Certaine notes vnperfectly written by Richard Iohnson seruant to Master Richard Chancelour, which was in the discouerie of Vaigatz and Noua Zembla, with Steuen Burrowe in the Serchthrift 1556. and afterwarde among the Samoedes, whose deuilish rites hee describeth.
First, after we departed out of England we fell with Norway, and on that coste lieth Northbern or Northbergen, and this people are vnder the King of Denmarke: But they differ in their speech from the Danes, for they speake Norsh. And North of Northbern lie the Isles of Roste and Lofoot, and these Islands pertaine vnto Finmarke, and they keepe the laws and speake the language of the Islanders. And at the Eastermost part of that land is a castle which is called the Wardhouse, and the King of Denmarke doeth fortifie it with men of warre: and the Russes may not goe to the Westward of that castle. And East Southeast from that castle is a lande called Lappia: in which lande be two maner of people, that is to say, the Lappians and the Scrickfinnes, which Scrickfinnes are a wilde people which neither know God, nor yet good order: and these people liue in tents made of Deares skinnes: and they haue no certaine habitations, but continue in heards and companies by one hundred and two hundreds. And they are a people of small stature, and are clothed in Deares skinnes and drinke nothing but water, and eate no bread but flesh all raw. And the Lappians bee a people adioyning to them and be much like to them in al conditions: but the Emperour of Russia hath of late ouercome manie of them, and they are in subiection to him. And this people will say that they beleeue in the Russes God. And they liue in tents as the other doe. And Southeast and by South from Lappia lyeth a prouince called Corelia, and these people are called Kerilli. And South southeast from Corelia lyeth a countrey called Nouogardia. And these three nations are vnder the Emperour of Russia, and the Russes keepe the Lawe of the Greekes in their Churches, and write somewhat like as the Greekes write, and they speake their owne language, and they abhorre the Latine tongue, neither haue they to doe with the Pope of Rome, and they holde it not good to worshippe any carued Image, yet they will worshippe paynted Images on tables or boords. And in Russia their Churches, steeples, and houses are all of wood: and their shippes that they haue are sowed with withes and haue no nayles. The Kerilles, Russians or Moscouians bee much alike in all conditions. And South from the Moscouians lye the Tartarians, which bee Mahumetans, and liue in tentes and wagons, and keepe in heardes and companies: and they holde it not good to abide long in one place, for they will say, when they will curse any of their children, I woulde thou mightest tary so long in a place that thou mightest smell thine owne dung, as the Christians doe: and this is the greatest curse that they haue. And East Northeast of Russia lieth Lampas, which is a place where the Russes, Tartars, and Samoeds meete twise a yeere, and make the faire to barter wares for wares. And Northeast from Lampas lieth the countrey of the Samoeds, which be about the riuer of Pechere, and these Samoeds bee in subiection to the Emperour of Russia, and they lie in tentes made of Deere skinnes, and they vse much witchcraft, and shoot well in bowes. And Northeast from the river Pechere206 lieth Vaygatz, and there are the wilde Samoeds which will not suffer the Russes to land out of the Sea, but they will kill them and eate them, as wee are tolde by the Russes: and they liue in heards, and haue all their carriages with deere, for they haue no horses. Beyond Vaygatz lyeth a lande called Noua Zembla, which is a great lande, but wee sawe no people, and there we had Foule inough, and there wee sawe white Foxes and white Beares And the sayde Samoeds which are about the bankes of Pechere, which are in subiection to the Emperour of Russia, when they will remoue from one place to another, then they will make sacrifices in manner following. Euerie kinred doeth sacrifice in their owne tent, and hee that is most auncient is their Priest. And first the Priest doth beginne to play vpon a thing like to a great sieue, with a skinne on the one ende like a drumme: and the sticke that he playeth with is about a spannne long, and one ende is round like a ball, couered with the skinne of an Harte. Also the Priest hath vpon his head a thing of white like a garlande, and his face is couered with a piece of a shirt of maile, with manie small ribbes, and teeth of fishes, and wilde beastes hanging on the same maile. Then he singeth as wee vse heere in Englande to hallow, whope, or showte at houndes, and the rest of the company answere him with this Owtis, Igha, Igha, Igha, and then the Priest replieth againe, with his voyces. And they answere him with the selfsame wordes so manie times, that in the ende he becommeth as it were madde, and falling downe as hee were dead, hauing nothing on him but a shirt, lying vpon his backe I might perceiue him to breathe. I asked them why hee lay so, and they answered mee, Now doeth our God tell him what wee shall doe, and whither we shall goe. And when he had lyen still a little while, they cried thus three times together, Oghao, Oghao, Oghao, and as they vse these three calles, hee riseth with his head and lieth downe againe, and then hee rose vp and sang with like voyces as hee did before: and his audience answered him, Igha, Igha, Igha. Then hee commaunded them to kill fiue Olens or great Deere, and continued singing still both hee and they as before. Then hee tooke a sworde of a cubite and a spanne long, (I did not mete it my selfe) and put it into his bellie halfeway and sometime lesse, but no wounde was to bee seene, (they continuing in their sweete song still). Then he put the sworde into the fire till it was warme, and so thrust it into the slitte of his shirte and thrust it through his bodie, as I thought, in at his nauill and out at his fundament: the poynt beeing out of his shirt behind, I layde my finger vpon it, then hee pulled out the sworde and sate downe. This beeing done, they set a kettle of water ouer the fire to heate, and when the water doeth seethe, the Priest beginneth to sing againe they answering him, for so long as the water was in heating, they sate and sang not. Then they made a thing being foure square, and in height and squarenesse of a chaire, and couered with a gown very close the forepart thereof, for the hinder part stood to the tents side. Their tents are rounde and are called Chome in their language. The water still seething on the fire, and this square seate being ready, the Priest put off his shirt, and the thing like a garland which was on his head, with those things which couered his face, and he had on yet all this while a paire of hosen of deeres skins with the haire on, which came vp to his buttocks. So he went into the square seate, and sate down like a tailour and sang with a strong voyce or hallowing. Then they tooke a small line made of deeres skinnes of four fathoms long, and with a smal knotte the Priest made it fast about his necke, and vnder his left arme, and gaue it vnto two men standing on both sides of him, which held the ends together. Then the kettle of hote water was set before him in the square seat, al this time the square seat was not couered, and then it was couered with a gown of broad cloth without lining, such as the Russes do weare. Then the 2. men which did hold the ends of the line stil standing there, began to draw, and drew til they had drawn the ends of the line stiffe and together, and then I hearde a thing fall into the kettle of water which was before him in the tent. Thereupon I asked them that sate by me what it was that fell into the water that stoode before him. And they answered me, that it was his head, his shoulder and left arme, which the line had cut off, I meane the knot which I sawe afterwarde drawen hard together. Then I rose vp and would haue looked whether it were so or not, but they laid hold on me, and said, that if they should see him with their bodily eyes, they shoulde liue no longer. And the most part of them can speake the Russe tongue to be vnderstood: and they tooke me to be a Russian. Then they beganne to hallow with these wordes. Oghaoo, Oghaoo, Oghaoo, many times together. And as they were thus singing and out calling, I sawe a thing like a finger of a man two times together thrust through the gowne from the Priest. I asked them that sate next to me what it was that I sawe, and they saide, not his finger; for he was yet dead: and that which I saw appeare through the gowne was a beast, but what beast they knew not nor would not tell. And I looked vpon the gowne, and there was no hole to bee seene; and then at the last the Priest lifted vp his head with his shoulder and arme, and all his bodie, and came forth to the fire. Thus farre of their seruice which I sawe during the space of certaine houres: but how they doe worship their Idols that I saw not: for they put vp their stuffe for to remoue from that place where they lay. And I went to him that serued the Priest, and asked him what their God saide to him when he lay as dead. Hee answered, that his owne people doeth not know: neither is it for them to know, for they must doe as he commanded. This I saw the fift day of Ianuarie in the yere of our Lord 1556, after the English account.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55