About this collection
Families perform funerary rites in different ways, but the rites themselves have gone through significant changes in the past century alone. Many rites have been forgotten, simplified or secularised during the Soviet period.
Kalmyks, especially older people, prepare for their own funerals. Apart from keeping a clean white cloth, men store clean shirts and women headscarves in which they wish to be buried. That said, people try not to overdo preparations so as not to hasten their departure. When someone dies, the relatives of the deceased usually go to a temple to see a monk or an astrologer with whom they consult about the funeral. After that, the deceased is cleaned with a wet cloth by his/her close relatives or neighbours. The eyes are closed, and sometimes a white coin is placed on each eye socket. The mouth can also be covered with a handkerchief. The deceased is then dressed in clean clothes, or sometimes left in the ones they died in, but with the buttons undone, the belt unfastened and the shoes unlaced. It is also possible to put inside the coffin a walking stick, glasses and other things that the deceased used in life. Afterwards, the corpse is covered with a white cloth and a candle or light is placed by the head of the deceased for 49 days to illuminate their perilous journey into the afterworld.