Type of sourceArticle “On the Question of Ethno-Cultural Relations and Semantics of the Uilta’s (Oroks’) Ornament. Part II. Zoomorphic and Anthropomorphic Motifs.”
Author(s) T. Yu. Sem
Fund that the source refers toThe Russian Museum of Ethnography (formerly the State Museum of Ethnography of the Peoples of the USSR)
This bag is made of Pusa fur and depicts skin of a snake (the symbol of the cosmos), a dragon’s head in the centre of the buckskin cover, and two bears to its left and right. This kind of ornamentation reveals the signs of both a Siberian and a South influence. The North cult of a bear refers to the ritual of hunting and burying, whereas the tradition of raising the animal for a bear festival.
The Oroks (Ulilta) of Sakhalin worshipped Dooto or Doocho – the master (or mistress) of bears and the keeper of taiga (perhaps the deity was also referred to as Buyo-Endur). The Oroks also thought that bears helped people with fishing, so they placed a figure of a bear’s head on the boats’ tops to increase their luck and catch a lot of fish. Moreover, as some Orok families claimed that a bear was their ancestor, they addressed the deity whenever they had problems, for instance, when some family member fell ill.
To sum up, the veneration of bears was related to both totemic features and traditional means of obtaining resources for life. That is why a bear was simultaneously considered a master of animals, a deity, and a relative of humans.