Magic Specialists in Udmurt Culture: Some Portraits


  • Nikolai Anisimov Estonian Literary Museum; Udmurt Federal Research Centre, Ural Department, Russian Academy of Sciences


Udmurt, Udmurt culture, magic specialists, healers, magic practice, folk medicine


This article is dedicated to special people whom their community marked as having secret knowledge and magic power, and who belong of the institution of the initiated. My main sources are my field materials, interviews with these magic specialists, gathered between 2010 and 2021. My fieldwork data reveal that some healers have magic abilities from childhood, while others received them when they give birth or after some particular event in their lives. Some of these people specialise in and heal only particular ailments (for example of children), while others cure a wide range of diseases and difficulties. Some have special buildings to receive their visitors. The communities of which these personalities are part have ambiguous feelings towards them, and thus they become marginalised.As examples, I present the characters and describe the activities of seven women healers. I attempt to analyse precise examples of magic and social interaction within the relationships between the community and the magic specialist, and to investigate the understanding of the world that these healers have. To date there has been no focus on the personal and subjective aspect of this question, as well as to the socially regulative aspect: most publications so far have mainly emphasised the magic and mythological aspects.


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