About this collection

Kalmyks believe that skills and gifts are inherited along one's clan lines. Hence people with unusual skills and gifts are often described using the following expressions: 'he/she is repeating his/her clan/lineage' (tokhman durajana), 'characteristics of his/her clan/lineage are showing up' (tokhmn' tachana), or 'he/she is keeping up with his/her clan/lineage' (tokhmar kookh). It is also acknowledged that various skills - for example, singing, dancing, craftsmanship, healing, etc. - do not appear immediately, but have to be taught or awakened. Sometimes inherited skills, especially those possessed by folk healers - including bone-setting, healing, fortune-telling, and interpreting dreams - have to be 'teased out' with the help of special rituals.

Objects inherited from parents, grandparents, relatives, or spiritual teachers have not only sentimental value but are also believed to possess magical and protective powers. In particular religious objects such as sutras, statues, amulets, rosaries, and healing implements are usually kept in the most sacred place in the house - on the domestic altar. People use them during special rituals and in difficult moments in life.

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