« 2021. # 5 (161)

The Ethnology Notebooks. 2021. № 5 (161), 1137—1149

UDK 392.34:37.018.1.03(477)

DOI https://doi.org/10.15407/nz2021.05.1137

THROWING A MILK TOOTH ON THE ROOF IN THE RITES OF THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD

RAKHNO Kostyantyn

  • ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0973-3919
  • Doctor of Sciences in History,
  • Leading Researcher of the National Museum
  • of Ukrainian Pottery in Opishne,
  • 102 Partyzanska Street, 38164, Opishne,
  • Zinkiv District, Poltava Region, Ukraine
  • Contacts: e-mail: krakhno@ukr.net

Abstract. The roof in the worldviews of different cultures is of great interest for ethnographers and folklorists. Its image is present in myths, legends, epics, fairy tales, ritual texts and more. The house was not only a material object, but also one of the key symbols of culture, so it was always in the center of attention of human experiences. Therefore, the study of its role in the rites of the life cycle is especially relevant. In those of them related to childhood, the roof was especially frequent in the rite of returning the tooth, which consisted of a certain ritual treatment of the baby tooth that fell out. Such a tooth was sent to a certain mythologized creature, mainly an animal, in order to «exchange» for another one. They did it by throwing it away. The target was often a mouse or other rodent, less often a bird, such as a crow or a magpie, endowed with the features of intermediaries between the worlds. A significant place in the rites was occupied by the exchange formula: «Take the old (bad) one and give me the new (good) one». All the details of the rite of return of the tooth were semantically significant and had much in common in distant peoples. It is the author’s goal to explore them. The object of this study is the ejection of a baby tooth in the rites of the peoples of the world, which had regional variations, and its subject is the role of the roof and its covering in these rites, which manifested itself in rites, ritual formulas and concomitant beliefs, with their ethnic and regional variations. The methodological basis of the study is the historical-comparative method in combination with the philosophical-anthropological approach and methods of hermeneutics.

The basis of this work is the descriptions of the rite of throwing a baby tooth on the roof of a house in the world, made in the 19th—20th centuries, which show their common and distinctive features, the role of roofing in modeling the future health of the child. The results of the study are that they shed light on the role of the roof in this area of childhood ethnography, the sacred significance attributed to it as the boundary between worlds and the habitat of mythologized rodents or birds to which a baby tooth was given. Various semiotic and symbolic aspects of the roof and related rituals, which were throwing the baby tooth to and over the roof, the meaning of roofing, become clear through ritual formulas and beliefs that built the future health of the baby, the emergence of healthy permanent teeth, arrival of welfare to the family.

Keywords: childhood ethnography, transition rites, house, roof, baby teeth, mythology.

Received 5.07.2021

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