Elements of a Proto-Uralic religion can be recovered from reconstructions of the Proto-Uralic language.

According to linguist Ante Aikio, although "evidence of immaterial culture is very limited" in the Proto-Uralic language, "a couple of lexical items can be seen as pointing to a shamanistic system of beliefs and practices." The concept of soul dualism, which is widely attested among Uralic-speaking peoples, probably dates back to the Proto-Uralic period: the word *wajŋi (‘breath-soul') designated the soul bound to the living body, which only left it at the moment of death, whereas *eśi (or *iśi, *ićći) referred to the 'shadow-soul', believed to be able to leave the body during lifetime, as when dreaming, in a state of unconsciousness or in a shaman's spirit journey.[1]

The Indo-Iranian loanword *pi̮ŋka designated a 'psychedelic mushroom', perhaps the one used by the shaman to enter altered states of consciousness. The verb *kixi- meant both 'to court [of birds]' and 'to sing a shamanistic song', suggesting that it referred to states of both sexual and spiritual excitement. If the etymology remains uncertain, the word 'shaman' itself may be rendered as *nojta, and the shamanic practice as *jada-, although semantic variations in the daughter languages make the reconstruction debatable (cf. Erzya Mordvin jɑdɑ- 'to conjure, do magic, bewitch', East Khanty jɔːl- 'to tell fortunes, shamanize', Ket Selkup tjɑːrә- 'to curse; quarrel').[1]

Several Finno-Ugric languages have a theonym that can be derived from the Proto-Finno-Ugric word *ilma meaning sky or weather. These include Udmurt Inmar, Komi-Zyrjan Jen, Khanty Num-Ilәm and Finnish Ilmarinen. These theonyms suggest an early central Proto-Finno-Ugric sky-god.[2]

See also



  1. ^ a b Aikio 2021, pp. 47–48.
  2. ^ Frog 2012.


Further reading