The Evenki people are an indigenous group residing primarily in Siberia, Russia, as well as parts of China and Mongolia. With a rich cultural heritage, their beliefs and mythology provide a fascinating insight into the lives and values of this nomadic society.

Beliefs and Mythology

At the core of Evenki belief is a strong connection with nature, shaped by their nomadic lifestyle and reliance on hunting, fishing, and reindeer herding. Consequently, their mythology often reflects themes of reverence for the natural world and its forces. Shamanism, an ancient spiritual practice, is also central to their beliefs, with shamans serving as mediators between the human world and the spirit realm.


The Evenki pantheon is vast and varied, consisting of a myriad of gods and spirits representing various aspects of the natural world. Some of the principal deities include:

  • Buga: The supreme god and creator in Evenki mythology, Buga is associated with the sky and cosmic order. He is often portrayed as a distant figure who rarely interferes in human affairs.

  • Nishan: The second most important deity in the pantheon, Nishan is the god of the hunt and the patron of hunters. Evenki hunters seek his favor to ensure success and safety in their endeavors.

  • Achama: Goddess of fertility and childbirth, Achama is venerated by women seeking to conceive or deliver healthy children.

  • Ulu: The goddess of reindeer and domestic animals, Ulu is of particular importance to the reindeer-herding Evenki. She is believed to protect herds and promote their prosperity.

  • Ydyg Ebi: A mischievous trickster figure, Ydyg Ebi is both loved and feared by the Evenki. He is known for causing chaos and confusion, but also bestows wisdom and guidance to those who respect him.

Heroes and Mythological Creatures

Numerous heroes and mythological creatures feature prominently in Evenki folklore, each with their unique characteristics and stories:

  • Kudura: A legendary hero, Kudura is said to have defeated numerous evil spirits and performed extraordinary feats of strength and bravery.

  • Oron-ai: Half-human, half-deer creatures, the Oron-ai are believed to serve as guardians of sacred sites, as well as guides for lost travelers.

  • Yemekut: These supernatural beings are known for their shape-shifting abilities. While they often appear as humans or animals, their true form is said to be that of a half-human, half-reptile creature.

Unique Beliefs

One of the most intriguing aspects of Evenki culture is the concept of the "soul-double" or "sudur." According to this belief, each person has a spiritual twin, which resides in the otherworldly realm. The sudur's well-being is said to directly impact the individual's health and fortune. To maintain harmony between the two realms, the Evenki perform rituals and offerings to appease their sudur and ensure their continued prosperity.


Rituals form an essential part of Evenki culture, as they are used to mark important events, seek protection, or request assistance from the spiritual realm. Some common rituals include:

  • Shamanic Rituals: Performed by shamans to communicate with the spirit world, these rituals often involve the use of drums, chanting, and dancing to induce a trance-like state.

  • Hunting Rituals: Prior to embarking on a hunt, the Evenki perform rituals to seek Nishan's favor and ensure a successful expedition. Offerings, such as tobacco or food, are made to the god of the hunt, and hunters may also carry talismans or amulets for protection.

  • Birth and Naming Rituals: When a child is born, rituals are conducted to ensure the baby's health and protection. The child's name is chosen carefully, as it is believed that the name's meaning can influence the individual's character and destiny.

  • Reindeer Herding Rituals: Rituals are performed to honor Ulu, the goddess of reindeer, and to promote the prosperity and well-being of the herds. These may include offerings of food or clothing, as well as the ceremonial decoration of reindeer with colorful ribbons and ornaments.

  • Death and Funeral Rituals: The Evenki believe that the soul embarks on a journey after death, guided by ancestral spirits. Funeral rituals are performed to ensure the deceased's safe passage to the afterlife and to appease the sudur. These rituals may involve the placement of personal belongings in the grave, the construction of a wooden grave marker, or the performance of specific songs and dances.