"Precursor to Gumby"
West-Central Russia 1st-3rd Century CE 
8 cm ~ bronze
 

 

Somewhat like Homage to Bullwinkle elsewhere in this collection, Precursor to Gumby reflects shamanistic attempts to deal with visions of a distant and incomprehensible future. The oral tradition of this vision has come down to us through many generations of the Finno-Ugric tribes whose descendants still live the Perm region of Russia, which has contributed 3 words to the global vocabulary. First is the Permian geologic era, home of one of the largest extinctions of life in the history of the planet. The second is permafrost, used to describe the climate of Permia. The last is the perm, a hair style consisting of tightly-contracted curls, reflecting a superstition amongearly Permish women believed it lucky to wear iron curlers outside during lightning storms.

The text of the shamanistic vision has been recorded and translated for the benefit of scholars:

"I, Mukluk, shaman of the people of Ust-Garevaya, having ritually drunk the biting water of the fermented distilled potato, inhaled the mind-filling smoke of the hemp and poppy plant, and eaten the bitter cactus buttons of enlightenment, did fall into a vision state, and here is what was vouchsafed unto me by the speakers of the spirit world. 

"The speakers said that there would come a time far hence when children of all tribes and nations would spend their days fascinated by a box of light. Within this box of light would appear a great leader, known for his elasticity [v'k'xx'-v'k'tzruu in Permish] and his adventures. This leader, Gum-by-eh, has a great heart, but his head is in the clouds. He tries to do what is right and good. Because of his faith in following his heart, everything always works out for him in the end, either a victory or a lesson, as when his palm trees sprout watermelons because he ignores the wise counsel of the Earth Mother and plants them in November. 

"The leader Gum-by-eh is accompanied everywhere by his clever horse Po-ky-eh, also of high elasticity [v'k'xx'-v'k'tzruu], which possesses the power of human speech, and is moved by the spirits to rescue Gum-by-eh from the consequences of his folly, as when they attempt to reach the land of the Moon-Goddess in episode 14."

The Permish people made many copies of the future god Gum-by-eh. Lacking knowledge of rubber they cast them instead in bronze, and depended on local intoxicants to supply the movement, speech and elasticity [v'k'xx'-v'k'tzruu].

 

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