English language Web site on current affairs in the biggest russian region
Topics
22:39 | Aug 10 | 2012

Osuokhay means unity

A record that will get into the Guinness Book will be set during the “Ysyakh Tuymaady”.

According to the legends of ancient Sakha, on June 21-22, during the summer solstice, a heavenly deity Yuryung Aiyy Toion gained the greatest strength and shed its grace to earthly beings.

Let’s dance until the morning!
For several centuries during exactly these days Sakha celebrate their sacred holiday Ysyakh. Today, we continue to discover the unknown meanings, details of the ancient Ysyakh and bring them into the modern Ysyakh.
The meaning of certain rituals and ceremonies often seems mysterious and marvelous. Today we'll talk about one of such rituals – osuokhay.
The Yakut osuokhay round dance symbolizes the universal unity of people, a life cycle. During this dance, the dancers move at a leisurely pace in the direction of the sun, making a kind of a cycle in time and space and give tribute to the celestial body for light and warmth, presented to the people. A master who is responsible for singing, giving praise to what is happening is present at the dance. The dance goes on continuously until the morning, sometimes large families kept osuokhay on over three days and nights. Of course, the participants are changed; it is believed that everyone who enters the circle is charged with energy for the whole year.
The culmination of the festival is a rite of sprinkling the fire, grass and trees with a traditional drink made from mare's milk – koumiss. The ritual symbolizes the birth of the universe and mankind. It is also called the “sun dance”.

On the Verge of Art and Rituals
Osuokhay bears a truly sacred significance in the culture of the Sakha, being on the verge of religious folk art and ancient rites.
A circle was the symbol of infinity, since the existence of ancient Egypt, Sumer and that was how the ancestors encrypted osuokhay to save it over the time, to convey it to us, to our time.
Until now such a factor of osuokhay as social and bio-energetic net’s beneficial effect on the participants remains undervalued and unexplored. Understanding of osuokhay as a means to combat physical inactivity in the city, especially for middle and old aged citizens is also overlooked. The study of this aspect of osuokhay was conducted by YSU professors N.E.Petrov and N.K.Shamaev. The Institute of Health also shows interest in it.
The role of osuokhay as an important lexical tutor in learning the depths of the Yakut language still remains actual. How much easier it is to learn the language in the rhythm of osuokhay, as a recitative chant, is proven by successful work of enthusiastic teachers in different uluses of the Republic, in the cities. Until recently osuokhay was held during recreation at a school in Yakutsk as a rhythmic gymnastics and a mnemonic tool for strengthening the general memory.
Thus, in our time osuokhay should become not just a domain of occasional artists but also a universal, accessible kind of folk art. It should be a fixture of festivals, giving space to fantasy, self-expression for people of all ages.

The Eve of the Revival
This year, during the “Ysyakh Tuymaady” on the sacred terrain of Us Khatyn, where the progenitor of the Sakha people held the first candid holiday of Ysyakh a record that will get into the Guinness book will be set – “The Biggest Osuokhay”. The initiators of the record are the media group “Sitim”, city council of Yakutsk and Society “Osuokhay”. The biggest osuokhay will gather under its command more than ten thousand people and will be truly one of the main cultural events of 2012.

The president of the Republic declared this year to be a year of unity and friendship among peoples. Also in 2012 Yakutia is celebrating a landmark date – 380 years of entering the Russian state by the Sakha Republic. In the light of all these celebrations, osuokhay is a reflection of the friendly, full of respect existence of many nations and cultures in the Yakut land. We can say that the ancestors of the Sakha sent their descendants a great gift – tolerant attitude towards other nations, sealed in the osuokhay dance.

Another important aim of the record is the revival of national culture. Last year a Guinness record for the khomus was set “The biggest band of khomus players”, which attracted great public interest. Khomus became a brand of the Republic along with diamonds; people feel great love and respect for this little instrument that can extract a whole range of amazing sounds. The same situation is now observed with osuokhay: osuokhay, which have lost its popularity, can be revived by the people itself who will understand that this dance identifies the people with the Republic, regardless of nationality and religion.

THERE IS SUCH A PEOPLE!

The problems and prospects of the traditional genre of art – osuokhay – discusses Angelina Lukina, professor of the Arctic State Institute of Arts and Culture, Doctor of Arts, Honored Artist of Russia:

- Osuokhay is our national treasure, which potential allows it to be among the world's masterpieces of intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. This is a unique form of traditional art, the synthesis of speech, song, dance, body movement and mime. Osuokhay was performed suring all key aspects of life by our ancestors. For example, there is credible information that there was a so-called funeral osuokhay. In addition, we cannot exclude the sacred, confessional value of osuokhay in the culture of the Sakha.
Each era influences art in its own manner. In Soviet times, the ideological direction was prevailing in osuokhay. In our age of globalization and standardization it loses variability. According to the results of historical and ethnographic studies of Maria Zhornitskaya during the 60s of the twentieth century there were more than 300 variants of osuokhay. Today, unfortunately, we cannot boast of so many variations of this type of folk art. It's no secret that the words and movements of osuokhay have seen better days.
Obviously, setting a world record in osuokhay will serve as an informative message: there is such a people, it tries to preserve its traditional culture. However, the study of osuokhay requires a scientific approach to restore and preserve its local characteristics and variability. This question is impossible to solve by the efforts of individual enthusiasts. The problem requires intervention at the state level and the hard work of historians, folklorists and ethnographers.