“Copper” Epithets in Yakut and Altai Epics

Key words
Yakut olonkho, Altai epic, a comparative analysis, copper epithets, denotative meaning, connotative meaning
Raisa V. Koryakina, Svetlana N. Pavlova
About the Author
Raisa V. Koryakina
E-mail: georgien17@mail.ru Tel.: +7(4112) 35-20-90
58, Belinskogo str., Yakutsk, 677077, Russian Federation Senior Researcher, Olonkho Research Institute, Ammosov-North-Eastern Federal University

Svetlana N. Pavlova
E-mail: snpavlova@mail.ru Tel.: +7(4112) 35-20-90
58, Belinskogo str., Yakutsk, 677077, Russian Federation PhD in Pedagogical Sciences, Associate Professor, Department of Translation, Institute of Foreign Languages and Regional Studies, Ammosov-North-Eastern Federal University
Date of publication

The study was carried out within the framework of the NEFU research project “Epic monument of the intangible culture of the Yakuts: textological, typological, cognitive and historical-comparative aspects”.


This article discusses epithets denoting copper in Yakut and Altai epic texts. Although these texts have shared common ethnic and historic features since ancient times, there have been few comparative studies of them. The article identifies the semantic meaning and functions of copper epithets as well as their special features. It establishes that such epithets as Yak. djes (“copper-red”) and Alt. jes (“copper”) as well as Yak. altan (“copper”) and altyn (“golden”) have a similar sound form. Also, the definable words in the epithets and their functioning coincide. These words also coincide in their spelling as well as in other linguistic features. Such similarities confirm the fact that these epic traditions were established in a common ethnic and temporal space in the distant past. Analysis also shows that the epithet altan (“copper”) is used in the Yakut olonkho when the world of the Aiyy tribe is being described; it has the connotation of
“noble” and “beautiful,” while the epithet djes (“copper-red”) is used when speaking of the lower world and thus also has the connotation “provoking fear or misgiving.” As for the Altai epic texts, the epithet jes (“copper”) acquires a positive or negative connotation depending on the object denoted, which may refer to the human or the underworld. These features reflect the dual character of the epic world in the Altai epic.


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For citation

Koryakina R. V., Pavlova S. N. “Copper” Epithets in Yakut and Altai Epics. Traditional Culture. 2023. Vol. 24. No. 2. Pp. 22–23. In Russian.