The legend about "Amikan"

Mar 21, 2018


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Amaka, Amikan - is translated as Bear from the language of native people – the Evenks, who used to inhabit the territory around Baikal Lake. According to their beliefs, bears don’t touch women. If the bear meets a woman – takes her to taiga forest to his den and makes her the mistress of the den. Right now this indigenous people - the Evenks - live on the North of Baikal, most of them along the BAM railway in Chitinskaya region. I was very lucky to travel to those places. Those Evenks who still are deer-breeders live in the brides in the forest in the remote areas away from villages and civilization. Most of evenks live in the villages along the BAM. Most of the youngs go to the cities, and it's a pity that very few of them return to the campsites in the forest to continue deer-breeding and follow their traditional lifestyle. I like their beautiful language: Amaka, Syulban, Nyama... and them as well:-))

The legend about Amikan

The local people keep the legend which says:

Amikan is also a person, only can’t speak. Long time has passed. It was the time when gods were still living on earth. All over taiga forest there were their tchums. (traditional conic shaped house). When gods raised into the sky – their houses turned into mountains. And before that time the earth was flat. It was the  time when shaman called Ama lived. He helped and cured people, chased away the angry spirits. Hunters used to bring skins and fur, meat and fish to shaman. Many times birds came to make their nests and flew away. Winters came and were gone. Shaman became old, was grown with hair, became ugly and angry. His wives left him. Shaman Ama had been crying for a long time, calling his wives back, but nobody came back – they found other husbands. People forgot him. Shaman became angry on people then and decided to revenge them. At night, when the moon rises from above the forest and all people fall asleep, he would come out of his tchum, turn over his head and change into a bear – such a strong bear that could break an elk’s back!

When shaman goes to the campsite – the dogs don’t bark him, he smells like a human. Then he gets into a tchum secretly and steals a young lady and takes her into the forest.

This lasted for quite a long time. Many girls were stolen by him. Hunters followed and chased him in order to kill him. But when they shot their arrows – they were flamed as matches. Shaman knew the magic word from the arrow shooting. The hunters were scared – shaman Ama would kill all women at their campsite, who will continue the family? The earth will become empty without people. The hunters went to the main god  - Tengeri and told him about the trouble. Tengeri called all the gods for advice how to teach a lesson to shaman Ama.

And next time Shaman changed into a bear, the gods took away his memory and tongue. When Ama went into the forest, but couldn’t remember why. He still walks in the forests nowadays. The winter comes, it becomes cold, Ama would return to his den but he forgot the way. Then he makes a new one, hides there and spends all winter there. In spring he wakes up angry, attacks all animals and people.  But once he meets a hunter – remembers that he is also a human, stands on two hind legs and attacks the man. And evenk people still call him “Amaka” or “Amikan”, which means “dedushka, old man.

(the legend by Nikolai Kuzakov)