Advances in Anthropology
2013. Vol.3, No.4, 203-209
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access 203
Paleoasians in the Ethnogenesis of the Yakuts (on Mythology
Data of the Yakut Ethnical Community of the Khoro)
Bulat R. Zoriktuev
Department of Central Asian History and Culture, Institute of Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies,
Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ulan-Ude, Russian
Received July 10th, 2013; revised August 12th, 2013; accepted September 9th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Bulat R. Zoriktuev. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
The article is devoted to the results of the study of an old but not solved up to now problem in the Yakut
ethnography concerning the origin of a big ethnical group Khoro which is one of the main units in the
ethnical composition of the Yakuts living in the North of Siberia. The problem is urgent for its being un-
solved does not make it possible to create an integral picture of the formation of the Yakut people. Most
researchers think that the original motherland of the Khorolors (the plural of “Khoro”) was on the western
side of the Baikal in Bargujin-Tokum1, where they were a part of a Buryat tribal community of the Khori
living now in Transbaikalia. In 1207 during the conquest of Bargujin-Tokum by Chinggis-khan’s troops a
part of the Khori tribe escaping from the Mongols fled to the Middle Lena and never came back to the
Baikal. When identifying both the groups only the resemblance of the names Khoro and Khori was taken
into account which could not provide an exact result. Meanwhile the Khorolors cults of the Raven and the
Eagle and associated with them “raven” and “eagle” myths and the same, typologically similar myths
about the totemic forefathers mentioned above among the Paleoasians of the North-East Asia and North-
American Indians make it clear that the Khorolors of Yakutia are of paleoasian origin. The Khorolors be-
longed to the southern branch of the Paleoasians and they resided in the lower Amur where there was
their motherland Khoro sire. In a number of early Chinese and Korean chronicles this locality is called
Kori. It is just there that one can find the sources for the ethnogenesis of the Koreans in which the north-
ern Paleoasian component took a noticeable part. Supposedly at the end of the I millennium A.D., the
Khorolors from the Lower Amur migrated to the North and permanently settled in the land of Yakutia.
This is an evidence of the fact that in the ethnogenesis of the Yakuts the Paleoasian ethnical layer played a
considerable part in addition to the ancient Tiurk substratum.
Keywords: Khorolors; Cults of the Raven and Eagle; Paleoasians; The Country of Khoro Sire; The Lower
Amur; Yakutia
The Yakut people consist of the three large ethnic groups who
were headed in accordance with the folklore data by Omogoi,
Ellei and Uluu Khoro. Omogoi and Ellei are thought to person-
ify the Turkic clans and tribes that created the kernel of the
Yakut ethnos on the banks of the Middle Lena. There is a
viewpoint that Uluu Khoro personified the arrival from the Bai-
kal in the Middle Lena area of a big Mongolian-speaking com-
munity of the Khoro people. The Buryat scholars advanced an
idea that in 1207 there was an intrusion of the troops headed by
Joci and sent by Chinggis khan in the Baikal territory. A certain
part of the ancestors of modern Khori-Buryats who did not
want to surrender the Mongols escaped to the Middle Lena.
Since they have been living there and are known as Khorolors
(Rumyantsev, 1962: p. 144). In the historic chronicles on Ya-
kuts the Khorolors are also identified as the Khori people of
Bargujin-Tokum but their arrival in Yakutia is not associated
with the Mongolian conquests. According to one of the ver-
sions they arrived there before the I-II millennium BC, whereas
according to the second one they arrived in the XVI century
when the Middle Lena had already been inhabited by the de-
scendents of Omogoi and Ellei (Bagdaryyn, 2004: p. 19; The
history of the Yakut ASSR, 1995: p. 359). The folklore and eth-
nographical material concerning the Khorolors proper have not
been well elucidated in the scientific literature. However one
should note that the material mentioned allows for a new ap-
proach to the problem of the origin of Khorolors and new solu-
tions. I am convinced that the assumption of the Khori people
having left Bargujin-Tokum for the North is not correct. This
particularly concerns the hypothesis put forward by the Buryat
scholars. If the Khori folk had been fully beaten by Mongols at
the Baikal and left downwards along the Lena river, the event
would have necessarily been mentioned in written sources. But
such information is lacking because at the beginning of the XIII
century the military actions of the Mongols to conquer forest
peoples were aimed at the Sayans and Altai (Zoriktuev, 2000:
1Note: In the middle ages the territory on both the sides of lake Baikal was
called Bargujin-Tokum. On the eastern side of the lake it em
raced the
valleys of the Bargujin and Uda rivers, on the western side—the Upper
Angara and the Upper Lena (Zoriktuev, 1993: pp. 175-179).
pp. 119-127).
One should not think that the echo of the events taking place
in the Mongolian steppes in the XIII century could not have
reached Yakutia. One of the legends of Ellei narrates how he
and his father Tatar-Taima with great difficulties ran past the
Baikal and further down along the Lena river escaping from the
great battle that burst out in the cradle of the Moguol’s tribe
when Chyngys Khaan was on the throne and which shook the
whole world (AYaSC. Inv. No. 14. F. 35. Sh. 37 - 45). The le-
gends of Khorolors depict quite a different cycle of stories.
They narrate how an old man by name of Uluu Khoro arrived in
the Middle Lena on back of a quick bull together with a lot of
people and cattle. The newcomers spoke quite a different bi-
zarre language which resembled the twitter of birds (khoro tyla).
The khorolors said that their cradle land was called Khoro sire
which meant “the land of Khoro”. It was far in the South in a
warm land of eternal summer where the coming birds spent
winter (Bolo, 1938: p. 14). In the tales there is no evidence that
Uluu Khoro came to Yakuts escaping from war. Therefore one
cannot identify the Khorolors and the Bargujin-Tokum Khoris
and think that they appeared in Yakutia driven by the Mongols’
intrusion to the Baikal. This conclusion well agrees with all the
existing data.
The Khorolor legends despite their being scanty help clarify
the issue of the location of the Khoro sire country. They think
that mentioned under this name was not Bargujin-Tokum which
was well known among the surrounding peoples but a different
place. It differed not only from the Middle Lena but from the
region of the Baikal as well by its natural and climatic condi-
tions. Besides, the population inhabiting that place had the lan-
guage and culture quite different from those of Yakuts and
Buryat Khoris. Of the similar opinion concerning the Khoro-
lor’s problem was one of the founders of the contemporary his-
torical science of Yakutia who was well aware of the Yakut and
Buryat ethnography G. V. Xenofontov. He wrote: “The Kho-
rolor kins are of interest because they seem to have been form-
ed up of the parts of some alien tribe which got mixed with the
Yakuts. Most of yakutologists normally ascribe them to the
Buryat Khoris on the basis of similarity of the names but this
opinion is not well grounded” (AYaSC. Inv. No. 1. F. 20. Sh.
427). The above-mentioned means that at present the problem
of the origin of khorolors becomes more acute. The integrated
picture of the formation of the Yakut people depends on its so-
Results: The Raven and the Eagle in the
Khorolor Mythology
G. V. Xenofontov’s conclusion of the incorrect identification
of the Khorolors with the Khori people has been supported by
the field and archives materials on the mythology and ethnog-
raphy of the Khorolors collected by me in the Republic of Sak-
ha (Yakutia) in 1987. I think it proper to once again call one’s
attention to the fact that this material which has never been
used by any scholar before makes it possible to elucidate the
problem of the ethnogenesis of the Khorolors with the highest
degree of authenticity and reliability. First of all one must state
that in all the variants of the legends the head of the Khorolors
is called Uluu Khoro. Khordoi-Khoyogos who is sometimes ta-
ken as the ancestor of the Buryat Khoris, namely Khoridoi Mer-
gen (Mikhailov, 1990: p. 17) was in fact a son of Ellei who did
not have any relation to Khorolors (The history of the Yakut
ASSR, 1995: p. 335). According to informant N. D. Burtsev the
Khorolor community of the Borogonski ulus of the Ust’-Aldan
district of the Yakutia consists of the kins of Khoro, Byrdia and
Torbos which break into the branches of Ulakhaan Aiyylaakh,
Achchygyi aiyylaakh, Orloob, Chyraanai, Sollat, Chekchekeen
(The author’s field materials. Informant N. D. Burtsev, born in
1917, the settlement of Borogontsy. Sept. 1987). It is hard to
judge by one local group of the ethnic composition of all the
Khorolors. But the absence of at least one name reminding of
the name of the kins of the Buryat Khorolors among the terms
listed above does not seem to be accidental.
The participant of the first academic expedition in Siberia Ya.
I. Lindenau was in Yakutia at the beginning of the 40-s of the
XVIII century. He noted that the Khoro kins mainly worship-
ped the raven (Lindenau 1983: 18). His observation is support-
ed by the presence in the Khorolor folklore of a well-developed
“raven” theme in which the Raven is always presented as a
common Khorolor personage and not a hero of certain ethnic
groups. In the myths written down in various districts of Ya-
kutia it is said that the Raven was always hungry and ate what-
ever he could find. For this he was punished and put down from
the Sky to this (i.e. Yakut-B. Z.) land. In some variants of the
myths it is said that the Raven brought a flint with a tinder-box
to a suffering woman who was giving birth to a child, she was
almost dying, cold and hungry in a desolate place. She made
fire and herself and the baby remained alive. Her son became
the progenitor or forefather of the Khorolors. Therefore they
said of the Raven: “Our Lord the grandfather knows the un-
known, sees the invisible”. The main subject matter of most of
the myths is the narrative of how the ancestor of the Khorolors
during natural calamity (flood) or accident broke his leg and lay
in a desolate place dying from hunger and cold. All of a sudden
a raven flew up and brought him a tinder-box with a fire stone.
The man-made fire remained alive. Since then the Khorolors
began to worship the Raven and call him: “Our grandfather”,
“Our deity”, “Our ancestor”. When a raven flew up to a dwell-
ing a daughter-in-law of the Khorolor clan having put on her
best clothes came out to meet him. She pressed her hands against
her bosom and kneeling bowed to the bird. The Khorolors be-
lieved that the Raven could take a revenge for non-respect.
Therefore it was prohibited to bother the bird, ruin his nest,
trample his quills lying on the ground. Killing of a raven was
regarded as the worst sin (AYaSC. Inv. No. 1. F. 20. Sh. 129;
Inv. No. 1. F. 54, Sh. 1; Inv. No. 12. F. 69. Sh. 49 - 50 r., 68,
109 - 109 r.; Inv. No. 3. F. 652. Sh. 10).
The same typologically similar plots and motives are found
in the myths of the Paleoasians of North-East Asia (Chukchi,
Koryaks, Itelmen) and Indians of the North-Western coast of
North America (Tlinkits, Khaida, etc.) which evidences of the
common roots of the mythological semantics of the image of
the Raven with the Yakut Khorolors and the peoples just men-
tioned above. At the same time the “Raven” fragments in the
traditional culture of the Khorolors reveal all the illusions re-
lating to the hypothesis of their Mongolian origin and identifi-
cation with the Khori people living in the vicinity of the Baikal.
The latter had never had the cult of the Raven. The supposition
of their having left for the Middle Lena and their starting to
worship the Raven following somebody’s example would be
quite wrong for there was no one in Yakutia from whom they
might have borrowed the myths of the Raven in the form they
were spread among the Khorolors. In the mythology of the
Yakuts proper there are a few tales of the Raven but they were
Open Access
borrowed from the peoples of Kamchatka and Chukotka and
were not widely spread (Ergis, 1974: p. 129). From those tales
it is only known that the Raven was a grandson (in some myths
—a son) of Uluu Toyon—a mythological head of evil spirits of
the upper world abaasy, from whom he got the fire and gave it
to people (AYaSC. Inv. No. 3. F. 652, Sh. 10). From the above
example it is seen that the “raven” motives in Yakutia proper
are imperfect as compared with those of the Khorolors. This
evidences of the fact that the mythological cycle of the Raven
with all its diversity of themes not much worse than those of
the Paleoasian cycle was brought to Yakutia by the Khorolors
The incorrectness of the hypothesis of the Mongol origin of
the Khorolors is illustrated by some other materials. Excavated
in 1920 by archeologist Ye. D. Strelov on the ridge of the
mountain Lysaya between the Khorinsk and Atlasov folds to
the South-West of Yakutsk were two Khorolor burial places in
which buried were two women. The degree of conservation of
the corpses and their clothes and other things was very good
owing to the permafrost. The clothes belong to the middle of
the XVIII century judging by the coins and fishes found in the
graves. Painter M. M. Nosov skilfully made drawings in color
(Figures 1 and 2). One of the clothes was sewn of broad cloth,
the other one of thick rovduga, they looked like the costumes of
the Evenks (Historical and ethnographic atlas 1961: Table 13
Figure 1.
The clothes of the Khorolors richly decorated with braids of leather with a
through pattern (Soviet Ethnography, 1936, No. 2-3).
Figure 2.
Upper clothes of the Khorolors made of rovduga (Soviet Ethnography,
1936, No. 2-3).
(1), 252; Table VI (6), 309) and they have not anything in com-
mon with the traditional clothes of the Mongol peoples, in par-
ticular with the Khori Buryats (Figure 3).
These seem to have been the last patterns of the genuine
Khorolor clothes which by the time had got out of use almost
completely. No other clothes of the kind have been found on
the territiory of Yakutia. According to Ye. D. Strelov this kind
of clothes was substituted for by the Yakut ones because in the
North the clothes of the Khorolors who came from the South
proved to be quite unadapted to the local climate (Strelov, 1936:
pp. 75, 89-99).
If the analysis of all the sources shows the incorrectness of
the existing views on the problem of ethnic identification of the
Yakutsk Khorolors, then who are they by their origin after all?
The material on their “raven” mythology given by me is identi-
cal to the one found in the myths of the Paleoasians and North-
American Indians. This clearly evidences of the common eth-
nical roots of the Khorolors and all those peoples mentioned
above. In the Paleoasian and North-American folklore the Ra-
ven is presented in a few hypostases, one of them being that of
a powerful shaman. One might think that genetically connected
with that hypostasis of the Shaman-Raven is the image of the
ancestor of the Khorolors Uluu Khoro who was, as legends put
it, a descendent of renowned shamans. Therefore the most po-
werful shamans in Yakutia were formerly thought to be those of
the Khorolors. G. V. Xenofontov wrote that at the beginning of
the XX century in the Western-Kangalas ulus near the Kuraana-
kh-kyuel there was a peculiar clan of the Khoro. It was headed
by shaman Khoro-Byukteen. He had nine sons and eight dau-
ghters who all became eminent he- and she-shamans afterwards
(AYaSC. Inv. No. 12. F. 69. Sh. 49 - 49 r.).
The Raven in view of Paleoasians initially lived in the Sky
(Jochelson 1908: 82). In a number of myths he is represented as
a partner of the Supreme celestial deity of Paleoasians. The off-
springs of the deity are the cloud people with whom the Raven
is connected through his children (Meletinski, 1979: p. 71). I
assume the myths about the cloud people in the Paleoasian
folklore to be genetically connected with the myth of the dau-
ghters of the clouds which was spread among the Khorolors of
the Ust’-Aldan district, not to mention all the Yakut Khorolors.
I would like to quote my informant M. V. Pukhova with whom
I worked in 1987: “In the Ust’-Aldan district there are two
small lakes with the common name of Nyokyunyu. Near one of
Figure 3.
Upper clothes of the Khori Buryats.
Open Access 205
them there is quite a big hill. When we were small the adults
did not allow us to climb it and play on top of it. They told us
that on top of the hill there had once lived the daughters of the
clouds—“bylyt kyrgyttara”. Nobody told us what they looked
like and whom they resembled. The old people said that the
clouds’ daughters took from the people their small children to
nurse. Those children did not suffer from any diseases and did
not die. In some time the clouds’ daughters flew up to the sky
and were never back” (The author’s field materials. Informant
M. V. Pukhova, born in 1926, the settlement of Borogontsy.
Sept. 1987).
The Paleoasians of the Chukotsk-Kamchatsk group at the
early stages of their development recognized the Raven to be
not only the demiurge, cultural hero and shaman but also a
totemic forefather. S. P. Krasheninnikov wrote of that hyposta-
sis of the Raven: “The Kamchadals worship a certain Kutkhu
(i.e. the Raven—B. Z.) as their deity from whom came their
people” (Krasheninnikov, 1949: p. 406). V. Jochelson noted that
the Koryaks of the western coast of the Penjinsk bay called the
Raven as Achichenyaku which means “Big Grandfather” (Jo-
chelson, 1908: p. 17). The name is closely connected with the
cult of appapil’ (in Koryak: “grandfather”) which occupies one
of the central places in the mythological ideas of the Koryaks
who are direct ancestors of the family or community endowed
with the shaman gift and who protect their descendents. They
called him Big grandfather because with the Koryaks the Raven
was taken to be not only a family or community ancestor but an
all-tribal ancestor as it is with all the Paleoasians. Now let us
recollect that the Yakut Khorolors taking the Raven in their
myths as the all-Khorolor personage also called him “Our Lord
the grandfather”. This enables us to state that the Raven was a
totemic ancestor of not only that part of the Khorolor ethnos
that takes its origin from him directly but of all the Khorolors.
Another part of the Khorolors thought the Eagle (Khotoi) to
be their forefather who flew to them from the country of Khoro
sire as the Raven too. The Buryat Khori did not have the cult of
the Eagle. One should note that the Eagle in contrast to the
Raven is represented in one hypostasis of the ancestor. This is
evidenced by the tradition of taking his name as a taboo: Khotoi
was substituted for by khoro. In this connection V. M. Ionov
wrote that instead of khotoi тöрÿттäх (“descending from the
eagle”) they say khoro тöрÿттäх (“descending from the kho-
ro”), khoro is used instead of khotoi for the sake of precaution
kharystan (protecting as the Yakuts say) (Ionov, 1913: pp. 2-3).
The “Eagle” clans like those of the “Raven” created the
myths of their forefather the Eagle but their contribution to the
Khorolor folklore is not great. This is accounted for by a big
predominance in the ethnical composition of the Khorolors of
those who were originated from the Raven. One of such myths
was written down from V. M. Ionov. Once in spring a woman
on horseback was coming back from Aldan to the river Tattu.
Her horse and herself were hungry, they were dead tired and
quite exhausted. All of a sudden she saw a wood grouse falling
down from above and not far off an eagle that was perching on
a tree. The woman understood that the eagle knocked down in
flight the wood grouse just for her. She bowed three times be-
fore him and said: “Eagle, the lord grandfather! May it be your
joyful meeting prepared by you to save me for you know that I
am walking quite tired along the mistress-road with eight win-
dings!” (Ionov, 1913: pp. 11-13).
In this myth one should take note of the address to the Eagle
in the same way as to the Raven: “Lord the grandfather” which
is associated with the Koryak cult appapil’. This confirms the
conclusion of the Eagle being a totemic forefather of a part of
the Khorolors. In a broader context this form of address is an-
other unquestionable argument in favor of the Paleoasian origin
of the whole of the Khorolor community and at the same time a
most convincing argument not in favor of the hypothesis of the
identity of the Khorolors and the Buryat Khoris. With the latter
the whole tribal mythology is reduced to one myth of the hunter
by name of Khoridoi-mergen whose marriage with the swan-
bird on the lakeside who turned into a girl helped initiate the
formation of the eleven Khori clans. This myth in its structure
and content sharply contrasts with the “Raven” and the “Eagle”
Khorolor myths which are undoubtedly the reflection of a dif-
ferent world outlook and world view of the Khorolors and the
Khoris and, which is most important, of their quite different
The eagle cult is vividly displayed in the ritual connected
with the death of the bird sacred for the Khorolors. In the late
1930s, a prominent collector of the Yakut folklore A. A. Savvin
left the following note. An old eagle before his death flies to a
dwelling. When he dies, the people sacrifie a heifer to him.
They put a piece of the heart to his beak, wrap up the body in
bark and put it in the embranchment of a tree. They orient the
eagle’s beak in the South and utter the following words: “The
lord our grandfather, we raised your remains, put your copper
bones on the arangas”. If the man does not fulfil the eagle’s
wish to be buried like this, then he and his family are to fall ill
with acute rheumatism of joints, lose the ability to move and
often die in terrible pain (AYaSC. Inv. No. 12. F. 69. Sh. 26, 32
- 35).
With the Indians of North-West America the Raven at one
and the same time was not only an all-tribal but also a fratrial
ancestor. The Raven was another fratrial ancestor. This opposi-
tion remains up to now. Since common ethnical components
were presented in the formation of Paleoasians and Na-dene-
speaking Indians of America one can state that the fratrial ar-
rangement of the tribe was typical for the Khorolors too. The
fact that a part of the Khorolors worshipped the Raven whereas
the other one worshipped the Eagle as the totemic forefather is
a good evidence of their being one tribal community by the
time of their arrival in the Middle Lena comprising both the
groups of the Raven and the Eagle. The domination of the “Ra-
ven’s” fraternity as with the American Indians is accounted for
by the historical asymmetry in favor of the Raven. The subse-
quent settlement of the Khorolors almost throughout Yakutia
weakened and broke the relations between those fraternal groups
as well as among certain groups within each of them. Therefore
small parts of the once integrated ethnical formation in the new
territories of inhabitation obtained a common name of the Kho-
ro. In the majority of the districts it led to the loss o f the clan
names. The exclusions were some compact groups of the Kho-
rolors in Central Yakutia (a bright illustration to it: the Khorol-
ors of the Ust’-Aldan district) who preserved their former clan
name as well as their interclan division.
Discussion: Paleoasian Origin of the Khorolors
Since the Khorolors are genetically connected with the Pal-
easians one can assume that they came from the North-West of
Asia. But almost in all the legends there persists an idea of the
arrival of the Khorolors from a warm Southern land. According
to the direction of their movement to the North and their sub-
Open Access
sequent settling in Yakutia one might assume that they had for-
merly lived in the undercurrent of the Amur. Probably there was
a country Khoro sire from where the old man Uluu Khoro ar-
rived in the Middle Lena. The legends make it clear that having
crossed the rivers Aldan, Amga and Tatta in the South-East of
Yakutia he settled first in the locality of Myuryu belonging at
present to the Borogon ulus but was driven from there by Bert
Khara who had been living there since long ago. Then Uluu
Khoro settled on the Western bank of the Lena (where the city
of Yakutsk is situated now) from where later on his descendents
under the pressure of the Kangalassk head Tygyn went deeper
to the West and occupied some lands for permanent inhabita-
tion in the Upper-Vilyui and Suntar uluses (AYaSC. Inv. No. 3.
F. 76. Sh. 19 - 19 r.).
In good agreement with the Khorolor legends is the scientific
viewpoint at present revealing that of great importance in the
genesis of the Paleoasians were the western (from the continen-
tal areas of Siberia) and southern (from the areas in the Lower
Amur and Primoriye) sources (Meletinski, 1979: p. 13; The
history of the Koryaks, 1993: p. 16). The Khorolors were as-
sumed to be a part of the southern Paleoasian branch. In favor
of this assumption is the fact that to the south of the city Kha-
barovsk in the lower current of the Ussuri there are the topo-
nyms like Khor which are to my mind the markers of the habi-
tat of ancient ancestors of the Khorolors. This idea is probably
supported by vague information in a number of early Chinese
and Korean chronicles (Vei lyue, Lyan shu, Lun’khen, Bei shi,
etc.) of there being “a barbarian state” to the north-east of the
Chinese estates, one of the names of which was Kori [Jaryl-
gasinova 1972: pp. 62, 89-96]. This “state” of Kori is perhaps
that very country Khoro sire where the Khorolors had been
living before they left and after some wandering found them-
selves in Yakutia (AYaSC. Inv. No. 1. F. 20. Sh. 254 - 256).
Generally acknowledged in the Korean studies is the view
that in the ethnogenesis of the Koreans of great importance was
a Northern Paleoasian component (Jarylgasinova, 1972: p. 176;
Vorob’yov, 1994: pp. 158-166). There is an opinion that one of
the ancestors of the Koreans by name of Tonmyon having left
the locality which is in a number of sources called Kori and
having reached the area of Puyo became the progenitor of the
people of the same name. His successor became Chumon who
left Puyo, went far into the Korean peninsula and became the
forefather of the people Koguryo that had formerly got sepa-
rated from Puyo. It is assumed that the myths of those heroes
reflect the two stages of the ethnical history of the closely-re-
lated peoples of the Puyo and Koguryo. The myths depict the
reminiscences of the migration of their ancestors from the
North to the Southern territories (Jarylgasinova, 1972: p. 92).
There are a few dates of migration of Chumon from Puyo to
the South as given by scholars. Most reliable among them is the
one given by N. Ya. Bichurin in his commentary to “Bei shi”.
He writes: “Chjumyn (Chumon—B. Z.) founded a kingdom
Gaoli (Koguryo—B. Z.) in the half of the third century B.C. [It
should be: before B.C. —B. Z.]” (Bichurin, 1950: p. 50). Ac-
cording to the sources Chumon came to Koguryo not alone but
with his two companions whose names were Oyin and Ovi. It is
noteworthy that in “Vei shu” when giving the names of Chu-
mon’s companions the first syllable in them was written as the
hieroglyf o (Chinese u) which means “raven” (Jarylgasinova
1972: 96). Chumon’s companions as well as himself and his
consanguinity predecessor Tonmyon are most likely the per-
sonification of ethnic groups of Paleoasians who worshipped
the Raven and came from Kori to Puyo and further to Koguryo.
This is also substantiated by the fact that in Koguryo the image
of the Raven, the main deity of the Paleoasians, was not only
forgotten but was further developed having obtained important
additional functions. With the Koguryo people the Sun whose
cult was one of the most important was depicted on the tombs
of their chieftain in the form of a three-pawed Raven (Jaryl-
gasinova, 1972: p. 165). Taking into account the whole material
given one might suppose that the ethnical groups of Paleoasians
whose forefathers were Tonmyon and Chumon who joined the
Koreans represented in fact parts of the Khorolor ethnos living
on the banks of the Lower Amur in the area of the Kori. It fol-
lows that since the chief forefathers of the Koreans Tonmyon
and Chumon were Paleoasian Khorolors then the name of their
ancient motherland Kori underlies the name of the people
Koguryo (Koryo) who united within the borders of a state of
the same name the population of the Korean peninsula. There
are some other hypotheses, e.g. that the ethnonym koguryo ori-
ginated from an Old Korean word kuru—“town, city”, a nanai
word golo—“estate”, an evenk word karko—“bear”, etc. But
they are unconvincing in view of their being quite groundless
and lack of distinct argumentation.
It is appropriate give here the results of the latest studies of
geneticists. They evidenced that 70% - 80% of the variants of
mitochondrial DNA of Koreans bear resemblance to the popu-
lation of North-East Asia whereas 20% - 30% to the population
of South China and South-East Asia (Pan Min Kyu & Bakhol-
dina 2008: p. 158). The first figure that cannot be taken as quite
unexpected well correlates with the subject of the present arti-
cle. It does confirm the opinion just advanced by me that the
ancestors of Paleoasians and Koreans residing more to the
South and North of the present inhabitation area of their de-
scendants presented once a unified ethnos, with a part of it,
namely that of the Khorolors, inhabiting the Amur lower rea-
ches. The material at our disposal evidences of the fact that
from among the Paleoasians the most noticeable part in the eth-
nogenesis and even politogenesis of Koreans was played by the
Khoro community. Therefore one can extrapolate the results of
the mitochondrial DNA of Koreans studies just to this Khoro
community. Thus one might say with full confidence that in the
ethnogenetical aspect the Koreans (the Koguryos) are close
both to the peoples of North-East Asia on the whole and to the
Yakut Khorolors, being closer to a greater extent just to the
All that is given above can imply that in the last centuries BC
the ancestors of the Khorolors under the name of the Khoro
resided in the Lower Čis-Amuriye. Departure of a part of them
to the North to Yakutia, the other part’s joining the Korean peo-
ple evidences of the fact that it was a big Paleoasian ethnos
with all the main components of ethnic culture. In my view, the
exotic and incomprehensible to the Yakuts Khorolor language
(khoro tyla) was an ancient Paleoasian language that together
with its native speakers had been functioning for some time in
the area of the Middle Lena. This might be said of the Khorolor
clothes too that were excavated by archaeologist Ye. D. Strel-
kov. The patterns discovered by him are hard to identify for
they differ from all known traditional clothes of the Siberian
peoples. One might suppose that they represent the elements of
an ancient Paleoasian costume used by the Khorolors on the
Lower Amur before their move to Yakutia. This loose jacket
opening down the back is most close to the Evenks’ clothes.
That’s not surprising for relying on the elegant conception by
Open Access 207
Yu. B. Simchenko on the ethnogenesis of the ancient hunters
for wild deer of the North Euroasia one can assume that an an-
cient tungus component played a considerable role in the for-
mation of the ancestors of the Paleoasions (Simchenko, 1976: p.
39). One could suggest that the buried people had the funeral
clothes on which owing to the special functional setting could
have kept for so long, up to the middle of the XVIII century and
remained in the ethnical culture of the Khorolors. Initially this
kind of clothes might have been used in everyday life. But on
the arrival of the Khorolors in Yakutia when the traditional
clothes passed out of use due to their being not adapted to the
severe climate some of its elements were used in the ritual bur-
ial clothes.
It goes without saying that in the Priamuriye the Khorolors
had many similar features with the local population in everyday
life and culture. In particular, the Khorolors were also engaged
in breeding and using the bull as draught and transport animal.
This animal as with many other East-Asian peoples was intro-
duced in the system of their religious rites connected, for ex-
ample, with the cult of nature. Therefore it was not unusual that
according to the legends the ancestor of the Khorolors Uluu
Khoro arrived in Yakutia on the bull. The sacral meaning of the
bull persisted for a while after their move to Yakutia which is
evidenced by his being mentioned in legends along with the
Raven. In one of them it is said that in the Jabyl’sk locality of
the Meginsk ulus there lived the people of the Khoro clan. In
the old times a man from the Western Khoro Kangalas decided
to move there. In order to examine the land he crossed the river
(the Lena—B. Z.) on back of a white bull and having examined
the eastern side of the river came back home. During that trip in
the east in the Tatta land he broke his leg and lay dying with
hunger and cold. Then the Raven who flew up threw him a
tinder-box with fire stone with the help of which he made fire
and remained alive (AYaSC. Inv. No. 3. F. 652. Sh. 10).
According to a well spread view the direct ancestors of the
Chukchas, Koryaks and Itel’mens who were hunters for wild
deer appeared in the area of the northern coast of the Okhot-
skoye sea and Southern Chukotka in the middle of the I millen-
nium AD. (Arutyunov & Sergeyev, 1975: pp. 195-196). It was
there that the formation of the ethnic community of the north-
eastern Paleoasians occured. As for the Khorolors in order to
determine the time of their arrival in the Middle Lena one
should orient at the Yakut legends of the first stage of settle-
ment. Almost all of them think Omogoi to be the first settler.
There is a viewpoint that the escape of the Tiurk-speaking groups
from the Baikal down along the Lena where the formation of
the Yakut people began took place in the X-XI centuries under
the pressure of the Mongols. But recently the new data have
been discovered according to which the appearance of the first
Mongols in the western coast of the Baikal where the main bulk
of the prayakut clans lived took place supposedly at the begin-
ning of the VIII century (Zoriktuev, 2011: p. 204). This means
that at the end of the I millennium when the ancestors of the
Yakuts who had left for the Middle Lena were developing new
territories, the Khorolors arrived there from the land of Khoro
sire located in the Lower Amur and in the course of time be-
came an indispensable and important part of the Yakut people.
The analysis of the mythological and ethnographical material
of the Khorolors of Yakutia provides convincing data of the in-
correctness of the hypothesis of their common origin with the
Buryat tribal group of the Khori who reside in Transbaikaliya.
The “Raven” and the “Eagle” myths, their typological similar-
ity with the analogous myths of the North-Eastern Paleoasians
and Indians of North-West America vividly evidence of the
common ethnogenesis of the Khorolors and the peoples men-
tioned. The original motherland of the Khorolors called Khoro
sire was located in the lower course of the Amur from where
they arrived supposedly in the end of the I millennium A.D. to
the Middle Lena and became part of the Yakuts.
The problem should be further studied in two lines. It is im-
portant to deeply study the folklore and ethnography of the Ko-
reans, in particular of the Koguryo. The tracing in them of a
past Paleoasian culture will be a most convincing argument in
favor of the reliability of the hypothesis of the common origin
and common original motherland of the Koguryo and the Kho-
rolor (the “state” of Kori and the locality of Khoro sire) on the
Lower Amur. A comparative study of the Khorolor words and
expressions found in the notes and the living languages of the
North-East Paleoasians should be made on the basis of the new-
est methods. This will enable detecting in them common ele-
ments of deep structural identity which is to eventually clarify
the issue of the Paleoasian origin of the Khorolors of Yakutia.
The article is written on the basis of the folklore and ethno-
graphic material collected by me in 1987 in the Republic of
Sakha (Yakutia). I would like to convey my deep gratitude for
the help in completing the work to Ye. S. Shishigin who was
director of the Republican museum of history and nature and
prof. A. I. Gogolev, who was head of the Department for Gen-
eral History, the Yakutsk State University. Of invaluable help
to me in collecting the material were late A. L. Novgorodova,
head of the archives of the Yakutsk scientific center; F. F. Va-
sil’ev, scientific worker of the Republican museum of history
and nature; informants from the settlement of Borogontsy, Ust’-
Aldan district N. D. Burtsev and M. V. Pukhova. Their blessed
images will remain imprinted in my memory forever.
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