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Original article


The place of dream practices in the cult of ancestors of the Mordovian people


Kuznetsova Yu. V.



The article is devoted to identifying the place and role of dream practices in the cult of ancestors of the Mordvins as an important component of the sustainable existence of traditional society. The most ancient ideas about dreams in traditional cultures, including the Mordovian ethnos, as a phenomenon of a sacred nature endowed with prophetic properties are considered. The characteristic of the cult of ancestors is given as a complex of funeral and memorial rites and rituals designed in symbolic form to facilitate the transition of a soul to the other world of the dead, which acted in traditional society as a guarantee of maintaining balance between the supernatural and the real world. The Mordovian people especially revered the cult of ancestors. The significant role of dreams in the creation of various folklore forms, associated with the special attitude of the Mordvins to their ancestors, is noted. In this regard, the bylichki (stories about the appearance of deceased relatives in a dream) take the leading place in the oral and poetic creativity of the Mordovian people.

The ambivalence of the attitude in traditional cultures to the other world and ancestors, who are considered not only as defenders of the family, but also as an supernatural hostile force, is emphasized. Among the Mordvins, this ambiguity found expression in the bylichki about the appearance of the deceased in the form of evil spirits.

It is noted that the Mordovian people attached great importance to the explanation of dreams. Dreams associated with the deceased got a stable interpretation among the Mordvins.


Keywords: dream, dream practices, cult of ancestors, the Mordovian people, funeral and memorial rite, bylichka, dream book


For citation: Kuznetsova YuV. The place of dream practices in the cult of ancestors of the Mordovian people. Center and Periphery. 2023;18(3):57—64. EDN YGOTQS




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Information about the author:

Yulia V. Kuznetsova, Assistant Professor of Department of Design and Advertising of the National Research Ogarev Mordovia State University  (68 Bolshevistskya Str., Saransk 430005, Russia), Candidate of Philosophical Sciences, Associate Professor, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8709-6081, kuv@bk.ru


Conflict of interests: the author declares no conflict of interests.


The author has read and approved the final version of the manuscript.


The article was submitted 12.12.2022; approved after reviewing 28.03.2023; accepted for publication 04.04.2023.