How to Defeat a Demon: The Function of the Oirat Folk Narrative about Burning the Female Devil


  • Dmitrii Alekseevich Nosov Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences


mythological narratives, anecdotes, Oirats, Xinjiang, traditional law


The paper introduces the results of a case study that attempts to uncover the functions and probable genesis of a group of satirical tales told by the Mongolian peoples. Based on the example of one of the stories, about Argachi, a Til Ulenspiegel-like rogue character, popular among the Oirat Mongols of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China, an assumption is made about the possible practical function of the narratives, which is that they served to broadcast traditional litigation strategies. A comparison of the Oirat story of Argachi’s victory over the demon with a similar narrative recorded from the Halh Mongols showed that the strategy of behaviour described in the stories allows one to effectively get rid of a malicious, but not very intelligent, mythological character. 


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