Biblical Legends in the Folklore of the Turkic Peoples in Southern Siberia

Nadezhda Oinotkinova


The article deals with the ethnic specificity of biblical legends about the flood and the Tower of Babel in the folklore of the Turkic peoples of Southern Siberia (the Altai, Tuva, Khakassia and Shor). These folk legends, rooted in early Christianity, confirm the cultural and historical contacts between the peoples of Central Asia and peoples holding Christian beliefs. The subjects of the legends, associated with the biblical idea of the creation of the world and man and the flood, found their way into Siberia even before the Russians initiated the process of Christianization in the region from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. This assertion is confirmed not only by the specific features of folk legends under discussion, but also by historical data on the influence of Manichaeism and Nestorianism on the culture of the Central Asian peoples, including on the Turkic peoples of Siberia. The persistence of these legends can be attributed to the fact that their plots are often adapted to local realities, concepts, myths, and events. In the construction of these narratives, use is made of national mythological terminology and conceptual systems. The saturation of the folk legends with local mythology and local beliefs in the Siberian context may be a contributing factor to their ongoing existence as a part of the folklore. The appropriation of the contents of biblical legends by the peoples of Siberia also shows the seriousness of their adoption of Christian ideas in the distant past.

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Folklorica, Journal of the Slavic, East European and Eurasian Folkore Association. ISSN 1920-0242.
This electronic edition is supported by the University of Kansas Libraries.