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Nikolai Ubushaev, About the Akh Tsaatan and Bag Tsaatan Clans

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Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 


Nikolai explains why the Bag Tsaatan clan (i.e. Small Tsaatan) is considered senior to the Akh Tsaatan clan (i.e. Big Tsaatan): The Mayor of Lagan was a man from the Bag Tsaatan clan (i.e. Small Tsaatan). One Tersk Kalmyk named Veniamin Sergeevich from Elista, who was from the Akh Tsaatan clan (i.e. Big Tsaatan), went to Lagan. The mayor laid a table for him and invited local men to join them. At the banquet, the mayor stands up and utters a well-wish. Veniamin Sergeevich objects: ‘Why do you have to utter the first words? I should speak first. Mind you, I am from the Akh Tsaatan clan’. Puzzled, the mayor carries on his speech. Afterwards, they have a big argument as to who should say the first words, members of the Bag Tsaatan or the Akh Tsaatan clan. People also ask my opinion regarding this incident. I say: ‘People from Small Tsaatan should speak first. Why? Because Small Tsaatan is older than Big Tsaatan’ to which people become even more puzzled. Let me explain why this is the case. Small Tsaatan describe themselves as ‘true Tsaatan who have a white banner and Mongolian yellow bones’. Therefore, Small Tsaatan is an older clan than Big Tsaatan. Big Tsaatan people, by contrast, do not describe themselves as ‘true or genuine’. The white banner that Small Tsaatan talk about is Chingis Khan’s banner. The Big Tsaatan clan does not have a banner like this.



Tsaatan, division, story

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin