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The Tears of Heroes and the Memories of War: Focusing on Jangar, the Epic of the Kalmyk Oirad People

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2019, 76(4), pp.91-119
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.76.4.201911.91
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : October 15, 2019
  • Accepted : November 7, 2019
  • Published : November 30, 2019

LEE SO YUN 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In the epic Jangar of the people of Kalmyk Oirad, Jangar, Hongor, and Mingyan, all shed tears from time to time. Jangar builds Ar Bomba, an ideal nation, through the conquest wars that began at the age of three. He who can foresee the future sheds the tears after he senses Ar Bomba’s crisis. At this time, Jangar is preemptively saddened about the future threats he does not face yet. Hongor sheds tears with the gloomy imagination that if he enters in front of the enemy, he will be killed by the enemy. Otherwise, if he returns, Jangar will do not want to greet him. His self-esteem is severely damaged in front of the enemy. Mingyan speaks out for the difficulties of leaving his homeland and living alone in Ar Bomba after Jangar orders an attack. The focal point here is the loneliness of longing for home after fighting in a war. They can be all referred to as “melancholic heroes” because they are mourning over the loss that has not been lost yet. Jangar is the one who determines the state of exception. In this respect, the tears he shed are the tears of the sovereign. Even though he is a sovereign, Jangar has no choice but to shed tears because Ar Bomba is the result of the war of conquest; and this makes his position always highly vulnerable. Mingyan’s tears have the opposite meaning of the tears of sovereign Jangar. His tears remind him that Ar Bomba is a tribal confederation. Interestingly, Mingyan’s tears expose the Ar Bomba’s birth crisis originated from the tribal federation system. Hongor’s tears for when facing the enemy, on the other hand, seem to reflect the emotions of the people of Kalmyk Oirad, who had historically had to stand alone before the enemy in the turbulence of war. The fact that the Kalmyk Oirad people had actually heard of the Jangar spear before the war led to the possibility of projecting their position in Hongor. In 1943, the people of the Kalmyk Autonomous Republic were deported to Siberia for 13 years, accused of serving in Germany during World War II. The Kalmyks socially eradicated the memory of forced deportation until the end of the 1980s. Nevertheless, it is important to note that Jangar has been remembered in various ways. Considering their national history, which is remembered as “loss,” the hero’s tears in anticipation of “loss” in front of the mighty enemy are a condensation of the history which is resulted from the loss of the Kalmyks. In addition, when the memory of socially abolished loss, that is, the memory of forced deportation, is struck, it is possible that Jangar was a memorial narrative that comforted them in that they were talking about the loss that had not yet been lost. This is why Jangar has been constantly reflected as a memorial narrative even in the social abolition of memory.

Citation status

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.