How Do Udmurts Address Their God(S)?

  • Eva Toulouze
Keywords: Udmurt religion, prayers, addresses to deities, possessive markers, expression of requests


Abstract. This article relies on a long-term fieldwork experience: Eva Toulouze has attended Udmurt animistic ceremonies in Bashkortostan over a period of ten years and has collected there the uttered prayers. These prayers are the corpus upon which our linguistic reflections are articulated. The language of the prayers represents a particular register of the Udmurt language. They are deeply dialectal, and while today they are mostly transmitted through writing and the magic aspect is less emphasised, they belong to the oral tradition of incantations. In this article, we comment upon some of the peculiarities of these prayers. We explore the multiplicity of ways that the Udmurts formulate their requests to the deities: the different use of verbs and especially the sophisticated syntactical constructions. We are also interested by analysing the peculiar use of possessive markers, revealing that in the Udmurt worldview, the deity to which these prayers are addressed is all-encompassing: the happiness that the Udmurt ask for is the deity’s happiness, as is the rain and the insects against which they ask protection. It is the first time that these phenomena have drawn scientific attention and have been commented on. Key words: Udmurt religion, prayers, ad