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104. Classification Of Costumes

The above given descriptions of shamans costumes permit us to distinguish four types used among the ethnical group here discussed.

1. The reindeer-costume in the most complicated and fully symbolized form was formerly round among the Buriats and is at present preserved among the Nomad Tungus and, a little less, among the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia. Going eastward we continue to meet only with hints at the reindeer-costume, namely, with iron antlers on the head-dress of the Khingan Tungus and the Goldi, sometimes the Birarchen and on special occasions among the Manchus. Among these groups no other elements of the reindeer complex exist. The reindeer-costume is met with among the Tungus of the Yakutsk prov. and the Enisei prov., also among the Enisei Ostiaks who are Palaeasiatics. Beyond this area only hints at the reindeer complex are met with. As far as it can be seen, the facts seem to point to the region about the Lake Baikal as a centre of diffusion of this complex.

The reindeer-costume is the one in which the shaman may go to the lower world, particularly for searching for or for settling souls of living and dead people respectively. The reindeer is the most convenient manifestation (of some spirits) for going to the lower world, and therefore the costume is a symbolized reindeer — a placing for this manifestation — in which the shaman feels himself swift, vigilant, watchful, the best animal the Tungus know. However, the shaman may also assume other manifestations for reaching his aim, and even, being dressed in this costume, he may assume still other manifestations, which have nothing to do with the reindeer, e.g. a series of spirits of the complex malu which may be helpful in his travelling. It may be pointed out that among the Buriats the idea of a reindeer, as a manifestation, has gradually given place to the idea of the shaman s riding on horseback, symbolized in horse staffs, while among the Tungus the staffs still represent the reindeer. This fact raises the problem of the former complex of the ancestors of the Buriats, which I do not want to discuss in this place, owing to its complexity. In so far as I know, there is a very essential difference between the Buriat and Tungus forms, namely, the Tungus form contains an apron, a component of great importance in the Tungus shamanism. The apron is known to be used only by the Tungus groups. Indeed, the loss of the apron by other groups is not entirely out of question. The second distinction is that among the Buriats the horse-staffs are of primary importance, even now when the costume is nearly given up, while the Reindeer Tungus shamans use them rather seldom and they are replaced by the temporary reindeer staffs. Finally the snakes are not so numerous in the Tungus form as in the Buriat form [577].

2. The bird-costume in its most complicated form is found among the Yakuts who have a complete iron skeleton of a bird; it is also common among the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia. Among them this form must have no iron parts, if there are two costumes, a reindeer and bird-costume. The bird-costume has a still smaller area of extension. However, with a certain imagination, the Manchu costume, more exactly, the Manchu head-dress, may be regarded as a symbolization of the bird; but this point of view will be erroneous — at least now the birds are only special placings for special manifestations of spirits, needed for certain forms of shamanism [578]. I have shown that the bird-costume is used by the shamans when they go to the upper world, and when they need a light flying body, like that of birds. They say that it is easier to go, when the costume is light. However, if the shaman happens to have no bird-costume, he may go to the upper world in the reindeer-costume, which actually happens during the shamanistic performances, when the shaman does not change his costume. Considering the geographical extension of the bird-costume, it may be supposed that its centre of diffusion is the territory now occupied by the Yakuts.

Here it should be noted that a co-existence of the two forms of this costume among the Tungus is not at all indicative of a dualism in the European sense, but these forms exist because of two technically different forms of performance used for dealing with different groups of spirits. Theoretically there may be more than two forms of costume, as it is observed e.g. among the Manchus who use more than two forms of head-dress on different occasions. These head-dresses might also be completed with different coats and other paraphernalia.

It is interesting that among the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia the bird-costume is much more common than the reindeer-costume, the chief reason of which is not a greater or a smaller influence of neighbouring groups or ideas, but the fact that the dealing with the lower world is much more difficult for the shaman — from a technical, psychological point of view -than the dealing with the spirits of the upper world.

The Yakut form has seemingly penetrated as far as Manchuria, where it was used among the local Reindeer Tungus. It may be pointed out that the Yakut form contains an apron which is not used in the common Yakut dress complex. The apron is also met with in the shaman s costume of the Enisei-Ostiaks, a group greatly influenced by the Tungus. By these remarks I do not want to say that the Yakut form is based upon the Tungus model with an apron, for the latter might have been introduced among the Yakuts from a different source.

It must be added that the Goldi also seem to have a kind of costume which symbolizes a bird. I. A. Lopatin (op. cit. p. 264) does not say whether the cut of the costume is different from that of the costume used by the shamans when they go to the lower world (on the occasion of bringing souls of dead people); but he distinguishes two kinds of costume, namely, those used by great shamans who have a regular head-dress and shamanize for dealing with the world of the dead, and those of small shamans who have no regular head-dress and do not deal with the world of the dead. The costume of the second group of the shamans is supplied with eagle feathers attached to the shoulders and the back of the coat; once twenty-seven pieces were observed. The conical trinkets must also have the form of bird feathers, and the coat is supplied with a fringe which symbolizes feathers. The hat (apparently a calotte) is also supplied with a small iron bird (the cuckoo). I. A. Lopatin points out that, according to the shamans, this kind of costume is used by them when they have to fly. Thus it is evident that the idea is the same as in other cases, but the type of costume is different and cannot be connected with the complex of upper world.

3. The Manchurian form [579] as it is described among the Khingan Tungus, and Birarchen, and as it is known among other Northern Tungus groups of Manchuria, by these groups is related to the Dahur form which I could not verify this form, at least at present, does not symbolize any animal manifestation of spirits, its most striking character being the prevailing importance of the brass mirrors. The head-dress is variable, an imitation of the Buddhistic form, being one of them. Whether the Manchurian form of costume can be brought back to the initial Dahur form which, in its turn, was an imitation of another model, cannot be stated with certainty. However, a collar put on separately, an evident imitation of some Buddhistic models, the head-dress, the brass mirrors, etc. point to the initial form a Buddhistic garment perhaps first imitated by the Dahurs and later increased with other elements.

4. The Manchu form does not symbolize anything, with the exception of the head-dress which, as has been shown, may be different for different purposes of shamanizing. The best expressed form of this costume is found among the Manchus in a simplified form, used by the p'oyun saman — the clan priests and shamans of the Imperial family who are also clan priests. It is met in modifications among the groups which occupy the regions situated in the basin of the Sungari River and the lower course of the Amur River and the adjacent eastward regions, with the addition of those of the middle course of the Amur and the Nonni River, occupied by the Manchus, who have that form, but with the exception of the regions occupied by the Northern Tungus and Dahurs who have no Manchu form.

It can be noticed that this type of costume changes the further it is from its geographical and ethnical centre of diffusion. In fact, the elaborated forms of the head dress with brass birds are replaced by wooden shavings; the brass mirrors by iron trinkets; the heavy belt with iron conical trinkets by a belt with various trinkets; the elaborated ornamentation by local ornamental motives or entirely omitted. On the other hand, the form is increased with new elements, such as various placings for spirits attached to the coat in the Goldi costume, a more elaborate form of head-drew for the performance, when the shaman goes to the lower world, as it is in the Goldi head-dress. Thus we may see, on the one hand, an impoverishing of the original complex and, on the other hand, its enrichment with local elements, which result in the formation of distinct local forms, as that of the Gilaks and Goldi. It was doubtless the Manchu costume that penetrated into these groups. In fact, even the terms for the different parts of the costume and, in general, the paraphernalia preserve their Manchu forms. The terms used by the Gilaks [580] are partly Manchu terms or those received through the intermediary of the Northern Tungus — probably Goldi modifications and Goldi Northern Tungus terms [581]. L. von Schrenck suspected that the centre from which shamanism had penetrated into the lower Amur was somewhere on the continent [582]. The Goldi costume is still more convincing in this respect. In fact, the elements and terms they use clearly show their origin from two sources, namely, the Manchu complex, partly modified, and the Northern Tungus additions. Since the history of the formation of this group of ethnical units is now clear [583], the formation of a mixed complex of the shaman costume is also clear.

The above outlined four costume complexes can be traced in other shamanistic paraphernalia. I shall duly indicate it. In main lines we have already seen that the complex of spirits gives us the same kind of evidence.

577. It should be noted that «snakes» show an evident decrease of their importance in the shaman's costume when we leave the regions near the Lake Baikal. In fact, the greatest number of «snakes» is observed in the costumes used by the Mongol and Turkic speaking groups of Mongolia and the southern regions of Siberia. Among the Nomad Tungus of Transbaikalia they are much less important, and still less in the costume of the Reindeer Tungus; and they are of minor importance in the costume of the Tungus of Manchuria and entirely disappear in the costume of the Manchus. The centre of the «snake» element seems to lie South-West from the Lake Baikal.

578. The Manchu statement about the «wings» of the costume cannot be accepted as a matter of fact. Vide supra. «Birds» are met with in the costume of the Tungus of Manchuria as «placings» for spirits. As shown, the costume may have a «tail» (irg'ivlan). However, as a whole, the costumes of the Manchus and Tungus of Manchuria do not symbolize a «bird».

579. I give this name to this form, because there is no other adequate term. As has been shown, it cannot be identified with the Dahur form. On the other hand, it cannot be called by the term of its symbolization, for the latter is lacking. My chief objection to this term is that it can easily be mistaken for the Manchu form discussed below.

580. Cf. L. von Schrenck op. cit. Vol. III.

581. Miss Czaplicka (op. cit., p. 210) with good reason has pointed out the Manchu and Tungus influence on the Gilak shamanistic complex.

582. Ibid. p. 121.

583. Cf. SONT and especially my Northern Tungus Migrations. Goldi and their ethnical affinities.

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