Shamanism in Siberia
A STUDY IN
M. A. CZAPLICKA
SOMERVILLE COLLEGE, OXFORD
WITH A PREFACE BY
R. R. MARETT
READER IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF
PRESIDENT OF THE FOLK-LORE SOCIETY
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
PART III. RELIGION
SHAMANISM is understood by some people to be a primitive form
of religion or religio-magic practised by the aborigines of northern
Asia as well as by all other aborigines in other parts of the
world. This opinion is held by Mikhailowski, Kharuzin, and some
other Russian scientists. Others hold that Shamanism was only
one form of expression of the religious cult of northern Asia,
practised in order to avert the evil spirits. This opinion is
found in the writings of Jochelson and Bogoras. There is still
another view put forward, which it is well for us to consider.
This view we find expressed very clearly in the following extract
'One must not lose sight of the fact that in the various beliefs
of the Siberian tribes a very close connexion is noticeable,
and, likewise, there can be observed an uninterrupted identity
in the foundations of their mythology, and in their rites, even
extending as far as the nomenclature-all of which gives one the
right to suppose that these beliefs are the result of the joint
work of the intellectual activity of the whole north of Asia.'
In the writings of the Buryat scientist Banzaroff we find
a very similar statement: 'The old national religion of the Mongols
and the neighbouring nations is known in Europe as "Shamanism",
whereas among those who are not its followers it has no special
'After the introduction of Buddhism among the Mongolic nations,
they called their old religion "The Black Faith" (Khara
Shadjin), in contradistinction to Buddhism, which they called
"Yellow Faith" (Shira Shadjin). According to
Father Jakiuv, the Chinese call Shamanism Tao-Shen (gambolling
before the spirits).
[1. For certain suggestions as to the construction
of this chapter I all, indebted to my friend, Miss Byrne, of
2. Enc. Rel. and Eth., 'The Buriats,' p. 26.]
Those names, however, do not give any idea of the true character
of shamanism. Some are of opinion that it originated alongside
with Brahminism and Buddhism, while others find in it some elements
in common with the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze.
. . . Finally some hold that Shamanism is nothing but Nature-worship,
likening it to the faith of the followers of Zoroaster. Careful
study of the subject shows that the Shamanistic religion
did not arise out of Buddhism or any other religion, but originated
among the Mongolic nations, and consists not only in superstitious
and shamanistic ceremonies . . ., but in a certain primitive
way of observing the outer world-Nature-and the inner world-the
Of course, Banzaroff speaks especially of the Shamanism of
the Mongols. We cannot agree with him that Shamanism is limited
to these people. We find it all over northern and part of central
As we see them now the Palaeo-Siberians may be considered
as possessing the simplest, and the Neo-Siberians the most complex,
form of Shamanism. Thus among the former we see more 'Family'
than 'Professional' Shamanism; that is, the ceremonials, beliefs,
and shamans are practically limited to the family. Professional
Shamanism, that is, ceremonies of a communal kind performed by
a specialized or professional shaman, is here only in its infancy,
and, being weaker, has been more affected by Christianity.
Among the Neo-Siberians, where professional Shamanism is strongly
developed (for example, the Yakut), family Shamanism has been
more affected by European influences. We cannot, however, argue
from this that the Palaeo-Siberian form is the more primitive.
Professional Shamanism may be a development of family Shamanism,
or it may be a degenerate form, where environment is such that
communal life is no longer possible.
That the dissimilarity between the Shamanism of the Palaeo
and Neo-Siberians is no doubt due to the differences in the geographical
conditions of northern and southern Siberia seems to be proved
by the result of a careful study of certain Neo-Siberian tribes
(Yakut) who migrated to the north, and of certain Palaeo-Siberians
(Gilyak) who migrated to the south. The ease with which they
absorbed the customs and beliefs appertaining to
[1. Banzaroff, The Black Faith, pp. 4-5.]
their new surroundings shows that there was no fundamental
difference between their shamanistic practices. The differences,
being due to environment, disappear in migration. It cannot be
said that the change is due to contact, since this, in many cases,
is very slight. Indeed, Shamanism seems to be such a natural
product of the Continental climate with its extremes of cold
and heat, of the violent burgas and burans, 
of the hunger and fear which attend the long winters, that not
only the Palaeo-Siberians and the more highly cultivated Neo-Siberians,
but even Europeans, have sometimes fallen under the influence
of certain shamanistic superstitions. Such is the case with the
Russian peasants and officials who settle in Siberia, and with
the Russian Creoles..
According to the official census, only a small part of the
aborigines are 'true Shamanists', but, as a matter of fact, we
see that though they are registered as Orthodox Catholics and
Buddhists, they are in reality nearly all faithful to the practice
of their old religion.
In psychological terminology, Shamanism consists of animistic
and preanimistic conceptions; although most of the people at
present engaged in research work on Siberia have been so much
influenced by the Tylor theory of Animism that they misuse the
word 'soul', and the phenomena that they describe as animistic
are very often in a different category altogether.
The reader must decide for himself whether Shamanism appeals
to him as a cult peculiar to this region, or whether it is part
of a very general primitive magico-religion. It appears to the
author personally to be as difficult to speak in general terms
of primitive religions as it would be to speak of Christian religious.
This might be the task of a separate work-to determine whether
Shamanism in its conception of the deities, nature, man, and
in its rites, forms a special 'sect ' in the Animistic Religion.
[1. See chapter on Geography (not included
in this excerpt -ed.)
2. See Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 417.]
As among all primitive religions, the róle of the priest,
as the repository of religious beliefs and traditions, is of
the greatest importance; therefore we shall first proceed to
the study of the shaman himself.
The organization of the shamanhood varies slightly in different
tribes. In some cases this office is hereditary, but everywhere
the supernatural gift is a necessary qualification for becoming
a shaman. As we should expect from the generally higher culture
of the Neo-Siberians, their shamanhood is more highly organized
than that of the Palaeo-Siberians. The family shamans predominate
among the Palaeo-Siberians, and the professional shamans among
the Neo-Siberians, though Bogoras says: 'In modern times the
importance of family shamanism is losing ground among all the
tribes named, with the exception of the Chukchee, and there is
a tendency to its being replaced on all occasions by individual
shamanism.' These individual or professional shamans are called
among the Chukchee 'those with spirit' (enenilit), from
enen, 'shamanistic spirit'.
Although hysteria (called by some writers 'Arctic hysteria')
lies at the bottom of the shaman's vocation, yet at the same
time the shaman differs from an ordinary patient suffering from
this illness in possessing an extremely great power of mastering
himself in the periods between the actual fits, which occur during
the ceremonies. 'A good shaman ought to possess many unusual
qualities, but the chief is the power, acquired by tact and
[1. Bogoras, op. cit., p. 414.
2. In the district of Kolyma, Sieroszewski used to meet a
young but very skilful shaman, who could do most of the difficult
shamanist tricks: he swallowed a stick, ate red-hot coals and
pieces of glass, spat coins out of his mouth, was able to be
in different places at the same time-and in spite of all this
he was not considered a first-class shaman; whereas an inspired
old woman-shaman, who could not perform all these tricks, was
held in great esteem and fame. (Op. cit., p. 631.)]
to influence the people round him.' His reserved attitude
has undoubtedly a great influence on the people among whom he
lives. He must know how and when to have his fit of inspiration,
which sometimes rises to frenzy, and also how to preserve his
high 'tabooed' attitude in his daily life.'
In speaking of the shaman's vocation, we do not include the
family shaman of the Koryak, Asiatic Eskimo, Chukchee, and Yukaghir,
whose position and capacity are rather vague, as we see from
the following description of his duties: 'Each family has one
or more drums of its own, on which its members are bound to perform
at specific periods: that is, to accompany the beating of the
drum with the singing of various melodies. Almost always on these
occasions one member at least of the family tries to communicate
with "spirits" after the manner of shamans.' Sometimes
he even tries to foretell the future, but he receives no attention
from his audience. This is done in the outer room and in daylight,
whereas the 'shaman's', or professional shaman's, actions are
performed in the inner room and at night.
'Besides this, every adult Chukchee will occasionally take
his drum, especially in the winter, and beat it for awhile in
the warm shelter of the sleeping-room, with the light or without
it, singing his melodies to the rhythm of the beats.'
We see from the above that one member of the family has the
duty of beating the drum during certain ceremonials, and amuses
himself sometimes by shamanizing just as he amuses himself by
beating the drum at any time, apart from ceremonials. Of course,
we cannot call this member of the family a shaman, but a master
of the ceremonies, &c., who imitates the shaman; we can call
shamans only those individuals having special skill and vocation,
whether or not they are shamans by heredity.
However, the same Koryak, Asiatic Eskimo, Chukchee, Yukaghir,
&c.-practically all the Palaeo-Siberians-possess the professional
shaman, sometimes in decadence, but still there is no
[1. Sieroszewski, 12 Lat w Kruju Yakutów,
1902, p. 630.
2. He must also have good manners, as we see from the following:
'The shaman Yetilin had an incessant nervous twitching in
his face, [and] the Chukchee said laughingly, that he was probably
"with an owl kele" (spirit), comparing his affliction
to the jerking motion of the owl's head when it devours its prey.'
(Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 428.)
3. Bogoras, op. cit.,p. 413.
5. During the stay of Jochelson among the Koryak (1900-1)
he had the opportunity of seeing only two shamans. Both were
young men, and neither enjoyed special respect on the part of
his relations. (Joebelson, The Koryak, p. 49.)]
doubt of his existence. Krasheninnikoff who travelled through
the land of the Kamchadal in the middle of the eighteenth century,
says that 'among the Kamchadal there is only one great annual
ceremony, in November, and the chief róles at this ceremony
belonged to old men'.
The same author says: 'Among the Kamchadal there are no special
shamans, as among other nations, but every old woman and koekchuch
(probably women in men's clothes) is a witch, and explains
From this meagre information we can scarcely decide whether
among the Kamchadal of the time of Krasheninnikoff there was
or not a family shaman, because as the old men played the róle
not at ceremonials in separate families, but at communal ceremonies,
we must rather call them communal shamans. But there was some
form of professional shamanism, though not specialized, since
every old woman could shamanize. On the other hand, the following
quotation shows that there were certain qualifications necessary
for the shaman:
'The female sex is nicer  and probably cleverer, therefore
there are more women and koekchuch among the shamans than
there are men.'
Thus Krasheninnikoff. Jochelson says: 'Both Steller and Krasheninnikoff
assert that the Kamchadal had no professional shamans, but that
every one could exercise that art, especially women and Koekehuch;
that there was no special shaman garb; that they used no drum,
but simply pronounced incantations and practised divination (Krasheninnikoff,
iii. p. 114; Steller, p. 277), which description appears more
like the family shamanism of the present day. It is impossible
that the Kamchadal should form an exception among the rest of
the Asiatic and American tribes in having had no professional
In support of Jochelson's opinion just quoted, it may be said
that, in spite of Krasheninnikoff's statement to the contrary,
professional shamanism does seem to have existed, at least in
germ, among the Kamchadal, alongside of the communal shamanism
[1. Krasheninnikoff, Description of the
Country of Kamchatka, ed. 1775, p.85.
2. Op. cit., p. 81.
3. This epithet is somewhat vague, but for this I am not responsible,
as original has a similar vague expression.
4. Krasheninnikoff, p. 15, quot. Troshchanski.
5. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 48.]
which was in the hands of the old men. This appears clear
from Krasheninnikoff's own words quoted above. That those who
could shamanize most effectually were women, 'nice and clever',
points to the fact that some sort of standard was already set
up for those who aspired to be special practitioners of this
extra-communal shamanism, and that women most nearly approached
A. THE SHAMAN'S VOCATION.
Whether his calling be hereditary or not, a shaman must be
a capable-nay, an inspired person. Of course, this is practically
the same thing as saying that he is nervous and excitable, often
to the verge of insanity. So long as he practises his vocation,
however, the shaman never passes this verge. It often happens
that before entering the calling persons have had serious nervous
affections. Thus a Chukchee female shaman, Telpina, according
to her own statement, had been violently insane for three years,
during which time her household had taken precautions that she
should do no harm to the people or to herself.
'I was told that people about to become shamans have fits
of wild paroxysms alternating with a condition of complete exhaustion.
They will lie motionless for two or three days without partaking
of food or drink. Finally they retire to the wilderness, where
they spend their time enduring hunger and cold in order to prepare
themselves for their calling.'
To be called to become a shaman is generally equivalent to
being afflicted with hysteria; then the accepting of the call
means recovery. 'There are cases of young persons who, having
suffered for years from lingering illness (usually of a nervous
character), at last feel a call to take up shamanistic practice
and by this means overcome the disease.'
To the believer the acceptance of the call means accepting
several spirits, or at least one, as protectors or servants,
by which means the shaman enters into communication with the
whole spirit world. The shamanistic call sometimes manifests
itself through some animal, plant, or other natural object, which
[1. Bogoras met several shamans who were always
ready to quarrel, and to use their knives on such occasions;
e.g. the shaman Kelewgi wauted to kill a Cossack who refused
to buy furs from him. (Bogoras, op. cit., p. 426.)
2. Op. cit., p. 428.
3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 47.
4. Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 421.]
person comes upon at the 'right time', i.e. when very young,
often in the critical period between childhood and maturity (or
else when a person more advanced in age is afflicted with mental
or physical troubles). 'Sometimes it is an inner voice, which
bids the person enter into intercourse with the "spirits".
If the person is dilatory in obeying, the calling spirit soon
appears in some outward visible shape, and communicates the call
in a more explicit way.' Ainanwat after an illness saw several
'spirits', but did not pay much attention to them; then one 'spirit'
came, whom Ainanwat liked and invited to stay. But the 'spirit'
said he would stay only on the condition that Ainanwat should
become a shaman. Ainanwat refused, and the 'spirit' vanished.'
Here is an account by a Yakut-Tungus shaman, Tiuspiut ('fallen-from-the-sky'),
of how he became a shaman: 
'When I was twenty years old, I became very ill and began
"to see with my eyes, to hear with my ears" that which
others did not see or hear; nine years I struggled with myself,
and I did not tell any one what was happening to me, as I was
afraid that people would not believe me and would make fun of
me. At last I became so seriously ill that I was on the verge
of death; but when I started to shamanize I grew better; and
even now when I do not shamanize for a long time I am liable
to be ill.'
Sieroszewski tells us that Tiuspiut was sixty years of age;
he hid his shamanistic gift nine years, and had been shamanizing
thirty-one years when Sieroszewski met him. He was a man of medium
size, thin, but muscular, with signs of former beauty. In spite
of his age he could shamanize and dance the whole night. He was
an experienced man, and travelled a great deal both in the south
and in the north. During the shamanistic ceremonies his eyes
had a strange expression of madness, and a pertinacious stare,
which provoked to anger and excitement those on whom his look
'This is the second shaman with such strange eyes whom I have
met in the district of Yakut. Generally in the features of a
shaman there is something peculiar which enabled me, after a
short experience, to distinguish them from the other folk present.'
A similar statement is made about the Chukchee shamans by
Bogoras: 'The eyes of a shaman have a look different from that
[1 Bogoras, op. cit.
2 Sieroszewski, 12 Lat w Kraju Yakutów, p. 396.
of other people, and they explain it by the assertion that
the eyes of the shaman are very bright (nikeraqen), which,
by the way, gives them the ability to see "spirits"
even in the dark. It is certainly a fact that the expression
of a shaman is peculiar-a combination of cunning and shyness;
and it is often possible to pick him out from among many others.'
'The Chukchee are well aware of the extreme nervousness of
their shamans, and express it by the word ninirkilqin,
"he is bashful". By this word they mean to convey the
idea that the shaman is highly sensitive, even to the slightest
change of the psychic atmosphere surrounding him during his exercises.'
'The Chukchee shaman is diffident in acting before strangers,
especially shortly after his initiation. A shaman of great power
will refuse to show his skill when among strangers, and will
yield only after much solicitation: even then, as a rule, he
will not show all of his power.'  'Once when I induced a shaman
to practise at my house his "spirits" (of a ventriloquistic
kind) for a long time refused to come. When at last they did
come, they were heard walking round the house outside and knocking
on its walls, as if still undecided whether to enter. When they
entered, they kept near to the comers, carefully avoiding too
close proximity to those present.'
The shamanistic call comes sometimes to people more advanced
'To people of more mature age the shamanistic call may come
during some great misfortune, dangerous and protracted illness,
sudden loss of family or property,' &c. 'It is generally
considered that in such cases a favourable issue is possible
only with the aid of the "spirits", therefore a man
who has undergone some extraordinary trial in his life is considered
as having within himself. the possibilities of a shaman, and
he often feels bound to enter into closer relations with the
"spirits", lest he incur their displeasure at his negligence
and lack of gratitude."
Katek, from the village of Unisak at Indian Point, entered
into relations with the 'spirits' when he was of mature age,
during a terrible adventure he had while hunting seal.
He was carried away on the piece of ice on which he was standing,
and only after a long time of drifting came upon an iceberg,
on to which he climbed. But before he encountered
[1. Bogoras, op. cit., p. 116.
3. Op. cit., p. 421.]
the iceberg, he had tried to kill himself with his belt-knife,
when a large walrus-head suddenly appeared out of the water quite
close to him and sang: 'O Katek, do not kill yourself! You shall
again see the mountains of Unisak and the little Kuwakak, your
elder son.' When Katek came back home he made a sacrifice to
the walrus-head, and from that time on he was a shaman, much
respected and very famous among his neighbours.
However, very old people are not supposed to hear the shamanistic
call. In a Koryak tale, when Quikinnaqu (who had already a
grown-up daughter) unexpectedly makes for himself a drum out
of a small louse, and becomes a shaman, his neighbours say sceptically:
'Has the old Quikinnaqu really become a shaman? From his youth
up he had no spirits within his call.'
But young people when they get into trouble also call for
the help of 'spirits'; when the latter come to them, such youths
also frequently become shamans.
'A man, Yetilin by name, who belonged by birth to an Arctic
maritime village, but afterwards married into a reindeer-breeding
family on the Dry Anui River, and joined its camp, told me that
in his early childhood his family perished from a contagious
disease (probably influenza), and he was left alone with his
small sister. Then he called to the "spirits". They
came and brought food and said to him: "Yetilin, take to
beating the drum! We will assist you in that also."'
The Chukchee tales contain accounts of poor and despised orphans,
who were protected by 'spirits', and turned into shamans.
The vocation of the shaman is attended with considerable danger:
'The slightest lack of harmony between the acts of the shamans
and the mysterious call of their "spirits" brings their
life to an end. This is expressed by the Chukchee, when they
say that "spirits" are very bad-tempered, and punish
with immediate death the slightest disobedience of the shaman,
and that this is particularly so when the shaman is slow to carry
out those orders which are intended to single him out from other
We have similar statements from the more advanced tribes.
'The duties undertaken by the shaman are not easy; the struggle
which he has to carry on is dangerous. There exist traditions
[1. Op. cit., p. 421.
2. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 291.
Bogoras, op. cit., p. 424.
4. Op. cit., p. 417.]
about shamans who were carried away still living from the
earth to the sky, about others killed by "spirits",
or struck down at their first meeting with the powers whom they
dared to call upon. The wizard who decides to carry on this struggle
has not only material gain in view, but also the alleviation
of the griefs of his fellow men; the wizard who has the vocation,
the faith, and the conviction, who undertakes his duty with ecstasy
and negligence of personal danger, inspired by the high ideal
of sacrifice, such a wizard always exerts an enormous influence
upon his audience. After having once or twice seen such a real
shaman, I understood the distinction that the natives draw between
the "Great", "Middling", and "Mocking"
or deceitful shamans.' Although exposed to danger from supernatural
powers, the shaman is supposed to be safer from human anger than
any other person.
One Chukchee tale says: 'She [the murderer] came to her neighbour,
a woman who was busy with her fireboard, trying to make a fire.
She stabbed her from behind. But the girl continued to work on
the fire, because she was a shaman-girl, a woman able to stab
herself [in a shamanistic performance]. Therefore she could not
kill her, but only severed the tendons of her arms and legs.'
A man who can pierce himself through with a knife, so that
its end shows at his back, or cut his head off, put it on
a stick, and dance round the yurta, is surely strengthened
sufficiently against an enemy's attacks. Yet the shaman, Scratching-Woman,
when he refused to drink the alcohol offered to him by Bogoras,
and which he had previously demanded, explained as follows: 'I
will be frank with you. Drink really makes my temper too bad
for anything. Usually my wife watches over me, and puts all knives
out of my reach. But when we are apart, I am afraid.".
On the whole, the shamans are very much attached to their
vocation, in spite of the persecutions which they have to suffer
from the Government. Tiuspiut was many times punished by the
Russian officials and his shamanistic dress and drum were burned;
but he returned to his duties after each of these incidents.
'we have to do it, we cannot leave off shamanizing,' he said
to Sieroszewski, 'and there is no harm in our doing it.'
Another shaman, who was old and blind, affirmed that he had
[1. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 639.
2. Bogoras, Chukchee Materials, p. 32.
3. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 398.
5 Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 428.]
been a shaman some time before, but after he became convinced
that it was a sin he stopped shamanizing, and 'although another
very powerful shaman took from him the "sign", ämägyat,
still the spirits made him blind'.
In the village Baigantai Sieroszewski met with another instance
of a shaman who, however many times he vowed to abstain from
shamanism, still returned to it when the occasion arose. He was
a rich man, who did not care for gain, and he was so wonderful
that 'his eyes used to jump out on his forehead' during shamanistic
Tiuspiut was poor and cared for money, but he was proudly
regardful of his reputation, and when some of his neighbours
called in another shaman, one who lived farther away than Tiuspiut,
he became quite offended.
Bogoras never met shamans among the Palaeo- Siberians who
could be said 'to live solely on the profits of their art. It
was only a source of additional income to them., 
Among the Tungus and Yakut the shaman is recompensed only
when his arts are successful; and now, since Russian money has
come into use, he receives from one to twenty-five roubles for
a performance, and always gets plenty to eat besides.
The shamanistic call among the Tungus of Trans-Baikalia shows
itself in the following manner: A dead shaman appears in a dream
and summons the dreamer to become his successor. One who is to
become a shaman appears shy, distrait, and is in a highly nervous
Similar instances are to be found in the records of all Siberian
As to the shamanistic office being hereditary, this is the
case wherever a descendant of a shaman shows a disposition for
Among the Ostyak, the father himself chooses his successor,
not necessarily according to age, but according to capacity;
and to the chosen one he gives his own knowledge. If he has no
children, he may pass on the office to a friend, or to an adopted
The Ostyak shaman occasionally sells his familiar spirit to
another shaman. After receiving payment, he divides his hair
[1 Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 394.
2. Bogoras, the Chukchee, p. 425.
3 Anonymous article in Siberian News, 1822, pp. 39-40.
4 Bielayewski, A Journey to the Glacial Sea, pp. 113-14.]
into tresses, and fixes the time when the spirit is to pass
to his new master. The spirit, having changed owners, makes his
new possessor suffer; if the new shaman does not feel these effects,
it is a sign that he is not becoming proficient in his office.
Among both the Yakut and the Buryat, although the office is
not necessarily hereditary, it is usually so in part; for it
will generally happen that the shamanistic spirit passes from
one to another of the same family.
The Altaians believe that no one becomes a shaman of his own
free will; rather it comes to him volens volens, like
a hereditary disease. They say that sometimes when a young man
feels premonitory symptoms of the call, he avoids shamans and
shamanistic ceremonies, and by an effort of will occasionally
cures himself. The period when the shamanistic call comes to
the descendant of a shamanistic family is known as tes bazin-yat,
'the ancestor (spirit) leaps upon, strangles him'.
B. THE SHAMAN'S PREPARATORY PERIOD.
The Chukchee. The Chukchee call the preparatory period
of a shaman by a term signifying 'he gathers shamanistic power'.
For the weaker shamans and for female shamans the preparatory
period is less painful, and the inspiration comes mainly through
But for a strong man this stage is very painful and long;
in some cases it lasts for one, two, or more years. Some young
people are afraid to take a drum and call on the 'spirits', or
to pick up stones or other objects which might prove to be amulets,
for fear lest the 'spirit' should call them to be shamans. Some
youths prefer death to obedience to the call of spirits. Parents
possessing only one child fear his entering this calling on account
of the danger attached to it; but when the family is large, they
like to have one of its members a shaman. During the time of
preparation the shaman has to pass through both a mental and
a physical training. He is, as a rule, segregated, and goes either
to the forests and hills under the pretext of hunting or watching
the herds, 'often without taking along any
[1 Tretyakoff, The Country of Turukhansk,
1871, p. 223.
2 Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 395; Potanin, Troshchanski.
3. Wierbicki, The Natives of the Altai, p. 44.
4. Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 450.]
arms or the lasso of the herdsman'; or else he remains
in the inner room the whole time. 'The young novice, the "newly
inspired" (turene nitvillin), loses all interest
in the ordinary affairs of life. He ceases to work, eats but
little and without relishing his food, ceases to talk to people,
and does not even answer their questions. The greater part of
his time he spends in sleep.' This is why 'a wanderer . . . must
be closely watched, otherwise he might lie down on the open tundra
and sleep for three or four days, incurring the danger in winter
of being buried in drifting snow. When coming to himself after
such a long sleep, he imagines that he has been out for only
a few hours, and generally is not conscious of having slept in
the wilderness at all., 
However exaggerated this account of a long sleep may be, we
learn from Bogoras that the Chukchee, when ill, sometimes 'fall
into a heavy and protracted slumber, which may last many days,
with only the necessary interruptions for physical needs'.
The Koryak. The mental part of the training consists
in coming into contact with the right spirits, i.e. with the
spirits who are to be the shaman's protectors in his shamanistic
practice. 'Every [Koryak] shaman', says Jochelson, 'has his own
guardian spirits, who help him in his struggle with disease-inflicting
kalau in his rivalry with other shamans, and also in attacks
upon his enemies. The shaman spirits usually appear in the form
of animals or birds. The most common guardian spirits are the
wolf, the bear, the raven, the sea-gull, and the eagle.' One
of the two shamans whom Jochelson met among the Koryak related
to him how the spirits of the wolf, raven, bear, sea-gull, and
plover appeared to him (the shaman) in the desert-now in the
form of men, now in that of animals-and commanded him to become
a shaman, or to die. Thus we see that, while they are in solitude,
'the spirits appear to them in visible form, endow them with
power, and instruct them.' But Bogoras describes the mental training
of a new shaman differently. 'The process of gathering inspiration
is so painful to young shamans, because of their mental struggle
against the call, that they are sometimes said to sweat blood
on the forehead and the temples. Afterwards every preparation
of a shaman for a performance is considered a sort of repetition
of the initiative process: hence it is said that the Chukchee
shamans during that time are easily susceptible to haemorrhage,
and even to bloody sweat.'
[1. Op. cit., p. 420.
2. Op. cit., p. 421.
4. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 47.
4. Bogoras, op. cit., p. 420.]
Bogoras himself saw two cases of nose-bleeding and one of
bloody sweat among the shamans; but in the last instance he suspected
the shaman of smearing his temples with the blood from his nose.
As to the physical training of a novice, he must learn singing,
dancing, various tricks, including ventriloquism, and how to
beat the drum.
'The beating of the drum, notwithstanding its seeming simplicity,
requires some skill, and the novice must spend considerable time
before he can, acquire the desired degree of perfection. This
has reference especially to the performer's power of endurance.
The same may be said of the singing. The manifestations continue
for several weeks, during which time the shaman exercises the
most violent activity with scarcely a pause. After the performance
he must not show any signs of fatigue, because he is supposed
to be sustained by the "spirits", and, moreover, the
greater part of the exercise is asserted to be the work of the
spirits themselves, either after entering the shaman's body or
while outside his body. The amount of endurance required for
all this, and the ability to pass quickly from the highest excitement
to a state of normal quietude, can, of course, be acquired only
by long practice. Indeed, all the shamans I conversed with said
that they had to spend a year, or even two years, before sufficient
strength of hand and freedom of voice were given to them by the
spirits. Some asserted that, during all this preparatory time,
they kept closely to the inner room, taking up the drum several
times a day, and beating it as long as their strength would allow.'
Of course a certain diet must be adhered to during the time
of the training and before each individual ceremonial.
Have the novices any teachers? One would suppose that they
must have, if only to learn the difficult magical tricks, but
it is hard to get any detailed information on this point, because
the natives ascribe all the cleverness of the shaman to the 'spirits'.
'There are many liars in our calling', the shaman Scratching
Woman said to Bogoras. 'One will lift up the skins of the
sleeping-room with his right toe and then assure you that it
was done by "spirits"; another will talk into the bosom
of his shirt or through his sleeve, making the voice issue from
a quite unusual place.' Of course he himself was ready to swear
that he never did such tricks.
2. Op. cit., p. 424.
3. Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 426.]
Sometimes the old men teach the young shamans. 'The man who
gives a part of his power to another man loses correspondingly,
and can hardly recover the loss afterwards. To transfer his power,
the older shaman must blow on the eyes or into the mouth of the
recipient, or he may stab himself with a knife, with the blade
of which, still reeking with his "source of life" (telkeyun),
he will immediately pierce the body of the recipient.'
Bogoras did not hear of any transferring of shamanistic power
while he was among the Chukchee. He found it, however, among
Eskimo women, who were taught by their husbands, and whose children
were taught by their parents. In one family on St. Lawrence Island
the shamanistic power has been retained through a succession
of generations, evidently having been transferred from father
The Gilyak. Sternberg  says that although shamans
do not play so important a róle among the Gilyak as among
some neighbouring tribes, still their power among this folk is
almost unlimited. Sternberg was told by a Gilyak shaman that
before he had entered on his vocation he had been very ill for
two months, during which time he was unconscious, lying quite
motionless. Sometimes, he said, he almost regained consciousness,
but sank again into a swoon before recovering his senses. 'I
should have died', he explained, 'if I had not become a shaman.'
During these months of trial he became 'as dry', he said, 'as
a dry stick.' In the night he heard himself singing shaman's
songs. Once there appeared to him a bird-spirit, and, standing
at some distance from it, a man, who spoke to him in these words:
'Make yourself a drum and all that pertains to a shaman. Beat
the drum and sing songs. If you are an ordinary man, nothing
will come of it; but if you are to be a shaman, you will be no
ordinary one.' When he came to himself he found that he was being
held by head and feet close to the fire by his friends, who told
him that they had thought him already dead, carried off by the
evil spirits (kekhn). Forthwith he demanded a drum, and
began to beat it and sing. He felt half dead, half intoxicated.
Then for the first time he saw his spirit-protectors, kekhn
and kenchkh. The former told him, 'If you see any one
ill, cure him. Do not trust kenchkh. He has a man's face,
but his body is a bird's. Trust us only.'
Sternberg himself was once witness of a first manifestation
of shamanistic power.
[1. Op. cit., p. 420.
2. Sternberg, The Gilyak, p. 72.]
Koïnit was a little guest of Sternberg's, a boy of twelve.
In spite of his youth he had two souls, being the son of a great
shaman, Chanikh, who had as many as four souls (one from the
mountains, another from the sea, a third from the sky, and a
fourth from the underworld). Once on being suddenly awakened
from sleep, Koïnit began to throw himself about, and to
shout aloud in different pitches or intonations of the voice,
as shamans are accustomed to do. When this was over, the boy's
face looked worn and tired, like that of an old man. He said
afterwards that, during the sleep which had preceded his outbreak,
two kekhns had appeared to him. He knew them for his father's
kekhns; and they said to him: 'We used to play with your
father-let us play with you also."
Passing from the Palaeo- to the Neo-Siberians, we notice that
the shaman's protectors among the latter are highly developed
Three kinds of 'spirits' are associated with a Yakut shaman,
namely, änägyat, yekyua, and kaliany
(Sieroszewski). Änägyat is the indispensable
attribute of every shaman.
But änägyat is also the name of the iron
breast-circle, the sign of the shaman's dignity.
Even the weakest shamans possess änägyat
 and yekyua-the latter is 'sent from above, animal
picture, bewitching spirit, devilish devourer' (Yekyua oïun
abassyuah, simah abassyuah, üssüttan ongorudh).
The yekyua is carefully hidden from the people. 'My
yekyua will not be found by any one; it lies hidden far
away, there, in. the rocky mountains of Edjigan.'
Once a year, when the snow melts and the earth is black, the
yekyua arise from their hiding-places and begin to wander.
They hold orgies of fights and noises, and the shamans with whom
they are associated feel very ill. Especially harmful are the
yekyua of female shamans.
[1. Op. cit., pp. 73-4.
2. Sieroszewski, in speaking about the division of the shamans
into three kinds, says that the last or third kind are not real
shamans, as they have not änägyat, but are sorcerers
and other people in some way peculiar (12 Lat w Kraju Yakutów,
3. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 626.]
The weakest and most cowardly are the yekyua of dogs;
the most powerful are those of enormous bulls, stallions, elks,
and black boars. 'Those shamans who have as their animal incarnation
a wolf, bear, or dog, are the must unfortunate; these animals
are insatiable; they are never satisfied, however much the shaman
may provide for them.' The dog especially gives no peace to his
two-footed fellow; he 'gnaws with his teeth the shaman's heart,
tears into pieces his body'. Then the shaman feels sick and
suffers pain. The crow is also a bad yekyua; the eagle
and hairy bull are called 'devilish fighters and warriors' (abassy
keiktah). This title is the most flattering one for a shaman.
When a new shaman appears, the other shamans recognize him at
once by the presence of a new yekyua, whom they have not
seen before. Only wizards can see yekyua; to ordinary
people they are invisible.
Troshchanski  says of the yekyua: 'Among the protectors
of the shaman, the most important role is played by the yekyua
(literally, "mother-animal"). It is said that the shamans
incarnate their kut in certain animals, e.g. in stallions,
wolves, dogs, and that these animals are thus the yekyua of shamans.
'If one of these animals kills another of its species, then
the corresponding shaman will die.' Troshshanski thinks that
the shaman incarnates his kut only during the time that
he is actually shamanizing.
Whereas this 'black' animal-protector seems to be of a totemic
and personal nature, to a certain extent 'of one blood and flesh'
with his protégé, on the other hand ämägyat
strikes us as being a more impersonal power.
Sieroszewski  explains that it is in most cases 'the spirit
of a deceased shaman', or, in some rare cases, one of the secondary
heavenly beings. But it seems that the term 'spirit' is used
here quite vaguely; e. g., we read further on: 'The human body
cannot contain the power of great gods, and so the spirit-protector
remains always near the beloved man (outside of him) and willingly
comes at his call; in difficult moments it helps him, defends
him, and gives him advice.' 'The shaman sees and hears only
through his ämägyat', says the shaman Tiuspiut.
Ämägyat comes to a shaman through an accident,
or as a
3. Troshchanski, The Evolution of the Black Faith,
4 The part of the soul which, according to the Yakut, is common
to animals and men.
5. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 626.
heavenly destiny. 'When I was travelling in the north,' says
Tiuspiut, 'I came upon a heap of wood (saïba) in
the mountains, and as I just wanted to cook some dinner, I set
this on fire. Now under this heap was buried a well-known Tungus
shaman (Tiuspiut was a Yakut), and so his ämägyat
leapt into me." If the great shamans at death take their
(ämägyat to heaven, they are transformed into
heavenly beings; but if the ämägyat is not removed
to heaven, then it will appear on the earth sooner or later.
Besides the two so-called spirits mentioned above, there comes
to the Yakut shaman, during shamanistic performances, still another
kind of spirit, a rather mischievous one, which forces the shaman
to talk and to imitate various, often indecent, gestures. These
spirits are called kaliany, and their representatives
may be a Russian devil, a devil's daughter with a devilish groom,
who, being blind, is in the habit of groping about in the dark,
Thus Sieroszewski, on the mental training of the novice. Further
light is thrown on the question by Troshchanski. Following
out his main idea of treating black and white shamans separately,
he says: 'Not every one can become a shaman, either white or
black; only a person whose sür has obtained a suitable
'The sür of a white shaman is educated under the care
of one of the aïy, and the sür of a black
shaman studies with an abassy. How the sür
of a white shaman is educated among the Yakut is not known to
us. The sür of a black shaman lives with his tutor on the
ninth floor (underground-in their ideal division of the universe).
If the sür is educated on the ninth floor, then a
most powerful shaman will arise from it; if on the eighth floor,
then the shaman will be of medium power; if on the third floor,
then the shaman will be only a sorcerer.'
The education consists in the sür's learning 'the
habits, character, and behaviour of abassylar and shamans.'
As to the education of a shaman himself, and his initiation,
the Yakut shaman is taught by an older shaman, who consecrates
him by 'placing on him the ämägyat'. This
sign is taken away by the shaman from a person who does not wish
to be a shaman any longer. There is in the Yakut language a word
[1. Op. cit., p. 627.
3. Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 146.
4. Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 147.]
means to teach the art of shamanizing and to consecrate a
Pripuzoff  describes the consecration of a shaman among
the Yakut as follows: 'The old shaman leads his pupil up a high
mountain or into a clearing in the forest. Here he dresses him
in a shaman's garment, gives him a rattle, and places on one
side of him nine chaste youths, and on the other nine chaste
maidens. Then the shaman puts on his own garment, and directs
the youth to repeat after him certain words.' He demands of the
novice that he shall give up all that is most dear to him in
the world, and consecrate his life to the service of the spirits
who shall come -it his call. He tells his pupil where certain
'black' spirits dwell, what diseases they cause, and how they
may be propitiated. Finally the young shaman must kill a sacrificial
animal, and sprinkle himself with its blood. The flesh is eaten
by those who have been present at the ceremony.
A child chosen to be a shaman is recognized among the Buryat
by the following signs: 'He is often absorbed in meditation,
likes to be alone, has mysterious dreams, and sometimes has fits
during which he is unconscious.' According to the Buryat beliefs,
the soul of a child is then in process of being trained, among
the 'West Tengeris' if he is to be a 'white' shaman, among the
'East Tengeris' if he is to become a 'black' one. Living in the
dwelling of the gods, his soul, under the tutelage of deceased
shamans, learns the various secrets of the shaman's vocation;
the soul must remember the names of the gods, the places where
they live, the means by which they may be propitiated, and the
names of the spirits which are subordinate to the high gods.
After a period of trial the soul of the child returns to the
body, which for a time resumes its normal life. But on his reaching
adolescence, peculiar symptoms show themselves in the person
who has undergone these experiences. He becomes moody, is easily
excited into a state of ecstasy, leads an irregular life, wandering
from ulus to ulus to watch the shamanistic ceremonies.
He gives himself up with great earnestness to exercises in the
shamanistic arts, for which purpose he segregates himself, going
to some high mountain or into the forest, where, before a great
fire, he calls on the spirits,
[1. Pripuzoff, Materials for the Study of Shamanism among
the Yakut, pp. 64-5.
2. Agapitoff and Khangaloff, Materials for the Study of
Shamanism in Siberia, pp. 42-53.]
and afterwards falls into a swoon. In the meanwhile, to prevent
him from doing himself an injury, his friends keep watch over
While the novice is preparing himself for his new life, his
relations call in a good shaman, who makes a sacrifice to propitiate
the spirits and induce them to help the young shaman-to-be. If
the future shaman belongs to a poor family, the whole community
helps to procure the sacrificial animals and other things which
are indispensable for the ceremonies.
The preparatory period lasts for several years, its length
depending largely on the capacity of the young man. He cannot,
however, become a shaman until he reaches the age of twenty.
Finally he undergoes a purification ceremony. One such ceremony
does not confer all the rights and powers of a shaman; there
are, in fact, nine. But very few shamans go through all these
purifications; most only undergo two or three; some, none at
all, for they dread the responsibilities which devolve upon consecrated
shamans. To a fully consecrated shaman the gods are very severe,
and punish his faults or mistakes with death.
The first consecration ceremony is preceded by a purification
of water. For this an experienced old shaman, called the 'father-shaman',
is chosen, together with nine young men to be his assistants.
These are spoken of as his 'sons'. The water for the ablution
must be drawn from a spring-sometimes from three springs. They
go in the morning of the day of consecration to fetch the water,
taking with them tarasun , with which they make a libation
to the master- and mistress-spirits of the spring. As they return,
they pluck up from the earth birch-seedlings, of which they make
a broom, and take it to the house of the novice. Next the water
is heated over a fire, and into it are thrown certain herbs and
pieces of bark. Then from the ears of a he-goat prepared beforehand
they cut pieces of hair, and some shavings from its horns and
hoofs, and throw these also into the pot. The he-goat is then
killed in such a manner that its blood drips into the pot. Then
only is the water ready for the consecration ceremony. The flesh
of the goat is given to the women present, who cook and eat it.
Now the father-shaman foretells the future from a sheep's
shoulder-blade. He summons the shamanist ancestors of the
[1. A native Buryat drink, composed of milk
and wine, called also wine of milk'.]
novice, and offers libations of wine and tarasun. Then
he dips the birch-broom into the water and beats the candidate
on the naked back, as do also the nine 'sons' of the 'father-shaman',
saying at the same time: 'When thou art called to a poor man,
ask little in return for your trouble, and take what is given.
Take care of the poor always, help them, and pray to the gods
to defend them against the power of evil spirits. If thou art
called by a rich man, go to him riding on a bullock, and do not
ask much for your trouble. If thou art called at the same time
by a poor and by a rich man, go first to the poor.' The candidate
repeats these precepts after the shaman, and promises to observe
Then follows a libation of tarasun to the guardian
spirits; this closes the ceremony.
The purification of a shaman by water is performed at least once
a year, but sometimes once a month, at the new moon; or else
at any other time when he considers himself to have been defiled,
e. g. by touching some unclean object. If the defilement is especially
gross, then purification is performed with blood. The shaman
also purifies himself after a death has occurred in the ulus.
This ceremony is followed after some time by the first consecration,
called kherege-khulkhe, the expenses of which are shared
by the community. Again a 'father-shaman' and nine 'sons' are
chosen, and they, accompanied by the novice, ride on horseback
from yurta to yurta, collecting offerings. Before
each yurta they stop and announce their coming with a
shout. They are hospitably entertained, and offerings of different
kinds-votive handkerchiefs, which are tied to 'a birch staff
carried by the novice, and sometimes money-are brought to them.
They buy wooden cups, little bells tied to horse-staves, wine,
&c. The day before the ceremony a certain number of stout
birches are cut from the groves by the 'sons' under the direction
of the 'father-shaman '; from the straightest of these they make
horse-staves. The grove from which these are taken is one in
which the dead of the ulas are buried, and for the propitiation
of the spirits there they make offerings of mutton and tarasan.
At the same time they prepare the shaman's accessories, and meanwhile
other shamans of similar standing with the 'father-shaman ' summon
In the morning of the day of the consecration the birch-trees
cut the day before are planted. The stoutest birch, which has
its roots still attached to it, they plant in the south-west
corner of the yurta, where the ground is left bare for
the fire; the top of the tree projects through the smoke-bole
above. This birch represents symbolically the porter-god who
allows the shaman ingress into heaven. It points the way by which
the shaman can reach the sky, and remains permanently in the
yurta as a sign that the dwelling is that of a shaman.
The other birches are planted in front of the yurta in
the place where sacrifices are usually offered, in the following
order, from west to east:
(i) A birch under which, on a carpet of felt, is placed some
tarasun. To the branches of this ribbons of black and
yellow are tied if the shaman is to be 'black', of white and
blue if he is to be a 'white' shaman, and of all four colours
if he is to serve both kinds of spirits.
(ii) A birch to which are tied a big bell and the sacrificial
(iii) A fairly stout birch which the novice has to climb.-These
three trees are planted with their roots, and are called serge
(iv) Nine saplings, in groups of three, the saplings in each
group being bound together with a rope made of white horsehair.
To these are tied ribbons of different colours in the following
order-white, blue, red, yellow, and so on again. On the saplings
are hung skins of animals.
(v) Nine posts to which sacrificial animals are tied.
(vi) Some stout birches to which the bones of the sacrificial
animals are tied after being bound up in straw. These birches
form a row.
From the principal birch in the yurta to all those
which stand outside are led two ribbons, red and blue. This is
a symbolical representation of the path of the shaman to the
spirit-world. To the north of the row of birches are placed nine
pots for cooking the sacrificial meat.
When everything is ready, the novice and the others who take
part in the ceremony don their ceremonial dress. Then the shaman's
accessories are blessed, after which the horse-staves are said
to turn into real horses. All the morning the assembled shamans
have been summoning the spirits and sprinkling tarasun.
The 'father-shaman' now calls upon the guardian gods, and the
novice repeats after him the words of his invocation. The candidate
climbs the birch inside the yurta, gets on to the roof,
and from there summons the spirits in a loud voice. When the
moment comes for leaving the yurta, four shamans take
hold of a certain felt carpet, each by a corner. Just outside
the entrance to the yurta a fire is made, and various
herbs are thrown into it: everybody and everything which passes
over the fire is purified by it.
The people leave the yurta in the following order: first the
'father-shaman', then the candidate, then the nine 'sons', and
finally the relatives and guests.
The ceremony ends with feasts and sacrifices.
Among the Samoyed and Ostyak of the Turukhan
country the future shaman spends his youth in exercises which
stimulate his nerves and excite his imagination. At the consecration
of a novice, according to Tretyakoff he must stand with his
face towards the west, while the officiating shaman asks the
Dark Spirit to help the candidate and to give him a spirit to
serve him. At the end of the ceremony the shaman sings a hymn
in praise of the Dark Spirit, and the novice repeats it after
him. The beginner is tested by the spirits, who require of him
certain sacrifices, as of his wife or son, and he has to promise
them various other sacrifices.
Both Castren  and Islavin  speak of the special training
of the novice by an old shaman. One of the Samoyed shamans told
Castren of how he was entrusted to the care of an old shaman
for training, when he was fifteen, as he (the candidate) came
[1. According to Potanin, the felt carpet
alluded to by Agapitoff and Khangaloff provides the means of
performing what is considered the most essential part of the
ceremony. The novice is carried on it, by the four shamans mentioned,
out of the yurta to the row of nine birches. Of the moment
of his elevation on the carpet, they say bo begde, 'the
shaman ascends'. On reaching the birches, the shaman must leap
from the carpet on to one of them, which he climbs. From the
top of this birch he must jump to that of the one next to it,
and so on to the end of the row, whence he must return in the
same manner to his starting-point, and is then again placed on
the carpet. After this ceremony the new shaman begins to shamanize,
to foretell the future, and to heal the sick-but all this without
the use of the drum. This accessory he is not permitted to acquire
until after the third year from his consecration. (Potanin, Sketches
of Northern Mongolia, vol.iv,pp.58-9.) According to Appitoff
and Khangalolf (op. cit., p. 141), the custom thus described
by Potanin is peculiar to the Buryat of Balgansk.
3 Bielayewski, op. cit., p. 113.
4. Tretyakoff, The Country of Turukhansk, pp. 210-12.
5. Castren, Nordische Reisen und Forschungen, p. 191.
6. Islavin, The Samoyed, their Home and Social Life,
old shamanist family. The means of education was as follows:
Two tadibey (shamans) blindfolded him with a handkerchief,
and then beat him, one on the back of the head and the other
on the shoulders, till his eyes were dazzled as with too much
light, and he saw demons dancing on his arms and feet. It must
be remembered, of course, that he had been taught beforehand
about the Samoyed world of spirits.' In former times Lapland
was a school of shamanism, and all neighbouring tribes sent youths
thither to be trained as shamans. At present only among Russian
Lapps are noyda (shamans) to be found, and they are but
degenerate copies of their predecessors.
[1. Castren, op. cit., p. 191.
2. Schefferus, Lapponia, p. 120. N. Kharuzin, The
Noyda among the Ancient and the Modern Lapps.]
TYPES OF SHAMANS
IN this chapter, which deals with the different types of shamans,
the duties of a shaman will be enumerated. In nearly all the
more advanced tribes we shall see that certain shamans specialize
in one sort of duty or another, while among the more primitive
peoples each performs many different kinds of duties-a state
of things made possible by the less complex nature of those duties.
The high conception of a shaman's duties among certain tribes
may be seen from Banzaroffs ideal picture of a Buryat shaman.
He is (a) priest, (b) medicine-man, and (c) prophet.
(a) 'As a priest, he knows the will of the gods, and so declares
to man what sacrifices and ceremonies shall be held; he is an
expert in ceremonials and prayers. Besides the communal ceremonies
at which he officiates, he conducts also various private cerenionials.'
(b) As medicine-man, the shaman performs certain ceremonies
to expel the evil spirit from the patient.
(c) As a prophet, he foretells the future either by means
of the shoulder-blade of a sheep or by the flight of arrows.
This ideal type of shaman was probably rare even in Banzaroff's
time, for he himself says that the shaman was not present at
all communal sacrifices. It is the same with some family sacrifices:
the ongons are fed by the master of the house; and certain
other sacrifices, as, for instance, those offered at child-birth,
are made without the assistance of the shaman.
The fact that a communal or family ceremony is sometimes presided
over by the head of the commune or family, or that a private
individual occasionally performs divination, does not alter the
fact that the original type of Buryat shaman had the performance
of all these rites in his hands. They had among the
[1 Banzaroff, Black Faith, 1893, pp.
3. Klenientz, E.R.E., 'The Buriats', p. 13 ).
Mongols in the time of Djingis Khan, when the shamans were
at the height of their power. We cannot therefore agree with
Mr. Mikhailowski, who says, 'Of all the actions of the shaman,
the most characteristic of his calling is what is known as kamlanie,'
i.e. invocations of spirits. Although it may be that in the
decadence of his office a shaman is sometimes nowadays no more
than a medicine-man, even now in certain places shamans are present,
not only at communal, but also at family rites, and even when
not so present we find in the rites traces of their original
The Koryak. Among the Koryak, as among the Palaeo-Siberians
and most Neo-Siberian tribes, we may distinguish  (1) family
shamans, and (2) professional shamans.
Family shamanism is connected with the domestic hearth, whose
welfare is under its care. The family shaman has charge of the
celebration of family festivals, rites, and sacrificial ceremonies,
and also of the use of the family charms and amulets, and of
Professional shamans are those who are not definitely attached
to a certain group of people. The more powerful they are, the
wider is the circle in which they can practise their art.
'There is no doubt that professional shamanism has developed
from the ceremonials of family shamanism', says Joebelson. 
It seems, however, necessary to add another category of (3) communal
shamans, forming a transitional class between family and professional
shamans. These shamans have to deal with a group of families
taking part in important ceremonials. The admission of this third
category must not be taken to mean that we agree unconditionally
with the idea that the professional shaman is a development from
the family, or the communal, shaman, though many practices, and
the opinions of such serious investigators as Jochelson and Bogoras,
lend some weight to this notion.
It was among the Koryak that professional shamans were first
affected by Christianity.
The Chukchee. Among the Chukchee, the above division
into family and professional shamans needs to be supplemented,
since we find  that there exist three categories of professional
[1. Mikhailowski, Shamanism, p. .58.
2 Op. cit., p. 55.
3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 47.
Bogoras, The Chukchee, pp. 430-1.]
(A) Ecstatic shamans, (B) Shaman-prophets, (C) Incantation
Of course, the duties of the shamans of all these categories
merge into each other; still, a certain specialization is to
A. The ecstatic shaman communicates with 'spirits' and is
This includes all kinds of intercourse with "spirits"
which become apparent to the listeners; that is, the voices of
"spirits " talking through the medium of the shaman,
ventriloquistic performances, and other tricks-generally speaking,
the whole spectacular part of shamanism, which forms ' the main
content of the shamanistic séances.' As observed
above, 'all this is often considered merely as a kind of jugglery.
For performances of this sort, young people are said to be better
adapted than older ones. With increasing years some of the shamans
discontinue most of these tricks.'
B. The shaman-prophet, i. e. one who is 'looking into', hetolatirgin.
'This branch of Chukchee shamanism is held in the highest
veneration, because the shaman possessing it has the faculty
of seeing the danger lying in wait for the people, or the good
in store for them, and accordingly he is able to advise them
bow to avoid the first and to secure the second. Most of the
instructions given are of a ritualistic kind, and refer to certain
details of such and such a ceremonial, which must be arranged
after a certain manner in order to secure the desired result.,
There are shamans who, though they have kelet at their
disposal, cannot give any advice; while others, on the other
hand, cannot communicate with 'spirits', but 'give magical advice
as a kind of internal subjective inspiration, after self-communion
for a few moments. These, notwithstanding the simplicity of their
proceedings, usually enjoy the highest consideration of their
For instance, the shaman Galmuurgin was said by the Chukchee
to be '(with) only his (own) body' (em-wikilin), because
no other beings helped him with their inspiration.
'When giving a séance, he began by beating a
drum and singing, but in a few minutes he would leave off the
[1. Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 430.
2 Op. cit., p. 431.
and drawing a few long, almost hysterical breaths, would immediately
proceed to foretell the future. He talked to many people present,
one by one. When he was through with one case, he would stop
for a while, as if recollecting himself, and then, after several
deep-drawn sighs, would pass on to the next applicant.'
C. Incantation shamans (ewganva-tirgin, 'producing
of incantations'), who carry on the more complicated practices
Incantations, together with spells, form the greater part
of Chukchee magic. The incantations may be of a benevolent or
malevolent character. Hence there are two types of shamans in
1. 'Well-minded' (ten-cimnulin), who ply their art
in order to help sufferers.
2. 'Mischievous' (kurg-enenilit, or kunich-enenilit,
literally 'mocking shamans'), who are bent on doing harm to people.
Good shamans have a red shamanistic coat and bad shamans a
black one. The same colours are used by the Yukaghir shamans.
The majority of shamans, however, combine in themselves the
gifts of all these categories and in the name of 'spirits' perform
various tricks, foretell the future, and pronounce incantations.
The Yakut. Troshchanski suggests that the division
of shamans into black and white is the most essential division
among all Siberian tribes, though many travellers speak of shamans
in a general way as if there were only one kind. It would seem,
however, that Troshchanski overlooks the distinction between
the religious conceptions of the Palaeo-Siberians and those of
the Neo-Siberians. They live under different environmental conditions;
and, besides, the Neo-Siberians have undoubtedly been to some
extent influenced by contact with the higher Asiatic religions.
It is among the Neo-Siberians that magico-religious dualism
appears more distinctly. Again, within the class of Neo-Siberians
themselves differences are found. Among the Yakut  the black
shamans predominate, the white hardly existing; while among
[1. Op. cit., p. 431.
2 Troshchanski, The Evolution of the Black Faith, 1902,
3. Op. cit., P. 110.]
the Votyak the white are almost the only shamans now to be
found, as the cult of the bright god has almost entirely displaced
that of the black.
The Yakut white shamans are called aïy-oïuna.
They take part in the spring festivals, marriage ceremonies,
fertilization rites, and the curing of diseases, in cases where
kut has not yet been taken away from the patient.
We read in a certain tale that at one wedding there were present
nine aïy-oïuna (white men-shamans) and eight
aïy-udangana (white women- shamans).  White shamans
also ask, in cases of the sterility of women, the maghan sylgglakh
to descend to earth and make the woman fertile. At the autumn
fishing, in former times, they lighted torches made of wood cut
from a tree struck by lightning, purged the waters of all uncleanness,
and asked the ichchi (spirit-owner) of the lake for a
benefit. This, he considers, was certainly done by white. shamans,
if only for the reason that the ceremony was held in the daytime.
But, on page 105 of the same work, Troshchanski writes: 'Only
the spring festivals were called aïy-ysyakh; the
autumn festivals were known is abassy-ysyakh.' Hence the
ceremony of fertilization of the lake must have been performed
by black shamans, abassy-oïuna, in spite of the fact
that this ceremony was held in the daytime.
As to the characters of the two kinds of shamans, Gorokboff
says that he knew personally several aïy-oïuna,
who were very good people indeed, quiet, delicate, and really
honest, while the abassy-oïuna were good for nothing.
But Troshchanski says that the 'black shaman' among the Yakut
is only professionally 'black', that his attitude has no specially
evil character, and that he helps men no less than the white
shaman does. He is not necessarily bad, though he deals with
evil powers, and he occupies among the Yakut a higher position
than among other Neo-Siberians.
Black shamans offer sacrifices to abassylar and shamanize
to maintain their prestige. They foretell the future, call up
spirits, wander into spirit-land, and give accounts of their
At the present day there are among the Yakut special storytellers
and also special sorcerers (aptah-kisi).
[1. Op. cit., 1). 149.
2. Khudiakoff, Verkhoyansk Anthology, p. 88.
3. Troshchanski, ibid.
4. Gorokhoff . Yurung-Uolan, E.S.S.I.R.G.S., 1887,
Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 152.]
According to the degree of esteem, in which they are held
by the people, Sieroszewski' classifies Yakut shamans as follows:
The Great Shaman-ulahan-oïun.
(2) The Middling Shaman-orto-oïun.
(3) The Little Shaman-kenniki-oïun.
A 'great shaman' has the ämägyat from Ulu-Toïen
A shaman of middling power also possesses ämägyat,
but not of so high a quality or to so great an extent as the
A 'little shaman' does not possess ämägyat.
He is not, in fact, really a shaman, but a person in some way
abnormal, neurotic, or original, who can cure trifling illnesses,
interpret dreams, and frighten away small devils only.
With regard to the classification of shamans into 'white'
and 'black', Troshchanski puts forward the hypothesis that these
two classes of shamans originated and developed independently:
'One might imagine that the class of white shamans came into
existence first, and that it derived from the class of heads
of families and clans. The custom of the choice of one leader
(shaman) for common ceremonies or sacrifices may have helped
in this evolution of the white shaman from the heads of families.
The wisest and most respected member of the community would probably
have the best chance of being chosen, as he could please not
only the people but also the spirits.' 
The same persons might then have been chosen repeatedly, and
presently a class of white shamans might arise for the communal
cults and sacrifices. In the meantime the head of the family
could still keep his priestly power in his own home, until the
professional shaman took his place, as we see at the present
day among certain tribes, e.g. the Yakut. 
Why should we regard the head of the family as the prototype
of the white shaman? We shall find in Troshchanski's book no
more satisfactory reply to this question than is contained in
the following short passage:
'I think we are right in saying that the heads of the family,
or the chosen priests, in their practice and prayers do not address
themselves to the evil spirits, which in Yakut are called abassylar;
hence it is here that we find the origin of white shamans.' 
If we follow Troshchanski, we must draw the conclusion that
[1. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 628.
2. Troshchauski, op. cit., p. 120.
3. Op. cit., p. 124.
4. Op. cit., p. 113.]
among the Neo-Siberians, e. g. the Buryat and the Yakut, the
white shamans form a quite distinct class, although we see that
on certain occasions the head of the family may take the place
of the white shaman:
'Tailgan is a communal sacrifice in which the whole
family or clan takes part. This ceremony is designed to show
humility: the Buryat call it the "asking ceremony".
The performer of tailgan may be the shaman, or the whole
group of family heads without the assistance of a shaman.'
Among the Palaeo-Siberians there is no class of white shamans,
and the family cult is in the hands of the father, assisted by
the mother, the participation of professional shamans being often
prohibited. Among the Gilyak the assistance of shamans at sacrificial
feasts, e.g. the bear-ceremonial, is even forbidden. Is this
because there is no white shaman among these people? Or is it
an indication that, after all, family and professional shamanism
have developed separately?
Among the Yakut, from. the observation of whom Troshchanski
formed his hypothesis, the white shaman may be a woman, in cases
where the woman stands as family head.
Now as to the black shamans, they were originally women, says
Troshchanski, and he draws attention to the following linguistic
and sociological particulars which are made to act as evidence
in support of his hypothesis.
What is the essential meaning of the word shaman? In Sanskrit
sram=to be tired, to become weary; sramana=work,
religious mendicant. In the Pali language the word samana
has the same meaning. These two latter words have been adopted
by the Buddhists as names for their priests. But, according
to Banzaroff, the word shaman originated in northern Asia:
saman is a Manchu word, meaning 'one who is excited, moved,
raised'; samman (pronounced shaman) and hamman
in Tungus, have the
[1. Agapitoff and Khangitloff, Materials
for the Study of Shamanism in Siberia, E.S.S.I.R.G.S., p.
'How this may occur, in the patriarchal Yakut family, Troshchanski
explains as follows: 'Each wife of a polygynous Yakut lived separately
with her children and relations and cattle; during the frequent
absences of her husband she was actually the head of the family,
and performed family ceremonials. Several such ye-usa
(matriarchal families) formed one aga-usa (patriarchal
family)' (p. 116).
3. I am indebted for this information to Mr. M. de Z. Wickremasinghe,
Lecturer in Tamil and Telugu in the University of Oxford.]
same meaning. Samdambi is Manchu: 'I shamanize', i.e.
'I call the spirits dancing before the charm'
From the above we see that the essential characteristic of
a shaman is a liability to nervous ecstasy and trances. Women
are more prone to emotional excitement than men: among the Yakut
most of the women suffer from menerik (a nervous disease,
one type of the so-called 'Arctic hysteria '). 
Thus Troshchanski. But the only conclusion-if any-that he
could draw from this would be that women are by nature more disposed
to shamanizing than men. And why should this make her the original
black shaman? Only one piece of evidence is adduced to connect
women with 'black' shamanizing, and that is taken from Kamchadal
life,. not from that of the Yakut, upon which chiefly he grounds
his hypothesis. Among the most primitive Kamchadal, where there
were only women (or koek-chuch) shamans, these practised
only black shamanism, summoning evil spirits.
As to the linguistic evidence:
Among the Mongols, Buryat, Yakut, Altaians, Torgout, Kidan,
Kirgis, there is one general term for a woman-shaman, which has
a slightly different form in each tribe: utagan, udagan, udaghan,
ubakhan, utygan, utiugun, iduan (duana); whereas the
word for man-shaman is different in each of these tribes.
In Yakut he is called oïun; in Mongol, buge;
Buryat, buge and bö; Tungus, samman
and hamman; Tartar, kam; Altaian, kam and gam;
Kirgis, baksa (basky); Samoyed, tadibey.
From the above Troshchanski concludes that during the migration
of the Neo-Siberians they had only women-shamans, called by a
similar general name; and that the men-shamans appeared later,
when these people scattered, settling in lands distant from one
mother, so that the term for man-shaman originated independently
in each tribe.
Of course, this linguistic evidence concerns only the Neo-
and not the Palaeo-Siberians.
Troshchanski gives us further the following religio-social evidence,
drawn exclusively from the Yakut, in support of his
[1. Zakharoff, Complete Manchu-Russian
Dictionary, 1875, p. 568.
2. Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 119.
3. Krasheninnikoff, Description of the Conoitry of Kamchatka,
4. Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 118.]
hypothesis of the evolution of the 'black' man-shaman from
the 'black' woman-shaman:
(a) On the Yakut shaman's apron there are sewn two iron circles,
(b) The man-shaman dresses his hair like a woman, on the two
sides of the head, and braids it; during a performance he lets
the hair fall down.
(c) Both women and shamans are forbidden to lie on the right
side of a horse-skin in the yurta.
(d) The man-shaman wears the shaman's costume only on very
important occasions; in ordinary circumstances he wears a girl's
dress made of the skin of a foal.
(e) During the first three days after a confinement, when
Ayisit, the deity of fecundity, is supposed to be near the woman
who is lying-in, access to the house where she is confined is
forbidden to men, but not to shamans.
How the female black shaman was displaced by the male black
shaman Troshchanski explains as follows, again using exclusively
The smith who made the ornaments for the female shaman's garment
acquired some shamanistic power. He was in contact with iron,
which was of magical importance, and power came to him through
this contact. (The smiths were, like the shamans, 'black' and
'white', but among the Yakut one hears more of 'black' smiths
than of 'white'.) Thus the similarity between the vocation of
a shaman and that of a smith becomes close, especially when the
calling of smith descends through many generations in the same
family. Smiths come to be considered as the elder brothers of
shamans, and then the differences between them finally disappear,
the smith becoming a shaman.
The woman, then, since she could not be a smith, had eventually
to give up her place to the man.
In modern times, as there are no longer any 'inagical smiths',
new shamanistic garments cannot be made.'
[1. Krasheninnikoff, op. cit., pp. 81-2.
3. Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 123.
Troshchanski, op. cit.. p. 125. It will be interesting to
quote here what Sieroszewski says about the vocation of the smith:
"Those who approach most nearly to the shamans in their
office, and are partially related to them, are the smiths. "The
smith and the shaman are of one nest,", says a proverb of
the Kolyma district. The smiths also can cure, advise, and foretell
the future, but their knowledge does not possess a magical character;
they are simply clever people, who know much, and who possess
"peculiar fingers". The profession of smith is generally
hereditary, especially in the north. It is in the ninth generation
that a [hereditary] smith first acquires certain supernatural
qualities, and the more ancient his ancestry, the more marked
are these qualities. The spirits are generally afraid of iron
hoops and of the noise made by the blowing of the smith's bellows.
In the Kolyma district the shaman would not shamanize until I
[Sieroszewski] removed my case of instruments; and even then
his bad luck in shamanizing wits explained by him as due to the
fact that, as he said, "the spirits are afraid of smiths
[in this case Sieroszewski], and that is why they do not appear
at my call." Only a smith of the ninth generation can, without
harm to himself, hammer out the iron embellishment of the shamanistic
dress, the iron for the drum, or make ämägyat.
If the smith who makes a shamanistic ornament has not a sufficient
number of ancestors, if the noise of hammering and the glare
of the fire does not surround him on all sides, then birds with
crooked claws and beaks will tear his heart in pieces. Respectable
hereditary smiths have tools possessed of "spirits"
(ichchilah) which can give out sounds by themselves.'
(Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 632.)]
This hypothesis of women being the first black shamans is,
however, not borne out by the evidence. Even if we allow that
the above quotations, especially that containing the linguistic
evidence, tend to show that women were shamans before men, it
does not follow that they were the first black shamans. There
is not enough evidence in Troshchanski's book to support his
hypothesis of two separate origins and developments for black
and white shamans.
On the other hand, the evolution which Troshchanski ascribes
to black shamans might be ascribed to professional shamanism,
if we reject Jochelson's and Bogoras's view that professional
developed out of family shamanism.
The Altaians. Wierbicki  says that among the Altaians,
besides the shaman, called kam, there are also (i) rynchi,
'who, during attacks accompanied by pain, can foretell the future';
(ii) telgochi, or 'guessers'; (iii) yarinchi, or
those who can divine by means of the blade-bone; (iv) koll-kurechi,
who divine from the hand; (v) yadachi, who control the weather
by means of a stone, yada-tash, which is found in narrow
mountain defiles, where winds blow continually. To obtain these
stones a yadachi must swear away all his possessions.
Hence he is poor, lonely, and usually a widower.
The Buryat. Among the Buryat, according to Shashkoff,
shamans are divided into (a) hereditary shamans and (b) shamans
of the first generation. Another division is into (a) real, (b)
[1. The Natives of the Altai, pp. 44-6.
2. Shashkoff, Shamanism in Siberia, W.S.S.I.R.G.S.,
shamans. Again there are (a) white (sagan-bö)
and (b) black (haranïn-bö).
The white and black shamans, the Buryat say, fight with each
other, hurling axes at one another from distances of hundreds
of miles. The white shaman serves the West tengeri and
West khats, and has charge of the ceremonies held at birth,
marriage, &c. He wears a white coat and rides a white horse.
A famous white shaman was Barlak of the Balagansk district, at
whose grave his descendants still go to worship.
The black shaman serves the tengeri and khats
of the East. These shamans are said to have power to bring illness
and death upon men. They are not liked, but much feared, by the
people, who sometimes kill black shamans, to such a point does
this dislike develop. The grave of a black shaman is usually
shaded by aspens, and the body is fastened to the earth by a
stake taken from this tree.
According to Agapitoff and Kangaloff, there are also a few
shamans who serve both good and bad spirits at the same time.
The Samoyed. Lepekhin  Says that the Samoyed shamans
are not divided into distinct classes, black and white, as among
the Buryat, but serve both for good and bad ends, as occasion
arises. The Lapps likewise make no strict distinction between
good shamans and bad. Some of the Lapp noyda (shamans)
are known as 'Big', and others as 'Little', noyda.
The Votyak. The whole Votyak hierarchy arose from the
white shamans. The chief of the shamans is the tuno. At
the present day the tuno  is the chief upholder of
the old religion.
As the soul of a tuno is 'educated' by the Creator,
he is without doubt a white shaman. Besides the tuno,
there are priests, chosen either by himself or by the people
under his advice. 'In most cases the profession and knowledge
of a tuno descend from father to son, although any person
who has the opportunity of acquiring the knowledge necessary
to a tuno can become one.' 
Among the Votyak there is a classification of shamans into
(a) permanent and (b) temporary. The latter are chosen to Perform
some particular sacrifice. Besides these there are
[1. Agapitoff and Khanaaloff, op. cit., pp.
2. Lepekhin, Diary of a Journey, p. 262.
3. Bogayewski, A Sketch of the Mode of Life of the Votyak
of Sarapul, p. 123.
4. Op. cit., p. 126.]
secondary priests appointed by the tuno and called
töre and parchis.
In former times black shamans also were to be found among
the Votyak, but they have given way to the white, just as among
the Yakut the white shaman has been largely displaced by the
The Votyak black shaman of former times has been converted
into an ordinary sorcerer. He is called pellaskis, and
'he can aid the sick, and find lost cattle through his incantations;
but all this without any connexion with the deities'. Another
kind of sorcerer is called vedin. He is feared and hated
by all. 
When the tuno has finished his education under Kylchin-Inmar
(the Creator), the latter takes his pupil to a place where the
candidates for the position of sorcerer reside. He examines them,
and to those who answer satisfactorily he gives permission to
enchant and destroy men.
[1. Bogayewski, op. cit., p. 12).
2. Op. cit., p. 126.]
THE ACCESSORIES OF THE SHAMAN
IN everyday life the shaman is not distinguishable from other
people except by an occasionally haughty manner, but when he
is engaged in communicating with spirits he has to make use of
a special dress and special instruments. Of these the most important
and the one in most general use is the shaman's drum. It may
be said that all over Siberia, where there is a shaman there
is also a drum. The drum has the power of transporting the shaman
to the superworld and of evoking spirits by its sounds.
Authors of the eighteenth century, like Pallas and Krasheninnikoff,
pay great attention to the shaman's accessories. Though they
have probably only been attracted by their picturesque side,
yet their descriptions are very valuable in view of the modern
attempt to reach the primitive mind through its symbolical forms
Shashkoff  enumerates the following items as indispensable
to the shaman's dress all over Siberia-the coat, the mask, the
cap, and the copper or iron plate on the breast. The Samoyed
tadibey substitute for the mask a handkerchief tied over
the eyes, so that they can penetrate into the spirit-world by
their inner sight. This use of a handkerchief is also mentioned
by Wierbicki, who says that the shamans of northern Altai wear
one round the forehead to keep the hair out of the eyes.
These four accessories-the coat, the mask, the cap, and the
iron plate-are used by the Neo-Siberians only, since among Palaeo-Siberians
the dress is much less complicated.
Each tribe has, moreover, some particular object which plays
the chief part in the shamanistic ceremony.
Gmelin, describing the Tungus shaman's costume, says that
over the usual shamanistic garment an apron, adorned with iron,
is also worn; his stockings, likewise remarkable, are made of
[1. Shamanism in Siberia, p. 86.
2. Reise durch Sibirien, ii, 193.]
ornamented with iron. Among the Gilyak and the Olchi it is
the shaman's girdle which is of the greatest significance;
among the Buryat, the horse-staves, &c. Iron and copper
objects seem also to be especially associated with the Neo-Siberians.
The whole costume with its appurtenances used during shamanistic
performances throughout Siberia has, according to Mikhailowski,
a threefold significance:
1. The shaman wishes to make a profound impression on the
eyes of the people by the eccentricity of his costume.
2. The ringing of the bells and the noise of the drum impress
their sense of hearing.
3. Finally, a symbolic meaning is attached to these accessories
and adornments, a meaning known only to believers, especially
to the shamans, and closely connected with the religious conceptions
Thus Mikhailowski. But this interpretation does not bring
out the whole importance of the relation of these objects to
the spiritual world. They are of great importance, for the spirits
will not bear the voice of the shaman unless the right dress
and implements are used, and the drum beaten; they are sacred
because of their contact with a supernatural and often dangerous
Being sacred, these accessories must not be used by any one
but a shaman, otherwise they are impotent to produce any result.
It is only a good shaman, a real one, who can possess the full
Among the Palaeo-Siberians it is usually the shaman himself
who makes all accessories, and that only when the spirits give
their permission. Among the natives of Altai it is not all shamans
who have the right to wear manyak (the coat) and the owl-skin
Among the Yakut even the blacksmith who undertakes the ornamentation
of the costume, must have inherited the right, 'If the blacksmith
who makes a shamanistic ornament has not a sufficient number
of ancestors, if he is not surrounded on all sides by the noise
of hammering and the glow of fire, then birds with crooked claws
and beaks will tear his heart in pieces.' For this
[1. Schrenck. The Natives of the Amur Country,
2. Agapitoff and Khangaloff, Materials for the Study of
Shamanism in Siberia, p. 43.
3. Shamanism, p. 72.
4. Potanin, Sketches of North-Western Mongolia, iv,
5. Sieroszewski, The Yakut, p. 632.]
reason the blacksmith's vocation comes next in importance
to the shaman's. In modern times it is practically impossible
among the Yakut for the shaman's coat to be made, since there
is now no class of hereditary blacksmiths. In his description
of the Tungus shaman's garment, Gmelin relates how the shaman
whom he saw bad no cap because the old one was burnt and the
spirits would not grant him a new one. Of the Buryat shamans
he observes that many of them do not possess drums, since the
spirits with. bold permission to make them, and two long sticks
which are struck crosswise against each other are therefore substituted
at the performance. Mikhailowski quotes the above statement
in explanation of the fact that Khangaloff had seen only one
drum among the Buryat shamans.
'With the degeneration of shamanism', says Mikhailowski, 'the
number of people who know bow to prepare the sacred instrument
with due regard to magical custom is decreasing.'  This, however,
is not the true explanation of the disappearance of the drum
among the Buryat, for the importance of the other chief Buryat
accessory, the horse-staves, which demand equal care in the making,
must also be taken into account. Without them the shaman cannot
perform any of the principal rites. They are usually made of
birch-wood, no one but a shaman who has passed his fifth consecration
being allowed to use iron horse-staves. The Lapps take great
care of their drum and keep it covered up with furs. No woman
may touch it.
The Chukchee. Among Palaeo-Siberians there are no strict
regulations as to the shape and quality of the shaman's dress.
Originality of costume is what is most sought after, and Bogoras
tells us that the Chukchee shamans sometimes adopt some old coat
brought froin the American shore. 'The Chukchee have nothing
similar to the well-known type of coat covered with fringes and
images, which is in general use among the Yakut and Tungus, and
which probably was borrowed from the latter by the Yukaghir and
perhaps also by the Kamchadal.'
The absence of a peculiar shaman's dress among the Chukchee
[1. Op. cit., P. 193.
2. These are Probably what are called by later writers 'horse-staves'.
3 Op. cit., p. 68.
4. Klenientz, E. R. E., p. 16.
5. The Chukchee, pp. 457-8.]
may be accounted for by the fact that the shamans perform
their ceremonies in the darkness of the inner room of the house,
in an atmosphere so hot and stifling that they are obliged to
take off their coats and to shamanize with the upper part of
the body quite naked.
The only shamanistic garments that Bogoras speaks of are a
coat and a cap. 'As far as I know,' he says, 'among the other
neighbouring tribes also female shamans have no outward distinguishing
mark, nor do they use the special shamanistic garb which is assigned
only to the male shamans.'
After this statement the custom among certain tribes of the
adoption by the male shaman of the clothes and manner of a woman
appears still more strange. The shamanistic coat is characterized
by a fringe round the sleeves a little above the opening, or
round the neck a little below the collar. This coat may be adopted
by the shaman or by the patient. Besides the fringe there are
slits ornamented with cured leather. 'These slits and fringes
are usually said to represent the curves and zigzags of the Milky
But if we remember the many other ways in which the Chukchee
shaman imitates the Tungus shaman, we may conclude that both
slits and fringes in the shamanistic coat are but another instance
of the same imitation. The garment represented in Bogoras's book
has in front of it an image of tetkeyun, that is, 'vital
force', which resides in the heart and assumes its form. It is
made like a leather ball and filled with reindeer-hair. The other
figure, likewise of leather, represents a rekken, or 'assisting'
spirit of the shaman.
The shamanistic cap is also supplied with fringes, with a
tassel on the top and a long double tassel on the left side.
The tassels are of the type adopted for magic purposes, that
is, they are formed of alternating pieces of white and black
fur. 'Another cap with the opening on top, and likewise fringed
and tasselled, was used by the shaman as a remedy against headache.'
In addition to these garments, the Chukchee shaman uses in
his performances many small instruments, such as the knife, the
handle, of which is embellished with magical objects, and a small
flat piece of ivory, which is said to be usually employed when
cutting open a body. The ivory of the shaman, 'Scratching-Woman',
[1. Op. cit., p. 458.
2 Op. cit., p. 459.
4. Op. cit., p. 460.]
leather images fastened to it. 'One was said to represent
a kele from the "direction" of the darkness,
with the arms longer than the legs. The middle image with only
one arm and one leg, and with the two eyes one above the other,
represented the kele lumetun. The third image represented
a crawling "spell" sent by an enemy of the shaman,
who interecpted it on the way and thoroughly subdued it so that
it began to do his bidding.' These different amulets, the
form of pendants and tassels, are made of skin and beads by the
shaman himself, and are fastened to various parts of the body
or dress. Such are also the 'round patches of skin, often with
a tassel in the centre', which are considered highly effective
amulets among the Chukchee, the Koryak, and the Asiatic Eskimo.
They are sewn to the coat, on the breast or on the shoulders,
or against the affected part of the body. An image of the 'guardian'
is placed in the middle, and is often replaced by an ornamental
figure of a woman, of a dancing man, or of a warrior. These objects,
as well as those already mentioned, serve both a magical and
an ornamental purpose.
The most important object in shamanistic performances all
over Siberia is the drum. Thus the Chukchee use the drum which
is common to both Asiatic and American Eskimo.
The drum used by the Reindeer and Maritime Chukchee is different
from that adopted in north-western Asia by the Yakut, Tungus,
Koryak, Kamchadal, and Yukaghir, which is rather of a southern
The southern drum is large and somewhat oval in shape, and
is held by four loose bands, which are fastened to the hoop of
the drum on the inner side. The other ends of these bands meet
in the middle, where they are tied to a small wheel or a cross,
which is without any other support. When these are grasped by
the hand the drum hangs loosely, and may be shaken and its position
changed at will. The drum-stick is made of wood and covered with
skin or with cured leather.
The Chukchee drum has a wooden handle which is lashed with
sinews to the wooden hoop. The diameter of the hoop, which is
nearly circular in shape, is from 40 to 50 centimetres. The head
is made of very thin skin, usually the dried skin of a walrus's
stomach. In order to stretch the skin it is moistened with water
or wine, and the edge is then tied with sinew cord. The ends
[1. Op. cit., p. 466.
2. Op. cit., p. 468.
3. According to Mr. Henry Balfour this shows Eskimo influence.]
this cord are fastened to the handle. The drum is very light
weighing from half a pound to a pound and a half. The drumstick
varies according to its purpose. It is either a narrow, light
strip of whalebone from 30 to 40 centimetres long, or a piece
of wood from 60 to 70 centimetres long, which is sometimes adorned
with fur tassels. The former is used during the magical performances
held in the inner room at night, the latter during ceremonials
performed in the outer tent during the day.
When the family is moving from place to place, the cover of
the drum is removed, folded, and fastened to the hoop to be replaced
when needed. In the winter house the drum remains in front of
the sleeping-place, and in the summer tent it hangs near the
The Koryak. The shaman accessories of the Koryak, another
Palaeo-Siberian tribe, are described by Jochelson as follows:
'The Koryak shamans have no drums of their own; they use the
drums belonging to the family in whose house the shamanistic
performance takes place. It seems that they wear no special dress;
at least the shamans whom I had occasion to observe wore ordinary
One embroidered jacket. which was sold to Jochelson as an
Alutor shaman's dress, is very much like the ordinary man's dancing-jacket
used during the whale ceremony, but more elaborate. The Koryak
drum belongs not to the shaman but to the family. It is used
both as a musical instrument and as a sacred object in the household.
Everybody who pleases can beat the drum, but there is usually
one competent person who knows bow to shamanize with it.
The Koryak drum, yyai, is oval in shape and covered
with reindeer-hide on one side only, its diameter being 73 centimetres.
The drum-stick is made of thick whalebone, wider at the end with
which the drum is struck, and this end is covered with the skin
of a wolf's tail.
Inside the drum at four points in the rim a double cord of
nettle fibre is fastened and joined below to form the handle.
These cords run towards one side of the drum. On the top of the
inside rim is attached an iron rattle. Jochelson says that this
custom of attaching the rattle has been borrowed from the Tungus
and that not all Koryak drums possess it.
[1. Bogoras, The Chukchee, pp. 356-7.
2. The Koryak, pp. 54-5.
3. Op. cit. P. 56]
The Kamchadal (Itelmen). Among the Kamchadal there
is apparently no shamanistic garment or drum. Two early travellers
to their country, Steller and Krasheninnikoff, say that everybody,
especially women, could shamanize, and hence this occupation
was not professional enough to demand a special dress.
The Yukaghir. The Yukaghir drum is a rough oval. It
is covered with hide on one side only. Inside the drum there
is an iron cross near the centre, which serves as a handle. The
ends of the cross are fastened with straps to the rim, to which
four iron rattles are attached. There is a great similarity
between the Yukaghir and the Yakut drum, not only in the iron
rattles, iron cross, and general shape, but also in the small
protuberances on the outer surface of the rim, which according
to the Yakut represent the horns of the shaman's spirits. The
stick is covered with the skin of a reindeer's leg. In Yukaghir
traditions the drum without metallic additions is still traceable,
the iron pieces having been borrowed from the Yakut.
The Yukaghir word for drum is yalgil, which means 'lake',
that is, the lake into which the shaman dives in order to descend
into the shadow-world.
The Eskimo. This is very much like the conception of
the Eskimo, the souls of whose shamans descend into the lower
world of the goddess Sedna. The Eskimo drums are not large; the
largest are to be found at Hudson Bay. They are either symmetrically
oval or round, and a wooden handle is fastened to the rim. J.
Murdoch, says that such drums are used by the Eskimo from
Greenland to Siberia. The Eskimo as well as the Chukchee beat
the lower part of the drum with the stick. The Koryak drum also
is struck from below, and is held in a slanting position. Other
Asiatic drums are mostly beaten in the centre. Among the Indians
living south of the Eskimo we find broad-rimmed drums used for
purposes of shamanism, as well as in dancing-houses.
The Gilyak. The most important accessories of the Gilyak
shaman are the drum, kas, and the shaman's girdle, yangpa.
Schrenck gives us the following description of them: 'One night
when I was sitting in a tent in the village of Yrri, they brought
in two shamans' drums and other accessories, and at my request
2. Op. cit., P. 59.
3. A Point Barrow Eskimo, 1887-8, p. 385.
4. Jochelson, The, Koryak, p. 58.]
they allowed me to be present at the preparation for the ceremony,
First of all the drum was heated by the fire, to make the hide
taut, so that the sound might be more sonorous. The drum was
made of the skin of a goat or reindeer, and whilst it was being
prepared the shaman made ready. He took off his outer garment,
put on the so-called koska, a short apron, and tied round
his head a band of grass, the end of which hung over his shoulders
like a tress of hair. Then he took the shaman's leather girdle,
with many iron plates, copper hoops, and other metal pendants,
which produce a loud clanking noise during the shamanistic dances.'
This girdle is called in Olcha dialect yangpa. Its chief
pendant is a large copper disk with a small handle ornamented
in relief, showing Manchu influence; this circle, called tole,
makes the most important sound. There are also many iron links
called tasso, and many irregular pieces of iron called
kyire, which make a very loud noise; a few rolled iron
plates called kongoro, and, finally, some small copper
bells without tongues, called kongokto. When the girdle
is put on all these objects hang together at the back. This shamanistic
girdle is of considerable weight.
Although the Gilyak belong to the Palaeo- Siberians, the metal
accessories seem to be of Tungus origin, as are some other features
of their culture. We read in Gmelin's  description of the
costume of a Tungus shaman that he wears over the ordinary dress
an apron ornamented with iron. This suggests that this apron-form
of the shaman's coat was borrowed either by the Gilyak from the
Tungus, or vice versa.
B. The Neo-Siberians.
Among the Neo-Siberians all their philosophy of life is represented
symbolically in the drum, and great significance is also attached
to various parts of their dress.
The Yakut. Among the Yakut even those who, like the
blacksmith, help in the adornment of the shaman's garment, occupy
a half-magical position, being credited with 'peculiar fingers
'.  The hereditary blacksmiths have tools with ' souls', ichchylakh,
which can give out sounds of their own accord. The blacksmiths
[1. Exactly the same preparations are mentioned
by Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 56.
2. Compare the leather apron hung with jingling iron pieces
worn by Manchu shamans. [Suggestion of Mr. Henry Balfour.]
3. Schrenck, op. cit., iii. 126.
4. Op. cit., p. 193.
Sieroszewski, The Yakut, p. 632.]
are those who approach most nearly to the shaman in their
office, and are, in a way, related to them. 'The blacksmith and
the shaman are of one nest', says a proverb of the Kolyma district,
cited by Sieroszewski. 'The smith is the elder brother of the
shaman' is another saying quoted by Troshchanski. Blacksmiths
can sometimes cure, give advice, and foretell the future, but
their knowledge is simply a matter of cleverness and does not
possess magical value. The profession of blacksmith is mostly
hereditary, especially in the north; in the ninth generation
the blacksmith first acquires certain supernatural qualities,
and the longer his line of descent, the greater his qualities.
The spirits are generally afraid of the iron hoops and of the
noise made by the smith's bellows. In the district of Kolyma
the shaman would not shamanize until Sieroszewski had removed
his case of metal instruments, and even then attributed his bad
luck to them: 'The spirits are afraid of the blacksmith (Sieroszewski),
and that is why they do not appear at my call.'
The shaman's dress, according to Sieroszewski, consists chiefly
of a coat. It is of cowhide, so short in front that it does not
reach the knees, but touching the ground at the back. The edges
and the surface of this coat are ornamented at the back with
different objects, each having its own name, place, and meaning.
The shaman's coat, which is not an indispensable part of the
ritual costume arnong Palaeo-Siberians, is most elaborate among
Linguistically also there is a curious point connected with
the terms for coat and drum. While the drum has a common name
(with dialectic differences) among most Neo-Siberians, tünür,
tüngür, &c., the term for the shaman's coat
varies: kumu, ereni, manyak. This seems to show that
the ceremonial coat is a comparatively newer invention than the
Sieroszewski  gives us an account of the meaning of the
coat ornamentation, which he heard from in old Yakut. It is as
1. Küngeta (the sun), a round, smooth, shining
disk, the size of a small saucer, hanging between. the shoulders,
on a short strap of leather which passes through the hole in
the middle of the disk. 
2. Wierbicki, Altaian Dictionary, p. 487.
3. Troshchanski, op. cit., P. 131.
4. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 632.
5. Troshchanski (p. 143) says that according to Piekarski
there is no such word is küngeta; it is, be says,
künäsä, or küsänä,
but the meaning of künäsä is uncertain.
However, Troshchanski thinks that the Yakut word kün-sun'--is
not etymologically connected with künäsä.
Khudyakoff translates the Yakut word küsänä
as'bell'. According to Katanoff, küsänä
means (1) 'oracular time' (?), or (2) 'iron circle' fastened
to the shaman's coat and representing the sun.]
2. Oibon-Künga (hole-in-the-ice sun), a disk of
the same shape and size as the first, but with a larger hole
in the middle. it hangs above or below the first plate on a long
3. Kondei kyhan, rolls of tin about the size of a thumb,
but longer, banging at the back on the metal rings or loops.
4. Chilliryt kyhan, flat plates as long as fingers,
banging in great numbers at the back, above the waist.
5. .Hobo, copper bells without tongues, suspended below
the collar; like a crow's egg in size and shape and having on
the tipper part a drawing of a fish's head. They are tied to
the leather straps or to the metal loops.
6. Biirgüne, two round flat disks, similar to
those which adorn the woman's cap, tuskata, but without
any design on them; they are tied like an epaulet on the shaman's
7. Oiogos timiria, two plates about the breadth of
four fingers and a little shorter, fastened on both sides of
8. Tabytaua, two long plates two fingers broad, which
are fastened to both sleeves.
9. Ämägyat, abagyta ämätiat (in
many places called emchet), a copper plate as long as
the first finger and half as wide as the palm of the hand. It
is covered either with a drawing of a man, 'with feet, bands,
head, nose, mouth, eyes, and ears', or with an engraving in
relief on a copper medallion, having a man's figure in the middle.
'Only a blacksmith who has nine generations behind him can,
[1. Troshchanski (p. 144) converts this term
into oibon-künäsätä (hole-in-the-ice
circle). Künäsätä is the genitive
of künäsä; the genitive form is used to
show that these objects belong to the shaman's coal. Priklonski
(Three Years in the Yakutsk Territory, 1891, p. 54) calls
it külar-küsanat (happy, joyous sun), which,
according to Troshchanski (p. 144), is also wrong. He says it
ought to be külär küsänä (laughing
circle). Potanin (op. cit., iv. 51) states that among the Mongols
Of north-western Asia, there are sewn on the back of the shaman's
coat two round copper disks, called by the Altaians kusungy,
or kuler-kusungy, and sometimes two others on the breasts.
Tretyakoff (op. cit., p. 214) informs us that the shamans of
Dolgan have a disk hanging on the breast, which represents the
chief evil spirit called kuganna, Troshchanski (op. cit.,
p. 145), however, suggests that kuganna is simply the
Yakut küsänä, and is not a term for an
evil spirit, but for the disk.
2. Sieroszewski quotes a native description of it, op. cit.,
without danger to himself from the spirits, make an ämägyat,
a copper plate such as has been described, which the shaman,
when he begins to shamanize, hangs on his breast.' What exactly
ämägyat means, whether it is a personal or an
impersonal power, it is difficult to determine. We shall go on
to review the various references to this subject, since the word
ämägyat is used in the double sense of (1) an
invisible power and (2) of a visible symbol. In this chapter
we shall confine ourselves to the latter. The absence of ämägyat
differentiates the less important shamans, called kenniki
oyuun, from those who possess it and who are known as orto
oyaun. The power of those in partial possession of ämägyat
varies according to 'the strength of their ämägyat'
The great shamans are those whose 'spirit-protector was sent
them by Ulu-Toyen himself' (ämägyatitiah ulytoër
Describing the shaman in action, Sieroszewski4 says that the
shaman implores the assistance of his ämägyat
and of other protecting spirits'; and it is only when the ämägyat
descends upon the shaman that he begins his frenzied dances.
Whenever a family numbers a shaman among its members, it continues
to do so, for after his death the ämägyat seeks
to re-embody itself in some one belonging to the same clan (aya-usa).
'Ämägyat ', says Sieroszewski in another
place, is a being quite apart; in most cases it is the soul
of a departed shaman; sometimes it is one of the secondary supreme
The human body cannot endure the continuous presence of a
power equal to that of the great gods; hence this spirit-protector
(if ämägyat can be so called) resides not within,
but close beside the shaman, and comes to his assistance at critical
moments, or whenever he needs him.
The shaman can see and hear only with the help of his ämägyat
said the shaman Tiuspiut to Sieroszewski.
Possession of the ämägyat does not in any
way depend upon the shaman; it comes either by an accident or
by a decree from above. Tiuspiut obtained his ämägyat
(of Tungus origin) quite accidentally.
The great shamans at death take their ämägyat
with them, and thus change into heavenly beings, most of whom
[1. Op. cit., p. 632.
2. Op. cit., p. 628.
4. Op. cit., pp. 642-3.
5. Op. cit., p. 625.
6. Op. cit., p. 626.
7 Op. cit., p. 627.
if the ämägyat does not depart in this way,
then sooner or later it will show itself on the earth.
Troshchanski says that the most important ornament of the Yakut
shaman's coat is ämägyat, which represents a
man. On one of the coats that he reproduces there is an ämägyat
on the left side made of molten copper. On another coat ämägyat
were op. both sides of the breast and made of tin.
Ämägyat is the sign of the shaman's vocation,
which is always given by the old shaman to the new. It is quite
possible, thinks Troshchanski, that it represents the shaman's
ancestor and protector.
Speaking of the preparatory stage of the shaman, Troshchanski
says that the Yakut shaman is taught by an older shaman, who
initiates him by suspending round his neck the ämägyat.
This symbol is taken away from the shaman who no longer wishes
to shamanize. An old blind Yakut, however, told Sieroszewski
(p. 625) how he gave up his shaman's vocation, thinking it a
sin, and although a powerful shaman removed the ämägyat
sign from him, nevertheless the spirits made him blind.
In the Mongolian language ämägäldzi
signifies the figure of the protective genius of the house, family,
and goods, and is made of tin. According to Katanoff, this word
is derived from ämägän, grandmother.
10. Balyk-timir (the fish), a plate a metre long, two
fingers wide, made in the form of a fish with head, fins, tail,
and scales. It bangs on a long leather strap. In some places,
like the district of Kolyma, it drags on the ground to entice
the secondary spirits, which run after it and try to catch it.
11. Choran, small hollow copper balls, fastened to
the ends of long leather straps reaching to the heels and banging
like a fringe from the lower edge of the coat. This fringe is
called bytyrys (the weed).
The coat is plain in front, and fastens on the breast with
leather straps, and under the chin with a buckle in the form
of a colt's tongue (kulun tyl kurduk). On the front of
the coat are sewn figures of animals, birds, fishes; various
disks; images of the sun, moon, and stars; and also some iron
representations of the human skeleton and bowels.
In the north, in case of the absence of this costume, the
[1. Troshchanpki, op. cit., p. 140.
3. Op. cit., p. 147.
4. Sieroszewski, p. 634.]
wears the woman's sangyniah, a coat of calf's skin,
with the hair outside, on the feet of which are occasionally
hung some of the most important iron accessories, like the two
'suns' (or sun and moon), the fish and the bürgüne;
sometimes two round circles, which represent the breasts, are
hung in the front.
A good shaman's dress requires about 35 to 40 pounds of iron.
In the north the shaman wears a woman's travelling cap with
ear-flaps, but this is not to be seen in more southern regions,
where the shaman is in most cases bareheaded.
According to general belief, the iron and the jingling pendants
of the shaman's coat have the power to resist rust, and possess
The shaman wears his magical coat next his skin, and receives
it from the hand of a kuluruksuta (page, assistant), i.
e. the man whose duty it is to shout during the performance:
seb! kirdik! choo! o o! ('well! true! choo! o o!'), and
who helps the shaman in other ways, such as preparing the drum.
The Yakut drum is called, according to Sieroszewski, tüngür,
and according to Troshchanski, tünür or dünür.
The drum is always egg-shaped, and is covered with the bide
of a young bull. Its longest diameter is 53 cm., the width of
the rim 11 cm., and the length of the stick 32 cm. The wider
part of the stick is covered with cowhide. According to Jochelson,
there are twelve raised representations of horns on the drum.
Sieroszewski  says that they are always found in odd numbers,
7, 9, or 11. The cross inside is attached to the rim by means
of straps. Little bells, jingling trinkets, and other rattles
of iron and bone are attached inside round the rim, especially
in the places where the straps are fastened.
The term tüngür- seems to be a universal
name for the drum among most of the Neo-Siberian tribes; sometimes
t changes to d, giving the form düngür.
In Manchu the drum is called tunkun; in Mongol düngür;
in Altaian tüngur; in Uriankhai donkür; in Soïot
and Karagass tüngur.
Among the Yakut, as has been said, there are two names, tünür
and donkür. Maak records that the Yakut of Viluy
[1. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 635.
2. Op. cit., p. 635.
3. Op. cit., p. 128.
4. The Koryak, pp. 56-7.
5. Sieroszewski, p. 635.
6. The Viluysk District of the Yakusk Territory, iii.
explained to him that 'the shamans in addition to the tünür
(drum) have also a stringed instrument, dünür.
The word tünür among the Yakut means also
kinship through marriage: tünürätär,
Troshchanski thinks that this double meaning is not accidental,
and that as the shaman was originally the head of a family, the
drum might be regarded as the bond of unity between the shaman
and the community, as well as between the shaman and the spirits.
Besides the drum, the shaman uses two other musical instruments,
one of which is a stringed instrument like the Russian balalaika
(a kind of banjo), the other an instrument like that known as
a jews' harp, a small frame with a long wooden or metal tongue,
which is moved by the finger; the narrow end of the instrument
is held between the teeth, so that the mouth acts as a sounding-board.
Among the Yakut the jews' harp, called homus (hamys),
is apparently not a shaman's instrument, though the shamans of
other Neo-Siberians have been known to use it.
Among the Buryat from Irkutsk, this instrument is called khur,
and is used only by the shamans. This is also true of the
Uriankhai. The Soïot call it komus, but the Altaians
(using the term in the narrowest sense), who also have the word
komus, use it to designate the stringed instrument resembling
the Russian balalaika, which only shamans play. The Kirgis
call the shaman's drum kobuz. According to Wierbicki,
the Altaians use the two-stringed kabys or komus
as an accompaniment to the recital of heroic tales.
There are sometimes minor shamanistic performances without
the drum and without the special garments. The shaman sits in
his everyday dress on a small chair in the middle of the room
and holds in his bands a branch ornamented with bunches of white
horsehair, of which there may be three, five, or seven, but never
an even number. The fire is not put out for these performances,
and some of the horsehair is thrown on to it. The shaman does
not dance, but sings and whirls about.
[1. Op. cit., p. 129.
2. Katanoff, A Journey to Karagass in 1890, I.R.G.S.,
1891, p. 201.
3. Wierbicki, A Dictionary of the Turkic Language,
4. Troshchanski, p. 130.
5. The Natives of the, Altai, p. 139.
5. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 635.]
Troshchanski  thinks that, among the Yakut, white and black
shamans have different coats. The coat of the white shaman has
no animal pictures on it, because their spirit-protectors belong
to the aiy (good spirits), which are not symbolized by
animal pictures. The coat of the black shaman should not (according
to Troshchanski) have representations of the sun, for these are
peculiar to white shamans. The drums of the two shamans also
differ. When Troshchanski showed an old Yakut woman, who knew
a great deal about the shaman dress, a certain drum (op. cit.,
fig. II, b), she at once recognized it as a white shaman
drum, since horsehair was fastened round the iron rim inside
Tribal and clan differences exist in the shaman's coat, and
it would be difficult to say whether a sharp line can be drawn
between black and white shamanistic garments. Troshchanski is
much influenced by this conception of dualism, but from the materials
in our possession, a few very imperfect photographs, it would
be unwise to come to a decision. It should be remarked, however,
that neither of the writers on the Palaeo-Siberians in describing
shaman instruments makes this division, and but few of the writers
on the Neo-Siberians.
Potanin  describes how, on a shaman's coat of the Uriankhai
tribe, among other properties, there was a small doll with a
minute drum in its left hand. On the same string to which the
doll was tied there was another small figure of an animal resembling
the sacrificial animal of the real shaman. The significance of
this is, of course, obvious. The shaman's ancestor resides in
a symbolic form in the shaman's coat. Thus the small doll of
the Uriankhai shaman's coat takes the place of the ämägyat
the Yakut, if we are to take ämägyat as the
symbol of the shaman's ancestor.
The skeleton figuring on the shaman's coat in Troshchanski's
book must probably also be ascribed to the shaman's ancestor,
for quite near it are sewed hawks' wings, and none but a shaman
can fly or be represented by wings.
One might suppose from what has been said above that we have
here to deal with three ways of representing the shaman ancestor:
by the doll, the ämägyat, and the skeleton. It would
be interesting to know, however, whether or not the ämägyat
is to be found side by side with either of the other symbols.
If so, it
[1. Op. cit., p. 133.
2. Op. cit., iv. 100.]
is possible that ämägyat is not a symbol of the
ancestor spirit, but has a meaning of its own. On the Yakut coat
the skeleton exists independent of ämägyat. On the
Altaian coats described by Potanin, the doll is found side by
side with the ämägyat. Both Troshchanski and Sieroszewski
describe ämägyat as an indispensable ornament of every
The coat possesses an impersonal power of itself. It is said
to bear the names of ongor (Mongol) and tanara
(Yakut) in addition to the classified names for the coat.
By assuming this coat the shaman receives supernatural power,
which allows him to go to the upper- and under-worlds to meet
spirits and deal with them. It is called 'shaman's horse' among
The coat as a whole is a tanara of the shaman, and
each symbolic picture on the coat is also his tanara,
Another interpretation of the coat is given by Pripuzoff.
The picture of a perforated sun and a half-moon, he says, represents
the dusk which reigns in the kingdom of the spirits. The strange
animals, fishes, and birds which hang on the coat point to the
monsters that are said to inhabit the spirit-land.
The iron chain hanging on the back signifies, according to
some, the strength of the shaman's power, and according to others,
the rudder which he uses in his journeys through the spirit country.
The iron disks are there to defend the shaman from the blows
of the hostile spirits.
Potanin, gives us an interesting description of the shaman's
garment among the natives of Altai and north-western Siberia.
According to him, it is in comparatively good preservation among
the natives of Altai.
Natives of Altai. The shaman's coat is made of goat
or reindeer hide. All the outer side is covered with pendants
of varying length in serpent form, and has pieces of many-coloured
stuff stitched on to it. The pendants, which terminate in serpents'
heads, hang freely. Bundles of reindeer leather straps are also
attached here and there. The term manyak, is applied by
the natives of Altai to the small pendants as well as to the
coat as a whole.
There can further be found on the coat various symbolic figures
and jingling pendants, such is iron triangles, a small bow and
[1. Troshchanski, p. 135.
2. p. 95.
3. Op. cit., iv. 49-54.]
arrow to frighten hostile spirits, &c. On the back and
sometimes on the front of the coat there are sewed two copper
disks. One kam (shaman) had four empty tobacco-bags hanging
on his coat with imaginary tobacco inside, which he offers to
the spirits whilst he is wandering in their country.
The collar is trimmed with owl's feathers. One kam
had, according to Potanin, seven little dolls on his collar,
which, Potanin was told, were heavenly maidens.
A few bells are sewed on here and there; the more prosperous
shamans have -is many as nine. The ringing of the bells, a kam
told Potanin, is the voice of the seven maidens whose symbols
are sewed to the collar calling to the spirits to descend to
The cap  of the Altaian shaman is formed of a square piece
of the hide of a reindeer calf. On one side there are two buttons
and on the other two loops. On the top, bunches of feathers are
sewed, and from the lower edge bangs a fringe made of string
and shell-fish. This is placed on the head with the two sides
buttoned to the back, thus forming a cylindrical cap on the shaman's
head. If the hide is bard, the top of the cap with its feathers
sticks up like a coronet.
Among some shamans of the Teleut, the cap is made of brown
owl skin; the feathers remain as ornaments, and sometimes also
the bird's head.
It is not all shamans who can wear the manyak and the
owlskin cap. The spirits generally announce to the chosen man
when he may wear them.
Among the Tartars of Chern the shaman wears a mask (kocho),
with squirrels' tails for eyebrows and moustaches. Among the
same people Yadrintzeff noticed the use of two crutches; one
of them was a crook, the other was supposed to be a horse, similar
to the horse-staves of the Buryat.
All the drums which Potanin saw among the natives of Altai
and north-western Mongolia were round in shape. Yadrintzeff
says that the Tartars of Chern have oval drums resembling the
egg-shaped drum of the east Siberians.
The Altai drum has a hoop as large as the palm of one's hand,
covered on one side with bide. Inside the drum there is vertical
wooden stick and a horizontal iron chord with rattles
[1. Op. cit., p. 52.
2. Op. cit., iv. 44, 679.]
attached. The drum is held by the wooden stick, and not at
the intersection of the stick and the iron crossbar.
The wooden vertical stick is called bar by the natives
of Altai. Among other north-western tribes it has various names.
The bar has a man's head and feet at the two ends. The
upper part is often carved, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, and
the chin being cut with great exactness. The horizontal iron
stay is called by the Altaians krish, and from it hang
various iron rattles called kungru. The number of kungru
varies according to the ability of the shaman. It is a guide
to the quantity of chayu (Potanin translates this word
'spirits', but it seems rather to mean 'spiritual power) possessed
by the shaman, since the more chayu the shaman possesses,
the more kungru are found in his drum.
Under the chin of the figure on the wooden bar are fastened
long strips of gaudy material called yauasua. Radloff
calls this yalama.
On the hide of the drum, sometimes on both sides, sometimes
on the inner side only, circles and crosses and other lines are
drawn with red dye.
Some Altai drums have drawings of animals on them, lilce those
on the drums of the North-American Indians.
The drums of the Chern and Kumandinsk Tartars differ from
those of the Altaians; instead of bar, krish, and
jingling plates there are here representations of the two worlds,
above and underground, separated by a horizontal line, which
divides the drum into two parts, an upper and a lower.
On the outer side of the drum of the Chern Tartars, pictures
of animals and plants are found. On the upper and larger part
an arch is drawn, with indications of sky, inside of which are
two trees with a bird on each. To the left of the tree are two
circles-the sun and the moon-light and darkness. Below the horizontal
line are pictures of frogs, lizards, and snakes. These drawings
have a particular importance, since the symbols described show
more than any others the shamanistic view of the natural and
There is unfortunately very little material of a reliable
character, the studies of Potanin and Klementz being the most
valuable. On the whole, it is safe to say that the drums of the
[1. Aus Sibirien, ii. 18.
2 Potanin, iv. 40-9.
3. Jochelson The Koryak, i. 58-9.
4. Potanin, op. cit., iv. 680.
5. Op. cit., iv. 44-5.]
north-west Asia, especially in the southern parts, are adorned
with representations of the upper and lower worlds divided by
a horizontal line.
The following interpretation of this same ornamentation is
given by Klementz in his study of the drums peculiar to the neighbourhood
of Minussinsk. His information was given him by a kam
of high standing.
Although by no means all drums are ornamented in the same
way, yet in this account we may perceive certain traditional
rules embodying the Altaian and Mongolian conception of the meaning
of the drum and its decoration.
A. The lower part of the drum:
1. Bai-Kazyn (painted in white), 'a rich birch' -alluding
to the birches round which annual sacrificial ceremonies are
2. Ulug-bai-kazyn (in white)-two trees growing in Ulukhan's
3 and 4. Ak-baga ('white frog') and Kara-baga
('black frog'), the servants of Ulu-khan.
5. Chshity-us, spirits associated with seven nests
and seven feathers.
6. Chshity-kyz ('seven maids'); these bring seven diseases
7. Ulugere, to whom prayers are offered for the curing
of toothache and of earache.
8. Ot-imeze ('Mother of the fire').
B. The upper part of the drum:
1. Souban-ir. The kam translated this 'aurora'
(whether with the meaning of dawn or the aurora borealis is impossible
to decide from Potanin's description).
2. Ike-karagus, two black birds, flying as messengers
from the shaman to the shaytans.
4. Aba-tyus (the bear's tooth).
5. Sugyznym-karagat. According to the kam, this
means 'the horses of Ulu-khan'.
6. Kyzyl-kikh-kahn. to whom one prays when beginning
The other figures drawn in white paint are animals, which
Kyzvl-kikh-khan is hunting.
[1. Mikhailowski, p. 68.
2. Types of Drums of the Minitssinsk Natives, E. S.
S. I. R. G. S., p. 26.]
Many other authors also coniniont on this method of dividing
the pictures on the Neo-Siberian drum. Wierbicki, describing
the tüngür of the natives of Altai, says: 'On
the outer side the hide is painted with red ochre; on the upper
part are represented the sky, a rainbow, sun, moon, stars, horses,
geese, the kam on a horse, and, on the lower part, the
According to Dr. Finsch's description  the drums of the
Samoyed and of the Ob-Ostyak are, like the Altai drums, round
in shape, broad-rimined, covered on one side only, and have a
diameter of from 30 cm. to 50 cm.
The Ostyak drums described by Potanin  have the same division
of the drum into lower and upper parts representing lower and
tipper worlds, as among the Tartars of Chern.
The Buryat. The Buryat shaman's costume was first described
by Pallas. It belonged to a female shaman, who was accompanied
by her husband and two other Buryat, each of them holding a magical
drum. She herself held in her hand two sticks, ornamented
at the top end with a carving of a horse's head surrounded by
small bells. [This implement is called by recent travellers 'horse-staves'.]
From the back of the shoulders reaching to the ground hung about
thirty snakes, made of white and black skin, in such a way that
the snakes seem to be composed of white and black rings. One
of the snakes was divided into three at the end, and was accounted
indispensable to each Buryat female shaman. The cap was covered
with an iron casque having horns with three branches, projecting
on both sides like those of a deer.
Gmelin, saw a costume of another old and revered female
[1. The Natives of the Altai, p. 45.
2. Finsch, Reise nach West-Sibirien, p. 550 (Berlin,
1879), quoted hy Jochelson, The Koryak. p. 59.
3. Op. cit., iv. 680.
4. Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des russichen Reiches,
5. The more recent accounts deny the existence of the drum
among the Buryat. Khangaloff saw it only once, and this was in
the case of a young and inexperienced shaman. Klementz states
that the drum is very seldom in use among the Buryat. Nevertheless
he says: 'At great shaman ceremonies, in which a shaman and his
nine sons take part (some of which the writer witnessed on the
estuary of the river Selenga, among the Kuda, Buryat), one of
the assistants holds in his hands a small tambourine, but neither
the meaning of the tambourine nor the róle of the assistant
is quite clear.' Curiously enough, Pallas, writing in the eighteenth
century, agrees with the contemporary witness in describing the
assistants' use of the drum.
6. ii. 11-13.]
shaman near Selenginsk. Her costume was hanging in her yurta,
but, according to her account, was not complete. Among other
things he mentions a box, full of strips of cloth, small stones,
thunderbolts, &c., which she used for magical purposes.
There was also a felt bag full of various felt idols.
In the exhaustive work of Agapitoff and Khangaloff there is
a description of the old shaman costume among the Buryat-a costume
of a kind which, however, is very rarely to be met with at present.
According to them, the coat (orgoy), the cap, and the
horse-staves (morini-khörbö are the chief appurtenances
of a shaman.
1. The orgoy is of white material for the white shaman,
and of blue for the black shaman. Its shape does not differ from
that of the ordinary coat.'
Klementzsays that the old-fashioned orgoy was shorter
than that of the present day.
The front of the coat is covered with metal figures of horses,
fishes, birds, &c. The back is covered with twisted iron
representing snakes, -with rattles hanging from them (shamshorgo),
together with a whole row of little bells and tambourine bells.
On the chest above the thin plates used to hang little shining
copper disks, and on the sleeves were also hung thin iron plates,
in imitation of the bones of the shoulder and forearm. This gave
Gmelin the ground for his assertion that two shamans who came
to him from Nijine-Udinsk resembled chained devils.
2. The cap, which is peaked, is made of lynx skin, with a
bunch of ribbons on the top. After the fifth consecration the
shaman can wear the iron cap; it is composed of a crown-like
iron hoop with two half-hoops crossing each other, above which
is an iron plate with two born-like projections.
In the place where the intersecting hoops are tied to the
hoop round the head there are three groups of khoubokho,
or kholbogo, conical weights of iron. From the back of
the hoop hangs an iron
[1. Agapitoff and Khangaloff (pp. 42-4) call
an identical box shire.
2. Agapitoff and Khangaloff, p. 42.
3. E. R. E., p. 16.
4. Klementz uses the same native word shamshoryo for
(i) the rattles attached to the snakes on the shaman's coat,
and (ii) for the conical iron weights fixed to the upper part
of the horse-staves, but he does not intimate whether this word
has two meanings or not.
5. Klementz states that the orgoy is in some places
now only put on after death, for burial.
6. Klementz calls them shamshorgo, E. R E., p. 16.]
chain composed of four links and ending in small objects resembling
a spoon and an awl.
Klementz  calls this cap the metal diadem, 'consisting
of an iron ring with two convex arches, also of iron, crossing
one another at right angles, and with a long jointed chain which
hangs down from the nape of the neck to the heels-we know of
them only from the descriptions of travellers and from specimens
preserved in a few museums'.
3. The horse-staves (morini-khorbo) are to be met with
among all the Buryat of Baikal, but among the Buryat of Balagan
they are not used. Each Baikal shaman possesses two. They are
made of wood or of iron; but the iron staff is only given to
the shaman after the fifth consecration, when he also receives
the iron cap. The wooden horse-staves are cut for the novice
the day before his first consecration, from a birch-tree growing
in the forest where the shamans are buried. The wood for the
horse-staves must be cut in such a way that the tree shall not
perish, otherwise it would be a bad omen for the shaman.
This implement is 80 cm. long; the upper part is bent and
has a horse-head carved on it; the middle part of the stick forms
the knee-joints of the horse, and the lower end is fashioned
into a hoof.
Little bells, one of which is larger than the rest, are tied
to the horse-staves. Likewise small conical weights of iron,
khoubokho, or kholbogo, blue, white, yellow and
red-coloured ribbons, and strips of ermine and squirrel fur.
To make it look more realistic miniature stirrups are also attached.
The iron horse-staves are not very different from the wooden
ones. They represent the horses on which the shaman rides to
the upper and lower worlds.
According to Khangaloff, it is in the drum that the horse,
on which the shaman makes his flight, is symbolized. Khangaloff,
however, also speaks of the rarity of the drum among the Buryat.
The only drum which he saw among them was of the form and size
of a small sieve, and was covered with horse-hide fastened to
the back with leather straps. He did not notice any pictures
either on the outside or on the inside, but the outside surface,
he says, was daubed with some white stuff.
[1. Agapitoff and Khangaloff, op. cit., pp.
2. E. R E., p. 16.
3. Agapitoff and Khangaloff, op. cit., pp. 42-4.]
Klenientz says that the drum, khese, is very little
known among the Buryat, who substitute the horse-staves for it,
and that the little bell is sometimes also called khese;
nevertheless, among the Mongol Shamanists and the Mongolized
Uriankhai, the drum is in use.
The Buryat Buddhists use in their divine services either drums
covered on both sides with hide, like those found among the North-American
Indians, or those with hide on one side only. These drums are
round, and have leather handles attached to the outer edge of
Klementz mentions as the next accessory of the shaman the
khur, a 'tuning-fork'('jews' liarp'?), with a wire tongue
between the two side-pins, an implement largely in use among
shamanists. It may be met with, he says, from the sources of
the Amur to the Ural, and from the Arctic Ocean down to Tashkent.
Here and there it is merely a musical instrurnent.
On the shaman's boots there were formerly sewed iron plates,
but these are no longer in use.
The Olkhon Buryat, say Agapitoff and Khangaloff, have one other
property, called shire. It is a box three and a half feet
long and one foot deep, standing on four legs, each two feet
high. On the box are hung ribbons, bells, strips of skin, and
on one of the long sides different figures are carved or painted
in red. Usually on the right side is represented the sun, and
on the left, the moon. The sun is depicted as a wheel, and in
the middle of the moon there is a human figure holding a tree
in one hand. In the middle of the long side there are three images
of secondary gods, one woman and two men, in whose honour wine
is sprinkled several times a year. There are also war implements-bow
and quiver and sword, and under each human figure there is a
horse. The shire is used to bold horse-staves, drums,
and other ritual implements. The shaman acquires the right of
carrying the shire after the fifth consecration . It
is asserted, says Klementz, that with every new consecration
up to the ninth, the height and other dimensions of the shire
Nil mentions two things more: abagaldey, a monstrous
mask of skin, wood, and metal, painted, and ornamented with a
[1. E. R. E., iii. p. 16.
2. Jochellson, The Koryak, p. 59.
3. E. R. E., ibid.
4. Agavitoff and Khangaloff, pp. 43-4.
5. E. R. E., ibid.
5. Archbishop of Yaroslav (Buddhism in Siberia, 1858),]
beard; and toli, a metal looking-glass with representations
of twelve animals on it; this is hung round the neck and worn
on the breast; sometimes it is sewed on the shaman's coat.
Occasionally the Buryat shaman has also a whip with bells,
but generally all these implements tend to disappear in modern
Two other ethical and linguistic groups, which, although they
live only partly in Siberia, yet belong to the Neo-Siberians,
are the Samoyed and the Finnic tribes, and a survey of their
shaman accessories is of special interest in connexion with those
of the Mongolic, Turkic, and Tungusic shamans.
The most important belonging of a tadibey (Samoyed
shaman) is his penzer (drum), which he prepares according
to a special set of rules. He must kill a male reindeer-calf
with his own hands, and prepare the skin in such a way that no
veins are left on it. In these preparations inka (i. e.
a woman), being considered unclean, cannot assist.
The drums, which are ornamented with metal disks and plates,
and covered with transparent reindeer hide, are round in shape
and of various sizes. The largest drum seen by Castren was nearly
two feet in diameter and two and a half inches in height.
According to Dr. Finsch's description, the drums of the Samoyed
and of the Ob-Ostyak are like the Altai drums, round, broadrimmed,
covered on one side only, and with a diameter of from 30 cm.
to 50 cm.
The shaman's costume consists of a chamois-leather coat called
samburzia, ornamented with red cloth. Eyes and face are
covered with a piece of cloth, since the tadibey is supposed
to penetrate into the spirit-world with his inner sight. Instead
of a cap there are two bands round his head to keep the cloth
over the face in position. An iron disk hangs on his breast.
In certain places the tadibey uses a cap with a visor,
and over the leather coat jingling trinkets and little bells
and strips of cloth of various shades are hung. In this ornamentation
the number seven plays an important róle.
Among the Lapps, the drum, kannus or kvobdas,
which is now but an antiquarian curiosity, played a most important
[1. V. Islavin, The Samoyed, 1847,
2. Castren, Reiseerinnerugen aus den Jahren 1838-1844
(Petersburg, 1853), p. 192.
3. Op. cit., pp. 192-3.
4. Islavin, op. cit., p. 113.
5. Schefferus, Lappland (Königsberg, 1675), p.
was made of birch or pine wood, grown if possible in a sunny
spot, since such a tree would be acceptable to the sun and the
good spirits. There are two kinds of drum. One is composed of
a wooden hoop, with two cross-pieces of wood inside covered with
hide; the other is an egg-shaped flat box, hollowed out of the
trunk of a tree, and also covered with bide. The most significant
ornaments are the drawings in red. They represent good and bad
spirits, the sun, the stars, various animals, lakes, forests,
and men. The division between this world and the upper is clearly
shown. Among many other symbolic figures there is also the image
of a noyda (shaman). Each drum has its metal ring with
small pendants and a drum-stick of reindeer horn.
The Lapps take great care of their drums, and when not in
use they and the drum-sticks are wrapped in furs. No woman dares
to touch the drum.
THE SHAMAN IN ACTION
SINCE the performances of shamans as professionals called
in to treat diseases, to answer inquiries, for soothsaying and
other similar purposes, are very much the same among the different
tribes of Palaeo-Siberians, we shall confine ourselves to giving
a few typical examples of these performances. The same procedure
will be followed with regard to the Neo-Siberians.
The Koryak. Professional shamanism among the Koryak
is at a most primitive stage of development, yet at the same
time, thanks to the influence of European culture, it is also
Jochelson speaks of the shamanistic performances which
he saw as follows: 'During the entire period of my sojourn among
the Koryak I had opportunity to see only two shamans. Both were
young men, and neither enjoyed special respect on the part of
his relatives. Both were poor men who worked as labourers for
the rich members of their tribe. One of them was a Maritime Koryak
from Alutor. He used to come to the village of Kamenskoye in
company with a Koryak trader. He was a bashful youth, his features,
though somewhat wild, were flexible and pleasant, and his eyes
were bright. I asked him to show me proof of his shamanistic
art. Unlike other shamans, he consented without waiting to be
coaxed. The people put out the oil-lamps in the underground house
in which he stopped with his master. Only a few coals were glowing
on the hearth, and it was almost dark in the house. On the large
platform which is put up in the front part of the house as the
seat and sleeping-place for visitors, and not far from where
my wife and I were sitting, we could discern the shaman in an
ordinary shaggy shirt of reindeer skin, squatting on the reindeer
skins that covered the platform. His face was covered with a
large oval drum.
[1. Jochelson, The Koryak p. 49.]
'Suddenly he commenced to beat the drum softly and to sing
in a plaintive voice; then the beating of the drum grow stronger
and stronger; and his song-in which could be heard sounds imitating
the howling of the wolf, the groaning of the cargoose, and the
voices of other animals, his guardian spirits-appeared to come,
sometimes from the corner nearest to my seat, then from the opposite
end, then again from the middle of the house, and then it seemed
to proceed from the ceiling. He was a ventriloquist. Shamans
versed in this art are believed to possess particular power.
His drum also seemed to sound, now over my head, now at my feet,
now behind, now in front of me. I could see nothing; but it seemed
to me that the shaman was moving around, noiselessly stepping
upon the platform with his fur shoes, then retiring to some distance,
then coming nearer, lightly jumping, and then squatting down
on his heels.
'All of a sudden the sound of the drum and the singing ceased.
When the women had relighted their lamps, he was lying, completely
exhausted, on a white reindeer skin on which he had been sitting
before the shamanistic performance. The concluding words of the
shaman, which he pronounced in a recitative, were uttered as
though spoken by the spirit whom he had summoned lip, and who
declared that the "disease" had left the village, and
would not return.'
The other shamanistic ceremony was performed by a shaman at
Jochelson's request for the purpose of divining whether he would
reach home safely.
During this ceremony the shaman suddenly asked Jochelson
for his knife, saying, 'The spirits say that I should cut myself
with a knife. You will not be afraid?
Jochelson gave him, not without some scruples, his travelling
knife, which was sharp and looked like a dagger. 'The light in
the tent was put out; but the dim light of the Arctic spring
(it was in April), which penetrated the canvas of the tent, was
sufficient to allow me to follow the movements of the shaman.
He took the knife, beat the drum, and sang, telling the spirits
that he was ready to carry out their wishes. After a little -while
he put away the drum, and, emitting a rattling sound from his
threat, he thrust the knife into his breast up to the hilt. I
noticed, however, that after having cut his jacket, he turned
[1. Op. cit., p. 51.
knife downwards. He drew out the knife with the same rattling
in his throat, and resumed beating the drum.'
Then he said to Jochelson that he would have a good journey,
and, returning the knife to him, showed through the hole in his
coat the blood on his body. 'Of course, these spots had been
made before', says Jochelson. 'However, this cannot be looked
upon as mere deception. Things visible and imaginary are confounded
to such an extent in primitive consciousness that the shaman
himself may have thought that there was, invisible to others,
a real gash in his body, as bad been demanded by the spirits.
The common Koryak, however, are sure that the shaman actually
cuts himself, and that the wound heals up immediately.'
The Chukchee. Among the Chukchee, says Bogors, a
typical shamanistic performance is carried on in the inner room
of the house, when it is closed for the night. This room, especially
among the Reindeer Chukchee, is very small. Sometimes the performance
here described is preceded by another, held in the outer room,
in daylight, and usually connected with a communal ceremonial.
When the drum is tightened and moistened, and the light is
put out, the shaman, who is often quite naked down to the waist,
begins to operate.
In modern times Chukchee shamans imitate the Tungus shamans
in smoking a pipe filled with strong narcotic tobacco.
The shaman beats the drum and sings tunes; at first slowly,
then more rapidly. His songs have no words, and there is no order
in their succession. Though the audience take no actual part
in the ceremony, they are in fact of some assistance, as forming
a very primitive 'chorus'. Their frequent exclamations encourage
the shaman's actions.
Without an ocitkolin ('to give answering calls,' participle)
a Chukchee shaman considers himself unable to perform his office
fittingly; novices, therefore, while trying to learn the shamanistic
practices, usually induce a brother or a sister to respond, thus
encouraging the zeal of the performer.
'Among the Asiatic Eskimo, the wife and other members of the
family form a kind of chorus, which from time to time catches
up the tune and sings with the shaman. Among the Russianized
Yukaghir of the lower Kolyma, the wife is also the assistant
[1. Op. cit., p. 52.
3. The Chukchee, p. 433.
4. Op. cit., p. 434.]
her shaman husband, and during the performance she gives him
encouraging answers, and he addresses her as his "supporting
When the kelet come to the shaman, he acts in a different
way, according to whether he has or has not a ventriloquistic
If the shaman is only 'single-bodied', the kelet will
sing and beat the drum through his body, the sound only of the
shaman's voice being changed. When he is a ventriloquist, the
as separate voices'.
Bogoras says that shamans could, with credit to themselves,
carry on a contest with the best practitioners of similar arts
in civilized countries. The voices are successful imitations
of different sounds: human, superhuman, animal, even of tempests
and winds, or of an echo, and come from all sides of the room;
from without, from above, and from underground. The whole of
Nature may sometimes be represented in the small inner room of
Then the spirit either begins to talk or departs with a sound
like the buzzing of a fly. While it stays, it beats the drum
violently, speaking in its own language, if it happens to be
any animal except the wolf, fox, and raven, which can speak in
the language of men; but there is a peculiar timbre in their
Usually it is not only one spirit which appears, and this
part of the performance might be called a dialogue. Sometimes
the shaman does not himself understand the language he is using,
and an interpreter is necessary. There are cases when spirit-language,
comprising a mixture of Koryak, Yakut, and Yukaghir, has to be
translated into Russian for the Russianized shamans and natives,
especially those of the Kolyma district.
Jochelson tells of a Tungus shaman nicknamed Mashka, whose
'spirits', being of Koryak origin, spoke through him in that
language: 'I asked him several times to dictate to me what his
spirits were saying, and he would invaribly reply that he did
not remember, that he forgot everything after the seance was
over, and that, besides, he did not understand the language of
his spirits. At first I thought that be was deceiving me; but
I had several opportunities of convincing myself that he really
did not understand any Koryak. Evidently he had learned by heart
Koryak incantations which he could pronounce only in a state
of excitement., 
[1. Op. cit., p. 435.
2. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 52.]
There is no regular shamanist language among the Chukchee,
merely a few special expressions.
'Among the north-western branch of the Koryak, the " spirits
are said to use a special mode of pronunciation, similar to that
used by the south-eastern Koryak and the Chukchee. A few words
are also said to be peculiar to them. Among the Asiatic Eskimo
the " spirits " are said to have a special language.
Many words of it were given me by the shamans, and most of them
are analogous to the "spirit" language known to various
Eskimo tribes of America, both in Alaska and on the Atlantic
Sometimes the spirits are very mischievous. In the movable
tents of the Reindeer people an invisible hand will sometimes
turn everything upside down, and throw different objects about,
such as snow, pieces of ice, &c.
'I must mention', says Bogoras, 'that the audience is strictly
forbidden to make any attempts whatever to touch the "spirits".
These latter highly resent any intrusion of this kind, and retaliate
either on the shaman, whom they may kill on the spot, or on the
trespassing listener, who runs the risk of having his head broken,
or even a knife thrust through his ribs in the dark. I received
warnings of this kind at almost every shamanistic performance.'
After the preliminary intercourse with the 'spirits', the
shaman, still in the dark, gives advice and utters prophecies.
For example, at one ceremony, where Bogoras was present, the
shaman Galmuurgin prophesied to his host that many wild reindeer
would be at his gate the following autumn. 'One buck', he said,
'will stop on the right side of the entrance, and pluck at the
grass, attracted by a certain doe of dark-grey hair. This attraction
must be strengthened with a special incantation. The reindeer-buck,
while standing there, must be killed with the bow, and the arrow
to be used must have a flat rhomboid point. This will secure
the successful killing of all the other wild reindeer.' 
After his introductory interview with the spirits, the shaman
sometimes 'sinks'; he falls to the ground unconscious, while
his soul is wandering in the other worlds, talking with the 'spirits'
and asking them for advice. The modern shamans actually 'sink'
very seldom, but they know that it was done in the old days.
When shamanistic performances are connected with ceremonials,
they are carried on in the outer room. Ventriloquism is not
[1. Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 438.
2. Op. cit., p. 439.
3. Op. cit., p. 440.]
practised on these occasions, and the kele 'is bent
on mischief, and among other things, seeks to destroy the life
which is under his temporary power." Many tricks are performed
by shamans even in daylight.
Upune, the wife of a dead Chukchee shaman, possessed wonderful
shamanistic power; she herself declared that she had only a small
part of her husband's ability. In a shamanistic performance 'she
took a large round pebble of the size of a man's fist, set it
upon the drum, and, blowing upon it from all sides, began to
mumble and snort in the same kele-like manner. She called
our attention by signs-being in the possession of the kele,
she had lost the faculty of human speech-and then began to wring
the pebble with both hands. Then a continuous row of very small
pebbles began to fall from her hands. This lasted for fully five
minutes, till quite a heap of small pebbles had collected below,
on the skin. The larger pebble, however, remained smooth and
At the request of Bogoras the female shaman repeated this
feat with the same success, and all the upper part of the body
being naked, it was easy to observe her movements. The practice
of stabbing oneself through the abdomen with a knife is universal
in shamanistic performances; Kamchadal and Eskimo, Chukchee and
Yukaghir, even the Neo-Siberian shamans of northern Asia, are
familiar with this trick.
It would be difficult to describe all the tricks performed
by the shamans: some of the commonest are the swallowing of burning
coals, setting oneself free from a cord by which one is bound,
The Yakut. For comparison with the Palaeo-Siberian
methods of shamanizing, we shall take a Yakut shaman in action,
as described by Sieroszwski. 'Outwardly, shamanistic ceremonies
are very uniform,' says Sieroszewski. The ceremony now described
'is the part of the shamanistic ceremony which remains always
and everywhere unchanged, and, sanctioned by custom, forms, so
to speak, the basis of the rite.'
When the shaman who has been called to a sick person enters
the yurta, he at once takes the place destined for him
[1.Op. cit., p. 442.
2. Op. cit., p. 444.
3. Satrytcheff, The Voyage of Capt. Sarytcheff's Fleet
along the N.E. Coast of Siberia, through The Polar Sea and the
Pacific, p. 30.
4. Sieroszewski, 12 Lat w Kraju Yakutów, 1902,
billiryk agon. He lies on his white mare's skin and
waits for the night, the time when it is possible to shamanize.
Meanwhile he is entertained with food and drink.
'When the sun sets and the dusk of evening approaches, all
preparations for the ceremony in the yurta are hurriedly
completed: the ground is swept, the wood is cut, and food is
provided in larger quantity and of better quality than usual.
One by one the neighbours arrive and seat themselves along the
wall, the men on the right, and the women on the left; the conversation
is peculiarly serious and reserved,, the movements gentle.
'In the northern part of the Yakut district the host chooses
the best latchets and forms them into a loop, which is placed
round the shaman's shoulders and bold by one of those present
during the dance, in order to prevent the spirits from carrying
him off. At length every one has supper, and the household takes
some rest. The shaman, sitting on the edge of the billiryk,
slowly untwists his tresses, muttering and giving orders. He
sometimes has a nervous and artificial hiccough which makes his
whole body shake; his gaze does not wander, his eyes being fixed
on one point, usually on the fire.
'The fire is allowed to die out. More and more deeply the
dusk descends on the room; voices are hushed, and the company
talks in whispers; notice is given that anybody -wishing to go
out must do so at once, because soon the door will be closed,
after which nobody can either go out or come in.
'The shaman slowly takes off his shirt and puts on his wizard's
coat, or, failing that, he takes the woman's coat called sangyniah.
Then he is given a pipe, which he smokes for a long time, swallowing
the smoke; his hiccough becomes louder, he shivers more violently.
When he - has finished smoking, his face is pale, his head falls
on his breast, his eyes are half-closed.
'At this point the white mare's skin is placed in the middle
of the room. The shaman asks for cold water, and when he has
drunk it he slowly holds out his hand for the drum prepared for
him; he then walks to the middle of the room, and, kneeling for
a time on his right knee, bows solemnly to all the four corners
of the world, at the same time sprinkling the ground about him
with the water from his mouth.
[1. Gmelin speaks of special embroidered stockings which the
shaman, dons in the yurta. (Reise durch Sibirien,
'Now everything is silent. A handful of white horsehair is
thrown on the fire, putting it quite out; in the faint gleam
of the red coals the black motionless figure of the shaman is
still to be seen for a while, with drooping bead, big drum on
breast, and face turned towards the south, as is also the head
of the mare's skin upon which he is sitting.
Complete darkness follows the dusk; the audience scarcely
breathes, and only the unintelligible mutterings and hiccoughs
of the shaman can be heard; gradually even this sinks into a
profound silence. Eventually a single great yawn like the clang
of iron breaks the stillness, followed by the loud piercing cry
of a falcon, or the plaintive weeping of a seamew-then silence
'Only the gentle sound of the voice of the drum, like the
humming of a gnat, announces that the shaman has begun to play.
'This music is at first soft. delicate, tender, then rough
and irrepressible like the roar of an oncoming storm. It grows
louder and louder and, like peals of thunder, wild shouts rend
the air; the crow calls, the grebe laughs, the seamews complain,
snipes whistle, eagles and hawks scream.'
'The  music swells and rises to the highest pitch, the
beating of the drum becomes more and more vigorous, until the
two sounds combine in one long-drawn crescendo. The numberless
small bells ring and clang; it is not a storm-it is a whole cascade
of sounds, enough to overwhelm all the listeners.... All at once
it breaks off-there are one or two strong beats on the drum,
which, hitherto held aloft, now falls to the shaman's knees.
Suddenly the sound of the drum and the small bells ceases. Then
silence for a long moment, while the gentle gnat-like murmur
of the drum begins again.'
[1. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 641.]
This may be repeated several times, according to the degree
of the shaman's inspiration; at last, when the music takes on
a certain new rhythm and melody, sombrely the voice of the shaman
chants the following obscure fragments:
1. 'Mighty bull of the earth . . . Horse of the steppes!'
2. 'I, the mighty bull . . . bellow!'
3. 'I, the horse of the steppes . . . neigh!'
4. 'I, the man set above all other beings!'
5. 'I, the man most gifted of all!'
6. 'I, the man created by the master all-powerful!
7. 'Horse of the steppes, appear! teach me!'
8. 'Enchanted bull of the earth, appear! speak to me!'
9. 'Powerful master, command me!'
10. 'All of you, who will go with me, give heed with your ears!
Those whom I command not. follow me not!'
11. 'Approach not nearer than is permitted! Look intently! Give
heed ! Have a care!'
12. 'Look heedfully! Do this, all of you . all together . . .
all, however many you may be!'
13. 'Thou of the left side, O lady with thy staff, if anything
be done amiss, if I take not the right way, I entreat you - correct
me! Command! . . .'
14. 'My errors and my path show to me! O mother of mine! Wing
thy free flight! Pave my wide roadway!'
15. 'Souls of the sun, mothers of the sun, living in the south,
in the nine wooded hills, ye who shall be jealous . . . I adjure
you all . . . let them stay . . . let your three shadows stand
16. 'In the East, on your mountain, lord, grandsire of mine.
great of power and thick of neck-be thou with me!'
17. 'And thou, grey-bearded wizard (fire), I ask thee: with all
my dreams, 'with all comply! To all my desires consent . . .
Heed all! Fulfil all! . . . All heed . . . All fulfil!'
At this point the sounds of the drum are heard once more,
once more wild shouts and meaningless words-then all is silent.
Adjurations similar to the above are used in all the Yakut
districts and all ceremonies begin with them. There is, however,
another formula still longer and more complicated, which Sieroszewski
says he could not procure. The ritual which follows this formula
consists of an improvisation appropriate to each person and occasion.
In the ensuing prayers the shaman addresses his ämägyat
and other protective 'spirits'; be talks with the kaliany,
asks them questions, and gives answers in their names. Sometimes
the shaman must pray and beat the drum a long time before the
spirits come; often their appearance is so sudden and so impetuous
that the shaman is overcome and falls down. It is a good sign
if he falls on his face, and a bad sign if he falls on his back.
'When the ämägyat comes down to a shaman,
he arises and
[1. Sieroszewski, op. cit., pp. 641-2.]
begins to leap and dance, at first on the skin, and then,
his movements becoming more rapid, he glides into the middle
of the room. Wood is quickly piled on the fire, and the light
spreads through the yurta, which is now full of noise
and movement. The shaman dances, sings, and beats the drum uninterruptedly,
jumps about furiously, turning his face to the south, then to
the -west, then to the east. Those who hold him by the leather
thongs sometimes have great difficulty in controlling his movements.
In the south Yakut district, however, the shaman dances unfettered.
Indeed, he often gives up his drum so as to be able to dance
'The head of the shaman is bowed, his eyes are half-closed
his hair is tumbled and in wild disorder lies on his sweating
face, his mouth is twisted strangely, saliva streams down his
chin, often he foamgs at the mouth.
'He moves round the room, advancing and retreating, beating
the drum, which resounds no less wildly than the roaring of the
shaman himself; he shakes his jingling coat, and seems to become
more and more maniacal, intoxicated with the noise and movement.
'His fury ebbs and rises like a wave; sometimes it leaves
him for a while, and then, holding his drum high above his head,
solemnly and calmly he chants a prayer and summons the "spirit".
'At last he knows all he desires; be is acquainted with the
cause of the misfortune or disease with which be has been striving;
he is sure of the help of the beings whose aid he needs. Circling
about in his dance, singing and playing, be approaches the patient.
'With new objurgations be drives away the cause of the illness
by frightening it, or by sucking it out with his mouth from the
painful place: then, returning to the middle of the room, he
drives it away by spitting and blowing. Then he learns what sacrifice
is to be made to the "powerful spirits", for this harsh
treatment of the spirit's servant, who was sent to the patient.
'Then the shaman, shading his eyes from the light with his
hands, looks attentively into each corner of the room; and if
he notices anything suspicious, he again beats the drum, dances,
wakes terrifying gestures, and entreats the " spirits ".
'At length all is made clean, the suspicious "cloud"
is no more to be seen, which signifies that the cause of the
trouble has been driven out; the sacrifice is accepted, the prayers
have been heard-the ceremony is over.
'The shaman still retains for some time after this the gift
of prophecy; he foretells various happenings, answers the questions
of the curious, or relates what he saw on his journey away from
'Finally he is carried with his mare's skin back to his place
of honour on the billiryk'.
The sacrifice offered to the 'spirits' varies according to
the importance of the occasion. Sometimes the disease is transferred
to the cattle, and the stricken cattle are then sacrificed, i.
e. ascend to the sky. It is this journey to the sky, together
with the spirits and the sacrificed animal, which the dance symbolizes.
In the old days (according to the native accounts) there were,
in fact, shamans who really did ascend into the sky while the
spectators saw how 'on the clouds there floated the sacrificed
animal, after it sped the drum of the shaman, and this was followed
by the shaman himself in his wizard's coat'.
There were also wicked and powerful shamans who, instead of
a real animal, carried up into the sky a mare formed of cloud,
but the evidence for the existence of these shamans is indefinite.
During this difficult and dangerous journey every shaman has
his places of rest, called ouokh (olokh); when
he takes a seat during the dance, this signifies that he has
come to an ouokh; when he rises, he is ascending further
tip into the sky; if he falls down, he is descending under the
Every shaman, however far be may have proceeded on his journey,
knows where he is, on which ouoloh, and also the route
taken by every other shaman who is shamanizing at that moment.
Sometimes the leading of the ' spirit' and the sacrificed cattle
into the sky forms a separate ceremony performed a few months
after the first, in which they had promised this sacrifice. The
sacrifices are either bloody, when the shaman tears to pieces
[1. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 644.
2. Troshchanski says (p. 105): 'Instead of the human kut
which the abassy had captured, he receives an animal kut.
Usually, between the spirit who took away the kut of the
man and the representative of the latter, there takes place (through
the shaman) a keen bargaining, in which the spirit gives up some
of its demands.'
3. Sieroszewski, op. cit., p. 645.
4. These ouokh occur in a series of nine, in conformity
with the usual arrangement of objects in nines which characterizes
the whole religious and social system of the Yakut. (Sieroszewski,
op. cit., p. 472.)]
body of the animal with rage and fury, or bloodless; e. g.
when some grease or meat, or other material, such as hair, &c.,
is offered up.
The Samoyed. The shamanistic ceremonial among the Samoyed
of the Tomsk Government has been described by Castren, from
whose account we take the following picture.
On arriving at the yurta the shaman takes his seat
on a bench, or on a chest which must contain no implement capable
of inflicting a wound. Near him, but not in front, the occupants
of the yurta group themselves. The shaman faces the door,
and pretends to be unconscious of all sights and sounds. In his
right band he holds a short staff which is inscribed on one side
with mystic symbols; and in his left, two arrows with the points
held upwards. To each point is affixed a small bell. His dress
has nothing distinctive of a shaman; he usually wears the coat
either of the inquirer or of the sick person. The performance
begins with a song summoning the spirits. Then the shaman strikes
the arrows with his staff, so that the bells chime in a regular
rhythm, while all the spectators sit in awed silence. When the
spirits appear, the shaman rises and commences to dance. The
dance is followed by a series of complicated and difficult body-movements.
While all this is going on the rhythmical chiming of the bells
never ceases. His song consists of a sort of dialogue with the
spirits, and is sung with changes of intonation denoting different
degrees of excitement or enthusiasm. When his enthusiasm rises
to a high pitch, those present join in the singing. After the
shaman has learnt all he wishes from the spirits, the latter
communicate the will of the god to the people. If he is to foretell
the future, he employs his staff. He throws it on the ground,
and if it falls with the side inscribed with mystical signs turned
upward, this is a good omen; if the blank side shows, ill-fortune
may be looked for.
To prove his trustworthiness to those present, the shaman
uses the following means. He sits on a reindeer skin, and his
hands and feet are bound, The room is completely darkened. Then,
as if in answer to his call to the spirits, various noises are
heard both Within and without the yurta: the beating of
a drum, the grunting of a bear, the hissing of a serpent, the
squeak of a squirrel, and mysterious scratchings on the reindeer-skin
where he sits. Then
[1. Castren, Reiseberichte und Briefe, 1845-9. pp.
the shaman's bonds are untied, he is set free, and every one
is convinced that what they heard was the work of the spirits.
The Altaians. The kams (shamans) of the Turkic
tribes of the Altai have preserved with great strictness the
ancient shamanistic ceremonial forms. Potanin gives a curious
description of the performance of a young shaman, Enchu, who
lived by the River Talda, about six versts from Anguday. Four
stages, each marked by a different posture of the shaman, characterized
his performance: in the first, he was sitting and facing the
fire; second, standing, with his back to the fire; third, a sort
of interlude, during which the shaman rested from his labour,
supporting himself with his elbow on the drum, which he balanced
on its rim, while he related what he had learned in his intercourse
with the spirits; and fourth, a final shamanizing, with his back
to the fire, and facing the place where the drum usually hangs.
Enchu declared afterwards that he had no recollection of what
happened while he was shamanizing with his back turned to the
fire. While he was in that position he had been whirling about
madly in circles on one spot, and without any considerable movement
of his feet; crouching down on his haunches, and rising again
to a standing posture, without interrupting the rotating movement.
As he alternately bent and straightened his body from the hips,
backwards and forwards and from side to side, with lively movements
or jerks, the manyak (metal pendants) fastened to his
coat danced and dangled furiously in ill directions, describing
shining circles in the air. At the same time the shaman kept
beating his drum, holding it in various positions so that it
gave out different sounds. From time to time Enchu held the drum
high above his head in a horizontal position and beat upon it
from below. The natives of Anguday explained to Potanin that
when the shaman held the drum in that way, he was collecting
spirits in it. At times he would talk and laugh with some one
apparently near by, but invisible to others, showing in this
manner that he was in the company of spirits. At one time Enchu
fell to singing more, quietly and evenly, simultaneously imitating
on his drum the hoof-beats of a horse. This was to indicate that
the shaman, with his accompanying spirits, was departing to the
underworld of Erlik, the god of darkness.
Mr. Potanin gives a description of this voyage which he heard
from a Russian missionary, Mr. Chivalkoff.
[1. Potanin, Sketches of N. W. Mongolia, vol.
iv, pp. 60-2.]
The kam directs his way towards the south. The has
to cross the Altai Mountains and the red sands of the Chinese
deserts. Then he crosses a yellow steppe, such as no magpie can
traverse. ''Singing, we shall cross it', says the kam
in his Song. After the yellow steppe there is a 'pale' one, such
as no crow can pass over, and the kam in his imaginary
passage once more sings a song full of hopeful courage. Then
comes the iron mountain of Tamir Shayha, which 'leans against
the sky'. Now the kam exhorts his train to be all of one
mind, that they may pass this barrier by the united force of
their will. He describes the difficulty of surmounting the passes
and, in doing so, breathes heavily. On the top he finds the bones
of many kams who have fallen here and died through failure
of power. Again he sings songs of hope, declares he will leap
over the mountain, and suits the action to the word. At last
he comes towards the opening which leads to the underworld. Here
he finds a sea, bridged only by a hair. To show the difficulty
of crossing this bridge, the kam totters, almost falls,
and with difficulty recovers himself. In the depths of the sea
he beholds the bodies of many sinful kams who have perished
there, for only those who are blameless can cross this bridge.
On the other side he meets sinners who are receiving punishment
suited to their faults; e.g. an eavesdropper is pinned by his
ear to a stake. On reaching the dwelling-place of Erlik, he is
confronted by dogs, who will not let him pass, but at last, being
appeased by gifts, they grow milder. Before the beginning of
the shamanistic ceremony gifts have been prepared for this emergency.
Having successfully passed these warders, the kam, as
if approaching the Yarta of Erlik and coming into his presence,
bows, brings his drum up to his forehead, and says, 'Mergu!
mergu!' Then he declares whence and why he comes. Suddenly
he shouts; this is meant to indicate that Erlik is angry that
a mortal should dare to enter his yurta. The frightened kam
leaps backward towards the door, but gathers fresh courage and
again approaches Erlik's throne. After this performance has been
gone through three times, Erlik speaks: 'Winged creatures cannot
fly hither, beings with bones cannot come: how have you, ill-smelling
blackbeetle, made your way to my abode?'
Then the kam stoops and with his drum makes certain movements
if dipping up wine. He presents the wine to Erlik; and makes
a shuddering movement like that of one who drinks strong wine,
to indicate, that Erlik has drunk. When he perceives that Erlik's
humour is somewhat milder tinder the influence of his draught
he makes him offerings of gifts. The great spirit (Erlik) is
moved by the offerings of the kam, and promises increase
of cattle, declares which mare will foal, and even specifies
what marking the young one will have. The kam returns
in high spirits, not on his horse as he went, but on a goose-a
change of steeds which he indicates by moving about the yurta
on tiptoe, to represent flying.
SHAMANISM AND SEX.
IN this chapter I propose to deal not only with the male and
female shamans and their relation to each other, but also with
it curious phenomenon-the mystical change of sex among shamans,
by which a male shaman is 'transformed' into a female, and vice
Nearly all writers on Siberia agree that the position of the
female shaman in modern days is sometimes even more important
than that occupied by the male.
Krasheninnikoff ascribes the shamanistic gift among the Kamchadal
almost exclusively to women; Steller, who travelled through Kamchatka
after him, states, however, that there were also men-shamans
among the Yukaghir, Koryak, and Chukchee. Bogoras, Jochelson,
and others saw as many notable women shamans as men. Tretyakoff
(op. cit., p. 213) affirms the existence of women-shamans side
by side with men-shamans among the Samoyed of Turukhan, and the
same, according to Bielayewski, is true of the Ostyak. Among
the Tungus of Baikal  the woman can be a shaman as well as
the man; and Gmelin  met among them a woman eighteen years
of age who was held superior to any man-shaman. Among the Yakut
and Buryat there are shamans of both sexes. Solovieff 
thinks that among the Yakut the female shamans are considered
less important than the male, and the people ask their help only
when there is no man-shaman in the neighbourhood. The shamanesses,
according to him, are especially good in foretelling the future,
looking for things that are lost, and curing mental diseases,
Among the Palaeo-Siberians, women receive the gift of shamanizing
more often than men. The woman is by nature a shaman,'
[1. A Journey to the Glacial Sea, p.
2. Siberian News, 1822, pp. 19-39.
3. ii. 82-4.
4. Sieroszewski; Potanin.
5. Remains of Paganism among the Yakut, 'Siberia' (Annual),
declared a Chukchee shaman to Bogoras. She does not need to
be specially prepared for the calling and so her novitiate is
much shorter and less trying. Ventrioloquism, however, is not
practised among female shamans.
Taking into account the present prominent position of female
shamans among many Siberian tribes and their place in traditions,'
together with certain feminine attributes of the male shaman
(such as dress, habits, privileges) and certain linguistic similarities
between the names for male and female shamans, many scientists
(Troshchanski, Bogoras, Stadling) have been led to express the
opinion that in former days, only female shamans existed, and
that the male. shaman is a later development which has to some
extent supplanted them.
Concerning the supposed evolution of the shaman from female
to male There is no certain knowledge; one can only surmise.
The different views of the origin of shamanism naturally affect
the theory that shamans were originally female.
[1. Among several tribes traditions exist
that the shaman's gift was first bestowed on woman. In Mongolian
myths goddesses were both shamans themselves-like the Daughter
of the Moon-and the bestowers of the shamanistic gift on mankind.
2. Neo-Siberians nearly all have a common name for the -woman-shaman,
while each of these tribes has a special name for the man-shaman.
The Yakut call him ayun; the Mongols, buge; the
Buryat, buge and bo; the Tungus, samman
and khamman; the Tartars, kam; the Altaians, kam
and gam; the Kirgis, baksy; the Samoyed, tadibey.
The Yakut, it is curious to note, though they have the word khamma,
nevertheless do not call the shaman by a name similar to that
in use among other Neo-Siberians, but give him a special appellation.
This, according to Troshchanski (p. 118), may be explained by
the fact that when the Yakut appeared in the present Yakut district
they did not possess a man-shaman, but they had already a woman-shaman,
for whom all these tribes have a name in common. Among Mongols,
Buryat , Yakut, Altaians, Turgout, and Kirgis, the following
names for the woman-shaman occur, utagan, udagan,
ubakan, utygan, utügun, iduan,
duana. All these words come from a root the meaning of
which has not been certainly determined. In some Tartaric dialects
üdege, 'female shaman', means also 'housewife' and
'wife'. In Tungus, utakan means 'sorcerer' and 'cannibal';
but utagan seems to be a Mongol word in origin According
to Potanin and Banzaroff, the term in question is etymologically
connected with the Mongol word Etugen, hearth-goddess'
(Etugen-eke 'mother-earth'). Potanin further connects
the word for Earth-Goddess among different Altaic and Finno-Ugric
tribes with the names of constellations, especially with the
two bear constellations. In one Tartaric dialect utygan
means 'bear'. According to ancient Mongol and Chineses myths,
the gods of certain constellations are connected with the. protective
spirits or the family hearth, just as they are connected with
the goddess of the earth. Thus these terms for female shamans
are related to the genesis of certain goddesses.]
Jochelson  expresses the opinion that there is no doubt
that professional shamanism has developed from the ceremonials
of family shamanism. The same author  also states that in
family shamanism among the Koryak some women possess a knowledge
not only of those incantations which are a family secret, but
of many others besides, of which they make use outside the family
circle on request. From this we can see very clearly how family
shamanism among the Koryak has developed into professional shamanism.
Some one with unusual gifts, often a woman, is requested to
use them on behalf of a larger circle outside the family, and
thus becomes a professional shaman. This is especially true of
the Koryak. There is, however, no evidence that among them the
woman-shaman preceded the man. In the old days, as at the present
time, the women-shamans were considered as powerful as the men,
sometimes, indeed, an individual female shaman is even cleverer
than a man. The 'transformed' shamans are considered very powerful
also, though they exist merely in Koryak traditions. But since
the change of sex is 'in obedience to the commands of Spirits',
it seems to belong to another category of facts and to have no
connexion with the theory of an originally universal feminine
Among the Chukchee  family shamanism, being quite simple
and primitive, probably preceded individual shamanism, and the
latter seems to have grown out of the former. The mother shares
with the father the róle of shaman in the family ceremonials;
she has charge of the drum and amulets, and in exceptional cases
it is she, and not the father, who performs the family sacrifice.
Thus shamanism is not restricted to either sex, but 'the gift
of inspiration is thought to be bestowed more frequently upon
women, though it is reputed to be of a rather inferior kind,
the higher grades belonging rather to men. The reason given for
this is that the bearing of children is generally adverse to
shamanistic inspirations, so that a young woman with considerable
shamanistic power may lose the greater part of it after the birth
of her first child.'
The above statenients of the two best authorities on the Koryak
and the Chukchee make it clear that among these people there
are visible traces that fainily shamanism preceded the individual,
[1. The Koryak, i. 78.
2. Op. cit., p. 47.
3. Op. cit., p. 52.
4. Bogoras, The Chukchee, ii. 410.
5. Op. cit., p. 415.]
or professional, kind; and although woman plays an important
róle in both, there is no sufficient reason to suppose
that in former times she alone could shamanize. Of course, the
adherents to the theory of universal mother-right would try to
see in this case a proof of the former higher position of woman
in society, her moral supremacy, &c. As far as our materials
go, we do not see evidence either of a superior position in the
social structure or of the moral supremacy of women in
these societies, but only of the superiority of individuals
of either sex.
A similar state of things may be observed among other Palaeo-Siberians
and Neo-Siberians, although among the latter a woman shaman is
not very often met with.
In spite of the low social position of women among these natives,
it is personal ability, irrespective of sex, which is the decisive
factor in the case of the shamanistic vocation.
As proof that women were the original shamans, certain authors
adduce the fact that the professional shaman does not possess
his own drum. But neither is this the case with women or men-shamans
among those peoples where professional shamanism is not yet clearly
differentiated from family shamanism. As regards the female dress
and habits of the shaman, I shall have opportunity to discuss
this point when dealing with tribes whose shaman's garment is
more elaborate, i.e. the Neo-Siberians.
Troshchanski  and, following him, Stadling  believe
professional shamanism to be a special institution which has
no direct connexion with the communal cult, though in the latter
there are also shamanistic elements. In the later stages of its
development the office of shaman is connected in certain cases
with the communal cult, and thus 'white' shamanism came into
existence. Troshchanski develops his theory chiefly on Yakut
evidence, and though he tries to apply it to the whole of Siberia,
we shall confine ourselves to what he says about the Yakut.
Among them, where there are two categories of shamans, the
white', representing creative, and the 'black', destructive forces,
the latter tend to behave like women, since it is from women-shamans
that they derive their origin. In support of this theory of their
origin Troshchanski puts forward the following arguments:
[1. The Evolution of the Black Faith,
1902, pp. 123-7.
2. Shamanismen i Noru Asien, 1912, pp. 82-92.
3. Op. cit., pp. 123-7.]
1. The shaman has on his coat two iron circles representing
2. He parts his hair in the middle like a woman, and braids
it, letting it fall loose during the shamanistic ceremony.
3. In the Kolyma district neither a woman nor a shaman lies
on the right side of the horse-skin in the yurta, because,
as they say, it is on this side that one beats a horse.
4. It is only on very important occasions that the shaman
wears his own garment; on lesser occasion's he wears a girl's
jacket made of foal's hide.
5. For three days after the birth of a child, at which the
goddess of fecundity, Aiasyt, is present, no man may enter the
room where the mother is lying, but only women and shamans.
Finally, according to Troshchanski, the female 'black' shaman
was replaced by the male 'black' shaman. This transition was
effected by means of the smith, who, as the maker of the woman-shaman's
garment, held an influential position, and whose power increased
in proportion to the length of his ancestry. Through their
contact with shamanistic implements they acquired mana
and themselves became sorcerers and shamans.
The evolution of the 'white' shaman took place, he opines,
on different lines. In family ceremonial the cleverest head of
a family or member of a community was chosen; he was elected
anew for each ceremony until eventually his tenure of the office
This theory of a dual evolution of shamans is not easy to
substantiate. In the first place, we find that the 'white' shaman's
garment is made by a 'white' smith; which fact, by Trosbehanski's
mode of argument, would seem to imply a line of development for
'white' shamanism parallel to, and not divergent from, that of
Again, all the supposed feminine habits of the shaman of today
would not go to prove that the earlier female-shaman was the
servant of abassy alone. We find in the past as well as
in the present that the woman can be the priestess of the family
cult and a professional shamaness, the servant of either aïy
or abassy. Among the Yakut, however, where the worship
of abassy is more developed than that of aïy,
the 'black' shamans, both men and
[1. Jochelson (The Koryak, i. 53) was
present at a ceremony in the Kolyma district where the shaman
wore such a costume.
2 Troshchanki, op. cit., p. 125.
3 Op. cit., p. 124.]
women, predominate. On the other hand, among the Votyaks,
where the cult aïy of is more developed than that
of abassy, the 'white' shamans are much more numerous,
and form the whole hierarchy.
All that has been cited concerning the feminine habits of
the present-day shaman was taken by Troshchanski as proof of
his theory of the evolution of the 'black' shaman from the 'black'
shamaness and by Jochelson as 'traces of the change of a shaman's
sex into that of a woman'.
Jochelson thus binds together the two questions dealt with
in this chapter-the relation of the shamaness to the shaman',
and the 'transformation of shamans', called also 'the change
of sex'. This latter phenomenon, following J. G. Frazer, I
should prefer to call 'the change of dress', since (with the
exception of the Chukchee, perhaps) the change of dress is not
nowadays, at least, followed by what the physiologists would
call 'change of sex'.
Frazer  says that the interchange of dress between men
and women is an obscure and complex problem, and thinks it unlikely
that any single solution would be applicable to all cases. In
enumerating instances of such cases among the priests of Khasis
and the Pelew Islanders-instances, that is, of men dressing
and acting like women throughout life-he ascribes these phenomena
to the inspiration of a female spirit, which often chooses a
man rather than a woman for her minister and inspired mouthpiece.
As to the people of Siberia, the 'change of sex' is found
chiefly among Palaeo-Siberians, namely the Chukchee, Koryak,
Kamchadal, and Asiatic Eskimo.'
Even the earliest travellers record instances of this phenomenon.
Thus Krasheninnikoff in 1755, Steller in 1774, Wrangel
[1. Bogayewski, p. 128.
2 Jochelson op. cit., i. 53.
3. Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris, ed. 1907, pp. 384-433.
4. Op. cit., p. 433.
5. Major Gurdon.
6. J. Kubary.
7. Effeminate sorcerers and priests are found among the Sea-Dyak
of Borneo (Capt. Brooke, Schwaner); the Bugis of South Celebes
(Capt. Mundy); Patagonians of South America (Falkner); the Aleutians,
and many Indian tribes of North America (Dall, Langsdorff, Powers,
and Bancroft). Frazer, Adonis, &c., p. 429.
8. Similar changes of sex were observed by Dr. Karsch (Uranismus
oder Päderastie mid Tribadie bei den Naturvölkern,
1901, pp. 72-201) all over the American continent from Alaska
9. Description of the Country of Kamchatka, ii. 24.
10. Beschreibung von dem Lande Kamtschatka, p. 289.]
in 1820, Lüdke in 1837, and others. They do not
give complete accounts, but merely mention the fact. It differs,
however, in their description from ordinary homosexualism in
that there is always reference to shamanistic inspiration or
More detailed descriptions are to be found in the excellent
modern works of Bogoras and Jochelson. Bogoras describes the
facts relating to the Chukchee in a chapter on 'Sexual Perversion
and Transformed Shamans'.
'The sexual organs play a part in certain shamanistic ceremonies,'
says Bogoras. The shaman is said to be very often naked during
his incantations, e.g. that used to invoke the moon, and to mention
his genital parts. The change of sex is called in Chukchee
'soft-man-being', yirka-laul-vairgin, 'soft man' (yirka-laul)
meaning a man transformed into a being of the weaker sex. A man
who has 'changed his sex' is also called 'similar to a woman'
(ne uchica), and a woman in like condition 'similar to
a man' (qa cikcheca). These latter transformations are much rarer.
Bogoras distinguishes various degrees of 'transformation'
among the Chukchee:
1. The shaman, or the sick person at the bidding of a shaman,
arranges and braids his hair like a woman.
2. The change of dress: Kimiqai, for instance, were woman's
clothes by order of the spirits. In his youth he had been afflicted
by in illness and had been greatly benefited by the change of
dress. At the time described he was an elderly man with a beard,
and had a wife and four children.
3. The change in the habits of one sex is shown when the man
'throws away the rifle and the lance, the lasso of the reindeer
herdman, and the harpoon of the seal-hunter, and takes to the
needle and the skin-scraper '. He learns the use of these
quickly, because the 'spirits' help him all the time. Even his
pronunciation changes from masculine to feminine. His body loses
its masculine appearance, and he becomes shy.
4. In rare cases the 'soft man' begins to feel himself a woman;
he seeks for a lover, and sometimes marries.
[1 Reise längs der Nordküste
von Sibirien und auf dem Eismeere, ed. 1841, p. 227.
2. Journey Around the World, 1834-6, p. 143.
3. The Chukchee, ii. 448.
4 Op. cit. p. 449.
5. Op. cit., p. 450.
6. Op. cit., p. 451.]
The marriage is performed with the usual rites, and the union
is as durable as any other. The 'man' goes hunting and fishing,
the 'woman' does domestic work. Bogoras thinks they cohabit modo
Socratis, though they are sometimes said to have mistresses
in secret and to produce children by them. The wife does not,
however, change her name, though the husband sometimes adds the
name of his wife to his own.
Public opinion is always against them, but as the
transformed shamans are very dangerous, they are not opposed
and no outward objections are raised. Each 'soft man' is supposed
to have a special protector among the 'spirits', who is usually
said to play the part of a supernatural husband, the 'kele-husband'
of the 'transformed' one. This husband is supposed to be the
real head of the family and to communicate his orders by means
of his 'transformed' wife. The human husband, of course, has
to execute these orders faithfully under fear of prompt punishment.
Sometimes the shaman of untransformed sex has a 'kele-wife'
in addition to his own.
Bogoras himself was best acquainted with a 'soft man' called
Tiluwgi, who, however, would not allow himself to be inspected
fully. His human husband described him as a normal male person.
In spite of this, his habits were those of a woman. The husband
of Tiluwgi was an ordinary man and his cousin. The 'transformed
shamans' generally chose a husband from among their nearest relations.
Bogoras never met a woman transformed into a man, but he heard
of several cases. One transformed shamaness was a widow, who
had children of her own. Following the command of the 'spirits',
she cut her hair, donned the dress of a man, adopted the masculine
pronunciation, and even learned in a very short time to handle
the spear and to shoot with a rifle. At last she wanted to marry
and easily found a young girl who consented to become her wife.
Jochelson  states that he did not learn of the transformation
of women-shamans into men among the Koryak of to-day; we find,
however, accounts of such transformation in legends. Neither
did he meet any men-shamans transformed into women.
'The father of Yulta, a Koryak from the village of Kainenskoye,
who died not long ago and who had been a shaman, had worn
[1. Op. cit., p. 451.
2. The italics are mine.
3. Op. cit., p. 452.
4. Op. cit., p. 455.
5. The Koryak p. 53.]
women's clothes for two years by order of the spirits; but
since he had been unable to obtain complete transformation he
implored his spirits to permit him to resume men's clothes. His
request was granted, but on condition that he should put on women's
clothes during shamanistic ceremonies.
This is, the only case familiar to Jochelson of the change
of sex, or rather change of dress. The Koryak call the transformed
shaman kavau or keveu; they are supposed to be
as powerful as women-shamans.
The narratives concerning the Kamchadal kockchuch are
much confused, for Krasheninnikoff does not rightly explain either
who they were, or whether they were men or women. The kockchuch
were women's dress, did women's work, and were treated with the
same lack of respect as is shown to women. They could enter the
house through the draught-channel, which corresponds to the opening
in the roof of the porch of the Koryak underground house,
in the same way as the women and the Koryak qavau. Piekarski
finds that Krasheninnikoff contradicts himself in his statements
concerning 'koekchuch women, who do not come into contact
Krasheninnikoff's descriptions of koekchuch are as
follows: 'The Kamchadal have one, two, or three wives, and besides
these some of them keep koekchuch who wear women's clothes,
do women's work, and have nothing to do with men, in whose company
they feel shy and not at their ease' (p. 24, ed. 1755).
'The Kamchadal women are tailors and shoemakers, which professions
are considered useless to men, who are immediately regarded as
kockchuch if they enter these vocations' (p. 40, ed. 1755).
'The women are not jealous, for not only do two or three wives
of one man live together in peace, but they do not even object
to the kockchuch, whom some Kamchadal keep instead of
concubines' (p. 125, ed. 1755). 'Every woman, especially an old
one, and every kockchuch, is a sorcerer and interpreter
of dreams' (p. 81, ed. 1755).
From the above quotations the koekchuch seem rather
to be of
[1. Op. cit. p. 53.
2. Krsheninnikoff, ii. 114; see Troshchanski, op. cit., p.
3. See Troshchanski, Op. cit., p. 120.
4. 'Thc female sex being more attractive and perhaps also
cleverer, more shamans are chosen among women and koekchtech
than from men' p. 15. 'The natives of the Kuril Islands have
two or three wives each; . . . they have also koekchtech,
like the Koryak and Kamchadal' (p. 183, ed. 1755).]
the eunuch type, though sometimes they play the role of concubines.
The kockchuch who was regarded by the community as
being of an unusual type probably enjoyed special privileges
higher than those of a sorcerer or a shaman. The worship of the
pathological may have verged here into the worship of the supernatural.
The 'change of sex' is met with only among the Palaeo-Siberians,
whilst among the Neo-Siberians only does the shamanistic dress
more often resemble female garments. It is true that among Yakut
men-shamans traditions exist of their bearing children, but
this is connected rather with the idea of the power of shamanistic
spirits which makes such miracles possible. As a rule, child-birth
among the Palaeo-Siberian shamanesses results in either a complete
or at least a temporary loss of the shamanistic gift. In a Koryak
tale  the shanianistic power of Ememqut, son of Big-Raven,
'disappeared after the mythical Triton had bewitched him and
caused him to give birth to a boy. His power was restored to
him after his sister had killed the Triton's sister, by which
deed the act of giving birth was completely eliminated.'
We observe also that in many Siberian communities a woman
shaman is not permitted to touch the drum.
The question of the change of sex, especially as it concerns
the most powerful shamans, cannot be explained on a purely physical
basis. Several perversions occur among these people, as they
do in all primitive and even in more civilized societies; but
it does not follow that every pathological individual is the
subject of magical worship. On the contrary, when reading the
detailed description of the transformed shamans in Bogoras and
Jochelson, we see that in nearly every case these shamans are
at first normal people and only later, by inspiration of spirits,
have to change their sex. As described in previous pages, some
of them have secretly, along with an official husband of the
same sex, normal sexual relations with a person of the other
sex, and we may even assume that some of them actually became
sexless, although in certain cases the outward show required
by religious considerations may cover abnormal passions.
It is scarcely possible to see in these cases a religious
[1. The Yukaghir form an exception. Jochelson
says: 'I found no indications of such an institution among the
Yukagbir, except in the dress of the shamans, which includes
articles of female attire. (The Yukaghir and Yukaghirized
Tungus, p. 112.)
3. Jochelson, op. cit., p. 55.]
of a divine two-sexed shaman embodying in one being a perfect
man- and woman-nature. We do not find such gods or spirits among
the Palaeo-Siberians, though we encounter this idea among the
more advanced Neo-Siberians. In the religion of the natives of
the Altai this idea is expressed by the name 'mother and father
of the man', given to the Supreme Being.
It may be that the most satisfactory basis for an attempt
at the solution of this problem would be the sociological one.
The extraordinary rights granted by the community to the shaman
are clearly evident in the exceptional position he occupies.
Shamans (male and female) may do what is not permitted to others,
and indeed they must act differently, because they have a supernatural
power recognized by the community.
Taking some of the characteristics ascribed to shamans in
previous chapters, we see that, inspired by the spirits, 'they
may cut and otherwise injure their bodies without suffering harm.'
They may, during shamanistic performances, 'ascend to the sky
together with the shaman's drum and sacrificial animal.'
They may give birth to a child, a bird, a frog, &c.,
and they may change their sex if they are 'real shamans', with
supernatural powers, with a true vocation.
Socially, the shaman does not belong either to the class of
males or to that of females, but to a third class, that of shamans.
Sexually, he may be sexless, or ascetic, or have inclinations
of homosexualistic character, but he may also be quite normal.
And so, forming a special class, shamans have special taboos
comprising both male and female characters. The same may be said
of their costume, which combines features peculiar to the dress
of both sexes.
The woman-shaman is not restricted to taboos specifically
female, for her social position is much higher than that of the
ordinary woman: whilst purely male taboos are not applied to
the man-shaman, who has, together with certain male taboos, some
privileges of a woman; e.g. among the Yakut, access to the house
of lying-in women during the first three days after the birth
of a child.
[1. From this point of view it would appear
that the high respect shown in individual cases to the female
shaman is due to the position which shaman, as such, of whatever
sex, occupies in society, and does not imply an earlier general
2. Jochelson, The Koryak.
3. Sieroszewski, 12 Lat w Kraju Yakutów, p.
4. Op. cit., P. 399.]
Shamanhood is separated from society by a boundary-line of
many taboos. When the shaman cannot keep these taboos he or she
ceases to be a shaman; e. g. the woman during the period of child-birth
and menstruation, when she again belongs to the community of
The class of shamans, in which the woman acquires certain
attributes of a man, and the man certain attributes of a woman,
seems in Siberia to be independent of father- or mother-right.
would be interesting to ascertain whether the 'spirits' inspiring
the change of sex are of opposed sexes, as was suggested by J.
G. Frazer.' 
The shaman class, through the exclusion of its members from
both the male and the female sections of society, may in some
cases be pathological, but this is in no sense a significant
or indispensable characteristic, since in the only instances
where the 'marriage' of transformed shamans with persons of the
same sex has been observed in our time (i.e. among the Chukchee)
it is always disapproved by public opinion.
The magico-religious and sociological explanation of the change
of dress among shamans does not, however, apply satisfactorily
to the koekchuch, for professional shamanism among the
Kamchadal was not organized and developed to the point of producing
a distinct section of society inspired by shamanistic spirits.
Neither does this explanation cover cases in which men are dressed
in women's costume without being shamans at all. Perhaps we may
here find aid in the suggestions put forward by Mr. Crawley:
in treating of the belief, very widespread among primitive peoples,
in the possibility of the transmission of feminine qualities,
especially weakness, by contagion. He cites
[1. Op. cit., 1907, pp. 384-433.
2. Since this chapter was written I have been able to familiarize
myself with a very interesting pamphlet by the prominent Russian
sociologist, A. Maksimoff, dealing with the same subject under
the title 'The Change of Sex', Russian Anthrop. Journ.,
xxix. I was glad to see that Maksimoff also is not satisfied
with the physiological explanation of this phenomenon. He gives
two reasons for his doubts: (1) The phenomena, in common with
the shamanistic practices, is in decadence everywhere in Siberia;
and if it were only due to sexual perversions it would probably
be rather on the increase during the present period of colonization,
when we know that all sorts of diseases and every kind of sexual
licence have increased among the Siberian natives. (2) In many
similar cases among other peoples we can see that this phenomenon
is purely ritualistic, e. g. in the case of the Mujerados of
New Mexico (pp. 17-18).
3. 'Sexual Taboo: a study in the Relations of the Sexes,'
Journal Of the Anthrop. Inst., xxiv. 124-5.]
many instances of 'the custom of degrading the cowardly, infirm,
and conquered to the position of females' by putting women's
clothes on them. Quoting from L. Morgan (The League of The
Iroquois, p. 16) he says: 'When the Delawares were denationalized
by the Iroquois and prohibited from going out to war, they were,
according to the Indian notion, "made women", and were
henceforth to confine themselves to the pursuits appropriate
to women.' Is it not reasonable to suppose that we have in the
koekuch of the Kamchadal simply another instance of a
similar practice, especially when we consider the accounts given
by Jochelson, Bogoras, and others of the treatment of slaves
among some other Palaeo-Siberians? The object aimed at in the
-treatment referred to by Mr. Crawley is the weakening to the
point of emasculation of the character of enemies held captive
or in subjection, so as to reduce their capacity for working
mischief to the conquerors to a minimum. Jochelown, speaking
of slavery as it formerly existed among the Yukaghir, says: 'The
slave (captive) stayed in the house with the women . . . and
did the housework on equal terms with the women." He makes
a similar statement about the status of the captive slaves formerly
held by the Koryak. Close association with women, the primitive
argues, produces effeminacy in a man, by contagion. Keep him
with the women, put their clothes on him, and he is no longer
dangerous, if hostile, and may be made useful in occupations
suited to females. In the absence of satisfactory evidence for
the other hypothesis put forward, and taking into consideration
the attitude towards captive slaves of other Palaeo-Siberians
as exhibited above, it would seem at least probable that the
koekchuch of the Kamchadal were, or had developed from,
a class of captive slaves.
Though Bogoras, in his account of the slave-class which existed
until comparatively recent times among the Chukchee, does not
refer to any definite attempt made by these people to feminize
their captives, his statement that the word ämulin
applied to such slaves means primarily 'weakling', and that all
the other terms applied to captive slaves have an implication
of contempt, supports the assumption that the Chukchee hold the
same view as other Palaeo-Siberians, including the Kamchadal,
of what was the ideal condition of a slave-class.
[1. Joeliolson, The Yukaghir p. 133.
2 The Koryak, p. 766.]
GODS, SPIRITS, SOUL.
1. THE CHUKCHEE.
BENEVOLENT supernatural beings are called by the Chukchee
vairgit, i. e. 'beings'. The most important are the 'benevolent
beings sacrificed to' (taaronyo vairgit), those to whom
the people bring sacrifices. They live in twenty-two different
'directions' of the Chukchee compass. The chief of these beings
is the one residing in the zenith, which is called 'being-a-crown'
(kanoirgin), or 'middle-crown' (ginon-kanon). Mid-day,
the Sun, and the Polar Star are often identified with the 'middle-crown
'. The Dawn and the Twilight are ' wife-companions', several
of the tales describing them as being married to one wife. The
'directions ' of the evening are together called 'Darkness'.
Sacrifices are made to them only on special occasions, and are
often mingled with those offered to the kelet ('evil spirits')
of the earth.'
The sun, moon, stars, and constellations are also known as
vairgit; but the sun is a special vairgin, represented
as a man clad in a bright garment, driving dogs or reindeer.
He descends every evening to his wife, the 'Walking-around-Woman'.
The moon is also represented as a man. He is not a vairgin,
however, but the son of a kele of the lower worlds. He
has a lasso, with which he catches people who look too fixedly
at him. Shamans invoke the moon in incantations and spells.
Among the stars, the pole-star is the principal vairgin,
and is most often referred to as unpener,  the pole-stuck
star', a name, .which, Mr. Bogoras asserts, is universal throughout
There are several other vairgit beneficent to man,
which Bogoras supposes to be merely vague and impersonal names
of qualities. 'They represent a very loose and indefinite personification
of the creative principle of the world, and are similar to Vakanda
or Great Manitou of the Indians,' he says. Their names are
[1. Bogoras, The Chukchee, 1907, J.N.P.E.,
2. Vairgin, singular; vairgit, plural. Kele,
singular; kelet, plural.
3. Op. cit , pp. 305-7.
4. Op. cit., p. 314.]
Tenan-tomgin ('Creator', lit. 'One who induces things to be
created'); Girgol-vairgin ('Upper-Being); Marginen ('World',
literally 'The Outer-One')., Yaivac-vairgin ('Merciful-Being');
Yagtac-vairgin ('Life-giving Being'); Kinta-vairgin ('Luck-giving
Being'). These do not receive special sacrifices, but are all,
except 'Creator', mentioned at the sacrifices to the Dawn, Zenith,
and Midday. The 'Luck-giving Being' is sometimes represented
as a raven, but the Creator is never so represented by the Chukchee
(as he is among the Koryak), although he is sometimes known as
'the outer garment of the Creator'. The Chukchee, however, have
many tales about Big-Raven, whom they call Tenan-tomgin.
Besides these 'Beings', the Reindeer Chukchee have also a
'Reindeer-Being' (Qoren-vairgin), who watches over the
herds; and the Maritime people have their 'Beings of the Sea'
(Anqa-vairgit), of whom the most important are Keretkun
and his wife, sometimes called Cinei-new. 'They live on the sea-bottom
or in the open sea, where they have a large floating house. They
are larger than men, have black faces, and head-bands of peculiar
form, and are clad in long white garments made of walrus-gut
adorned with many small tassels.' Another sea-spirit is the
'Mother of the Walrus', living at the bottom of the sea, and
armed with two tusks like a walrus. Besides her, there is still
another sea-spirit like a walrus, which is believed to work harm
to people, crawling into their houses at night. These walrus-beings
do not receive regular sacrifices, and sometimes assist the Shaman
in the capacity of kelet. Keretkun, however, is the recipient
of sacrifices at the autumn ceremonials. The Asiatic Eskimo have
sea-deities similar to those of the Maritime Chukchee. 
The Chukchee classify the winds also as 'Beings', whose names
are mentioned in incantations, the local prevailing wind being
always regarded in a given locality as the chief of these 'Beings'.
Spirits of tents and houses are called 'House-Beings' (Yara-vairgit).
They are attached to houses, not to people, and if a house is
destroyed they cease to exist with it. If the inhabitants of
a house abandon it, the house-spirits turn into very dangerous
earth-spirits. A small share of every important sacrifice
is placed for them on the ground in the corners of the sleeping-room.
Othcr spirits, which are neither kelet nor vairgit,
[1. Op. cit., p. 316.
2. Op. cit., pp. 316-18.
3. Op. cit., p. 320.
4. Op. cit., p. 318.]
e. g. the spirits of intoxicating mushrooms, which form a
'Separate Tribe' (yanra-varat).
Some 'Beings' have so called 'assistants' (viyolet)
which receive a share of the sacrifices. The 'assistant' is very
often represented as a raven or as half a raven. Even the kelet
have 'assistants'. 
All the forests, rivers, lakes, and the classes of animals
are animated by 'masters' (aunralit) or 'owners' (etinvit).
Some. times the Chukchee call these kelet-a word which,
though it usually means 'evil spirits', sometimes is used in
the simple sense of 'spirits '. Wild animals are said to have
the same sort of households as the Chnkchee themselves and to
imitate men in their actions. For instance, 'one family of eagles
has a slave, Rirultet, whom they stole from the earth a long
time ago. He prepares food for all of them, and his face has
become blackened with Soot.' Animals, like spirits, can take
the form of men. The ermine and the owl become warriors on certain
occasions; the mice become hunters. 'In most cases, animals,
while impersonating human beings, retain some of their former
qualities, which identify them as beings of a special class,
acting in a human way, but different from mankind.' So the fox-woman
retains her strong smell, and the goose-woman does not take animal
Lifeless objects, especially if they have originally been
parts of living organisms, may become endowed with life; e. g.
skins ready for sale may turn at night into reindeer, and walk
These various 'owners' are very often of the kelet
class; but, according to Bogoras, no Chukchee will confess to
having made sacrifices to evil spirits, except under extraordinary
Bogoras divides the kelet of the Chukchee into three
classes: (a) invisible spirits, bringing disease and death; (b)
bloodthirsty cannibal spirits, the enemies of Chukchee warriors
especially; (c) spirits which assist the shaman during shamanistic
Kelet of the class (a) are said to live underground, and to
have also an abode above the earth; but they never come from
the sea, for, according to a Chukchee proverb 'nothing evil can
come from the sea'.
[1. Op. cit., p. 333.
2. Op. cit., 319.
3. Op. cit., p. 286.
4. Op. cit., p. 283.
5. Op. cit., p. 284.
6. Op. cit., p. 281.
7. Op. cit., p. 290.
8. Op. cit., p. 292.
9. In apparent contradiction to the belief expressed in this
proverb is the existence of the kele in the form of a
walrus, mentioned by Mr. Bogoras on p. 316, which is harmful
The kelet do not remain in their homes, but wander
abroad and seek for victims. They are too numerous to be distinguished
by special names. Some of them are one-eyed; they have all sorts
of strange faces and forms, most of them being very small. They
are organized in communities resembling those of men. On the
Pacific shores they are often known as rekkenit (sing.
rekken). These have various monstrous forms, and animals
which are born with any deformity are sacrificed to them. The
kelet have an especial fondness for the human liver. This
belief is the origin of the Chukchee custom of opening a corpse
to discover from the liver which spirit has killed the deceased.
The class (b), which is especially inimical to warriors, is spoken
of chiefly in the tales. While incantations and charms are employed
against spirits of the first class, against the giant cannibal
kelet of the second category ordinary weapons of war are
used. These spirits once formed a tribe of giants living on the
Arctic shore, but being much harassed by the Chukchee, they changed
themselves into invisible spirits.
The third class (c) is that of shamanistic spirits, sometimes
called 'separate spirits' or 'separate voices'. They take the
forms of animals, plants, icebergs, &c., and can change their
form very quickly-and also their temper; on account of this last
peculiarity the shaman must be very punctilious in keeping his
compact with them. The shaman says of them, 'These are my people,
my own little spirits.' We do not find in Bogoras any reference
to benevolent shamanistic spirits or assistants of the shaman.
Besides these typical evil spirits, there is also a class
of 'monsters'. Among these the chief is the killer-whale , which
is surrounded by a taboo among all Arctic peoples: any one who
kills a killer-whale is sure to die very soon. These monsters
in Winter are transformed into wolves and prey upon the reindeer
of the Chukchee. An exaggerated representation of a polar bear
also appears as one of the 'monsters'. The mammoth plays an important
part in Chukchee beliefs. It is said to be the reindeer of the
kelet. If the tusks are seen above ground, this is a bad
omen, and unless an incantation is uttered something untoward
'According to one story, some Chukchee men found two mammoth-tusks
protruding from the earth. They began to beat the
[1. Op. cit., pp. 292-8.
2. Op. cit., pp. 298-300.
3. Op. cit., pp. 300-2.]
drum and performed several incantations. Then the whole carcass
of the mammoth came to sight. The people ate the meat. It was
very nutritious and they lived on it all winter. When the bones
were stripped of all the meat, they put them together again,
and in the morning they were again covered with meat. Perhaps
this story has for its foundation the finding of a mammoth-carcass
good for eating, as happened on the Obi in the eighteenth century,
and also more recently in the Kolyma country.
'Because of these beliefs, the search for ivory of the mammoth
was tabooed in former times. Even now, a man who finds a mammoth-tusk
has to pay for it to the "spirit" of the place by various
sacrifices. The search for such tusks is considered a poor pursuit
for a man, notwithstanding the high price which the ivory brings."
In the pictorial representations of these 'monsters', or,
rather, exaggerated animals, all which have a reindeer as the
foremost figure are intended to represent benevolent spirits;
while others in which a dog, horse, or mammoth stands in front,
Monstrous worms, blackbeetles, birds, and fish are the other
exaggerated animal forms which Bogoras calls 'monsters'. 
Soul. The soul is called wirit or uvekkirgin
('belonging to the body'). Another term is tetkeyun, meaning
'vital force of living being'. The soul resides in the heart
or the liver, and animals and plants as well as men possess it.
One hears, however, more about other 'souls'-those which belong
to various parts of the body: e.g. there is a limb-soul, nose-soul,
&c. And so a man whose nose is easily frost-bitten is said
to be 'short of souls'. Very often the soul assumes the form
of a beetle, and hums like a bee in its flight. When a man loses
one of his souls, he may obtain its return through a shaman,
who, if he cannot discover the whereabouts of the inissing soul,
can send a portion of his own into the person who has suffered
this loss. If a kele steals a soul, he carries it into
his own dark abode, and there binds its limbs to prevent its
escaping. In one of the tales 'a kele forces a stolen
soul to watch his lamp and trim it'. Bogoras knew of a case of
a man who struck his wife with a firebrand, and when the woman
died after two days, and her relatives had examined her body
and found no injury to any organ, they said that the husband's
blow had injured her soul.
[1. Op. cit., p. 326.
2. Op. cit., pp. 323-30.]
'Kelet also have souls of their own, which may be lost
or spirited away by shamans.'
Chukchee View of the Universe. According to the Chukchee
belief there are several worlds, one above another. Some reckon
five such worlds, others seven or nine. A hole, under the pole-star,
forms a passage from one world to the other, and through this
hole shamans and spirits pass from one to another of the worlds.
Another way to reach the other world is to take a step downwards
in the direction of the dawn. There are also other worlds' in
the 'directions' of the compass, one under the sea, another small
dark 'world' vaguely described as being above, which is the abode
of the female kele-birds. Some of the stars also are distinct
'worlds' with their own inhabitants. The sky, they say, is a
'world ' too, and touches our earth at the horizon, where at
four points there are gates. When the wind blows these gates
are believed to be opening.
II. THE KORYAK.
In contrast to the Chukchee and the Eskimo, who have whole
classes of Supreme Beings (vairgit, Chukchee; kiyarnarak,
Asiatic Eskimo), the Koryak, as Jochelson thinks, have a tendency
to monotheism; although he considers it 'possible that all names
now applied by them to one deity may have formerly been applied
to various beings or phenomena of nature, and that, owing to
their intercourse with the Russians, a monotheistic tendency
of uniting all names of the various deities into one may have
developed'. That the Koryak conception of one Supreme Being
is not indigenous, or at least not very old, may be judged from
the very vague account of his nature and qualities which was
all that Jochelson was able to obtain from these people, and
also from the fact that he takes no active part in shaping the
affairs of men. He is, of course, a benevolent anthropomorphic
being, an old man with a wife and children, dwelling in the sky.
He can send famine or abundance, but seldom uses his power to
do either good or evil to men.
Jochelson says that the abstract names given to him are hardly
consistent with the conception-distinctly material, as far as
it goes-which the Koryak seem to have of his nature. Some of
[1. Op cit., pp. 332-3.
2. Op. cit., pp. 330 -2.
3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 24.]
these names are: 'Naininen (Universe, World, Outer one); Inahitelan
or Ginagitelan (Supervisor); Yaqhicnin or Caqhicnin (Something-Existing),
called by the Paren people Vahicnin, by those of Kamenskoye,
Vahitnin, or by the Reindeer Koryak, Vahiynin (Existence, also
Strength); Gicholan (The-One-on-High); Gicholetinvilan (The-Master-on-High)
or simply Etin (Master); Thairgin (Dawn). In Tale 113 we meet
with the name Kihigilan (Thunder-Man) for the Supreme Being.'
The Supreme Being is propitiated for purely material reasons,
such as the procuring of a food-supply by hunting land and sea
animals, the picking of berries and roots, and the tending of
the reindeer herds. If the Supreme Being ceases to look upon
the earth disorder at once begins; e.g. Big-Raven is unsuccessful
in his hunting when Universe (Naininen) has gone to sleep (Tale
9). In like manner, failure, to offer sacrifices may bring some
such misfortune on a mail. In one of the tales (111), when young
Earth-Maker (Tanuta), the husband of Yineaneut, Big-Raven's daughter,
fails to make the customary sacrifice to Inahitelan's (Supervisor's)
son Cloud-Man (Yahalan) at his wedding, Supervisor forces Yineaneut,
or rather her soul, to the edge of the hearth, where her soul
is scorched by the fire, and she wastes away.
Though the Supreme Being does not interfere actively in the
affairs of men, their souls (uyicit or uyirit)
go to him after death and hang in his dwelling on posts or beams,
until the time comes when they are to be re-born. The duration
of the future life of each soul is marked on a thong fastened
to it, a short thong indicating a short life. Supervisor dwells
in the clouds or the sky or the heaven-village. His wife is known
variously as Supervisor-Woman, Rain-Woman, or Sea-Woman. His
son, Cloud-Man (Yahal, or Yahalan), is the patron of young couples,
and if a lover, young man or woman, desires to conquer the heart
of the one beloved, this is accomplished by beating the drum;
and the propitiation of this patron is also the reason why the
bridegroom sacrifices a reindeer to Cloud-Man after marriage.
Jochelson found only one tale (9) relating directly to the
Supreme Being, though there are references to him in some others.
In this tale, which is full of coarse details, Universe sends
heavy rain upon the earth from the vulva of his wife. Big-Raven
and his son are obliged to change themselves into ravens,
[1. Op. cit., p. 24.]
fly up to heaven, and put a stop to the incessant rain by
a trick. This tale must not be told in fine weather, but only
to put an end to rain or a snow-storm.
As stated above, the Supreme Being sends Big-Raven to order
human affairs. The native name for Big-Raven is Quikinnaqu or
Kutkinnaku, which are augmentative forms of the words for 'raven'.
He is also known as Acicenaqu (Big-Grandfather), or Tenantomwan
(Creator). The tales about Big-Raven form part of the Pacific
Coast cycle of raven myths, for we find this figure in the mythology
of the north-western Amerinds as well as in that of the Siberians
of north-eastern Asia. But, among the Koryak, Big-Raven plays
a part also in the ritual of their religious ceremonies. 'Creator'
is really a misnomer, for this being did not exercise any truly
creative function: he was sent by the Supreme Being to carry
out certain reforms in the already organized universe, and was
therefore, so to speak, a reorganizer and the first man. He is
also a supernatural being and a powerful shaman; and his name
is mentioned in almost every incantation in shamanistic performances.
'When the shamans of the Maritime Koryak commence their incantations
they say, "There, Big-Raven is coming!" The Reindeer
Koryak told me that during shamanistic ceremonies a raven or
a sea-gull comes flying into the house, and that the host will
then say, "Slaughter your reindeer, Big-Raven is coming!"'
The personage known by this Dame turns into a bird only when
he puts on a raven's coat. The ordinary raven also figures in
the mythology as a droll and contemptible character, a scavenger
of dogs' carcasses and of excrement. One of the tales (82), about
the swallowing of the sun by Raven (not Big-Raven) and the rescue
of the luminary by Big-Raven's daughter, recalls a tale of the
setting free of the sun told by the Indians of the North Pacific
coast. The Koryak do not count it a sin to kill a raven.
Various contradictory accounts are given of the origin of
Big-Raven. Some say that he was created by the Supreme Being;
others that they do not know whence he came, although 'the old
people' knew it.
Most of the Koryak tales deal with the life, travels, and
adventures of Big-Raven, his wife Miti, and their children, of
whom the eldest, their son Ememqut, is the best known. In
[1. Op. cit., p. 18.]
these tales, Big-Raven sometimes appears as a being of very
low intelligence, who is often outmatched in cunning, not only
by his wife, but even by mice. foxes, and other animals. Transformations,
especially of the sexual organs of Big-Raven and his wife (allusions
to which figure very largely throughout), supernatural deeds,
and indecent adventures, form the subject of the greater part
of the tales. 'The coarseness of the incidents does not prevent
the Koryak from considering the heroes of these tales as their
protectors.' Many of the tales serve no other purpose than
the amusement of the people.
In spite of the frivolous character ascribed to Big-Raven
in some of the tales, he is said to have been the first to teach
the people how to catch sea and land animals, the use of the
fire-drill, and how to protect themselves against evil spirits.
He lived on earth in the manner of the Maritime Chukchee, but
some of his sons were reindeer-breeders. It is not certain how
he disappeared from among men. According to some, he and his
family turned into stones; others say that he wandered away from
the Koryak. Traces of his having lived among them are still pointed
out by the Koryak: on a sea-cliff in the Taigonos Peninsula are
some large stones which are said to have been his house and utensils.
His foot-prints and the hoof-marks of his reindeer are to be
seen, say the Koryak, in the village of Kamenskoye.
The Koryak, in common with other Siberian peoples, believe
in another class of supernatural beings, known as owners or 'masters'
(etin) of certain objects in which they are supposed to
reside. Jochelson thinks that this conception among the Koryak
is 'not vet differentiated from a lower animistic view of nature'.
He finds the idea more highly developed in the inua of
the Eskimo, the pogil of the Yukaghir; and especially
so among the Neo-Siberians, e. g. in the Yakut icci and
the Buryat ecen or isin. That the conception of
a spirit-owner residing in 'every important natural object' is
not so clear and well defined among the Koryak as among the other
tribes mentioned, Jochelson considers to be proved by the vague
and incoherent replies he received in answer to questions about
the nature of these 'owners'.
The Koryak word for 'master of the sea' is anqakcn-etinvilan
(anqa, sea). A Reindeer Korvak who had gone to the sea
for summer fishing, and had offered a reindeer as a sacrifice
to the sea,
[1. Op. cit., p. 20.
2. Op. cit., pp. 20-3.]
on being asked by Jochelson whether his offering was made
to the sea or to the master of the sea, replied, 'I don't know.
We say "sea" and "owner of the sea"; it's
just the same.' Similarly Some of the Koryak say that the 'owner'
of the sea is a woman, and others consider the sea itself as
a woman. Certain hills, capes, and cliffs are called apupcl
(apa, 'father' in Kamenskoye dialect, 'grandfatlier' in
that of Paren). These are protectors of hunters and travellers,
but it is doubtful whether the term is applied to the hill itself
or to the spirit residing in it.'
The sky is considered as a land inhabited by a stellar people.
The sun ('sometimes identified with The-Master-on-High'), the
moon, and the stars are animated beings, and sacrificial offerings
are made to the sun. 'Sun-Man (Teikemtilan) has a wife and children,
and his own country, which is inhabited by Sun people.' Marriages
are contracted between his children and those of Big-Raven (Tales
12, 19, 21).
Mention is also made in the tales of a Moon-Man (or woman),
and a Star-Man. 
The Koryak 'guardians' and 'charms' serve as protectors to
individuals, families, or villages, whereas such greater supernatural
beings as The-Master-on -High, Big-Raven, and the malevolent
kalau are deities or spirits of the entire tribe-excepting
those kalau that serve individual shamans. 'Guardians'
form a class of objects that avert evil from men. Those about
which Jochelson was able to obtain information include the sacred
implements for fire-making, which comprise a fire-board (gicgic
or gecgei), a bow (eyet), a wooden drill (maxem,
'arrow'), and a headpiece of stone or bone (ceneyine).
The fire-board is of dry aspen wood, which ignites easily,
and has holes in it for receiving the drill. It is shaped roughly
to resemble a human being. The consecration of a new fire-board
to the office of protector of the hearth and herd is accompanied
with the sacrificing of a reindeer to The-Master-on-High, the
anointing of the fire-board with the sacrificial blood and fat,
and the pronouncing of an incantation over it. It would thus
appear, Jochelson thinks, that the power to direct some vaguely
conceived vital principle residing in a crude inanimate object
to an activity beneficial to man lies in the incantation pronounced
over it. "The headpiece has a hollow socket, which is placed
[1. Op. cit., pp. 30-1.
2. Op. cit., Tales 12 and 21.
3. Op. cit., p. 31.
4. Op. cit., p. 33.
thin upper end of the drill. 'The headpiece is held by one
person, the board by another, while the bow is turned by a third
person,' the drill rotating on its thick lower end in one of
the holes of the fire-board. The charcoal dust produced by drilling
is collected in a small leathern bag, for 'it is considered a
sin to scatter' this dust.
Evil Spirits. Evil spirits are called kalau (sing.
kala), corresponding to the Chukchee kelet.
In the time of Big-Raven they were visible to men, but now they
are usually invisible. In most of the myths which refer to them
they are represented as living in communities like human beings.
They are very numerous, and have the power of changing their
size, so that sometimes they are very large and then again very
small. Sometimes they seem to be ordinary cannibals and not supernatural
beings at all. When the kalau are visible they appear
sometimes in the form of animals, or as dogs with human heads,
or as human beings with pointed beads. 'Their arrows are supplied
with mouths, and they can be shot without the use of a bow, and
fly wherever they are sent.' Some of the kalau live
underground and enter the houses of men through the fire on the
hearth; others dwell on the earth, in the west. Although invisible,
they can make their approach felt. 'Thus, when Big-Raven's children
begin to ail, he says: "The kalau must be close by."'
Kalau are divided into Maritime and Reindeer kalau.
Some live in the forests, others in the tundra. Human beings
are the spoils of their chase, as reindeer and seals are those
of human hunters. The kalau of diseases form a special
class, and the most prominent of these evil spirits have special
We do not find among the Koryak a class of spirits well disposed
towards men, who will fight with the kalau. There is no
generic name for good spirits. But the natural enemies of the
kalau appear to be Big-Raven and his children. Some myths
represent Big-Raven and his children as being destroyed by the
Wait, or, again, the kalan are destroyed or made harmless by
2. Op. cit., pp. 27-30.
3. The people of Paren call them also kalak, or kamak,
and among the Reindeer Koryak they are frequently called nenveticnin
or ninvit.' (Op.cit., p. 27.)
4. Jochelson thinks that in this respect they resemble certain
malevolent beings of the Yukaghir, called Mythical-Old-Men and
Mythical-Old-Women. (Op. cit., p. 28.)
5. Jochelson, op. cit., p. 28. Ibid.]
Raven: 'He causes them to fall asleep; he takes out their
cannibal stomachs during their sleep. and puts other ones in
their places, usually those of some rodents. At still other times
he devises some other means of protecting himself and his children
against the invasion of the cannibals. In one story it is told
that he heated stones in his house until they were red-hot, invited
the kalau to sit on them, and thus burned them. At another
time he got rid of them by making a steam bath for them, in which
they were smothered. At times an incantation serves him as a
means of rescue. In another story Big-Raven appealed to the Master-on-High
for help against the mouthed arrows of the kalau with
whom he had been at war; and the deity gave him an iron mouth,
which caught all the arrows sent by the kalau.' It
will be seen, however, from the above that Big-Raven defends
himself and his family rather than men from the attacks of kalau;
and, as Jochelson says in one place, 'Men seem to be left to
their own resources in their struggle with evil spirits, diseases,
and death'. For, as we have seen, even the Supreme Being plays
no active part in the protection of men." On the contrary,
he sends kalau to men 'that they may die, and that he
may create other people'. An old man called Yulta, from the
village of Kamenskoye, told Jochelson that the kalau formerly
lived with The-Master-on-High, but he quarrelled with them and
sent them down to our world. Another version has it that Big-Raven
sent the kalau down to the people to give the latter a
chance to test the power of the incantations he had taught them
against the kalau. One of the tales relates that 'the
dead ancestors send the kalau from the underground world
into the village of their descendants to punish the young people
for playing games at night and thus disturbing the rest of the
Kalau are, however, not always only harmful to men.
'Although', says Jochelson, 'on the whole the word kala
denotes all powers harmful to man, and all that is evil in nature,
there are numbers of objects and beings known under the name
of kalak or kawak that do not belong to the class
of evil spirits. Thus, the guardian spirits of the Koryak shamans,
and some varieties of guardians of the village, of the family,
or of individuals, are called by this name.'
In the Koryak cosmogony there are five worlds-two above
[1. Op. cit., p. 29.
2. Op. cit., p. 25.
3. Op. cit., pp. 24-6.
4. Op. cit., p. 27.
7. Op. cit., p. 30.]
and two below the earth. The uppermost is the seat of the
Supreme Being, the next is inhabited by Cloud-People (Yahalanu);
next comes our earth; of the two worlds below, that nearest ours
is the dwelling of the kalau; and, lowest of all (Ennanenak
or Nenenqal-'on the opposite side'), is the abode of the shades
of the dead (Peninelau, 'ancient people').
At the present day only the shamans can pass from one world
to another; but in the ancient days of Big-Raven (comparable
to the Arunta age of Alcheringa) this was possible for ordinary
The luminaries, the wind, fog, and other phenomena of nature,
as well as imaginary phenomena, are supposed to be endowed with
anthropomorphic souls; hence, all the wooden images of spirits
have human faces. In the time of Big-Raven men could transform
themselves either into the form of animals, or into that of inanimate
objects by donning an animal's skin or some covering of the
shape of the object into which they desired to be transformed.
'In the time of Big-Raven there was no sharp distinction between
men, animals, and other objects; but what used to be the ordinary,
visible state in his time became invisible afterwards. The nature
of things remained the same; but the transformation of objects
from one state into another ceased to be visible to men, just
as the kalau became invisible to them. Only shamans, that
is, people inspired by spirits, are able to see the kalau,
and to observe the transformation of objects. They are also able
to transform themselves by order of the spirits, or in accordance
with their own wishes. There is still a living, anthropomorphic
essence concealed under the visible inanimate appearance of objects.
Household utensils, implements, parts of the house, the chamber-vessel,
and even excrement, have an existence of their own. All the household
effects act as guardians of the family to which they belong.
They may warn their masters of danger, and attack their enemies.
Even such things as the voice of an animal, sounds of the drum,
and human speech, have an existence independent of the objects
that produce them."
[1. Op. cit., p. 121.
3. Op. cit., pp. 115-16.
4. Jochelson thinks that the transformation of men into women
after putting on women's clothes, and vice versa, is closely
related to this group of ideas. (Op. cit., p. 116.)
5 Jochelson, op. cit., p. 117.]
The Koryak word for the soul is uyicit. They appear
to have a conception also of 'some other vital principle or a
secondary soul', whose name Jochelson was not able to learn,
nor could he ascertain anything definite relating to it. 'Some
vital principle', he thinks, 'is implied in the words wityivi
("breathing') and wuyilwuyil ("shadow").'
They draw no very sharp line of demarcation between life and
death. A corpse is not 'deprived of the ability to move. The
deceased may arise, if he is not -watched'. How death occurs,
according to their belief, is explained by Jochelson as follows:
'The soul (uyicit), or, to be more exact, the chief soul
of the man, frightened by the attack of kalau upon it,
deserts the body, and rises to the Supreme Being. According to
some tales, the kala himself pulls the soul out of the
body, and sets it free to go off to the sky, in order to possess
himself of the body, or of the other souls of the deceased.'
The soul of a deceased person does not leave the earth at
once, but hovers high above the corpse. It is like a flame. During
illness it is outside the body, hovering low over it if the illness
is slight, higher if it is severe. A powerful shaman is believed
to be able to bring back the soul to the body of a person recently
dead. When the soul of the deceased rises to the Supreme Being,
the deceased himself and his other soul, or his shadow, descend
underground to dwell with the Peninelau-'the ancient people,
people of former times'.
III. THE KAMCHADAL.
At the time of Krasheninnikoff and Steller the Kamchadal had
several names for the Supreme Being, but these writers do not
give any detailed descriptions of the Kamchadal's relations to
their deities. On the contrary, Krasheninnikoff thought that
they paid no religious worship to their god Kutchu or Kutkhu;
and Steller, taking into account their rude and indecent mythology,
calls the Kamchadal geborene Gotteslästerer. The
[1. Op. cit., p. 101.
2 Op. cit., p. 102.
4. Bogoras (Chukchee Materials, p. 17) says that the
Chukchee attribute to a man the possession of five or six souls
(uwirit). Many North American Indians have a similar belief.
The Yukaghir belief that a man has three souls is said to be
borrowed from the Yakut, who give a separate name to each of
the three (ibid., footnote).
6. Op. cit., p. 101,
7. Op. cit., pp. 102-3.
8. Steller, Reise von Kamtschatka nach Amerika, p.
names of deities are recorded by Krasheninnikoff: Kutkhu
(Kutchu), his wife Ilkxum, his sister Xutlizic, his sons Simskalin
and Tizil-Kutkhu, and his daughter Siduku. Tizil-Kutkhu married
Siduku. They had a son Amlei, and a daughter, who also married
each other, and the Kamchadal are the descendants of this last
pair. Neither Steller nor Krasheninnikoff describes the functions
of these gods. Kutkhu is called by Steller 'the greatest deity
of the Kamchadal, who created the world and every living being'.
He mentions also another name for the Supreme Being, Dustechtschitsch,
and Jochelson thinks that this deity may have corresponded to
the benevolent Supreme Being of the Koryak. The Kamchadal of
the present day call the Christian God by a similar name.
According to other Kamchadal traditions, the earth was created
by Kutq (Raven). In one such legend he makes it out of his son
Simskalin: another has it that he brought the earth down from
the sky with the help of his sister and fixed it immovably in
The Koryak say that Big-Raven went away from them. The Kamchadal
have a similar tradition; but according to them, Raven (Kutq)
left them to go to the Koryak and Chukehee.
Volcanoes and hot springs were regarded as the habitations
of evil spirits called kamuli. Heaven and earth were densely
populated by spirits, some of whom were good, but most were evil;
sacrifices which are not offered to the gods were made to the
When the Kamchadal feared being attacked by the whale or the
walrus, they used special incantations to appease them and induce
them to spare the boat and its crew. They venerated also the
bear and the wolf, and never pronounced the names of these animals.
They offered sacrifices of fire at the holes of sables and foxes.
They believed that animals and men lived on after death in
[1. Krasheninnikoff, The Description of
the Country of Kamchatka, ed. 1755, p. 100.
2. Op. cit., p. 253.
3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 18.
4. Op. cit., p. 121.
5. Op. cit., pp. 23-4.
6. Krasheninnikoff, op. cit., pp. 73-5.
7. Op. cit., p. 80.
IV. THE GILYAK.
The highest benevolent deity of the Gilyak is known as Ytsigy,
according to Schrenck. But Sternberg says that they call
the universe Kurn, and apply the same name to their highest anthropomorphic
deity. The 'owner' spirit of the mountain, and the mountain itself,
is named Pal, and the sea and its 'owner' they call Tol. Their
name for the island of Sakhalin is Mif, literally 'earth', and
they believe that the island is a sort of covering for a certain
immense god. Natural objects all have a life of their own,
and if one commits violence of any kind upon them sacrifice must
be made to the injured 'owners'. Thus, when cutting down a tree,
the Gilyak, lest they might hurt its 'owner', place upon it an
inau  (chekhnkun-inau), into which the spirit
can pass and retain its life.
Visible objects in general are merely masks or coverings for
various anthropomorphic spirits which reside in them, and this
is especially the case with objects such as stones or roots which
have an outward resemblance to the human form. Animals, though
outwardly differing in form from man, are in reality human beings,
with human feelings and souls, and human institutions, such as
the clan. Some of them, indeed, are superior to man, with higher
qualities of mind and body. Such are the bear, on land, and a
certain large bird at sea. Both these cause all other animals
to avoid their neighbourhood. The bear is not dangerous to man
in the wilderness, except for a short time in the spring; and
the bird is not only not harmful to men, but beneficent, for
when he appears the terrified fishes, fleeing before him, are
an easy prey for the fishermen. It is not the animal, however,
which is the object of their cult, but only its 'owner', ys.
The 'owners' of the tayga, of the mountain, of the sea,
and of the fire, are, of course, the most important for men from
the economic point of view. The gods of the sky are regarded
as less important, for men do not come into direct contact with
them. These live in the sky in clans, and are called tly nivukh.
Of less importance, too, are the gods of the sun and moon; and
nearly all sacrifices are offered to the 'owners' of the tayga,
mountains, sea, and fire.
[1. Natives of the Amur Country, vol.
iii, p. 107.
2. The Gilyak, p. 42.
3. Op. cit., p. 43.
4. Sternberg says that the cult of inau is borrowed
from the Ainu (ibid.).
5. Op. cit., p. 44.
6. Op. cit., pp. 45-9.]
Sacrifices, says Sternberg, are not usually accompanied by
any elaborate ceremonials. They are based on the principle of
exchange, i. e. one does not offer fish to the god of the sea,
organie animals to the god of the tayga. When a Gilyak
at sea fears the oncoming of a storm, he throws some tea-leaves
into the water, and says: 'I pray thee see to it that the sea
be not angry and that I return home safe and sound.' Wherever
a Gilyak goes he carries with him certain objects intended for
sacrifices, such, for example, as roots and leaves of certain
plants, especially of the martagan. They also make bloody
sacrifices. In this case the victim is a dog. Offerings of dogs
are made chiefly at the beginning of the season for the trapping
of sables and at the bear-festival. On these occasions the victims
are killed by strangling, and as the dogs are dispatched they
ask them to make intercession to the gods for them.
Clan-gods form a special category. They are the spirits of
clansmen who have died by drowning or fire, or have been killed
by bears. To them periodical sacrifices are made by the clan.
The bear-festival belongs to this class of sacrifices.
Besides all these benevolent deities there are classes of
less important good spirits-bol, lot, and urif.
The malevolent beings are called milk or kinr (knin).
They are very numerous, have various forms, and cause all sorts
of misfortune, illness, and death. Many incantations and shamanistic
ceremonies are practised to ward off their attacks; but even
a shaman cannot deal with them by his own unaided power. He has
to call to his assistance two spirit-helpers, kekhn and
kenchkh. These assistants of the shaman are exceedingly
clever and sometimes very wicked.
The Gilyak believe that an ordinary man has one soul, a rich
man two, while a shaman may have as many as four. Thus the shaman
Chamkh had four souls, one of which he received from the mountain,
another from the sea, the third from the sky, and the fourth
from the underworld. His son Koinit, who had been chosen by the
spirits to be a shaman, had already two souls, although he was
only twelve years old, and Chamkh was a very poor man. Besides
these principal souls, every one has a lesser soul, which they
imagine as being like an egg, residing in the head of the principal
soul. All that a man sees in dreams is the work of this lesser
soul. After a man's death, which they believe to be
[1. Op. Cit., p. 50.
2. Op. cit., pp. 50-2.
3. Op. cit., p. 70.]
caused by his body being devoured by evil spirits, the soul,
also attacked by the same spirits, may escape from them, and
goes to the land of the dead called mylvo. Here it has
the form of a man, and leads the same kind of life as on earth,
except that a poor man becomes rich, and a rich man poor. From
this place the soul goes to another land, and so on from land
to land, turning into smaller and smaller beings in transit-a
bird, a gnat, and at last a speck of dust. Some souls return
to earth and are born again. The lesser soul continues to live
for some time in the best-beloved dog of the deceased, which
is especially cherished and cared for (see chapter on 'Death').
V. THE AINU.
Batchelor says that the Ainu believe in one Supreme Being,
Creator of all worlds, whom they call Kotan Kara Kamui, Moshiri
Kara Kamui, Kando Koro Kami- 'the maker of places and worlds,
and possessor of heaven'. Kamui means, in the first place,
'he who' or 'that which is greatest' or 'best' or 'worst'; a
secondary (or more modern) meaning is 'he who' or 'that which
covers' or 'overshadows'. In both meanings the word is akin to
that for 'heaven', which itself has for its root a word signifying
'top' or 'above'. When applied to good powers kamui is
a title of respect; and when the evil gods are called by this
name it implies the fear or dread inspired by them. Besides these
names, the Ainu sometimes refer to their Supreme Being under
the title Tuntu, which means 'pillar', 'support', 'upholder'.
He is the Creator, 'the summit, centre, and foundation (of the
world), its originator and mighty "Support".'
Batchelor thinks that the Ainu. regard this being is (i) the
creator and preserver of the world; (ii) the sustainer of men
in general; (iii) the special protector of every individual,
with whom men can communicate in prayer.
There is, according to the Ainu belief, also a multitude of
less important deities, who are subject to the highest, and carry
out his decrees. By their means he created and still sustains
the world and mankind. Some of these gods are benevolent and
have a double who is malignant. E.g. there are two gods of the
sea called Rep un kamui. They are brothers. The younger,
[1. Op. cit., pp. 75-7.
2. Batchelor, The Ainu of Japan, pp. 248-51, 258.
3. Op. cit., p. 261.]
Mo acha, 'uncle of peace', is beneficent to man, bringing
fair weather for fishing: while his elder brother, Shi acha,
is an evil deity who chases Alo acha from the seaside,
and brings bad weather to spoil the fishing and wreck the boats.'
Similarly with other deities of the waters, Wakka-ush kamui.
These are female, and have charge of springs, streams, waterfalls,
lakes, and ponds. Chiwash ekot mat, 'female possessor
of places where fresh and salt waters mingle', watches over river-mouths
and allows the fish to go in and out. Nusa, i. e. clusters of
kema-ush-inao, or 'legged inao' (i. e. inao
tied to stakes thrust into the ground), are set up by the water
as sacrifices to these gods. Pet-ru-ush mat, 'females
of the waterways', have oversight of all streams from the source
to the sea. They, too, are worshipped with offerings of nusa,
and appealed to for protection in descending the rapids, and
for good fortune in fishing. Sarak kamui, on the other
hand, is the evil god of the rivers. The word sarak denotes
accidental death, and this god is said to bring about death not
only by drowning, but also by mishap of any kind.
The goddess of the sun is generally regarded as the chief
of the secondary gods, for she is considered to be the special
ruler of all good things in the universe. There is also a god
of the moon. Some consider the moon a female, and the sun a male;
but the majority speak of the sun as being female. These luminaries
would seem to be regarded rather as the dwellings of deities
than as being deities themselves. If the god of the sun or of
the moon depart from their dwellings, the day or the night is
darkened. Hence the fear which the Ainu have of eclipses.
The stars are not worshipped, though the term kamui
('god') is sometimes applied to them. The Milky Way, or 'river
of the gods', crooked river', is a favourite resort of the gods
Next in importance to the deity of the sun is the goddess
of fire. She warms the body, heals sickness, enables man to cook
his food. She is especially to be feared because she is a witness
to note the acts and words of men. Hereafter they are punished
or rewarded, says Batchelor, according to her testimony concerning
their actions in life. It appears that it is not the fire which
is worshipped, but the goddess residing in the fire.
'Every Ainu hut is supposed to have its special guardian god
who is thought to rest upon the roof when the master is at home,
[1. Op. cit., p. 92.
2. Op. cit., pp. 93-4.
4. Op. cit., pp. 273-4.
5. Op. cit., p. 276.
6. Op. cit., p. 277.]
and give warning of approaching danger, and who accompanies
the head of a family when he goes forth to his wars and on his
hunting expeditions.' Batchelor says also that they believe
that every person has his own protecting spirit.
Traditions inform us that the gods gather themselves together
and consult with one another as to ways and means before they
act, the Creator, of course, acting as president, just in the
way as the Ainu chiefs used to meet together for consultation
before they acted.'
If an Ainu finds that the particular god worshipped does not
answer his prayer, he appeals to the Creator, sometimes even
accusing the lesser god to him of neglecting his duty.
They believe that their first ancestor, whom they call Aioina
kamui, became divine, and, as Batchelor says,. 'has now the
superintendence of the Ainu race'.
The Ainu believe in evil as well as in good spirits. The chief
evil spirit is Nitne kamui, and there are also other malignant
beings who preside over accidents and diseases of the body and
The souls both of animals and men are believed to survive
bodily death; and, according to Batchelor, the Ainu belief in
a judgement of souls is strong and well defined.
The Ainu believe that the soul will inhabit after death a
body almost exactly resembling that which it has occupied in
life; and that the community of souls in the future life, in
its pursuits and enjoyments, is practically the same as the Ainu
community on earth. Souls can revisit this earth as ghosts whenever
they desire to do so and some of the living also have the power
to go among the ghosts in their dwelling-place. In neither case
can the visitor make himself heard, but he himself can both see
The ghosts of deceased women are greatly feared, and that
of an old woman especially is believed to have an extraordinary
capacity for doing harm to the living. Even while alive on earth
old women have great power over men, and children are much afraid
of them. Formerly the hut in which the oldest woman of a family
died was burnt after her death to prevent the spirit returning
to work mischief to her offspring and to her sons- and daughters-in-law.
The soul returning from the grave to exercise
[1. Op. cit., p. 261.
3. Op. cit, p. 263.
4. Op. cit., p. 264.
5. Op. cit., p. 252.
6. Op. cit., p. 247.
8. Op. cit., p. 225.]
its spells upon the living was thus unable to find its former
home, and wandered about for a time in a furious rage. During
this period the grave was carefully avoided.
All souls go first to Pokna-Moshiri, the underworld. Here there
are three roads, one leading to Kanna-Moshiri, 'the upper world',
our world; another to Kamui-Kotan, 'the place of god', or Kamui-Moshiri,
'the kingdom' or 'world of god'; and the third to Teinei-Pokna-Shiri,
'the wet underground world'. On reaching Pokna-Moshiri, the soul
is sent, on the testimony of the goddess of fire, either to Kamui-Kotan
or to Teinei-Pokna-Shiri, to be rewarded for a good life, or
punished for an evil one. If the spirit denies having done evil,
he is confronted by a picture representing his whole life which
is in the possession of the fire-goddess. 'Thus the spirit stands
self-condemned' to punishment in Teinei-Pokna-Shiri.
Some of the Ainu hold that women, who are considered inferior
to men 'both spiritually and intellectually', have 'no souls,
and this is sometimes stated as a reason why women are never
allowed to pray'. But Batchelor thinks that the real reason for
this prohibition is that the Ainu are afraid that the women will
appeal to the gods against their ill-treatment by the men.
Such are the views attributed by Batchelor to the Ainu about
a future judgement, heaven, and hell. According to Chamberlain,
these conceptions are not original with the Ainu. He says: 'Some
of the Ainos say that Paradise is below the earth, and Hell below
that again. But as they use the modern Japanese Buddhist names
for those places, they would appear to be, consciously or unconsciously,
giving a foreign tinge to their old traditions. The fact that
many Aino fairy-tales mention Hades under the name of Pokna Moshiri,
while none seemingly mention Heaven or Hell, favours the view
that no moral thread was woven into the idea of the next world
as originally conceived by the Aino mind.'
[1. Op. cit., p. 223.
2. Op. cit., pp. 237-8.
3. Op. cit., pp. 234-5. This statement of Batchelor's implies
that the Ainu women have a very low social position. On the other
hand, both Sternberg and Pilsudski, who have an intimate acquaintance
with Ainu life, say that the social position of women among the
Ainu is better than in any other of the tribes of Siberia, and
consider that this is probably due to the existence of a matriarchate
among the Ainu in comparatively recent times.
4. The Language, Mythology, and Geographical Nomenclature
of Japan reviewed in the Light of Aino Studies, V. 19.]
VI. THE TURKIC TRTBES.
(1) THE YAKUT.
According to Troshchanski, the chief benevolent god of the
Yakut is Urun-Aïy-Toyon, the white lord and creator of the
earth and inan. This writer thinks that Urun-Aïy-Toyon was
regarded as the father of light, and since among all the Turkic
tribes the sun is considered the father of light, his opinion
is that this god was originally the Yakut god of the sun. When
the Yakut migrated northward, where the sun is not so much in
evidence as in the south, they kept the name Urun-Aïy-Toyon
as that of their principal 'white' god, and gave a new name to
the sun--Kun-Toyon, 'Sun-Lord', or simply Kun, the latter being
the ordinary word for 'light', 'day'. However, aïy
and kun are often used synonymously. While Troshchanski,
following Piekarski, says that Urnn-Aïy-Toyon is sometimes
called Art-Toyon-Aga, 'Father-Ruler-of-All', or Ar-Aïy-Toyon,
Sieroszewski and Priklonski think that Art-Toyon-Aga is the
highest god, living in the Ninth Sky, and that Urun-Aïy-Toyon,
who lives in the Third Sky, is next to him in dignity. Sieroszewski
says that the Yakut Olympus is organized on the plan of the clan-system
of the Yakut. The sky-gods are divided into nine bis or
agas, and the gods of the lower world into eight. The
sky-gods are arranged in the following order:
(i) Art-Toyon-Aga, the powerful ruler of light and life, speaking
in the storm and thunder, somewhat indifferent to human affairs,
and to be appealed to only in exceptional circumstances. In his
honour are celebrated the great clan ceremonies, ysyakh,
in which sacrifice of kumys is made to him. Generally
speaking, bloody sacrifices are not made to the benevolent deities.
Only to the god of hunting, Bay-Nay, is sacrifice involving bloodshed
offered, and even in this case such sacrifices are limited in
the quantity of blood that may be shed.
(ii) Urun-Aïy-Toyon, 'White-Lord-Creator'.
(iii) Nalban-Aïy, Kübay-Khotun-Lä, 'Kind-Mother-Creatress'.
(iv) Nalygyr-Aïssyt-Khotun, the benevolent goddess who
presides over child-birth.
[1. The Evolution of the Black Faith (Shamanism)
among the Yakut, pp. 33-7.
2. Op. cit., p. 37,
3. Sieroszewski, 12 Lat w Kraju Yakutów, pp.
(v) An-Alay-Khotun, the tutelary goddess of the earth, fields,
and valleys, with her children, the spirits of äräkä-djäräkä.
seven brothers, gods of light, war, &c.
(vii) Mogol-Toyon and his wife, the deities of the cattle.
(viii.) Bay-Nay, god of hunting.
(ix) Gods who guard the roads to the sky.
Sieroszewski says that the natives are quite ready to give
information about the clan arrangement of the sky-gods, but that
it is very difficult to get similar information about the gods
of the underworld, since very few of the ordinary people know
anything about them, and the shamans are afraid of betraying
the secrets of these formidable beings. The chief of the 'dark'
spirits is Ulutuyer-Ulu-Toyon, 'Onmipotent Lord'. He is always
described as living in the western sky, and, in contrast to the
inactive Art-Toyon-Aga, he is the personification of action and
of the passions. Ulu-Toyon is not always harmful to men, for
he gives to them one of his souls, sür, and defends them
from the attacks of abassylar. In some descriptions he
appears as the highest of the active supernatural powers, and
not necessarily evil; but in other accounts he is described as
a 'dark' spirit, the ruler of abassylar, just as Art-Toyon-Aga
is the ruler of aïy, who inhabit the eastern sky
The abassylar are divided into 'Upper', living in the
western sky; 'Middle', living on the earth; and 'Lower', inhabiting
the subterranean world; but, wherever they live, they are all
harmful to men .
Ichchi, literally 'owner', signifies an ' owner'-spirit
of various objects. Every river, lake, stone, and sometimes even
parts of these, has its own ichchi, who controls it. Movable
objects and those which can produce sounds also have their ichchi.
Ichchi do not belong either to the aïy or
to the abassylar, though in many cases, like the abassylar,
they are harmful to men. Thus, for example, Kurar-Ichchi, the
'owner' of the wind, is by many writers considered as a 'black'
spirit, since the wind is very often dangerous and harmful.
In the wanderings of the tribe through difficult country, by
dangerous roads, or through trackless regions, accidents may
often happen to a cart or some part of its equipment. Such misfortunes
are attributed to the local ichchi, who must therefore
be placated by sacrifices. The Yakut have a
[1. Op. cit., p. 390.
2. Op. cit,, p. 391.
3. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 190.
4. Troshchanski, op. cit., pp. 26-30.]
special language for use during these journeyings. In this
language, implements or other valuable objects are given certain
nicknames instead of names proper to them, in order that the
ichchi may not know that the objects in question are referred
to for if they did, they would destroy or harm them. For the
same reason the Yakut often employ Russian names for things they
value, being certain that the ichchi will not understand
The Yakut division of the universe is mainly horizontal, comprising
two parts-east and south, the habitation of good spirits, and
west and north, of evil spirits. The great evil spirit, Allara-Ogonür,
'Underground-Old-Man', lives in the far north. There is also
a vertical division into upper, middle, and lower works, but
this is less precise and not so important as the horizontal division,
since abassylar, or evil spirits, are found in all three
divisions, so that no one of the vertical worlds is restricted
to the 'white' or good spirits, aïy.
The Yakut believe that man is composed of (i) tyn,
'life', 'breath'; (ii) kut, the physical soul; and (iii)
sür, the psychic Soul. Tyn is common to men,
animals, and plants, as among the Altaians. Kut is common
to men and animals, and is composed of three parts: (a) buor-kut,
literally 'earth-soul', i.e. soul composed of earthly elements;
(b) salgyn-kut, literally 'air-soul', i.e. composed of
air; (c) iyä-kut, 'mother-soul', the maternal element.
It might seem, says Troshchanski, that there are here three souls,
but in fact kut is one soul composed of these three elements.
A Yakut woman is always delivered of her child on the bare ground
within the yurta, for the Yakut believe that the buor-kut
is communicated to the infant from the earth at the moment of
birth. Salgyn-kut it receives from the air shortly afterwards;
while the third element, iyä-kut, comes to the child
from the mother. Troshchanski considers that the proof of
kut being but one soul composed of three parts is found
in the fact that the Yakut believe that fishes have no kut,
being cut off from both air and earth and not being viviparous.
The Altaians also have a conception of a kut, but theirs
does not comprise three elements as does that of the Yakut.
Kut is a physical conception of the soul, while sür,
although in some degree a material conception, has more of a
[1. Op. cit., p. 54.
2 Troshchanski, op. cit., p. 72.
3. Op. cit., p. 74.]
character than kut. The sür enters the
mother by way of her temples at the moment of conception. The
kut is sent by Art-Toyon-Aga, and the Sür
by Ulu-Toyon. Sür is connected with the head, and
has no shadow; kut with the abdomen, and has three shadows.
After death kut is devoured by the abassylar; though
there is also a belief that the kut remains for some days
near the body of the deceased, and then departs to the other
world.' Sür is common to man and the animals, and
is even possessed by fishes. Troshchanski says that the
word sür is also used to denote unusual psychic powers,
such as are possessed by shamans; and, indeed, according to the
legend, shamans receive their heads (the seat of sür)
from heaven. If, as Troshchanski thinks, the sür
is priniarily connected with the shaman as his distinctive familiar
spirit, and does not perish after death like the kut,
nor go to the other world like the kut, then it would
seem clear that the ämägyat, which according
to some is a shamanistic spirit passing from one shaman to another,
usually by heredity, is not in fact a spirit at all, but simply
an impersonal power invariably associated with shamans.
(2) THE ALTAIAINS.
According to the belief of the Altaians, the good spirits
(aru neme) are all subjects of the good god Yulgen, and
the bad spirits (kara neme) of the evil god Erlik. Yulgen
is so kind and generous that he never does harm to men. Sacrifices
are offered to him by all, but no one fears him. Every bridegroom
must sacrifice to him a horse (iik) of a light colour
after his marriage. The iik is surrounded with every mark
of respect, red ribbon is tied to its mane, and no woman must
mount upon its back. This sacrifice is offered in spring, in
a birch thicket; no woman must be present at the ceremony, and
even the shaman must of necessity be a man. The sacrificial meat
may be partaken of by women, but only unmarried girls may share
the feast at the spot where the sacrifice was offered; married
women must not approach nearer than sixty feet from this spot.
[1. According to Mikhailowski, the Samoyed
believe that the souls of ordinary men perish some time after
the death of their possessors (Shamanism, p. 7), only
the souls of shamans surviving.
2. Op. cit., pp. 75-6.
3. Op. cit., p. 79.
4. Op. cit, p. 78.
5. Op. cit., p. 77.
6. A similar hypothesis concerning ämägyat
is put forward in the chapter on 'The Shaman-his Vocation'.
7 Wierbicki, The Natives of the Altai, p. 43.]
Sacrifice is made to Erlik-usually of some animal-when an
evil spirit attacks some one. The ceremony is performed either
in the yurta, in the courtyard, or wherever the attack
was made. propitiatory sacrifices are offered, not only to Yulgen
and Erlik, but also to secondary good spirits, such as aru
neme and ak neme, and to secondary evil spirits (kara
neme), which are known to the Tartars of Chern as shaitan,
almys, khawa, kuremes. The sun, the moon,
as well as the mountains, rivers, and forest, are also propitiated,
or rather the propitiation is offered to their 'owner' (eczi).
Besides these superior beings, every clan (seok) has its
own deity, and every family its own family god of the yurta,
called bashtut-khan (or among the Tartars of Chern, erke).
Images of gods are called by the Yenisei Turks tyns,
and by the Altaians, kurmes. These are made of various
materials, often skin or wood.
There exists, apparently, some understanding between Yulgen
and Erlik. As the Altaians say, 'Yulgen and Erlik have one door.'.
Sometimes, when Yulgen has been expecting a sacrifice and fails
to receive it, being too kind-hearted to punish the culprit himself,
he informs Erlik, and then sacrifices have to be made to both.
In such cases Erlik commands Kagyr Khan to punish the culprit
until he makes the expected sacrifice. Kagyr Khan has power over
every yurta, and hence minor libations are made to him
at all festivals.
The intermediary between gods and men at all sacrifices, and
the priest at these ceremonies, as well as the prophet, is the
kam or shaman. His power is greater or less according
to the degree of tes bazyn-yat (probably 'ancestor-spirit'
or 'power of ancestor-spirit') possessed by him. 
The local division of the universe is partly horizontal, partly
vertical; and the good spirits live in seventeen floors above
the earth, while the bad occupy seven or nine under it. Erlik
Khan, the chief of the bad spirits, lives on the lowest floor,
where the sun and moon are supposed to give only a very feeble
light. This Erlik Khan is held to have been originally a heavenly
spirit, which shows that even in the past the 'white' spirits
The Altaians believe that the soul of man is composed of
2. This conception is sirnilar to that of ämägyat
aniong the Yakut.
3. Wierbicki, The Natives of the Altai, p. 43.
several parts, or rather exists ill several conditions or
stages. When a man is ill, they consider that one of his souls,
suzy, is absent, but that another soul, called tyn,
still remains in the body, so that the suzy can be recalled.
(a) Tyn  signifies vitality, i.e. a soul common to plants,
animals, and man. If the suzy does not return soon to
the body, the tyn perishes. The soul of a dead man is
called uziup-tyn. The word tyn comes from tynip,
'I breathe', or tynit, 'breath'. The Altaians say that
one can bear a sound as of the snapping of a string when the
tyn is departing. One must not approach too near to a
dying man, for the belief is that in such a case the tyn
of a living person can pass into the latter.
(b) Suzy is derived from su, 'water', 'river',
and uzak, 'long'. The word suuzak means 'long-lived',
'healthy'; and suzy signifies primarily the strength necessary
for a man or animal in order that he may be healthy and live
(c) Kut is almost the same as suzy, or is, so
to speak, the next stage of suzy. This word is derived
from kudap, 'I vanish'. Kut connotes, in fact,
the destruction of some vital principle. The expression er
kudup vardy means 'the earth has lost its vitality' or 'has
(d) Tula is probably derived from tulup, 'I
tear'. Animals have no tula, it belongs only to men. During
a shaman's performance he represents this soul as a small white
bullet continually in motion like quicksilver.
(e) Sür, from sürup, 'I pursue', 'I
drive away'. This soul separates from a man at death, and is
banished from the dead man's habitation forty days after his
death. Sürmet means a 'picture', 'representation'.
The Altaians believe that both men and animals, or their sürmet,
continue to exist after bodily death, and have the same relations
to one another as on earth.
(f) Süne, denoting a phase of the soul also peculiar
to man, comes from sünep, 'I advise', 'discuss'.
The word refers to the intellectual powers of man. It is this
soul which assumes after death the living likeness of its possessor,
and wanders in the dwelling of the dead man, sometimes calling
out to his relatives.
[1. Op. cit., p. 77.
2. Tyndu-agash, fresh, growing tree; tyndu-elen,
fresh grass (ibid.),
3. Op. cit., p. 78.]
VII. THE MONGOLIC TRIBES.
The Buryat religion is a form of polytheism. They have classes
of supernal beings, each class having at its head one who is
above the rest, but they have no conception of a Supreme Being
over all. The highest spirits are called tengeri or tengeriny.
They inhabit the sky. There are ninety-nine tengeri
each with a name of its own, divided into two groups-western,
baruni, and eastern, zuni. Those of the west are
kind, they predominate in numbers, being fifty-five, and are
called sagani tengeri-White Tengeri. The eastern (forty-four
in number) are mischievous, and are known as kharan tengeri,
or Black Tengeri.
Bauzaroff speaks of the old Mongols as being heaven-worshippers,
and this may be true of former times; now, however, we find among
them a curious conception of heaven not as an indivisible whole,
but as a collection of distinct bodies.
Following what Mr. Klementz  calls the theory of the atmospheric
explanation of myths, Agapitoff and Khangaloff, in their Materials
for the Study of Shamanism in Siberia, explain the ninety-nine
tengeri as being each a personification of some atmospheric
state, dull, bright, cold, stormy, &c.
The chief of the west tengeri is Khan-Tiurmas Tengeri
among the Buryat of Balagansk, and Zayan-Sagan-Tengel among the
Buryat of Kudinsk. Not only the west tengeri, but also
certain secondary spirits called burkhans or khats,
and generally all the western or good zayans, are subordinate
to this chief.
The east tengeri, in contrast to those of the west,
are hostile to men, among whom they send misfortunes, quarrels,
sickness, and death. In the beginning there was no difference
between these two classes of tengeri; but in consequence
of a quarrel which arose among these spirits, some separated
themselves and went to the east, where they have since remained
as east tengeri, permanently hostile to the others and
to men. There is a tradition among some of the Buryat, e.g. those
of the Kuda River, that the white
[1. The sky as seen by daylight is called
tengeri; the night sky is oktorgo.
2. Khangaloff, 1895, pp. 1-2.
3. Banzaroff, pp. 6, 26.
4. 'The Buriat,' E. R. E., p. 2.
5. In Buryat the word zayan means literally 'creator',
and sagan, white'. Colloquially the former word has the
ineaning 'god', 'deity'.
6. Khangaloff, op. cit., p. 10.]
tengeri are older than the black-a tradition which
may not be unconnected with the other just mentioned. The chief
of the east tengeri is Ata-Ulan-Tengeri among the Balagansk
Buryat, and among the Kudinsk Buryat, Khimkhir-Bogdo-Tengeri.
Not only the black tengeri but also other lesser zayans
are subordinate to him.
The Buryat believe that the visible sky has a door through
which the -western tengeri look from time to time, to
see how human affairs are going. If they behold some misfortune
they send to the aid of men certain of their children, called
khats. If a man should happen to look up at the sky when
this door (tengerin-uden) opens, he will be very lucky,
and all that he may then ask from heaven will be granted him.
During the brief moment when this door is open, a glory falls
Upon the earth and transfigures it to unwonted beauty.
The most important of the western khats are Khan-Shargan-Noyon
The other benevolent spirits are known among the Kudinsk Buryat
as satini-burkat. They are held in great reverence, because,
as their name shows (sa, 'tea'), they are tutelary spirits
of tea-planting, and the offering made to them consists always
of tea, never of tarasun.
The Balagansk Buryat include among their benevolent spirits
a dayda-delkha-ijin, that is, the 'host or owner of the
whole earth', who is represented as an old man with grey hair.
His name is Daban-Sagan-Noyon. His wife is also old and white-haired,
and her name is Delent-Sagan-Khatun. The Buryat arrange tailgans
to this zayan in the autumn after the harvest.
The Buryat of Olhonsk offer sacrifice to the 'hostess' of
the sea, Aba-Khatun.
The Buryat of Balagansk have also important deities called
Speaking generally, every feature of the whole landscape has
its 'owner' (ijin). E.g. in the lakes and rivers there
are spirits known as ukhun-khat; and in the forest lives
oin-ijin, the 'Owner
of the forest, a spirit harmful to men.
The attitude of the Buryat towards the many 'owners' whom
they see in nature is shown in the following prayer: 'Ye keepers
of the echo in the high mountains, ye keepers of the winds of
[1. Op. cit., p. 18.
2 Op. cit, p. 30.
3. Op. cit., p. 44.
4. Shashkoff, 1864, p. 49.]
wide sea; my lords who lodge in the high mountains, my gods
who live in the wilderness! Be our support in our need! In the
evil years be generous, grant us fertility in the lean months!
When We sit within our yurtas ye are not a danger to us;
when we are without, there is no hindrance to your power. In
the warm night ye give us light, in the hot midday ye send us
shade. Banish from us evil, bring near to us the good! Since
ye have made yourselves Creators, save us from all perils! Ye
suffer not our plate-like faces to sweat, nor our hearts, like
buttons, to flutter. Guardians of our beads, ye who prepare food
for our mouths! Through the doors of our yurtas send us
rays of light, through our smoke-holes let us see the sun!"
A special class in the spiritual world is formed of 'smiths',
who are also western, or white, and eastern, or black. The former
protect men and heal them of ills. They are subordinate to the
western tengeri, and they have given to men knowledge
of their art. The first white smith was Bojintoy, a heavenly
zayan. When, at the behest of the western tengeri,
white smiths and black descended to earth, Bojintoy remained
in the sky. He had one daughter and nine sons, all of whom were
The eastern khats are of the same number as the western.
Their head is Erlen-Khan and his family. Although they do nothing
but mischief to men, they have communication sometimes with the
western khats, the intermediaries, who have no other function
to perform, being called ilshi or bydek. There
are also nine 'cow' khats, who also belong to the eastern
zayans but are not subject to their power.
In the region of the evil spirits there are two dungeons,
one of which, the larger, is known as Khalga, and to this the
greatest black shamans go after death. It is tinder the rule
of Khara-Eren-Noyon, and a soul can only leave the dungeon if
the governor is well disposed towards it. The other dungeon is
smaller, and is called Erlen-Tama. It is not accessible to shamans,
and is under the direct control of Erlen-Khan.
Eastern or black 'smiths' are called kara-darkhat.
They are specially protected by the eastern tengeri, who
taught the smith's art to the first 'black' smith on earth, Khojir-Khara-Darkhan.
The latter has seven sons, all of whom are great black 'smiths'.
[1. Op. cit., p. 17.
2. Op. cit., pp. 38-9.
3. Op. cit., p. 17.
4. Op. cit., p. 51.
5. Darkhan, singualr-'a smith'. Darkhat is plural.
6. Op. cit., p. 53.]
The Buryat of Balagan believe that every disease has its zagan.
Thus the disease common in their district, Sibirskaya yazva
(called in Buryat bomo), has as its 'owner' Bolot-Sagan-Noyon.
In the clan Olzoyev, in the district of Unginsk, there are
two large white stones, Bumal-Sagan-Sbulun (literally, 'descending
white stones'), which are believed to have fallen from the sky,
and are worshipped by the natives.
The souls of the greatest shamans after death become zayans
and protectors of men. Even the souls of black shamans are said
to arrange human business with the black zayans. Every
ulus and clan has its own zayans-the souls of deceased
shamans and shamanesses. Their bodies are burned or placed in
coffins, which are put on trees in a neighbouring forest or on
a mountain, whence they are called 'the old people of the mountain',
khadaulan-öbökhöd. In every district there
are such 'old people of the mountain', for whom are made tailgans
and kiriks, with other lesser propitiatory offerings.
These 'old people' are purely local divinities, and are not worshipped
outside of the particular locality to which they belong..
There are also two classes of ongons or fetishes-'black'
and 'white'. They represent different spirits and are made of
various kinds of material, usually of skins, and are of different
forms, but generally have human faces. One kind of ongons
serve only for the amusement of people. These are known as nadani
ongon, nadani being the name given to an evening's
amusement. The shaman calls upon the spirits represented by these
ongons to amuse the young people during an evening party.
When the spirit invoked arrives, the shaman himself pretends
to be its ongon, and begins to make jests at the expense
of the people present, who must not make any objection, but affect
to be amused, for these ongons must be welcomed with merriment,
and are annoyed otherwise.
Although the Buryat have many legends about animals, which
figure largely in their mythology, animals never rise to the
rank of deities. Some are even said to have a future life, e.g.
the horse, eagle, hedgehog, swan, fox, and even the worms in
the fields. The snake is often represented in ritual as well
as in mythology. It is a curious fact that the bear, which plays
such an important part in the beliefs and ceremonies of other
[1. Op. cit., p. 54.
2. Op. cit., p. 45.
3. Op. cit., pp. 82
4. Op. cit., p. 76.]
shamanists, docs not enter into the myths and ritual of the
The sun and the moon are among the principal tutelary spirits.
In most of the tales they are represented as being of the male
sex, and as taking women for wives. When there is an eclipse
of the sun or moon, said a Balagansk shaman, this is because
they have been swallowed by an alkha, a monster without
trunk or limbs, having only a head. The sun, or the moon, then
cries 'Save me!' and all the people shout and make a great noise
to frighten the monster.
The Buryat believe that man is composed of three parts: oyeye,
material body; amin, lower soul, breath; and sunyesun,
soul belonging to man only. Amin is connected with death;
when it leaves the body, death occurs. Sunyesun has a
similar connexion with sleep, leaving the body when one is sleeping.
Batoroff  relates the history of the soul after death as follows:
When the time comes for a man to die, erliks capture one
of his souls, and bring it before Erlik-Nomon-Khan for judgement.
After this soul has been captured, it sometimes happens that
a man may live on for as long as nine years, but he never enjoys
his former health and strength.
The second part of the soul does not leave the earth, but
changes at the death of the man into a bokholdoy, which
continues to live in a dwelling on earth and in a manner exactly
similar to that which the man formerly followed. There are different
classes of bokholdoys.
The third part of the soul is born again in the form of a
human being but Batoroff  does not tell us when and how this
reincarnation takes place.
Bokholdoys are sometimes the souls of deceased shamans,
to whom the Buryat bring sacrifices, says Batoroff; these
bokholdoys, then, form the class of zayans to which
reference was made above. Bokholdoys are more or less
powerful, according to the quality of the shamans in life. This
depends, Batoroff thinks, on the utkha of the deceased
shaman, which means literally, his descent or genealogy; but
from other references to a shaman's utkha it
[1. Agapitoff and Khangaloff. p. 17.
2. 'Buryat belief's on the bokholdoys and anakhoys,'
E. S. S. I. R. G. S., vol. ii, part ii, p. 13.
3. Op. cit., p. 14.
4. For further information as to peculiar Buryat beliefs about
the soul, See the chapter on 'Death'.
5. Op. cit., p. 10. Ibid.]
seems clear that the word denotes supernatural, shamanistic
power, like the Yakut ämägyat. The less important
bokholdoys do not receive any propitiatory offerings other
than an occasional libation, which may be performed by any one,
not necessarily by a shaman.
Ada or anakhay are, according to some traditions,
souls of wicked persons or of women who have died childless.
No sacrifices are made to them and they are represented as one-eyed,
evil, malicious spirits, who always remain in the same ulus
or house. They sometimes take the form of a dog or cat, always
one-eyed; they wander at night, but not every one can see them,
though any one can smell their disagreeable odour. They are afraid
of being seen, of angry men, of fire, of metals, of weapons,
and of the smell of heath. Though easily frightened, they are
not easily banished from a house, and as they are especially
harmful to young children under the age of seven, parents frequently
arrange, naydji with the shamans for their children's
The less important kind of bokholdoys are called ükher-ezy;
these are the souls of sinful women who have died a violent death.
No sacrifices are made to them, and nobody fears them. They can
be seen by the same people as can see anakhay, but other
people can perceive their odour. They come to wander on earth
at the time when these women would have died in the ordinary
course of events but for the violence which in fact ended their
lives. Klementz mentions also two other kinds of malicious
spirits who originated from human souls, namely, mu-shubu
-in the form of an evil-disposed bird-and dakhuls.
VIII. THE FINNIC TRIBES.
In his account of the natives of north-western Siberia, the
Ugrian Ostyak, Vogul, and Samoyed, Gondatti, in speaking of
their religion, pays most attention to the Vogul mythology. He
says that the gods of the Vogul are divided into two classes,
viz. of good and bad gods. The chief of the beneficent deities
is Yanykli-Torilin (called also Numi-Toruni or Voykan-Toruin).
[1. See chapter on 'Shaman's Vocation'.
2. This term is explained in the chapter on 'Birth'.
3. Op. cit., pp. 10-11.
4 Op. cit., p. 13.
5. 'The Buriats,' E. R. E., p. 3.
6. Gondatti, Traces of Paganism among the Aborigines of
North-Western Siberia, 1888, pp, 6-7.]
The principal evil deity is Khul. Yanykh-Torum. is, however,
not the highest of the gods; there is another, higher than he,
Kors-Torum. (The Creator), the progenitor of all the gods. Kors-Torum
has never revealed himself to man, and the Vogul say that they
cannot picture to themselves what he is like, that whatever they
know of him is only known through the lesser gods. He never
descends to earth, but sometimes sends thither his eldest son,
Yanykh-Torum. Yanykh-Torum has the form of a man, but from the
splendour of his raiment he shines like gold. Like his father
he never carries any weapon. About once a week he descends to
earth to see how men's affairs are going on. If they pray to
him to send rain or fair weather he gives commands to his younger
brother, Sakhil-Torum, who dwells in the dark clouds, to do what
is required. Sakhil-Torum, like his brother, has the form of
a man, and drives reindeer, which have tusks like a mammoth,
in the clouds. His reindeer are laden with casks of water. When
they are sluggish he whips them up, and as they plunge under
his strokes the water in the casks is spilled and falls on the
earth as rain.
The following tale is told about the sons of Yanykh-Torum:
When they were grown up their father sent them down to earth.
On their arrival, they began to fight with the heroes who lived
on earth in those days. To bring about peace, Yanykh summoned
his sells and said to them, 'He among you who can first tie his
bridle to-morrow to the silver post which stands before my house,
shall be made elder and ruler over his brothers and over men.'
The next day the first to appear was the youngest son, Mir-Susne-Khum.
Since that time he has been the ruler of his brothers and of
men, whom they try to keep in peace.
[1. The Samoyed chief god Nini, or Ileumbarte
(literally, 'giver of life'), although he is ruler both of earth
and heaven, never descends to the unclean earth lest he might
soil himself upon it, but communicates with man only through
the tadebtsy (spirits), who for this purpose choose tadibey
(shamans) from among men. (Islavin, The Samoyed, p. 109.)
Lepekhi says that the tadebtsy of the Samoyed are not
divided into bad and good spirits, but that they can harm or
help men according to eircumstances. These tadebtsy are
so numerous that there is no place on earth where they are not
found. (Lepekhin, Full Collection of Scientific Travels in
Russia, I.R.A.S., 1818, pp. 260-2.) Jackson says that the
Samoyed regard atmospheric phenomena-storms, rain, snow-as the
'direct expressions, of the 'great god Num', and that his attitude
towards men is one of complete indifference. (Notes on the Samoyeds
of the Great Tundra, Joumal of the Anthropological Institute,
vol. xxiv, p. 398.)
2. Op. cit., pp. 17-18]
Yanykh-Torum has seven sons, but neither he nor Kors-Torum
has any daughters. Besides Yanykh and Kors-Torum and their sons
there are many other gods. These latter are of secondary rank,
and are specially connected with individuals, the family, or
Each category of gods has its own special sacrificial places.
Kul-Odyr, or Kul, is the chief of the spirits of darkness,
and the secondary dark spirits are known as menkva. These
resemble the Koryak kelet in having the power of changing
their forms. They are represented as being very tall, with heads
of a conical shape. They sometimes kill and devour human beings.
Other malicious spirits, called uchchi, inhabit the forest.
They have the paws and teeth of a dog. In the forest, too, lives
Mis-Khuni. He has many daughters, who try to entice men to live
with them as their husbands. If they succeed, this brings good
fortune to the fathers of the men thus captured.
In the water lives the good god Vit-Khon, as well as a dark
spirit, Vit-Kul. The first was sent by Numi to have charge of
The mythology of the Finnic tribes is very rich in tales about
heroes, called in Vogul pokatur or odyr. These
heroes were continually quarrelling and fighting among themselves,
especially about women, therefore Numi punished them by sending
a deluge upon the earth.
Representations of gods and fetishes are made of wood, metal,
or bone. They are usually very rude in form, and now that these
people can obtain children's dolls very cheaply from Russian
traders they are ceasing to make their own fetishes.
A man, according to the belief of the Finnic tribes, is composed
of three parts: body, shadow (isi), and soul (lili
khelmkholas). LiIi khelmkholas passes, after the death of
a man, to an infant of the same clan, or, if the clan has become
extinct, to one of another clan, but never to an animal. The
shadow goes to a cold underworld, situated in the icy seas beyond
the mouth of the Obi, and ruled over by Kul Odyr. Here it lives
for as long as the term of the dead man's former life on earth,
and follows the same pursuits-reindeer-breeding, fishing, &c.
Then the shadow begins to grow smaller and smaller, until it
is no larger than a blackbeetle, ker-khomlakh (according
to some, it actually does turn into a blackbeetle), and finally
[1. Op. cit., p. 7.
2. Op. cit., p. 35.
3. Op. cit., p. 36.
4. Op. cit., p. 16.
5. Op. cit., p. 39.]
I. THE CIIUKCHEE.
CHUKCHEE ceremonials have as the only object of their performance
the material welfare of the community, and incantations are the
main substance of their rites.
The Reindeer Chukchee's only regular ceremonials are those
connected with the herd; these they call 'sacrifices' or 'genuine
sacrifices '. 'Strictly speaking,' says Bogoras, 'every slaughtering
of reindeer is a sacrifice and is performed according to certain
rules. After the animal is stabbed the Chukchee watch carefully
to see on whieh side it falls. To fall on the wounded side is
a less favourable omen than to fall on the other; and to fall
backwards is still worse, and forebodes misfortune.'
Besides reindeer, dogs are also slaughtered, and sometimes
substitute sacrifices are offered, of reindeer made of willow-leaves
or even of snow. Most sacrifices are offered to the good spirits.
Evil spirits are also sacrificed to, but the offerings to these
are made at midnight, in darkness, and are never spoken of.
The most regular sacrifices are the Autumn Slaughtering,
Winter Slaughtering, the Ceremonial of Antlers, the Sacrifice
to the New Moon, the Sacrifice to the Fire, the Sacrifice for
Luck in Hunting," and a ceremonial connected with the killing
of wild reindeer bucks. Besides these seasonal ceremonials
there is also a Thanksgiving Ceremonial, which each family must
perform once or twice a year, on different occasions.
Bogoras gives a summary account of the ceremonials of the
Maritime Chukchee as follows: 'The cycle of the ceremonials with
the Maritime Chukchee opens with two short ceremonials in the
beginning of the autumn, which are often joined together. One
of them is a commemorative sacrifice to the dead. The
[1. Bogoras, The Chukchee, p. 368.
2. Op. cit., pp. 369-70.
3. Op. cit., p. 372.
4. Op. cit., p. 376.
5. Op. cit., p. 377.
6. Op. cit., p. 378.
7. Op. cit., p. 379.
8. Op. cit., p. 381.]
other is a sacrifice to the sea, in order to ensure good fortune
in subsequent sealing on the sea-ice in winter.
'Late in the autumn, or rather in the beginning of the winter,
the chief ceremonial of the year is performed. It is consecrated
to Keretkim, or is made a thanksgiving ceremonial to the spirits
of sea-mammals killed since the fall. Early in spring there follows
the ceremonial of boats, which are made ready for the approaching
season. In the middle of summer the ceremonial of heads is performed.
This is for thanksgiving to the spirits of sea-animals killed
since early in the spring.
'These four ceremonials are performed with varying similarity
by both the Maritime Chukchee and the Asiatic Eskimo. To these
must be added some slight ceremonials effected while moving from
the winter lodging to the summer tent.
'Most of the Maritime Chukchee offer sacrifice also in midwinter
to the star Pehittin, and perform in the middle of spring a ceremonial
analogous to the ceremonial of antlers of the reindeer. breeders,
which is called by the same name, Kilvei. The sacrifice to the
whale is performed, in addition, each time after a whale has
been killed or has drifted ashore.
'Bloody and bloodless sacrifices are offered during these
ceremonials. The Maritime Chukchee, of course, can slaughter
only dogs for their bloody sacrifices. In comparison with the
Koryak, however, they are merciful to their dogs and kill them
in no very great numbers. In this, as in other respects, they
occupy a middle ground between the American Eskimo, who do not
sacrifice dogs, and the Koryak, who often kill almost all the
animals of their single team.'
The ceremonial dedicated to Keretkun, the sea-god, is especially
important among the Maritime Chukchee. When the seal-gut overcoats
for the family (which are said to be similar to those worn by
Keretkun and his family), the ceremonial head-dresses and the
incantation-paddle, on which there are pictorial representations
of prayers, are ready, a net is suspended overhead, and various
images of birds and small paddles are hung from it. On each side
of the hearth is placed a reindeer-skin, the two skins representing
the inner rooms of the house. Keretkun, who is represented by
a small wooden image, enters the house and is placed on a lamp,
which is put either on one of the skins or
[1. Op. cit., pp. 385-6.
2. Op. cit., pp. 892-401.]
in a sleeping-room. Here he remains until the end of the ceremony.
A fire is made before him and kept burning throughout the three
days of the ceremonial. Among those people, like the Asiatic
Eskimo, who have no wood, a second lamp is kept burning before
that on which Keretkun is placed. Puddings made of various roots
mixed with oil and liver are sacrificed to the god. On the first
day the household enjoys the festival alone, singing and dancing
and beating the drum.
'The second day belongs to the guests and particularly to
the shamans, who have to show, in turn, their skill in drumming
and singing.' It is on this day that, in many villages, the
so-called 'exchanging of presents' takes place. Usually, the
guests assemble at the entrance of the sleeping-room, bringing
various household articles, which they thrust under the partition,
loudly demanding what they wish in exchange. The mistress takes
whatever is offered and must give in exchange whatever is demanded.
In some cases the exchange is made between relatives only,
and especially between those who are partners in the marriages
called by Bogoras 'group-marriage'. A man will send his wife
to one of his marriage-partners to ask for certain articles,
and afterwards the donor sends his wife to ask for an equivalent.
Another variety of ceremonial exchange, which also forms a
part of the second day's ceremonies, is what is called by Bogoras
the 'trading-dance'. It takes place between the members of
a 'compound marriage', beginning with a dance in which a male
member of the group has one of the women for his partner. 'Frequently
the man looks on only, while the woman dances before him. He
must provide a reindeer-skin, however, to spread on the ground
under her feet while she is dancing. While the dance is being
Performed the other dancers remain quiet, and look on together
with the other spectators. After the dance, the man must give
some present to the woman; and the following night they sleep
together, leaving their respective mates to arrange matters between
themselves. On the next day the husband of the woman and the
wife of the man perform a similar dance, in which the man gives
an equivalent of the present of the day before, and each newly
mated couple sleeps together for another night. Such dances are
2 A special meaning of 'trade' in the U.S.A. is the exchange
of commodities in business; trading=bartering, swapping'.]
arranged chiefly among cousins or other relatives, who, among
the Chukchee, frequently assume the bond of compound marriage.
Conversely, a new bond of compound marriage may be concluded
through a trading-dance.'
The third day of the Keretkun ceremonial is the women's day.
This time it is they who act as drummers and dancers. 'A new
detail is that of a night-watch, which must be kept for the sake
of Keretkun, who is supposed to stay in the house all the time,
This watch is kept by an old man or woman', who is often a shaman,
invited specially for this purpose. The shaman sits on
a stool made of a whale's vertebra, and 'sings and beats the
drum in a subdued key, in order not to awaken the supernatural
guest'. The keeper of the watch on the last night must be a woman.
On the evening of the last day a reindeer is cooked, and the
meat distributed among the guests, who carry their shares home
with them on departing.
Finally, the image of Keretkun is burned over his lamp. Then
all the refuse of the sacrificed reindeer is gathered up and
cast into the sea, to symbolize the returning to the sea of all
game killed since the last ceremonial. This same symbolic act
is performed at almost all of the Maritime ceremonials.
II. THE KORYAK.
The Koryak offer sacrifices to their Supreme Being to secure
prosperity for the future. At these sacrifices, some blood from
the wounds of the victim, dog or reindeer, are sprinkled on the
ground as an offering to the kala, with the words: 'This
blood is for thee, kala!' Thus we see that bloody sacrifices
among these people are offered to malevolent as well as to benevolent
Besides occasional sacrifices, the Koryak have several sacrificial
ceremonies which are regular or seasonal, and all connected with
the cult of the animals on -which their livelihood depends. Thus
the Maritime Koryak worship sea-animals, and the Reindeer
[1. Differing that is, from the custom of
the Reindeer Chukchee, whose procedure at the autumn ceremonial
and the 'thanksgiving' is in most other respects similar to that
2. Jochelson, The Koryak, p. 93. 'Otherwise the kala
might intercept the sacrifice and prevent its reaching the Supreme
Koryak their herd. This is illustrated by the following list
2. The putting away of the skin-boat for the winter.
3. Launching the skin-boat.
4. Wearing of masks.
Reindeer Koryak: 
1. Ceremony on the return of the herd from summer pastures.
2. The fawn-festival.
Ceremonies common to both: 
3. Practices in connexion with fox-hunting.
Jochelson's description of the wolf-festival is here quoted
as being typical of the ritual practices common to both Reindeer
and Maritime Koryak:
'After having killed a wolf, the Maritime Koryak take off
its skin, together with the head, just as they proceed with the
bear; then they place near the hearth a pointed stick, and tie
an arrow, called ilhun or elgoi, to it, or drive
an arrow into the ground at its butt end. One of the men puts
on the wolf-skin and walks around the hearth, while another member
of the family beats the drum. The wolf-festival is called elhogicnin,
i. e. 'wolf-stick festival'.
'The meaning of this ceremony is obscure. I have been unable
to get any explanation from the Koryak with reference to it.
"Our forefathers did this way", is all they say. I
have found no direct indications of the existence of totemism
among the Koryak; but the wearing of the skin of the wolf and
of the bear during these festivals may be compared to certain
features of totemistic festivals, in which some members of the
family or clan represent the totem by putting on its skin.
'The wolf-festival differs from the bear-festival in the absence
of the equipment for the home journey.' The reason is this, that
[1. Jochelson, op. cit., p. 65.
2. Op. cit., pp. 86-7.
3. Op. cit., pp. 88-90.
4 op. Cit., pp. 89-90.
5. The essential part of the whale-festival is based on the
conception that the whale killed has come on a visit to the village;
. . . that it will return to the sea to repeat its visit the
following year'; and that, if hospitably received, it will bring
its relatives with it when it comes again. Hence it is symbolically
equipped with grass travelling bags filled with puddings for
its return to the sea. (Op. cit., pp. 66, 74, 76'.) A similar
procedure is followed at the bear festival. (Op. cit., p. 89.)]
the bear is sent home with much ceremony, to secure successful
bear-hunting in the future, bear's meat being considered a delicacy,
while the festival serves at the same time to protect the people
from the wrath of the slain animal and its relatives. The wolf,
on the other band, does not serve as food, but is only a danger
to the traveller in the desert. He is dangerous, not in his visible,
animal state-for the northern wolves, as a rule, are afraid of
men -but in his invisible, anthropomorphic form. According to
the Koryak conception, the wolf is a rich reindeer-owner and
the powerful master of the tundra . . . [and] avenges [himself]
particularly on those that hunt [wolves].' The Reindeer Koryak,
who have special reason to fear the wolf on account of their
berds, regard this animal as a powerful shaman and an evil spirit.
'After having killed a wolf, the Reindeer Koryak slaughter
a reindeer, cut off its head, and put its body, together with
that of the killed wolf, on a platform raised on posts. The reindeer-head
is placed so as to face eastward. It is a sacrifice to The-One-on-High,
who is thus asked not to permit the wolf to attack the herd.
Special food is prepared in the evening, and the wolf is fed.
The night is spent without sleep, in beating the drum, and dancing
to entertain the wolf, lest his relatives come and take revenge.
Beating the drum and addressing themselves to the wolf, the people
say, "Be well!" (Nimeleu gatvanvota!), and addressing
The-One-on-High, they say, "Be good, do not make the wolf
III. THE AINU.
Although the bear-festival is common to all the Palaeo-Siberians
and is celebrated also by some of the Neo-Siberians, it has reached
its highest development among the Ainu. We give here a short
description of the principal features of this festival, following
Towards the end of winter the Ainu catch a bear-cub and bring
it into the village, where it is reared and fed by a woman. When
it is sufficiently grown to break out of its wooden cage, which
usually happens some time in September or October, this marks
[1. Op. cit., p. 89.
2. N. Kharuzin, Ethnography, 1905, vol. iv, pp. 371-2.
For a more detailed description see B. Pilsudski's Niedzwiedzie
Swieto u Ainow (in Sphinx, Warsaw, 1905).]
the time for the holding of the festival. Before the ceremonies,
apologies are made to the spirits for the capture and detention
of the bear, assurances are given that the treatment of the bear
has been marked with the greatest tenderness, and it is explained
that, as they cannot feed the animal any longer, they are obliged
to kill it. The person entrusted with the conduct of the festival
invites all relations and friends, usually practically the whole
village. Before the ceremonies are begun, libations are made
to the family hearth-fire by the host and all his guests. Sacrifices
are made to the spirit-'owner' of the dwelling in a corner of
the house sacred to him. The woman who has reared the bear weeps
to show her sorrow at its approaching fate. The company approach
the cage of the bear, libations are made, and some wine is given
to the animal in a special cup. The women and girls dance round
the cage, clapping their hands and singing. Then the foster-mother
of the bear, and women who have reared other bears for former
festivals, perform a dance of their own before the cage, with
tears in their eyes, stretching out their hands towards the animal,
and uttering endearing words. After some other ritual observances,
the bear is taken out of its cage, a cord is fastened round its
neck, and a stick is thrust down its throat by the united force
of several people, so that the animal is choked to death. With
much solemnity the body is laid out, -and surrounded with various
embellishments, which are more numerous and elaborate if the
animal is a female. Food and drink are offered to the spirit
of the victim, and then follow much feasting and merriment, which
is intended to render the bear spirit joyous and gay. The body
is flayed and disembowelled, and the head cut off, the blood
being collected in a pot and drunk by the men only among the
guests. The liver is also consumed, and of this each woman and
girl present receives a small portion. The rest of the meal is
preserved for the next day's feast, and all the guests of both
sexes partake of this.
IV. THE TURKIC TRIBES.
(1) THE YAKUT.
There are among the Yakut two kinds of sacrificial ceremonies
-bloody and bloodless. The former is that made to abassylars,
the latter to aïy and ichchi; so that if one does not
[1. Sieroszewski (12 Lat w Kraju Yakatów, p.
389) says that to only one aïy, Bay-Baynay, the god
of hunting are bloody sacrifices offered.]
whether the sacrifice is being offered to black or to white
spirits, this can be ascertained from the nature of the ceremony.
Although bloody sacrifices are not made to Urun-Aïy-Toyon,
yet it is customary to dedicate certain animals to him, i. e.
such animals are not to be used for work, and mares so dedicated
are not to be milked. Formerly it was the custom to dedicate
in this manner all mares which had foals: they were let loose
to wander on the steppes.
There are some aïy, which although they have this
name, yet are of the class of abassy. Sacrifices of
the choicest meat and drink are made to them through the fire.
The offerings to abassylars have the character of a compromise
or bargain. The evil spirit wishes to have the kut (one
of the souls) of a man, and the shaman gives instead the kut
of an animal.
There are two tribal festivals of the Yakut: a spring festival,
aïy-ysyakh, and an autumn festival, abassy-ysyakh.
As the name shows, the first is celebrated for the good spirits
in general, and for Urun-Aïy-Toyon in particular. After
the sacrifice, which is followed by certain sports or games,
a dramatic representation of the struggle between spring and
winter is given. One man, called the aïy-uola, is
dressed in white and mounted on a white horse to represent the
spring, while another, abassy-uola, represents winter
by being dressed in black or reddish garments and mounted on
a horse of corresponding colour.
The abassy-ysgakh is held in autumn, and in the open
air like the first festival, but at night. It is dedicated to
the black spirits, and especially to Ulu-Toyon. While the first
festival is conducted by the clan-father, the second is under
the direction of nine shamans and nine shamanesses.
(2) THE ALTAIANS.
Sacrifice to Bai-Yulgen. The description of this ceremony,
as given by Mikhailowski, is compiled from the works of the
[1. Troshchanski, The Evolution of the
Black Faith, 1902,p. 103.
2. Op. cit., pp. 105-6.
Sieroszewaski (op. cit., p. 388) calls the highest good spirit,
or god, Art-Toyon-Aga (Uyun-Artoyen), which literally means 'Master-Father-Sovereign'.
He lives in the ninth heaven, and is great and powerful, but
indifferent towards human affairs. The spring ysyakh is
primarily in his honour, says Sieroszewski, while Urun-Aïy-Toyon,
'White-Master-Creator', is next to him in dignity.
4 Mikhailowski, Shamanism, pp. 63-7.]
missionary Wierbicki and the well-known linguist and traveller,
Radloff. The ceremony lasts for two or three days, or rather,
evenings, the first evening being occupied by the preparatory
ritual. A spot is chosen in a thicket of birch-trees in a meadow,
and there the kam (shaman) erects a decorative yurta.
In this is planted a young birch, crowned with a flag, and having
its lower branches lopped off, and nine notches cut in its trunk
to represent steps (tapty). The yurta is surrounded
by a penfold, and by the entramce to this is set a birch-stick
with a noose of horsehair. A holder of the head (Bash-tutkan-kiski)
of the sacrificial horse is chosen from among those present.
The kam flourishes a birch-twig over the horse to indicate that
its soul is being driven to Bai-Yulgen's abode, whither the soul
of the Bash-tutkan accompanies it. He then collects spirits
in his tambourine, calling each one by name, and answering for
each as it arrives: 'I also am here, Kam!' As he speaks he makes
motions with his tambourine as if taking the spirits into it.
When he has secured his assistants, the kam goes out of
the yurta, mounts upon a scarecrow made to resemble a
goose, and flapping his arms as if they were wings, chants loudly
Beneath the white sky,
Above the white cloud,
Beneath the blue sky,
Above the blue cloud,
Skyward ascend, O bird!
The goose replies (through the shaman himself, of course)
in a series of quacks-'Ungaigak, ungaigak, kaigaigak gak, kaigai
gak.' The kam, still on his feathered steed, pursues the
pura (soul) of the sacrificial horse, neighing in imitation
of the unwilling victim, until, with the help of the spectators,
he drives it into the penfold to the stick with the horsehair
noose, the guardian of the pura. After violent efforts,
to the accompaniment of neighings and other noises produced by
the shaman to imitate the struggles of the pura, the latter
frees itself and runs away. It is at last recaptured, and fumigated
with juniper by the shaman, who has now dismounted from his goose.
Then the real sacrificial horse is brought and blessed by the
kam, who thereafter kills it by opening the aorta. The
bones and skin form the actual sacrifice. The flesh is consumed
by those present at the ceremony, the choicest portion falling
to the kam.
[1. Op. cit., p. 63.]
'The most important part of the performance takes place oil
the second day after sunset; it is then that the kam must
display all his power and all his dramatic art. A whole religious
drama is performed, descriptive of the kam's pilgrimage
to Bai-Yulgen in heaven. A fire burns in the yurta, the
shaman feeds the lords of the tambourine, i.e. the spirits personifying
the shamanistic power of his family, with the meat of the offering
The 'owner' of the fire, representing the power of the family
of the master of the yurta, who has organized the festival,
is addressed in a similar invocation. Then the kam takes
a cup and makes noises with his lips to imitate the sounds of
drinking made by an assemblage of invisible guests. He distributes
morsels of meat to the company, who devour them as representatives
of the unseen spirits. Nine garments, on a rope decked with ribbons,
the offering of the host to Yulgen, are fumigated with juniper
by the shaman, who sings:
Gifts that no horse can carry
Alás! Alás! Alás!
Gifts that no man can lift
Alás! Alás! Alás!
Garments with triple collar-
Turn them thrice before thine eyes,
Let them be a cover for the steed,
Alás! Alás! Alás!
Prince Yulgen full of gladness!
Alás! Alás! Alás!
The kam next invokes many spirits, primary and secondary,
having first donned his shaman's garment, and fumigated his tambourine,
which he strikes to summon the spirits, answering for each, as
it arrives, 'Here am I, kam!' Merkyut, the Bird of Heaven,
is invoked as follows:
Birds of Heaven, the five Merkyuts!
Ye with mighty talons of brass,
Of copper is the moon's claw,
And of ice its beak;
Mightily flap the spreading wings,
Like to a fan is the long tail.
The left wing veils the moon
And the right obscures the sun,
Thou, mother of nine eagles,
Turning not aside, thou fliest over Yaik,
Over Edil thou weariest not!
Draw nigh with song!
Lightly draw nigh to my right eye,
Of my right shoulder make thou thy resting-place
[1. Op. cit., p. 64.]
The answering cry of the bird comes from the lips of the shaman:
'Kagak, kak, kak! Kain, here I come!' The kam seems to
bend beneath the weight of the huge bird. His tambourine sounds
louder and louder, and he staggers under the burden of the vast
number of spirit-protectors collected in it. Having walked several
times round the birch placed in the yurta, the shaman
kneels at the door and asks the porter-spirit for a guide. His
request granted, he comes out to the middle of the yurta,
and with convulsive movements of the upper part of his body and
inarticulate mutterings, beats violently upon the tambourine.
Now he purifies the host, hostess, their children, and relatives
by embracing them in such a way that the tambourine with the
spirits collected in it touches the breast and the drum-stick
the back of each. This is done after he has scraped from the
back of the host with the drum-stick all that is unclean, for
the back is the seat of the soul. Thus all are liberated from
the malign influence of the wicked Erlik. Then the people return
to their places and the shaman 'drives all potential misfortunes
out of doors', and, beating his tambourine close to the ear
of his host, drives into him the spirit and power of his ancestors
that he may understand the prophecies of the shaman. In pantomime
he invests each member of the family with breastplates and hats,
and then falls into an ecstasy. He beats his tambourine furiously,
rushes about as if possessed, and, after mounting the first step
cut in the birch-trunk, runs round the fire and the birch, imitating
the sound of thunder. Next he mounts a bench covered with a horse-cloth,
which represents the pitra, and cries: 
2. Op. cit, p. 65.]
Hurrying on the Bash-tutkan, the kam passes
from one zone of heaven to another. The goose once more takes
the place of the wearied pura, affording temporary relief
to the Bash-tutkan, who relates his woes vicariously by
means of the shaman. In the third zone a halt is made, the shaman
prophesies impending misfortunes, and declares what sacrifices
are to be offered by the district. If he foretells rainy weather
Similar prophecies may be made in other regions of the sky.
When the Bash-tutkan is rested the journey is continued,
progress being indicated by mounting one step higher on the birch
for every new zone attained. Variety is given to the performance
by the introduction of various episodes. 'In the sixth sphere
of heaven takes place the last episodical scene, and this has
a comic tinge. The shaman sends his servant Kuruldak to track
and catch a hare that has hidden itself. For a time the chase
is unsuccessful, now personages are introduced, and one of them,
Kereldei, mocks Kuruldak, who, however, at last succeeds in catching
Previously, in the fifth heaven, the kam has interviewed
Yayuchi ('Supreme-Creator'), and learned many secrets of the
future, some of which he communicates aloud. In the sixth heaven
he makes obeisance to the moon, and in the seventh to the sun,
for these heavens are the abodes of these luminaries. Only a
few shamans are powerful enough to mount beyond the ninth heaven.
Having reached the highest zone attainable by his powers, the
kam drops his tambourine, and beating gently with the drum-stick,
makes a humble petition to Yulgen:
Lord, to whom three stairways lead,
Bai-Yulgen, possessor of three flocks,
The blue vault which has appeared,
The blue sky that shows itself,
The blue cloud that whirls along,
The blue sky so hard to reach,
Land a year's journey distant from water,
Father Yulgen thrice exalted,
Shunned by the edge of the moon's axe,
Thou who usest the hoof of the horse
O Yulgen, thou hast created all men
Who are stirring round about us.
Thou, Yulgen, hast bestowed all cattle upon us,
Let us not fall into sorrow!
Grant that we may withstand the evil one!
Let us not behold Kermes [the evil spirit that attends man],
Deliver us not into his hands!
Thou who a thousand thousand times
The starry shy hast turned,
Condemn me not for sin!
[1. Op. cit., p. 65
2. Op. cit., p. 66.]
'From Yulgen the shaman learns whether the sacrifice is accepted
or not, and receives the most authentic information concerning
the wealth and the character of the coming harvest; he also finds
out what sacrifices are expected by the deity. On such an occasion
the shaman designates the neighbour who is bound to furnish a
sacrifice, and even describes the colour and appearance of the
animal. After his conversation with Yulgen, the ecstasy of the
shaman reaches its highest point, and he falls down completely
exhausted. Then the Bash-tutkan goes up to him, and takes the
tambourine and drum-stick out of his bands. After a short time,
during which quiet reigns in the yurta, the shaman seems
to awake, rubs his eyes, stretches himself, wrings out the perspiration
from his shirt, and salutes all those present as if after a long
This sometimes concludes the festival, but more often, especially
among the wealthy, a third day is spent in feasting and libations
to the gods
V. THE MONGOLIC TRIBES.
Sacrifices among the Mongols are either: (a) regular or public
(tailgan), or (b) occasional or private (kirik).
Banzaroff says that Georgi, as long ago as the latter part
of the eighteenth century, observed three regular sacrificial
ceremonies among the Mongols: the spring, summer, and autumn
festivals. Banzaroffs traces the origin of these festivals to
a period long
3. Banzaroff, The Black Faith, p. 38.]
antedating the Christian era. The festival which has been
best described in recent times is that called urus-sara
('the month of sara'), which is intended to celebrate and symbolize
the renewing of all things. When the earth is green again, the
flocks increase, and milk is abundant, the Kalmuk make sacrifice
of all these gifts in the form of kumys, herbs, and horses.
The sacrificial horses are tied to a rope, which is stretched
between two poles. A man on horseback, accompanied by another
riding a colt, passes along the row of victims, pours over them
kumys, and fastens to their manes pieces of pink cloth.
Then the sacrifice is offered.
The autumn festival of the Mongols, like the urus-sara,
is very ancient. Banzaroff finds mention of it in writers of
pre-Christian times, and in the Middle Ages it is referred to
by Marco Polo, who says it was celebrated on August 28th. This
ceremony is known as sagan-sara ('white month'), and the
Mongols used to date their New Year from the time of its celebration.
The majority of these people nowadays celebrate the beginning
of the year in winter, but they, like the few who adhere to the
old date, still call the New Year and the festival which is held
An English traveller of the middle of the nineteenth century,
who witnessed the celebration of the spring festival in the valley
of Ichurish in the Altai, describes it as follows:
'In the spring the Kalmucks offer up sacrifices to their deity;
the rich give horses, those who are poor sacrifice sheep or goats.
I was present at one of the ceremonies. A ram was led up by the
owner, who wished for a large increase to his herds and flocks.
It was handed to an assistant of the priest, who killed it in
the usual manner. His superior stood near, looking to the east,
and began chanting a prayer, and beating on his large tambourine
to rouse up his god, and then made his request for multitudes
of sheep and cattle. The ram was being flayed; and when the operation
was completed, the skin was put on a pole, raised above the,
framework, and placed with its head to the east. The tambourine
thundered forth its sound, and the performer continued his wild
chant. The flesh was cooked in a large cauldron, and the tribe
held a great festival.'
Speaking only of the greater Buryat ceremonials, Khangaloff
[1. Op. cit., p. 39.
2. Op. cit., pp. 39-40.
3. T. W. Atkinson, Oriental and Western Siberia, 1858,
4. New Materials respecting Shamanism among the Buryat,
1890, p. 97.]
mentions about thirty such, and says that these are by no
means all, and that years of further investigation would be necessary
to render it possible to give a complete list.
Among the Balagansk Buryat every male child must offer certain
sacrifices to the western khats to ensure their protection
while the children are still in infancy as well as during their
future adult life. These sacrifices, viz. (i) morto-ulan-khurgan,
(ii) erkhindkhi-ulan-khurgan, (iii) Charga-tekhe,
(iv) yaman-khonin-khoer, must, without fail, be offered
by all boys, but upon girls they are not obligatory. Besides
these sacrifices there are others which are made on behalf of
all young children, irrespective of their sex, to certain zayans
and zayanesses, termed ukhan-khata. These are called
ukhan-budla, oshkin-budla. We shall quote here
Khangaloff's description of the ceremony ukhan-budla:
'Some time after having a child born to him, a Buryat, either
fit the instance of a shaman or on his own initiative, will make
preparation for the performance of the ceremony called ukhan-budla.
A shaman is invited to perform the ceremony. When the shaman
appears, water is brought from a spring, or sometimes from a
lake or river. Before drawing the water, some copper coins are
dropped into the place from which it is taken. A bundle of coarse
grass of the steppes, another of rushes, and nine silken threads
are prepared. When everything is ready, the shaman makes libation
to the zayans and zayanesses, pronouncing the following
The boys, like the rushes,
The maids, like mushrooms;
From the grass of the steppe
They have made a scourge;
With the water of the spring
They have made budla (ablution);
With the nine silken threads
They have made a scourge.
After this the water is poured into a pot and heated. Then
they put into the pot the grass also, and a broom is made of
the rushes. The child is placed in a shallow vessel surrounded
by nine stones, and the shaman says: "The black stone is
the door, the tawny stone is the courtyard." He then takes
the broom, dips it into the water, and striking the child lightly
with it, tells him tells him that he must not cry, but grow quickly.
Now nine knots are made in the nine threads, and they are placed
around the child's neck. The water is spilled on the floor of
the yurta, and the broom is placed over the door to prevent
the entrance of evil spirits. Thus ends the ukhan-budla.'
As a rule Buryat ceremonies are performed by the shamans;
but some of the minor ones, such, for instance, as the 'feeding'
of the ongons, are conducted by the master of the house.
Women's ongons are made and fed by women. Frequently animals
are dedicated to ongons, either for some shorter or longer
period or for life. Such an animal must not be used for any heavy,
work, and no married woman must touch it. The Mongols call this
custom setertey, which denotes both the dedication and
Another case of the dedication of animals is that which is
some times practised with regard to a horse whose master has
died. The animal -is taboo, and must not be used for heavy work.
ordinary circumstances, when a Buryat dies, his horse is either
killed or set loose to wander at large upon the steppes.
[1. Op. cit., p. 91.
2. Shashkoff, Shamanism in Siberia, p. 58.
3. Graelin, Reise durch Sibirien, 1751-2, iii. 33.]