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The regional interactive encyclopedic portal «Bashkortostan»
Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Bashkortostan State autonomous institution of science of the Republic of Bashkortostan Bashkir encyclopedia

CULT OF ANCESTORS

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CULT OF ANCESTORS, religious veneration of the souls of the deceased ancestors. With Bashkirs, it was an element of traditional pre‑Islamic beliefs. Having changed, it partially survived and found reflection in the various aspects of culture. Faith in the inextricable connection with ancestors contributed to the preservation of the unity of the community (tribe, clan). The main idea of the C.a. is the soul that exists both during the life of a person and after his death. It was believed that a soul after death can take the form of a butterfly, a bird, a beast, return to its home, etc. A wooden hook (specifically driven), a crossbar above the door, and a threshold were considered to be the repositories of the souls of the deceased in a dwelling. It was believed that the spirits of ancestors protect their descendants, promote their well‑being, etc. Particular importance was attached to the spirits of the founders of the families and tribes. In order to earn the favour of the spirits, various rituals, sometimes accompanied by sacrifices, were held in old cemeteries considered to be sacred, prayings were held. With the spread of Islam, the C.a. transformed into a cult of Muslim saints. The idea of ancestors’ souls became the basis for the emergence of the animals and birds cult, etc. Some funeral rituals are associated with the C.a., as well as the custom to install stone sculptures on graves. C.a. was widespread among many Indo‑European, Caucasian, Ural‑Altai and other peoples.

Publication date: 13.07.2020
Last updated: 13.07.2020