The aim of the thesis deals with the research how metaphor of the Cold is unfolding in the Sakha heroic epic olonkho. The subject of the research is examined with the methods of stylistic, literary and culturological analyses.
The Sakha heroic epic olonkho «Nurgun Botur the Swift» by Platon Oyunsky evolves the metaphor of the Cold as a multidimensional one that is developing in space orientation, setting, landscape, characters, plot, etc. The setting of the epic represents a hostile northern land full of danger to newcomers who migrated there from the southern territories. The hostility of the north in the epic space proves to have its traditional negative space orientation semantics. The epic space in the olonkho is based on the semantic opposition «north-south». It functions as the vertical opposition of «down-up» realized in the epic olonkho as antagonism between the Upper World and the Under World, i.e. the antagonism of good deities Aiyy [a’ji:] and demons Abaahy [aba:’hi], which is understood as a contradiction of «good/bad».
The epic quest starts in the south and leads to the north, imitating the model of the Sakha (Yakuts) migration from the south of Asia to northeastern Siberia. A protagonist faces the obstacles on his way like his ancestors while migrating. Space in the epic is described fragmentarily: landscape is represented in outline. Elements of the landscape such as woods, rivers, mountains, oceans, and valleys are also not the object of priority description. Wood is a place of epic hero travelling, while mountain or seashore is a place of battle. Conventionally mountains serve as passages to the Under World.
The description of the ominous Under World reproduces typical natural phenomena of the Arctic region such as eternal cold, ice, fog, darkness, polar night season, the lack of fresh air, the absence of vegetation but at the same time presence of ugly insects and reptiles, which is an allusion to the southern experience of the Sakha. The northern territories are described as a dangerous hostile environment, cold badlands with specific fauna and scanty flora. Tundra and permafrost become an objectification of the Under World – the land of demons and monsters Abaahys/Ajarais [a’djaraiz]. The low dark-red skies, fog, blue and green fire of stinky swamps or oceans burning with volcanic fire, and stench of rotten blood and corpses in the Under World worsen the whole picture and make it fantastic. The idea of the underworld in the mythology of the Sakha is almost merged with the idea of the north, while the Middle World is described as a blessed sunny land left behind – a reminiscence to the former Sakha homeland in the south. That is why the Abaahys bring not only diseases but also cold, winds and bad weather. Now it can be seen that in epic tradition, mostly the physical aspects of setting are emphasized. The setting of the Cold frames and encompasses the events of the epic narrative.
The central theme in the Sakha olonkho is the struggle with demons and monsters – Abaahys/Ajarais. Abaahys in shaman mythology are evil spirits devouring human souls and bringing diseases. Yet epic Abaahys are not just mythological creatures but, first of all, warriors of the alien tribe, enemies. In these very complicated images, there are interwoven or still not differentiated the ideas of natural forces and hostile tribes with whom the Sakha came across and fought with during their advance to the north. Thus, male antagonists represent the mythologized syncretic images of enemies that, however, evolve in the course of the narrative. The inhuman feminine antagonists also embody the females of hostile tribes – warrior-women; this explains their supernatural power, zoo- and anthropomorphic monstrosity, animosity, warlike attitude, repulsive appearance, bad temper, and infectious diseases, no matter how discriminating. The demonic feminine origin of certain landscape objects is reflected in a traditional rather flattering addition ‘khotun-ebeh’ to all large place names, either ground (valley) or water (river, lake) that reveal an instinctive fear and respect of the natural forces. (‘Khotun’ [ho’tun] is a titlе of an honoured woman; a wife. ‘Ebeh’ – Yakut. ‘эбэ’ (e’beh) – ‘grandmother’).
A careful study of the Sakha epic olonkho reveals certain similarities with folklore of the indigenous peoples of the North: in some motifs or plots, e.g. the scene of a protagonist sister’s kidnapping by a Tungus hero riding a fast-moving reindeer sled. With a lapse of time enemy-monsters are displaced by the Tungus inhabited northern territories where the Sakha tribes migrated. The new antagonists are still hyperbolized but they gradually lose their mythologization and become closer to real human beings. Moreover, the negative impact of the Tungus is reduced to an unsuccessful attempt to capture a woman (sister or bride of the protagonist), often this hero performs a comic role in the epic and ceases to frighten. The image of enemy, mostly mythological and fantastic, is found in the most ancient Turkic-Mongol epics of Siberia, its plot and style. But to this ancient basis new elements are added — the elements that reflected further historical fates of the Sakha people.
The metaphor of the Cold in the Yakut heroic epic olonkho still can be interpreted as a metaphor of hostile natural force to human beings. The external conflicts depicted in the epic reflect a basic opposition between man and nature; they may also take the form of an opposition between the protagonist and a human adversary, which is symbolically shown in the space orientation semantics “north-south”. The metaphor of the Cold is also unfolding in antagonists – demons and monsters. The traditional image of enemy assumes new elements that reflect a historical fate of the Sakha. Thus, the metaphor of the Cold in the Sakha epic olonkho is a metaphor of human survival and adaptation in unfriendly cold conditions.