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101. Conclusions As Introduction To The Following Chapters

From the facts expounded in the previous sections it may thus be inferred that shamanism among the groups here studied cannot be regarded as a very old cultural complex. The Tungus themselves consider it as a complex: which originated, according to the Manchus, in the eleventh century, and according to other groups the Birarchen and Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria — still later, and through the influence of other ethnical groups the Manchus, Dahurs and Goldi. On the other hand, many Buddhistic elements are found in the complexes of shamanism which can sometimes be traced to the original sources, i.e. the ethnical groups from which the elements have been borrowed. It may be also noted that, in so far as components are concerned, shamanism shows great differences, when observed in the ethnical units, and these differences may be understood as due to the differences of the imitated original patterns, also, to a certain amount, of the inventiveness manifested in different degrees by the ethnical units. However, among all groups here discussed shamanism reveals the same fundamental characters outlined in six formal and four psychomental characteristics (vide supra, Section 95). These characteristics are thus generalized: shamanism as a complex does not migrate, is not borrowed, even does not exist. Concrete phenomena actually exist, e.g. the belief in the possibility of such and such a spirit being mastered, a definite form of head-dress, a concrete method of self-exitation by a rhythmic movement of the head, and so forth Therefore the ethnical groups sometimes refuse to recognize the «shamanism» of their neighbours and cannot be influenced by it. Moreover, shamanism may remain without being recognized at all and without being «symbolized» by a special term, while it will function as a complex of elements borrowed from the neighbours and invented by the groups. Shamanism, as a component of the psychomental complex, has its various functions, the principal of which, from the biological (ethnological) point of view, is the self-regulation of the psychomental complex of the ethnical units, so that it belongs to the group of delicate mechanisms of equilibria of the psycho-mental complex, created in the concrete conditions of ethnical units, as aggregates of physical individuals, with the concrete ethnographical elements both borrowed and invented. Finally hypothetically, but with a great amount of certainty, I have traced its beginning to the influence of Buddhism, which as a new and alien complex did produce its stimulating effect, both in the sense of creation of a kind of psychomental unrest and in the sense of creation of a new method of regulation of this unrest. Therefore, shamanism may be approached from three points of view, namely, (1) the descriptive etnographical, the aim of which is to show how the ethnical units understand the elements of which the shamanism consists, and how they understand the whole complex, when its existence is recognized; (2) the functional-ethnographical, the aim of which is to find out the role of shamanism in the systems of the given units; (3) the historico-ethnographical, the aim of which is to restore, as far as possible, the formation of the existing complexes and, as far as possible, to trace the history of the elements.

An analytical distinction of these three points of view is practically useful, for meeting with a new complex we may say how far advanced and exhaustive our investigation is, and in which respects it ought to be completed. Naturally, it will also put certain limitations to the methodological possibility of premature inferences of a theoretical character, which will also save time and the energy of students of shamanism who will not need to go into the details of theoretical constructions of those authors who did not actually know shamanism, but who wrote about it. In this way ethnologists and ethnographers will receive a long list of documents, left by these authors, for an analysis, as documents reflecting varieties of the European psychomental complex and reactions on the non-European complexes. Indeed, the review of existing descriptions of shamanism among the Tungus groups does not leave us great hope, even in so far as facts are concerned - they are extremely fragmentary. Unfortunately, the best of these publications, such; as that of P. P. Simkevic and I. A. Lopatin, who have given descriptions of some aspects of shamanism among the Gold, do not even give a complete list of spirits, and their descriptions of the shamans' psychomental state in general and during the performance are reflecting more the observers' reactions on the performance than the object of observation. The other authors, such as L. Sternberg (cf. Divine Election, etc.), have quoted a few facts, but in their selection, inspired by the pre-existing theories, they appear as being still less interesting than other observers who confined themselves to giving partial descriptions of paraphernalia and performances, even though in the light of their own «authors' complexes». Such are the descriptions of S. Brailovskii (Udehe), I. Nadarov (Orochi). Beyond and within the limits of the groups here discussed, the descriptions relate in the same fragmentary manner to the groups of Transbaikalia, the Enissy prov. and the Yakutsk prov. Earlier travellers, beginning from the eighteenth century, also R. Maack, A. von Middendorf and others of the last century, contributed only very general remarks and very brief descriptions. Special investigations, like those of K. M. Ryckov did not give even an incomplete picture, as that which we have of the Goldi shamanism. Such a state of the investigations into shamanism cannot be said to be at its beginning; this field is not a maiden one, but at the same time there has not yet been given a complete description of the formal characteristics of shamanism. Chiefly, description of some strange paraphernalia, special shaman's dresses, and some parts of performances were given. The principal cause of such failure is the complexity and strangeness of shamanism as a phenomenon, and the lack of knowledge of the language, not to speak of the investigators' failure to assume an «objective» approach to the problem and to free themselves of theories jeopardizing the issue of the investigation. In fact, such a situation is not characteristic of the investigators of the Tungus alone. Of all investigators N. A. Vitasevskii best realized this situation and made a new approach to the problem of the description of shamanizing, as observed by him among the Yakuts. This investigator recorded in 1894 a case of shamanizing, as a «behaviourist» would have recorded it, and he demonstrated it in 1917 [554], seemingly as a reaction against a habit of writing about shamanism in too much generalized forms. Indeed, a great number of recorded details are needed for every newly described form, but when they are observed in mass, some details, being invariably repeated, become mere model and need not be recorded every time. However, a great number of observations used to begin by passing their observations through their own complexes, chiefly having records of only those facts which impressed them. Moreover, all investigators among the Tungus used the mediation of translators insufficiently trained for this kind of work, or the conversation was carried on in broken Russian little known to the shamans in general and not at all to some of them. In addition the defective methodology of inquiries must be pointed out. In fact, the questions asked by the investigator very often contained answers consciously or unconsciously desired by the investigators; the inquisitive behaviour of the investigators, who usually did not conceal their attitude of «superiority», tended to make the shamans suspicious and hostile towards the investigators; to interest the subject of their investigation, the investigators very often used to give them, during the inquiry, gifts in cash and other things, which created absolutely unfavourable conditions for the investigators who, instead of the truth, were served with tales they were looking for. In a much better condition were those investigators who by their origin were connected with the people, such as D. Banzarov, M. N. Xangalov, Agapitov, Z. Zamcarano, who, being Buriata themselves, were not handicapped by anything, except their theorization and the adaptation of the Buriat complex to the Russian scholars mentality. The case of a group of political exiles who in the second half of the last century were settled among the Yakuts, such as E. Pekarskii, N. A. Vitasevskii, V. M. Ionov, V. L. Serosevskii (Sieroszev-ski) and others, is also different, for many of them did become familiar with the Yakuts, but one obstacle ought to have been overcome by them, namely, the idea of immeasurable superiority of «civilized men», which in its new variety was unfortunately, preserved by many of this new group of observers.

The expedition of the facts concerning the Tungus shamanism is different, owing to the lack of good Tungus comparative material. The facts at my disposal are also not sufficient for answering all questions that arise, when the material is analysed. Indeed, there are numerous variations of some of these facts, as they have been observed at various times and among different groups, while other aspects are represented by a very limited number of facts and sometimes even by a single one. Wherever it is particularly important, it will be specified, whether the facts common or only occasionally observed ones. In shamanism, as in other aspects of the psychomental complex, it is practically almost impossible to give an exhaustive outline; the colours used for the picture are also in reality not as vivid as they appear in a special work in which the facts are condensed. After all, shamanism is only one of the aspects of the psychomental complex which in the systems of ethnical and individual equilibria occupies a modest place. To have a correct picture of the functional importance of shamanism, the colours must be attenuated; shamanism cannot be studied apart from the existing general psychomental and cultural complexes.


554. In Publications du Musee d'Anthr. et d'Ethn., Vol. V, 1917-1925, pp. 165-188.

 
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