Altaic Mythology

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The people living in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia possess a mythology that is influenced both by their own shamanistic (see Shamanism) past and their contact with Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, and even Zoroastrianism. Creation stories are especially important among the Altaic tribes. One story tells how the first man, Erlik, created by the god Ulgen from clay, was like the devil in the Hebrew creation, flung out of Heaven for attempting to usurp the creator's position. After Erlik's expulsion, Ulgen created the earth. As in the case of Satan in Genesis, the devil figure, Erlik, makes his way to earth and corrupts the first woman, bringing to humankind all the ills we now experience. In another Altaic creation myth, the first-man devil character tries unsuccessfully to fly higher than God and falls into the primeval waters and begs for God's help. God orders the devil to dive into the depths to find earth, and so the world is created. When the devil tries to hide some of the earth in his mouth so as to make his own world, God discovers the trick and forces the devil to spit out the hidden material, which becomes the world's wetlands (see Earth-Diver Creation, Central Asian Mythology, Siberian entries, Turko-Mongolian Mythology).

Subjects: Religion.

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