« 2020. № 5 (155)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2020. № 5 (155), 1051—1063

UDK 393:133.4(477.85/.87) (=1.23)




  • Post-graduate student of archeology and ethnology department
  • Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpatian National University,
  • Shevchenko street, 57, 76018, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine,
  • Contacts: e-mail:

Abstract. Today’s variable involvement in magic activities of the body and the possessions of the deceased in Hutsul ethnolocal tradition, and the absence of special research in this sphere determine the scientific importance of the investigation. The goal of the article is to trace and to analyze different Hutsul household magic practices that are based on the usage of a dead human body and the things that touched it became a medium of its physical characteristics. The object of the research is traditional magic rites of the inhabitants of Hutsulshchyna; and the subject is the usage of the body of the deceased and its substitutes in contagious and imitative magic. The investigations is based on well-known methodology in ethnological science: typological, structural-functional, comparative.

Household magic activities, in which properties of the body of the deceased and its substitutes are used, are examined on the basis of ethnographic descriptions of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, and modern field case study from Hutsulshchyna area and foreign ethnic locations. Depending on the actional and meaningful impacts of this or that rite, all such activities are based on contagious and, in certain cases, imitative magic; sometimes on their combined action. A superficial study of the problem revealed an ambivalent nature of the body of the deceased: on the one hand, its physical parts, as well as things that were in contact with it, produce harm; but on the other hand, positively solve certain situational household problems. However, dual, according to a modern moral-ethical perception, abilities of the body of the deceased are only conditional, since every magic rite is realized on a common sense basis due to retranslation of physical features of a dead human or their derivative mental and physical states: lifelessness, death, sickness, inadequacy, solidity, indifference, drowsiness, staticity, blindness, mutism, semantics of end, ending.

Within the research we denied the thesis stating that the supernatural features genesis of the substitutes of a deceased is a functional characteristic of an ancestry cult, since we consider magical abilities of these things to be a result of thinking and household contemplation of people that discovered in the deceased accordant physical features and began to transfer them by analogy to things and processes of the surrounding world.

Keywords: Hutsulshchyna, Hutsuls, magic, dead body, substitutes of a deceased.

Received 3.08.2020


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