Holarctic Marmots as a factor of Biodiversity.
Rumiantsev V.Yu;, Nikol'skii A.A. & Brandler O.V. eds.,
Abstracts, 3d Conference on Marmots (Cheboksary, Russia, 25-30 August 1997),
Moscow ABF 1997, 216p. : 175.


G.N. Plechov*, A.V. Dimitriev**, Z.N. Plechova***

* Chuvash Republic Education Institute
** The State nature reserve "Prisursky"
*** Chuvash State pedagogical Institute, Cheboksary, Russia

The main key for establishing a character of the relations by the ethnoses with marmots in the historical plan is considered to be mythology, as myths about animals are connected with the number of the ancient myths, which contain the explanations about the origin and some animals' features, which expose ethnic peculiarities of the notions about them.

We have published one of the Chuvash myths, which reached our days, in the tale-legend form, were is seen the origin of the marmots (Dimitriev a.o., 1994). We would remined its content. When the Chuvash peasants-colonists (the Chuvashs - on of the bulgarian branches of the Turkis - passed historically long and over a long period of teme of the resettlement from Asia to Europe, to the Middle Volga, had the displacements within the Urals-Povolzhsky region began to distribute in the new place the plots of land and the head of one of the families noticed a fertile plot and near the digged pits set a watch by his sons. When came the turn for the marked place the answer on the question "For whom is it ?" was in the slyer's favour. The plot was given, but instead of his sons the plot's owner found the marmots.

There is another mythological story about the marmots' origin. In olden times as it is said, the poor Chuvash and the priest had the plots of land side by side. When the owners sowed their plots it appeared, that the harvest of the poor man was going to grow better then that of the priest. The priest took the plot of the poor man and suggested his own one. The poor man didn't want to take the other saying, that it wasn't his. The situation was controversial and they addressed to the court. The judges decided to solve the problem on their plots. The priest took his son and the daughter to the plot beforehand, having digged the pits on the por man's plot, he put them there. He taught them saying: you would be asked to tell whos plot and you would answer: "This is of the priest, the other - of the por man". The children were covered with the ground in order they were not to be seen. Soon came the judges and went to the field. They came up to the plots and were at a loss: it was impossible to determine the plots. The priest suggested to turn to the plot and to find out. On the poor man's plot was to be heard: "The priest's" and on the priest's: "The pop man's". In such a way the priest occupied the plot of the poor man. But his children couldn't remain as people. The God turned them into the marmots. They were condemned to be as marmots to live in the field. When the marmots run into their holes, hide, they say like as: "The priest's, the por man's" (Ashmarin, 1936: 239-240).

No doubt, the first myth is rather archaic, the second - is of more later origin. The last could appear during the period of the Chuvashs taking Christianity (XVI-XIX), which was going on by force in the conditions of the negative population's attitude towards the new religion and its bearers. But both topics combine one the same thought about marmots' origin from the people, the blood ties of the Chuvashs with them. The peculiarity of these myths is also in this, that both events take place in the field. It is supposed that the marmots were met in the neighbourhood with the peasants' plots in the ancient period.

There is an idea for organizing a comparative historical study of the mythological narration about the marmots' origin in different ethnoses. It should be taken into consideration that in the myths of different people among a great number of their variety, the main topics and motives have a quality of repeating, it is possible to suppose the existence in the past of the one-typed notions about own origin from the marmots of some other ethnoses.

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