obdorsk... There are two anthropomorphic idols, a male and a female, dressed and decorated in the best way according to the Ostyak understanding... wearing silver crowns on their heads..." (Zuev, 1947: 41 - 42).

Let us summarize available data on the usage of metal plates in the rituals of the Ob Ugrian population and classify the plates by their function.

Group 1 comprises the plates, which served as a basic element of an idol image or else of the idol decoration set. The figurine of Vut imi described in the present paper belongs to this group. Also, a tinned silver plated band showing the images of a hunter and a stag was found in one of the houses in the village of Verldme-Nildino on the Severnaya Sosva. The band served as a head decoration of a large figurine personifying a spirit-guardian. Another metal plate was found in the Khant sanctuary in the Polui River basin. An idol of a spirit-guardian made of several shirts and gowns was kept on a sacred sled. The figurine is "girdled" with a copper band (23.5 x 5.5 cm) dating from the early 19th century. The lower border is decorated with nine jags, to which seven copper chains with flat iron buttons at the ends are attached with the assistance of leather straps (Baulo, 2004: 59).

A record of a feast that took place in the village of Russuiski Yurts on the Severnaya Sosva in 1913 holds that the "she-bear's neck" (a bear hide set in a special, sacred way) was decorated with a metal plate showing the images of a bird, fur-bearing animals and a hunter holding a bow. Several small fish figurines are suspended from the lower border of the plate (Novitsky, 1925: 18).

A fragment of a silver plate (only the left-hand portion of the plate showing the hunter image is preserved) dating from the early 19th century wrapped in a fringed shawl with bells, which was folded up several times, represents the core of the idol of the spirit-guardian of the Puksikovs, a Mansi family from Hulimsunt (Gemuev, Baulo, 1999: 89).

Group 2 comprises the plates, which served as votive objects and were presented to gods with prayers to ensure a successful hunt (the plates show hunting scenes). In the mid-20th century, a plate showing a scene of stag hunting was reported from the village of Loktokurt. The plate was a votive gift and was kept in a sacred warehouse belonging to D. Dunaev, a Khant (Grevens, 1960: 433). A fragment of a silver plate (4x8 cm) was found in the sacred warehouse belonging to a Mansi family of the Kurikovs, residents of the village Yany-paul. The obverse side of the plate shows hills, two trees and flowers. The lower border is decorated with three semi-circular jags with openings for pendants (Gemuev, Baulo, 1999: 34).

A silver plate (23.5 x 5.4 cm) manufactured in Tobolsk in 1796, was found in the sacred chest in Ovolyngort on the Synia. Another tinned rectangular plate dating from the early 19th century (22 x 5.5 cm) was recorded as an item of the family sacred set of the Khants inhabiting the Polui Basin. A fragment of a copper plate showing a hunting scene was found in the sacred warehouse at a sanctuary of the Khant population of the Synia in the village of Nimvozhgort (Baulo, 2004: 60).

Group 3 comprises plates, which served as features of the head gear of men who participated in the Bear Feast and the hero-ancestor dance performances. The set of cult items of the local chiefs Sheskins from Lombovozh comprised five band-diadems made of silver, silver plated brass and tin (Gemuev, Sagalaev, 1986: 90-91). Two plates were attached to head bands made of cloth through the openings at their narrow ends. Chernetsov (1947: 177) reported that regular feasts with military dance performances were held in Lombovozh.

Men personifying mythical hero-ancestors who visited the feast took swords and put on silk gowns and bands of cloth with the attached metal plates on their heads. The person who wore the cloth band with a metal plate would become a deity (Gemuev, Sagalaev, 1986: 90 - 91, 148).

Another forehead decoration diadem in the form of a thin copper plate has been noted within the cult set in the sacred chest, which was kept in the attic of a house in Verkhne-Nildino. The narrow ends of the plate had openings, through which a thin cord runs. The cord served as ties to fasten the plate on the head (Gemuev, 1990: 117).

A plate showing a hunting scene made of tin plated with silver (24 x 4 cm) has been noted within the cult set in a sacred chest in the cult warehouse in Khanty-Muzhi on the Malaya Ob. A cloth band runs through the openings at the narrow ends of the plate. This cloth band with the diadem was put on a head of a man who personated a hero-ancestor at the Bear Feast. A copper plate (24 x 6.6 cm) on a cloth band has been found on a shelf in another warehouse of the same village (Baulo, 2004: 61). One more silver plated diadem showing a hunting scene has been reported from the tomb of an Ostyak girl excavated by D. Yanovich at the Khalas-Pugor cemetery in the Lower Ob basin in 1909 (Murashko, Krenke, 2001: 85 - 103).

To sum, silver, copper and tin plates used in the ritual practice of the Ugrian population of the Ob basin have been dated to the 18th - 20th centuries. Over the last 100 years more than 30 detailed descriptions have been published.

Conclusions

The figurine of the Kazym spirit-guardian was decorated with five silver plates dating from the 15th - 17th centuries and six Russian plates, which were produced in Tobolsk or other centers of handicrafts in the northern regions of Western Siberia in the late 18th - the first third of the 19th centuries. Plates 2 and 8 were undoubtedly manufactured in Tobolsk.

Apparently, the decoration set of the spirit-guardian was formed over a considerable period of time. Initially, the figurine was probably decorated with the plates from the 15th - 17th century, in the late 18th - early 19th century the set was supplemented with analogous items manufactured by Russian artisans. Shawls were changed to new ones with time; a new twig framework was also probably made. It is mostly probable that the whole figurine in its present exterior served as an object of worship beginning from the early 19th century till the 1960s. The elaborate twig framework of the Vut imi image represents another unique feature of this idol. Such a construction of cult objects dating from the 19th -20th century has found no analogues in the cult practice of the Khant and Mansi populations. The exceptionally large set of plate-diadems ornamenting the image of the deity is also a unique feature. S.V. Ivanov believed that metal plates and silver saucers on the faces of spirit images can be explained by the intentions of the indigenous people to make wooden images look like metal ones (Ivanov, 1970: 62). This hypothesis fits the case with the image of Vut imi perfectly.

In the northern regions of Western Siberia, similar plate-diadems were used as the personal ornamentations of individuals of high sacral rank. However, such plates were mostly used to decorate the images of local gods and people representing these gods in the course of religious ceremonies.

Acknowledgments

The authors express their gratitude to L.V.Stepanova, the Head of the State Museum of Nature and Man in Khanty-Mansiysk, and L.S.Andrienko, the Head of the Ethnography Department of the Museum, for the opportunity to study this unique museum piece.

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