Helmets of the Ob Ugrians: typology and functions 

Bogordayeva A.A.






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On the basis of the comparative-typological method, the woolen headdresses-helmets held at the sanctuaries of the Northern Khanty and Mansi have been analyzed. By the shape of the crown and some additional details, four helmet types were identified, which, by the way of analogy, were designated as malakhai (a fur cap), helmet, bashlyk (a hood), and ear-flapped cap. For each type, its specifics and territory of its common use were determined. It has been found that malakhai is characteristic of the Severnaya Sosva Mansi, while ear-flapped cap of the Kazym Khanty. The other types and variants are distributed at the borders of their settlement and among other groups. The existence of several types of helmets, their variability and local distribution suggest the loss by some groups of the tradition of cutting, but preserving the tradition of manufacture. As the result, one form of the headdresses was replaced by others, probably related to new social images. It has been ascertained that the identified types of the helmet cutting have no comparable counterparts among the traditional headdresses of Khanty and Mansi. In the meantime, helmet of the malakhai type bears resemblance to the headdresses (malakhais) of the Turkic peoples of Siberia, Central Asia, and the European part of Russia. The headdresses of a similar form were used among the neighboring in the past Bashkirs, as well as the Kazakhs living alongside with the Bashkirs. Among both the Bashkirs and the Kazakhs, malakhais formed a part of the costumes of the warrior and the horseman. A comparative analysis of the cutting and decorations of the Ugric, Bashkir and Kazakh malakhais shows resemblance in a series of features. This points favorably to their common origins and supports the existence of such headdresses among the Ugrs in the past. In the Ugric society, malakhais acquired a new role and became a symbol of the Heavenly Rider.

Keywords: Khant, Mansi, Ob Ugrians, Ural, Western Siberia, sacred objects, headdress, hat, helmet, malakhai, the Sky Rider.


Funding. The work was done according to the state order 121041600045-8.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 29.09.2021

Article is published: 15.12.2022


Bogordayeva A.A., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Chervishevskiy trakt, 13, Tyumen, 625008, Russian Federation, E-mail: bogordaeva@mail.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2665-4833