According to the old traditional Hanti world-view the world is divided into three parts: the upper, the middle and the lower worlds. The upper world consists of seven levels. The highest level is occupied by Numi-Torum. Numi-Torum lives so high that he has no contact with the human world. If somebody wants to contact Numi-Torum, he has to approach first some lower spirit. According to Semjon Pesikov people may be helped by the children of Numi-Torum, themselves also gods, like Kazőm-imi, Postajankt-iki and others. In this case offerings must be made also for them and prayers should be said in which the children of Numi-Torum are asked to forward the spirit of the sacrificed reindeer together with their prayer to the highest god.
Little is known of the next levels. A piece of information received from the Ljamin River says that the third level is occupied by Russian and Tartar gods.
In the first level, there lives Numi-Torum's youngest son Postajankt-iki - "the fast old man", sometimes also called Sorni-iki - "the golden old man". If somebody calls Postajankt-iki by his name, the god is said to jump startled high up in the air and dash to look who had needed him to come so fast. And woe betide you if you had called for him for no particular reason. He has also an alternative name - Ői-shlapt-lah-hliotő-iki - to be used when one doesn't want to frighten him, especially at offerings. Sorni-iki rides on the back of a white horse. Among the Mansis, the heavenly rider appears also as Mir-susne-hum - "the man observing the world" (Gemujev, Sagalajev, Solovjov 1989: 102). He was one of the best liked gods among both the Hantis and as the Mansis. There are several reasons for that. First, he is considered to be the forefather of the Mos tribe (Solokova 1971: 216). And second, he has several traits for which he is set to watch over the world and its inhabitants. Among the Mansis, he is the main intermediary between Numi-Torum and the humans (Gemujev, Sagalajev, Solovjov 1989: 157-158).
In the middle world there live human beings, animals and other creatures. According to Semjon Pesikov, in the days of the old there were "invisible human beings" - vonth-hluunkth or hlunk - who lived together with ordinary humans. But at some time they moved on to the heavens. An especially big "wave of migration" was said to have taken place after the first time a woman went to the outer space. Sprits and gods are believed to dislike that women are higher than them. Formerly, women were forbidden to climb on high places and even to step over fishing and hunting equipment. On the whole, there were many taboos for women, not so much for their degradation as some of today's feminists seem to think, but rather for their protection. Some of the prohibitions were caused by the belief that the power of women was uncontrollable, especially during the times of menstruation and pregnancy. Thus, they might have affected the undertakings of men and changed the expected outcomes. A people living wild in the nature, however, can not allow such things to happen.
The most important of the middle world hlunks are usually the descendants of Numi-Torum. Numi-Torum has seven sons and one daughter. According to some sources also the number of his daughters is seven, but the first version is more widely spread. He has also a whole lot of grandchildren and other descendants. His oldest son is called As-iki or "the old man of the Ob". His domain is the whole Ob River Basin. According to the Surguti District Hantis, each god who is connected with a particular river, has under his control the whole area from where waters flow to his river.
Of other middle world gods Kazőm-imi, the daughter of Numi-Torum and Kaltash-anki, Numi-Torum's wife should be mentioned. The figures of Kazőm-imi and Kaltashi-anki prove that Eliade's statement as if only male gods were important among Middle and North Asian nations is not completely true (Eliade 1974: 10). The goddess Gazőm-imi is not only very important for the Kazőm Hantis, but also for the Obdorsk, Ob and Surguti Hantis (Sokolova 1971: 217; Kulemzin 1984: 111). Also Kaltaš-anki plays quite an important role in the life of the Hantis - Kaltaš is the foremother of a whole phratry and the guardian of married women, women in childbed and children.
An important figure in Hanti and Mansi folk-belief is the bear. Old songs refer to the bear as the son (or daughter) of Numi-Torum. At first, he lived in his father's house in the heavens, but later settled on the earth. This story has many versions, yet all emphasize the idea that the humans are descendants of the bear (Karjalainen 1918: 387-389; Schmidt 1989: 195-197; VKK 3, 1991: 13). Also the Baltic Finns consider the bear to be related to the humans (Waronen 1891: 70). After killing a bear the hunters must definitely organize a bear festival.
In every river basin there is one or more sacred places (jalpőn-ma in the Mansi language) (Karjalainen 1918: 185-186), which are similar to the sacred groves of other Finno-Ugric people. Fishing, hunting and picking berries is prohibited there. Women are usually forbidden to go there (Karjalainen 1918: 190). The sacred place is dedicated to some god or spirit that is connected to the place. True, there is information about some such places where these restrictions were not in force (Gemujev, Sagalajev, Solovjov 1989: 4). There are usually storehouses for the storage
of god dolls and other sacred objects in the sacred places. Each of such sacred places has a master-caretaker (Karjalainen 1918: 239). This job is often handed down from father to his eldest son, but it could be also given to someone else if the “master” was considered unworthy of this job (Karjalainen 1918: 239). In the sacred places offerings are performed. An offering is carried out when someone has for example had a dream where he is informed of the need to perform an offering, or when some other sign is received. A common offering ceremony is performed before the new year during either the new or the old moon. In the beginning of the new year offerings must be avoided (Anatoly Tevlin, Nize Sortőm, Vm 1995).
The lower world consists of seven parts. Again, the information about it is incomplete. The lowest level is occupied by Heini-iki (also called Kul-iki). He is the ruler of the lower world and the master of all the sickness spirits. As a rule, Kul-iki’s name was not mentioned, especially in the presence of the sick.