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. : 176.


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 interaction of a man with marmots, as with all animals world, at first was accompanied and was provided with the certain notions about them, having a practical and teaching meaning (about their profit or demage, the way of life, habits and so on). This information, though little by little evolutioning, upon the whole, carried a primitive-elementary character and was interwined with the united picture of the world. It is the historical predecessor, in the definite measure also a historical base of the contemporary scientific knowledge about marmots.

It goes without saying, that a noticeable imprint put on socialcultured peculiarities of that or other ethnos over the volume and the matter of the people's cognitions about marmots. The Chuvash ethnos, like any one, which has a long duration of the contact with mentioned animals, has its own complex system of the notions about them. Passing from the generation to the generation it was put considerably in the oral creative people's work.

In the 17-volume dictionary of N.I. Ashmarin (1936: 238-239), which was prepared at the beginning of our century, which has the encyclopedia meaning of the chuvash life, is represented the information about marmots, gathered in different places and authors, which was at the disposal of the population during recent years. There are represented suppositions, fictions and real knowledge. It is said, that the marmots are of the yellow colour, are met of the dark as well, live in the hill's holes (mountains) and on the mountains slopes, they whistle. They go out in groups for feeding. At that time one or two marmots guard. They see a man from the distance. They sit on the hind legs, in case of the people's appearance they pronounce "Chrin ! chrin !". Marmots on hearing cries like little dogs run to their holes. Having got to the holes they sit on the hind legs and observe. While people coming up to them, they talk with each other, hide in the holes and don't go out for a long duration. Their holes are deep, with compartments. There are some holes for going out. A marmot, caught by a man, weeps intensely, dries tears. That's why it is considered that by origin it has come from a man. As we see, the Chuvash folk's explanation of the origin and the behaviour of the marmots is saturated socially and emotionally, wholy and systematically, anthropomorphy. As the result of the collective creation, it contains in totality the series of the reliable sources about the beasts and it is possible to affirm, that the originality reflection found in it the chuvash mentality (the pitiful attitude to the wild animals and others), folk's self-awareness and the echos of the social historical events.
We have already pointed on the fact, that in the Chuvash vocabulary with the word "marmot" are connected with the series of the objects names of the economical-conditions of life ("marmot's mushroom", "marmot's berry", "marmot's stone" and so on), as the result of the long cooperation by the Chuvashs with the regarding animals (Plechov and others, 1996).

It is testimonial, that in the N.I. Ashmarin's dictionary the articles about the marmots, in comparison with the other analogous works about other wild animals, with which the Chuvashs were in touch (wolves,bears and others), are more saturated, contain more information about the way of marmots' life, the latter is described more detailed. To our point of view, it is as the result of their more close spiritual perception by the ethnos, mysterious they were surrounded as the holy animals and according to this there is a great interest of the population and scientists towards the marmots as the subject of the description in the dictionary. More detailed study and the knowledge of the folk's notions about the marmots enriches the science about them.

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