Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/89

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
81
OF THE MORDVINS.


Scarcely had he spoken this, when the sun at once became seven times darker than before ; the winter became seven times more severe ; the earth began to require cultivation with hard work, and after all gave but a small return, sometimes none at all ; added to which nearly all the cattle died. To maintain order among men, and to settle their disputes, Cham Pas then instituted kings or czars, princes and judges. He gave them power to imprison and flog men for their evil deeds, and for the worst kind of crimes to punish them with death. See Note, § 10, 12, 21.

Sacrificial Places and Feasts.

It may be taken as certain, says Melnikof, that the Mordvins never had any temples. No remains of them are to be found ; there is no mention of them in any chronicle or deed ; and the people themselves have no recollection of them. But, wherever the Mordvins live, old places of sacrifice are pointed out in forests, on plains, or at places of burial. Baptized Mordvins often assemble, even nowadays, at these places to sacrifice to the gods of their forefathers. Keremet is the term applied to these places of burial in some places, especially in the governments of Simbirsk, Pensa, Samara, and Saràtof ; and to some extent in that of Nizhni- Novgorod. Perhaps it has been borrowed from the Chuvash. In every Mordvin parish[1] there were several keremets, each sacred to a special divinity. Each village had also its own place of sacrifice, used by its inhabitants alone. It was called, Petsiona keremet; or the villagers' place of sacrifice.

When the Mordvins were still heathens, the parish keremet, and sometimes the village one, was enclosed. They selected a small flat piece of ground from 140 to 210 feet square in the forest or in a grove, and surrounded it with a high fence. A gate (ortá, from Russ.

  1. As regards the extent of a parish one must think of a highland, not of a midland county parish.