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Folklore of the Itelmens


The folklore of the Itelmens is represented by myths in Russian retelling (18th century) and fairy tales recorded in the 20th cent. in Itelmen language. The main character of Itelmen folklore is Kutkh, or the Raven, traced in the spiritual culture of the northeastern aborigines and North American Indians. In the mythology of the Itelmens, he appears as a demiurge, the creator of Kamchatka; he is also the main character of fairy tales.

Heroes of myths (according to S.P. Krasheninnikov): Kutkh (demiurge, Raven); Ilkhkum or Savina (his wife); Symskalin, their son, from his body the Earth was created; Tyzhil-Kutkh and Siduka, the son and daughter of Kutkh and Ilkhkum, who entered into an incestuous marriage; Amleya and Sidukamshich, their grandson and granddaughter, who also entered into an incestuous marriage; from them came the Itelmens.

The heroes of fairy tales are Kutkh and Miti (his wife), their children in the order of seniority: sons Ememkut and Kothanam talhan; daughters Sinanevt, An-oraklnavt, Mrorot and Nyaa.

In fairy tales, Kutkh appears as a typical trickster - a deceiver, a liar, a lazy person and a glutton, although not a conscious villain; he constantly finds himself in unseemly situations, which sometimes lead him to death. Only in a few cases does the fabulous Kutkh turn into a Crow. The bifurcation of the image of Kutkh (demiurge - trickster) happened a long time ago, in the minds of the Itelmens, both hypostases existed in parallel. A similar bifurcation of the image of the demiurge is also characteristic of Indian folklore, for example Tlingit. In addition to Kutkh and his family, Sisilkhan is a constant character in fairy tales (with his sister Sirim and a shamanic grandmother who is not named). Sisilkhan, whose name means "winged (man)", may also be a raven in origin, but hostile to Kuthu. Judging by the fairy tales, this is a negative character, constantly intriguing Ememkut and Sinaneut, the eldest children of Kutkh. The fabulous Sisilkhan is not capable of turning into a Crow, intrigues do not bring him success.

Like the neighbors - the Koryaks and the Chukchi - there are animal characters in the Itelmen folklore. First of all, this is a family (genus) of mice, with them Kutkh enters into conflicts or various kinds of transactions (for example, he gives his youngest daughter Nyaa to one of the members of the mouse clan); the fox with whom Kutkh has sexual relationship; family of wolves, the eldest of them is married Sinaneut. The name of her husband is Tzelkothamilh (who caught up with a woman from the Kutkha clan).

The genre of the legend is not typical for Itelmen folklore. You can name only one legend - about Tylval - a local strongman, a hero, who himself does not attack anyone, but invariably wins everyone who tries to attack him in the upper Tigil River (Okhotsk coast of Kamchatka) were the "Tylvala Hill" is located.

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