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The local custom: respecting the old, hospitality and the folks in awe of fire

The Ewenki are quite hospitable and they observe the etiquette strictly, especially the way for the youth to behave in the presence of the old. The old is highly respected at any time and place. One must get on his feet and respond to an elder's call immediately, and the junior cannot have dinner until the elder have started to eat. The youth have to salaam the old, offer cigarettes respectfully, etc. when they meet each other. If one is on a horse, he has to dismount then. The folks are quite hospitable and they are always ready to receive guests. In their words, "a wayfarer cannot travel with his house, so do you. If you are friendless, you will be treated alike some day. People are willing to lodge in a fire-warmed house, just like birds are willing to perch on a flourish tree." Therefore, if you walk in an Ewenki household in pasturing areas, the host will certainly serve you with mellow milk tea; and if you lodge in an Ewenki household in hunting areas, you may be lucky enough to enjoy the delicacies made out of the tasteful parts of deer or reindeers, and the reindeer milk.

The Ewenki are in awe of fire as if it is divine. They will never use anything with blades to stir the fire, or pour water or throw filthy things into the fire. They will make a toast to the fire before eating meats, having dinner or drinking. The Ewenki in the pasturing areas hold a ritual for the fire god: a table of offerings is put before the fire, with lights and colorful lists around the fire stand. In the fire stand, there is a batten frame, on which people place the whole breastbone of a sheep. They pour sheep oil on it, light the fire, and put all kinds of offerings into the fire. Meanwhile, the woman in charge of the ritual will kneel before the fire, pray for the forgiveness from the Fire God, in case that some of the family members have done something improper to the fire. After that, the whole family will kowtow to the fire, and nobody is allowed to stir the fire or rake out the cinders in three days. The fire plays an important role in their productive and daily life; besides, they believe that the host of the fire is divine, and the host of the fire is the ancestor of the very household. If the host of the fire is lost, the family will decline. That is why the Ewenki are so pious to the fire.

The folks who domesticate and use reindeers <<
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