STEPANOVA O.B. The Images of the Energy of Nature in the Mythological Representations of the Northern Selkups


Olga B. Stepanova

Candidate of Sciences (History), Researcher,

Department of Siberia, Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences,

Universitetskaya Emb., 3, 199034 Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The author considers the study of the traditional energy regimes of the Selkups according to mythology as the first priority.

Methods and materials. Materials for studying the topic were taken from archival sources, scientific literature collected by the author during ethnographic expeditions. The methods used in the study include the analysis and use of the theory of myth.

Analysis. The mythology of the Selkups describes energy figuratively. The main source of energy – heat and light – is the sun. It is drawn in the image of the old woman-ancestor who grants and takes people’s lives / souls. The old woman, her huge gut, embodies the otherness, where, at the hour of birth, human souls come to the earthly world, and where they return after death. The images of the mythical old women embodying fire, moon, cold and night, are the incarnations of the mother sun. In these images, the energy of fire is classified into kind and terrible fire, the fire that gives life and brings death, into heat and cold, light and darkness. In addition to the energy of fire, Selkup mythology distinguishes the energy of water, land and forests. Its source and embodiment are also mythical old women-ancestors. This energy is described as food sent to men by the divine nature.

Results. According to the Selkup mythology, the Selkups from ancient times recognized energy as the basis of human vitality and were well acquainted with all types and sources of natural energy used by humanity before the beginning of the era of technical inventions.

Key words: ethnography, Selkups, mythology, energy, images, history, reindeer breeding.

Citation. Stepanova O.B. The Images of the Energy of Nature in the Mythological Representations of the Northern Selkups. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2019, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 126-136. (in Russian). DOI:

Лицензия Creative Commons

The Images of the Energy of Nature in the Mythological Representations of the Northern Selkups by Stepanova O.B. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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