The spirit of the girl so disappointed in her life on earth she can never move on, continue to echo through time together with the Maidens of Uley in Sibir, Russia.

The Eastern part of Russia can be ruthless. A vast empty land on the map, it is sort of forgotten when looking at pictures of St. Petersburg or Moscow. But there are people there, and they have been there for a long time. And if the Trans-Siberian Railway didn’t pass through it in 1898, we might never have hear about Irutsk Oblast, an area in the southeastern Siberia.

Where we are going the weather is cold. So cold it is almost inconceivable. For almost six months during October to April, the temperature usually is below 0 °C (32 °F). But that is the average, the winter hits harder. In Irutsk the temperature is around −25.3 °C (−13.5 °F) in January. The summers on the other hand is warm, although short. So short.

This is the domain of the tundra. The mountains extend up to almost 3,00 metres (9,800 ft), almost with nothing growing on them.

The Little Song in Love

In the village of Ulei (or Ungin) a legend of the west buryat people have been told for a long time. The Buryats or Буряад are a Mongolic people and the largest indigenous group in Siberia. For a long time they maintained their nomadic lifestyle until being taken over by the Russian Federation were agriculture was more profitable. Although most of the Buryat lives in the federal subject of Russia, some still live in the northeast of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia in China. This is where the legend of the Maidens of Uley comes from.

The Buryat People: Buryat tribe in traditional costumes in the district of Selengiski in South of Sibir. From the early 1900s from the traditional folk museum in Novosibirsk in Russia.

A young lady by the name or the nickname of Bulzhuuhai Duuhai lived in this place. (Duushin means singer in Buryat, Duuhai means something like ‘Little Song’. She had no wish to be married off, but fell in love with a young man that her parents found beneath her and tragedy followed.

But this was wish was not to be granted to Bulzhuuhai, and like so many women before her, she was married off to a richer man her parents found suitable. Some claim he was from Khalyuta, some say he was from Tarasa.

She needed an escape from her home she had with her husband. He was not treating her with respect as she was locked up in a black yurt, and in some legends even chained down, not a traditional white one. In some accounts, it wasn’t necessarily a black yurt, only an empty one.

File:Buriats painters.jpg
The White Yurt: The traditional white yurt she was supposed to live in. Novosibirsk State Museum of Regional History and Folk Life.

She asked of her loved one is he could run away with her, but he had nowhere to run to as he was a poor man. She had nowhere to go.

While imprisoned in her yurt, she sang. Every girl that passed her by could hear her song, but there was nothing they could do to help her. All they could, was to throw flowers through the chimney, which was her only source of light.

The Eight Days of Freedom


For twenty days, she was in chains inside with nowhere to go, but she managed to escape. Eight days of freedom was all she got. Along the road she met many people, and along the way she met a group of people carrying the bride to a wedding in Tuglo. She joined them and sang in the wedding. Many men tried to get her attention, even the shamans, every day until the wedding was over.

After the wedding was over, so was her life she felt, and she fell in a deep desperation and loneliness. She had nowhere to go to. She could not go back, and there was nothing ahead of her either.

After the eight days of singing and dancing in the wedding, she hanged herself in the barn, not being able to take it anymore. But this was not the end. There were so many more like her.

The Call of The Zayan Spirit

Maidens of Uley: Women’s Khori-Buryat costume//Photo: KoizumiBS

After she died she became a zayan-spirit, as those killed by their own hands are called. They can find no rest or find their way to Erlen-Khan which is the Lord of the Underworld. They are not necessary malicious spirits, but can call upon the inner thought of female despair.

Instead she called upon other spirits with a similar fate and a group of girls flocked to her. Around 350 Maidens and spirits just like her answered her call. These spirits are called Olon or Many of Uley by Idin and Osin Buryats.

To this day the Maidens of Uley are supposedly forbidden to sing after sundown because of the danger of being captured and turned into one of the Maidens of Uley.

It was a group of around 350, or even more. Maidens of Uley like her on a revenge mission. They haunt the fiances on their wedding day, mesmerizing them with their beauty. Once taken, they lead them to the underworld where they are never seen again.

Now remembered in folklore for the locals, the story of the Maidens of Uley is passed down to the next generations. Like in this theater play by the Buryat Drama Theatre:


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Featured photo: [Photo/IC]

Special thanks to Reddit user: Witson1991

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