About this collection

Well-wishes, or yoryal, are considered to be one of the most popular genres in Kalmyk ritual folklore. Like traditional praises (magtal) and incantations (tarni), they have an ancient origin and are closely connected with a belief in the magical power of uttered words.

Yoryals are expressions of warm feelings nourished by the utterer. They are uttered during celebrations, rituals and other important events. It is believed that the age of the utterer correlates with the power of the yoryal - the older the utterer, the more powerful the yoryal is. The Kalmyks start every important deed with a yoryal, be it a tea drinking ceremony, or before setting out on a journey, or while receiving guests, during present-giving ceremonies, name-giving ceremonies, weddings, funerals and national holidays.

Praises, or magtal, also belong to a genre of ancient poetry connected with magical rituals. Magtals have been uttered or sung to mythical heroes, clan ancestors, famous people and geological morphologies, such as mountains and hills. Examples of the latter are the 'Praise to the Altai Mountains' (Altain magtal) and the 'Praise to the Bogd Mountain' (Bogd uulyn magtal).

Tarni incantations are usually whispered. Some incantations consist of only spells, others have a performative side to them as well. In the latter case, the utterer of a tarni is supposed to perform both parts correctly for the incantation to have an effect.

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