Holy Trees of Yakut People


Trees always were important in people's life. People considered tree as axis of the world - axis connecting the earth and sky. The Yakuts (people who live in the Sakha republic in the basin of the river Lena, Russia) have a special tree. It is a symbol of three space worlds. Yakut people think they have a connection with space via this tree. A tree in Yakut religion is connected with upper, middle and lower worlds. Upper world is the place where Gods live, the middle world is inhabited by people, and in the lower world devils live. The Queen of middle world "Aan Alahchin" lives in branching tree in the middle of the widest glade (as a rule it is a birch or a larch).

The Yakut people consider all branching trees as holy trees. They do not allow children to play near them. The Yakuts are afraid to cut big trees that grow near houses: they think a spirit of the Earth Doidu Ichite by the name lives there. This spirit does not do any harm, but he cries when people spoil his favorite tree. He likes to whirl like a small whirl wind. As a present to him Yakuts hang pieces of cloth and horse hair on the tree.

This tradition still exist in our days. Passers by and drivers stop near this tree to hang pieces of cloth and to ask for the permission to pass by. Such tree is called "Aal-Look-Mas " in the Yakut language. And nowadays in different places near the roads you can find trees with small pieces of cloth on its branches.

There is another holy tree in Yakutia. Long ago shamans chose a dry and old tree for performing their dances and conjuring round it. Shamans were old wizards of people of North. They conjured and sang and danced asking the spirits for a good hunt, fish catch, recovering from diseases, until they became exhausted.

There are no shamans now and no frantic dances, but the so called shaman trees are being saved as a specimen of the old culture of the Yakut people.

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