Pokatilova N. On the Typological Discovery of “Oral Tradition”: The First Expedition of the Academic Institute of Language and Culture of the Sovnarcom of the Yakut ASSR

Nadezhda Pokatilova
Institute for Humanities and the Indigenous Peoples of the North
of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences 
Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0002-2869-1400
E-mail: pnv_ysu@mail.ru


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ABSTRACT. The data collected by the first expedition of the Academic Institute of Language and Culture around Viliui regions, conducted by A. A. Savvin along with S.I. Bolo in the rigors of the purges of 1937–1938, include records of the unique folklore tradition in its “living” presence. For a long time, the manuscripts of the Viliui and Northern expeditions were considered to have had a primarily ethnographic focus. Even now the folklore scope of this research is unclear and the entries on folklore have not been published in full. A. A. Savvin’s actualization of the systemic conceptions of folklore as a continuity closely related to the shamanic ritual and at the same time having special formula-mnemonic mechanisms of functioning, and his ideas of the interrelation between verbal and nonverbal forms of traditional culture, and that between storytelling performance and shamanic practice―all these point to his pioneer position in the field. Retention and conservation of the most archaic texts and genres of the tradition within the Viliui Region, and as a consequence, demarcation of the “old” and the “new” within this tradition, presence of elements of internal “self-description” of the tradition, and documentation of specific forms of poetic diction defined the original characteristics of the “Viliui” variant of the Yakut oral tradition. All of this determined the research merits of the expedition project led by A. A. Savvin and the cultural artefacts it collected, which pioneer the first systemic “discovery” of the oral tradition in the Sakha Region.


KEYWORDS: oral tradition, culture, oral culture, folklore studies in the field, research approach, poetic diction, archaic texts in oral tradition, Institute of Language and Culture


DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2021-1(11)-105-117
УДК 398



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