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Khanty Communal Reindeer Sacrifice: Belief, Subsistence and Cultural Persistence in Contemporary Siberia

Andrew Wiget and Olga Balalaeva
Arctic Anthropology
Vol. 38, No. 1 (2001), pp. 82-99
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40316541
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Khanty Communal Reindeer Sacrifice: Belief, Subsistence and Cultural Persistence in Contemporary Siberia
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Abstract

This paper provides a detailed description of the structure of communal reindeer sacrifice [myr) among the eastern Khanty of Surgut region, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia, as witnessed by the authors in March 1992. The paper then demonstrates how the event structure of myr articulates with Khanty belief systems in order to enact its general function of insuring food and prosperity. The authors interpret several features of the sacrifice they witnessed as illustrating the adaptive nature of Khanty religious practice, especially in role-definition and activities of cultural specialists. Finally, the authors conclude that, despite a variety of pressures, Khanty communal reindeer sacrifice persists because it continues to dramatize the core relationships which prevail in the Khanty world, soliciting from participants a recommitment to these beliefs and practices.

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