Oral Histories

Oral histories are stories about events that have taken place in the recent past or are still in the process of unfolding. Stories about the demolition of monasteries, the deportation of the Kalmyks in 1943, the subsequent return of the Kalmyks from exile, are a few examples. To this can be added hunting stories, encounters with malign spirits and many others.

Oral stories are usually narrated from the first person (i.e. I) by using unofficial language, which renders them more entertaining and believable.

Alexei Naranov, About a Temple, the Bagud Clan, and Lagan’

In this interview Alexei talks about a temple that was in his native place, about the origin of the Bagud clan whose members used that temple and about digging wells in Lagan’.

Darina: Did you have a temple in your native place?

Alexei: Yes, we had a temple in a place called Khure, in Yandyko-Mochazhnyi ulus of Laganskiy rayon. There is a tower that stands on that spot today. Many people from the Bagud clan gathered in that temple, including members of the Iki Bagud, the Shars Bagud and the Shin Bagud. The Bagud clan originates from the 7 sons of Doida. When Doida became old, he called all his sons to give them their inheritance. The oldest son, from whom originates the Ik Bagud clan, moved in the direction of Yandyki. Another son moved to Dolbanskiy rayon to the village of Promyslovka. Today this village is called Limannyi. That place has water and a lot of wild cane. Our clan moved to Lagan’ where we built a fishery. We dried fish and sent them to Moscow, St Petersburg and Nizhniy Novgorod.

D: Where does the name Lagan’ come from?

A: According to one version, there was a man called Lag who set up a fishing brigade there and started to catch fish. According to another version, it derives from the word lagun’ which means ‘still water’. The second version is not as well-shared as the first one.

D: Is it possible that this name derives from a well called Lagan’? There must have been people who owned wells back then.

A: No, I don’t know about this.

D: Did you have wells in your place?

A: Yes, we had.

D: How did people dig these wells?

A: Back then there was no machinery. People dug wells with their hands. There were special digging brigades that transported water.

D: How did people know where to dig for a well?

A: People asked lamas and astrologists. They would approach astrologists and say: ‘We breed livestock in this or that place, we want to dig a well. Can we dig it there?’ Astrologists showed them where to dig, where the water was better and grass richer.


Alexei Naranov, About a Temple, the Bagud Clan, and Lagan’


Dordzhi Nandyshev, About Witches and Other Malevolent Beings


Garya Naminov, Ghost Stories


Maria Dordzhieva, About Snakes with Horns


Maria Mukhlaeva, About Bok Tukha


Purvya Volod'kina, About Spiritual Masters of Places