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102. Preliminary Remark To Chapter XXIV

Among all Tungus groups and Manchus, as well as their neighbours, shamanistic performances require a certain number of special things used only for this purpose. These things may be called by the general term «shamanistic paraphernalia». Their number and forms vary greatly among the Tungus and the other groups. Since they are easily accessible for observation and since they may.be collected for museums, the investigators of various groups have left rather rich documentation of this side of shamanism, both in descriptions, with or without illustrations, and in museum specimens. In the present work I shall give only a summary description of the observed paraphernalia, for I am now unable to illustrate my description with photos and specimens which are at present beyond my reach. But as without any illustrations my description may become incomprehensible, I shall give, when necessary, some reproductions of my own drawings from the diary, which must consequently be regarded not as a documentation, but as mere illustrations to the text. In some cases I shall also refer to the publications of other investigators who have given reproductions of photos and good drawings.

In the paraphernalia a great number of elements call be distinguished, the principal of which are (1) the costume which may consist of several elements: coat, apron, trousers, shoes, etc., or may be reduced to a single element, e.g. the coat, skirt, apron; (2) the head-dress; (3) the staffs; (4) the brass mirror-toli; (5) the drum with the drumming stick; (6) other musical instruments; (7) various placings for spirits, independent of other placings, and (8) various other implements. The complex of the paraphernalia may be rich or poor, for which there may be different reasons which will be discussed later. Although theoretically a case might be imagined where there would be no paraphernalia needed for a shaman's activity, such an occurrence has not been observed. So, as a statement of fact, we must say that there is no shamanism without paraphernalia. It can be supposed, and it will be shown when the performances are described, that the paraphernalia are needed for the performances and that without them the effectiveness of shamanism would decrease to such an extent that it would lose its functional «value» and would naturally be given up as a complex. In fact, the costumes and other paraphernalia are needed by most of the shamans for the production of self-excitement, self-hypnosis, and hypnotic influence over the audience. It should also be noted that, together with the increase of the curative power of a shaman, there is usually an increase of paraphernalia. If a shaman has no paraphernalia, he or she is not a good shaman in the eyes of the people. The richer the paraphernalia, the more influential the shaman.

In looking at the geographical distribution of the elements it can be quite clearly seen that some coincidences are revealed with the ethnical group here discussed, and also with the geographical grouping of elements in the complexes. Both within the complexes abstracted, and within the ethnical units the combination of elements presents such a great variety that sometimes it is impossible to trace the lines of demarcation between two complexes connected with ethnical groups. However, there are no two absolutely similar complexes of paraphernalia observed in the individual cases of shamans, even within the same ethnical unit and within the limits of the same (our theoretical construction) cultural type. The chief reason is that, as a rule, every shaman has his or her own complex of spirits, and with the change of fashions a great freedom in the choice of elements and their variations is left to the individual shaman. The choice of shamanistic paraphernalia is not a rigidly fixed, ceremonial complex. In this respect no comparison can be made with the Buddhistic paraphernalia, or with any other uniform complex ceremonial attributes. However, there is also an interesting exception, namely, the Manchus, among whom a tendency to uniformity is well expressed; but there are special reasons for this, which will be discussed later on.

With a greater or lesser probability of representing reality I shall try to trace the boundaries of complexes and their possible formation, but my chief aim is to give facts needed for the analysis and demonstration of the functioning of the complexes.

 
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