The Buryat people are an indigenous group residing in Siberia, primarily in the Republic of Buryatia within the Russian Federation. They are the largest ethnic minority in Siberia and have a rich cultural heritage that combines elements of both shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. Their mythology and religious practices encompass a diverse pantheon of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures.

Beliefs and Mythology

The Buryat people have a complex belief system that encompasses both shamanism and Buddhism. Shamanism, being the indigenous religion of the Buryat people, has a unique set of beliefs centered around the spirit world, which is divided into three realms: the upper, middle, and lower worlds. Each realm is inhabited by different spirits and entities, who may be either benevolent or malevolent.


  • Tengri: Tengri is the supreme sky god in the Buryat pantheon, representing the eternal blue sky. Tengri is a central figure in the creation myth, as well as in the daily lives of the Buryat people. As the god of the sky, Tengri is considered to be the source of life, prosperity, and fertility.

  • Ugaan: Ugaan is the god of the earth, nature, and agriculture. He is considered to be the counterpart of Tengri and is believed to be responsible for the growth of plants, animals, and humans. Ugaan is often depicted as a wise, elderly man with a long beard, dressed in green.

  • Geser: Geser is a hero-deity in Buryat mythology, who is said to have descended from the heavens to rid the earth of demons and evil spirits. He is often depicted as a warrior on a white horse, carrying a golden sword. Geser's story is recounted in an epic poem, which is considered to be one of the most important works of Buryat literature.

  • Burkhan: Burkhan is a term used to refer to the numerous local deities and spirits that are venerated by the Buryat people. These spirits are believed to inhabit natural elements, such as mountains, rivers, and forests, and are often associated with specific geographical locations.

Mythological Creatures

  • Ongon: Ongons are ancestral spirits that play a crucial role in Buryat shamanic rituals. They are believed to serve as intermediaries between the living and the spirit world, protecting and guiding their descendants.

  • Buryat Zilant: The Buryat Zilant is a serpent-like creature with the body of a dragon and the head of a bird. It is considered a protector of water sources and is often depicted guarding sacred springs and rivers.


The Buryat people have a variety of rituals and ceremonies, many of which are centered around appeasing the spirits and maintaining harmony between the human and spirit worlds.

  • Shamanic rituals: Buryat shamans, also known as boos, perform rituals to communicate with the spirit world, seeking guidance, healing, and protection for their communities. Shamanic rituals often involve offerings of food and drink, drumming, dancing, and the recitation of sacred chants.

  • Tailgan: The Tailgan ceremony is a ritual performed to honor and worship Tengri, the sky god. During the Tailgan, participants offer food and drink to Tengri, pray for blessings and protection, and raise a specially prepared ceremonial flagpole called a serge. The raising of the serge symbolizes the connection between the earthly and heavenly realms.

  • Sagaalgan: Sagaalgan is the Buryat celebration of the Lunar New Year, which usually falls between January and February. This festival marks the beginning of a new cycle and is an important time for purification and renewal. Rituals during Sagaalgan include the cleansing of homes, the preparation of traditional foods, and offerings to the spirits and deities.

  • Oboo worship: Oboos are sacred stone cairns that serve as altars for worship and offerings to the spirits and deities. Buryat people visit oboos to pray, make offerings, and perform rituals to seek blessings, protection, and guidance from the spirits.

Unique Beliefs

One of the unique beliefs of the Buryat people is the concept of the "sülde," a spiritual energy or essence that resides within every individual. The sülde is believed to be a person's life force, which can be affected by their actions, experiences, and interactions with the spirit world. Buryat shamans play a vital role in maintaining and restoring an individual's sülde through rituals, healing practices, and guidance.