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Stratum plus. 2017. No5

T. B. Nikitina (Yoshkar-Ola, Russian Federation)

Ornitomorphic Figurines and Images in the Grave Goods from the Vetluga-Vyatka Cemeteries

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Pages: 289-304

The article presents a description of ornithomorphic images found in Mari cemeteries of 9th—13th centuries. The author publishes the artefacts she obtained during 2008-2015 and presents the results of X-ray fluorescence analysis of certain types of decorations.
Based on the typology, dating and chemical composition of the metal it is revealed that the hollow pendants in the form of ducks have spread throughout the considered period. The earliest types are associated with the cultures of the Kama range. The second half of the 11th century was marked by appearance of pendants depicting mythical creatures with projections on head in the shape of horns or ears, made by local craftsmen. In 11th—12th centuries, there appear blade-like pendants in the form of single-headed birds with jingling pendants having analogies in the materials of Northern Russia. The end of 10th—11th centuries was marked by appearance of images of birds of prey on adornments and on handles of fire-ligthers as well as vessels with silhouettes of a fantastic bird.
The image of the waterfowl was associated with the mythical epos of the local population. The symbol of fantastic birds was borrowed from the traditional worldview. Images of fantastic birds and birds of prey were the result of cultural contacts with the Turkic or Ugric world. The archaeological evidence is confirmed by the data of folklore.

Keywords: Finno-Ugrians, Mari culture, Middle Ages, ornithomorphous images, bird, typology, dating

Information about author:

Tatyana Nikitina
(Yoshkar-Ola, Russian Federation). Doctor of Historical Sciences. V. M. Vasilyev Mari Scientific Research Institute of Language, Literature and History. Krasnoarmeyskaya St., 44, Yoshkar-Ola, 424036, Mari El Republic, Russian Federation
E-mail: [email protected]

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