Mother Deities across Eurasia: A Comparison of Latvian, Vietnamese, and Mongolian Traditions

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Authors

KABELÁČOVÁ Tereza SRBA Ondřej SCHWARZ Michal

Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Description An extraordinary rich tradition of mother goddesses (mates) attested in the Latvian folklore calls for a direct comparison with its counterpart in the Vietnamese or Southeast Asian living cult of mother goddesses (th? m?u). Both geographically distant pantheons are characterized by a similarly universal coverage of all aspects of life and religiosity. Both systems are related to the economy relying on the importance of women. Modern densely populated Europe and Vietnam increased their social interactions and needs and enriched the systems by new strata where the already existing mother goddess became a general prototype for a new set of deities. We try to compare these two systems with a set of female deities in the less densely populated Mongolia with a rare continuity of spiritual approaches since the pre-collectivization period. With a highly syncretic and multilayered religion labelled as the Mongolian Buddhism and shamanic traditions, the Mongolian cultural area does not provide a selfstanding tradition of female deities, but many female deities can be found in local cults expressed through the Buddhism-shaped ritual texts and through the local oral tradition of extraordinary personal encounters with a deity, providing a structureless patchwork of deity-imageries, yet constantly reenchanted by personal experiences. On one side, the Mongolian oral tradition reveals spiritual concepts comparable to Latvia, where the pantheon of goddesses has rich structure and diversity of their specialized functional roles. On the other side, the role of mediums (with female shamans in Mongolia) is comparable to the practices in Vietnam (mostly len đ?ng rituals). Our paper focused on the context, functions, similarities and differences in three distinct traditions.
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