THE WONDERFUL DEER MOTIF SEQUENCE (AATH 401/ATU 400) AS AN INDIGENOUS TOTEMIC-LIKE SUBSTRATUM İN THE CENTRAL EURASİAN HEROİC EPİC TRADİTİONS
University of Bonn
This paper focuses on the ecological as well as historical foundations and genesis of the motif sequence common to several Central Eurasian heroic epics — the different versions of the North Caucasian Nart and of the Mongolic (Oirat) Geser epic. The core of the episode is the otherworldly hunt of the protagonist, where he tries to bring down a wonderful doe that appears in front of him. Later this animal transforms into the daughter of the sun or of a foreign king/lord/prince, while in the Mongolian Geser epic she is the daughter of the Dragon King. Although the name of the hero and some motifs in the Mongolian epic tradition are of Tibetan origin, the main motifs and the structure of the Chapters 4 and 6 (SCHMIDT 1839) are of North Central Asian (Scytho-Siberian and probably Hsiung-nu) origin: two heroes, hunting, the fleeing wonderful deer, traces leading to the castle, where the pursued animal is no longer waiting for its’ pursuers in the shape of a deer, but as a woman, and at last marriage. With the complex comparative historical and “tradition ecological” (e.g. HARVILAHTI 2014: 18) methods and approaches to the intertwine of nature (environment) and culture including “religious” beliefs, ideas and concepts, following a unit-based (motif oriented) approach, I intend to prove, that even if some narrative figures are originated from the Tibetan Buddhist cultural area, the biocultural and ecological background, and mythical (epic) function of the characters and the entire motif sequence are inherited from the Siberian shamanic and the South Siberian/Southern North Asian (SNA) totemic-like beliefs and rituals (e.g. Evenki ikenipke ‘renewal of life;’ HAMAYON 1992: 134, 136) of Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age hunter-gatherer societies.