«Удержание» понятия колдовства и экзорцизм в культуре современных сокотрийцев
The present study, based on the field materials gathered during a fieldwork season with Soqotri informants in Summer, 2022, honors the memory of our friend and colleague Victor Porkhomovsky, an outstanding Africanist and Semitologist tragically passed away a few months ago. In the mid-1970s, Professor Porkhomovsky played an important role in Naumkin’s endeavors to assess, linguistically and culturally, the Soqotri data collected during his early research trips to the island. In the present article, the authors, two of whom have been jointly collecting, systematizing and analyzing the Soqotri oral legacy during the last 15 years, attempt to demonstrate that the belief in sorcery and supernatural creatures remains part and parcel of the traditional culture of the islanders. If such rites and ceremonies as water and fire ordeals are not practiced anymore, they were replaced by other forms of de facto exorcism. The belief in sorcery, although substantially weakened, is still largely retained in the culture of today’s Soqotrans, all forms of modernization notwithstanding. Moreover, this belief played not a small role in the preservation of their oral heritage, intimately connected to ancient rites and practices (notably, initiation). Some structural and narrative elements of the canonical myths, legends and folk tales are examined (such as binary oppositions or snake fighting), side by side with such concepts as demonic obsession and fear of death. A few Soqotri texts dealing with sorcery are published for the first time. A few relevant terms (such as ḳábe ‘magic power’) are analyzed at some length.