Eastern Udmurt Sacred Places, Yesterday and Today



Udmurt, ethnic religion, sanctuary, ritual places, animism


Most Udmurt living in the Bashkortostan Republic and in the Perm’ region of the Russian Federation are followers of a traditional ethnic religion. In their spiritual life, a huge place is occupied by sanctuaries and other places in which their ritual practices take place, such as the worship of deities, spirits and ancestors. We can identify different types of such places in this Udmurt regional group: the sanctuary dedicated to the cult of the clan protector deities, groves dedicated to the god Lud, places dedicated to personal and family cults, sacred places of agrarian sacrifices, territories where funerary and commemorative rituals take place, places dedicated to the propitiation of evil spirits. Depending on their social status, the sanctuaries are regional or general and can be related to a family, clan, village, or multiple villages. In this article, which relies on the authors’ ethnographic fieldwork and published sources, we analyse the present state of the sacred places. We show that the transformation of cultural patterns has led some types of sanctuary to cease functioning, while others have remained as relics and the places of agrarian sacrifices have undergone an active revitalisation.


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