Signs and Omens

Omens are signs of an immediate future occurrences or of things to come. Divided into bad (mu yor) and good (syan yor), omens reflect the Kalmyk nomadic lifestyle, traditions, beliefs, and the history of the people. Many omens and signs are based on observations of the behaviour of various animals and natural phenomena, such as the wind, the snow, etc. When animals behave in unusual or annoying ways – for example, when a dog barks and whines at the same time – usually it is interpreted as a bad omen. It is also regarded as a bad sign when it is windy in early spring or raining at the beginning of winter. Social occasions and rituals are also often imbued with prophetic significance for those who witness or encounter them. For example, seeing a wedding party is believed to bring good luck to the beholder. Apart from mobile signs (a dog barking, the wind blowing, a wedding party proceeding), static objects and patterns are also imbued with symbolic significance. If someone has a mole close to their mouth, it is interpreted that that person will be prosperous.

On this page you can watch videos about signs, omens, dreams, numbers, characteristics of people and things etc. that many traditional Kalmyks see as a valid and important form of knowledge.

Maria Erdnieva, About Bad and Good Signs

Refrain from leaning against the door of someone’s house, for doing so is no different to sitting on the neck of the head of that household. Both acts are disrespectful. It is forbidden to fold your arms, for you may lose your mother. Also, if you hold your arms behind your back or lean your jaw on your hand, you may lose your father. If a magpie sits at your door it is a bad sign. If a crow cries near your house, you will hear bad news soon. It is also a bad sign if a ferret comes into your house. One should abstain from giving away milk after it gets dark. If someone asks for salt at night, add a pinch of ash to the salt before giving it. In the past, fox skin was reserved only for the wealthy. It is not good to wear what you are not supposed to.


Yuriy Nurdaev, How to Neutralize a Curse