« PreviousContinue »
all the northern tracts on the White Sea, from the Onega and the Duna to the Petschora and the borders of the Uralian chain. This was the country of the Bearmahs visited and described by Ottar to King Alfred,* who found there a civilized people cultivating the ground with skill and industry. Biarmaland seems to have been an early seat of the civilisation of the north, and it is not improbable that the ancient culture of the Finnish race was spread westward from that region. In the eleventh century it is known that there was on the Dwina a commercial town frequented during the summer by traders from Scandinavia. The Biarmi there sold to the Northmen not only peltry, salt, and iron, the produce of their country, but likewise Indian wares, which came to them by the old path of Eastern trade, through the medium of the Chasars and the Bulgarians. Tzordyn or Great Perm was, according to Strahlenberg, a great mart at this early period. This writer observes that there are in no part of Russia more numerous ruins of fortresses and ancient tombs than in that region.‡ An unquestionable voucher for the real existence of an ancient trade with the East, are the great numbers of eastern coins which have been discovered in tombs and in other places through the whole extent of this country, from the lakes Ladoga and Onega to the Dwina.§ These coins, which have been carefully examined by many antiquarians in Germany and in Russia, are pieces of silver money belonging to chaliffs and other eastern princes who reigned before the year 1000 of
Beyond the Dwina Ottar found the first tilled lands discovered in his voyage from Norway; all the rest till he came to the Dwina was a desert inhabited by fishermen, fowlers, and hunters. These were all Finnas, viz. Lappes. The Beormahs told him many things respecting their own and the neighbouring countries; and they appeared to him to speak the same language as the Finnas. (See Foster's Account of Northern Discoveries. Müller's Ugrische Volkstamm, b. i. p. 417.)
+ Strahlenberg, Hist. of Siberia, p. 189.
Strahlenberg, ubi supra. Also Klaproth, Asia Polyglotta.
§ Strahlenberg. See also a learned memoir by O. G. Tychsen, "von dem in den Gegenden des Baltischen Meeres so häufigen alten Arabischen Silbergelde,” in Eichhorn's Repertorium für Bibl. und Mongenländische Literatur, Th. 6. The subject of these discoveries, and the circumstances which occasioned the accumulation of such coins in the north, have been discussed by many German and Russian writers, and particularly in a late work entitled "Die Handelszüge der Araber unter den Abassiden durch Afrika, Asia, und Ost-Europa, von Fried. Stüwe; Berlin, 1786; see pp. 172 and 272.
the Christian era; and many of them are silver Persian coins of the kind used by the Arabs before the year 695, when the Arabian or Saracen money was first cast. From these facts M. Frähn and other learned men have inferred that a great traffic by caravans was carried on during the middle ages through the eastern parts of Europe, between the northern coast then inhabited by Scandinavian and Finnish races, and the countries near the Euxine and the Caspian, which the arts and the refinement of southern Asia had recently penetrated.
The Pagan Biarmi on the Dwina worshipped the Solotta Babba or Golden Woman. They are said to have paid adoration to fire and other elements. According to the evidence collected by Müller, the Permian province was conquered in the twelth century by the warlike Nowgorodian; and it is recorded in the annals of Russia that in the year 1343 Permia was converted to the Christian religion by St. Stephen Permeki, who invented the Permian alphabet and founded a monastery at the mouth of the river Wyın.*
It appears from Nestor's accounts, that a separate division of this race, more nearly allied to the Finns, who occupied countries on the Duna in early times, moved towards the west. The Permians or Biarmi are recognised under the name of Permii as early as the eleventh century, and are identified with the Sauolocenses or Savolotchie.+ These people are the Tschudes of the Uwalli or Waldai mountains who are known to the Russians. They appear to have inhabited the country about the Ladoga and Onega lakes when the first attack was made upon them by a Russian prince in the year 1079.‡
There are three tribes of people still inhabiting parts of ancient Pernia, and speaking dialects allied to the Finnish language these are the proper Permians, the Syrjæni, and the Wotiaks. The two former constitute in reality one people, and give themselves in common the designation of Komi or Komi-murt; murt signifying man. The Permians inhabit the
All these points have been investigated with great research by M. Müller in his learned work, so often referred to, entitled "Der Ugrische Volkstamm. See b. i. p. 343; bd. ii. p. 327 et seqq.
+ The Sauolocenses and the Permii are mentioned by the commentator on Virgil, Julius Pomponius Sabinus. Schlözer's Nestor's Annals, ii. s. 43.
Müller, ibid. Müller, lib. cit.
Tatischtschew bey Sögren, Mém. de l'Acad. des Sc. St. Pet.
comparatively elevated countries watered by the Upper Kama, so far as its confluence with the Ocher, and districts on the Witschera and Tschussowaja. The Syrjæni live to the westward of the Permians on the banks of the Wytschegda and Suchoma they have the Samoiedes for their neighbours towards the north, and the Finns of Olonetz towards the west.
The people of Syrjænia and Permia are described by Everard Ysbrandt Ides, in the account of his journey through Siberia in the year 1692. He says that "the inhabitants of Syrjæne or Wollost-Usgy speak a language resembling that of the Livonians, near Germany, for some of his retinue who understood that language could comprehend a great part of what these people said." He must allude to the Liefi or Finnish people on the gulf of Livonia. Solowitschogda, he adds, is a very great city, inhabited by merchants and artificers in silver, copper, and bone, and surrounded by salt-pits; but the natives of the province do not live in towns, but mostly in small villages built in the woods. The country terminates in a forest. "The stature and habit of these people are not different from those of the Russian peasantry. They all live by agriculture, except those employed in the manufacture of furs. They pay tribute to his Czarish majesty, but are under no waywode, choosing judges among themselves. They are Christians of the Greek church.”*
The third Permian tribe, viz. the Wotiaks, inhabit the country on the Wiatka, and between that river and the Upper Kama. They call themselves Uhd-murd, meaning "hospitable people." Their name in Slavonic is Voti. Pallas says that they inhabited the same country before the invasion of Russia by the Tartars, when they were governed by princes of their own.
The Wotiaks have been described by many travellers in Siberia, but more particularly by Gmelin. He says that "in the villages of the Votiaks, which are situated beyond the Tartars of Kasan, nearly all the inhabitants, both men and women, have red hair." Pallas confirms this statement. He describes the Votiaks as different in many respects from the Tscheremisses. They are more lively, gay, and less obstinate; but on the other hand much addicted to drunkenness."
* E. Ysbrandt Ides. Travels from Muscovy to China.
them are very few tall, well-made, and robust men. The women are small and not handsome. There is no nation among whom hair of a fiery red is so common as among the Votiaks; yet there are individuals who have brown and others who have black hair, but most generally it is of a chestnut colour: they have, however, in general, red beards."
The Votiaks, according to Gmelin, are poor, and live in small villages: the chase is their principal occupation. As soon as the frost commences, they go into the woods and kill bears, wolves, foxes, &c. Their arms are chiefly bows and arrows.*
Erman has given some additional details respecting the Votiaks. He says they are men of strong, athletic bodies, broad shoulders, and in no respect partaking of the weak stature of the Tscheremisses and Tschuwashes. Their hair is always red.
The tribes of Votiaks who are not yet converted to Christianity have the same kinds of superstition as their kindred the Ostiaks and Vogouls in the Uralian countries, and the Tschudes of the Wolga, who will be described below. They live chiefly in the neighbourhood of Glasow. They worship a superior god whom they term Jumar, and place in the sun; likewise an earth-god and a water-god, with which they connect the representation of a good and evil principle, for the water-god is a maleficent imp. The distinction has, however, no moral import, but only relates to physical good and evil, or what is useful and injurious. To both of these beings sacrifices are offered in consecrated places in the forests. They consist of eatable things, such as honey, milk, sheep, geese; and the offerings are made during eight days at least, three times in a year, viz. at the time of ploughing, before setting the grain in the spring, in autumn, and at the beginning of the hay-harvest. They sacrifice to the good genius in times of prosperity, and to the evil one in adversity. After their prayers the offerings are in part burnt and partly scattered over the land. The priests direct their proceedings. The priests of the Votiaks are termed Toma: they are the chiefs and elders of the tribe. The places of sacrifice are termed
Gmelin's Reise nach Kamtschatka durch Sibirien, von Jahre 1733 bis 1743. Allgemeine Historei der Reisen; Leipzig, 1769, 19th b. Keralio's French translation of Gmelin, tom. i.
Keremets: they are spots in the forests surrounded by lofty pine-trees. At the fourth great festival in the year, which is after the completion of all their agricultural work, they sacrifice a horse, generally of a fox-colour, never a black one, with other animals; the Toma burns the fat and the bones, and they eat the flesh, but hang up the heads of the oxen and sheep, and the whole skeleton of the horse, in a pine-tree. The prayers are uttered not at the rising of the sun but at midday. The Votiaks besides worship idols, which are a sort of penates. They term them Modor.+
Paragraph 2.—Of the Southern or Bulgarian branch of the Tschudish race.
Districts of considerable extent near the middle course of the Wolga, and comprehended in the Russian governments of Nijnei-Nowgorod, Kasan, and Oremburg, are inhabited by the Tschudish races called Morduines and Tscheremisses, among the former of which are sometimes reckoned the tribes of Arsas and Mokshas. These tribes, though resembling in physical characters, and in dress and manners, the Finnish and Permian nations, and connected with them by affinity of languages, are still more closely united among themselves by a near resemblance in their dialects. Of this a sufficient proof is afforded by the vocabularies of all the so termed Finnish idioms collected by various travellers, and of which the largest comparison may be seen in Klaproth's Sprachatlas. The evidence afforded by these vocabularies is a sufficient ground for reckoning the tribes on the Wolga as a distinct branch of the Tschudish people.
The Morduines, according to Pallas, are divided into three tribes, termed Mokscha, Ersan, and Karatag.‡ The former live in the forests, along the banks of the river Moksha, and in the mountainous regions between the Soura and Volga. The names of rivers and brooks indicate, as Pallas observes, that
* Keremets is probably the same as the Kalmets of the Lappes.
+ Müller's Sammlung Russ. Gesch. Georgi Beschreib. Pallas, Reisen durch Versch. Prov. 3. Müller's Ugrischen Volkstamm, ii. s. 395.
Pallas, ibid. tom. i. p. 128.