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108. Attitude Towards The Paraphernalia

Our description of the shaman costume would not be complete if we do not give details as to the Tungus attitude regarding the costume. Unfortunately the early authors sometimes give quite a wrong picture. Remaining within the Tungus groups I have again to quote I. A. Lopatin who, by the way, reflects rather well the common attitude of ethnographers. In reference to the Goldi he speaks of the sacredness of the costume (op. cit. p. 259). His predecessors, such as L. von Schrenck, P. Simkevic, S Brailovskii, P. Margari-tov and others, did the same, when they considered the objects here discussed as «religious», «sacred», etc [594]. Such an approach is entirely erroneous as a formulation of facts and as a method. This is a simple transplanting of the European religious complex into a distinctly different one. I do not deny that in some cases there may be a complex approaching «sacredness», as opposed to the complex of profane things and persons, but no such facts are observed among the Tungus groups.

The Tungus attitude towards the costume is defined by the following conditions: the costume is a placing for the shaman's spirits; the costume may gather other spirits, and the latter may come into a conflict with the shaman's spirits; the women who have menstruations may frighten the spirits, for they have special spirits, or the other spirit are afraid of blood.

Since the making (sewing) of clothes is generally carried out by women, there is no exception for the shaman's costume. It is desirable that the costume be made by women who have no menstruations, i.e. by very young girls and old women, but if there is no such women the sewing may be done by any other woman. However, when the work is finished, the costume must be purified with smoke of plants used for this purpose Among the Manchus the work is done by girls and widows. The iron and brass parts are made by common smiths, usually Chinese.

The shaman's costume in the Manchu complex is considered as vochko i etku, i.e. dress of spirits. Therefore one must not use bad expressions when speaking about the costume one must not do anything which might offend the spirits e g spit, etc. Thus, the costume must be treated in absolutely the same manner as the other placings for spirits, e g the ribbons etc.

Since the shamans are acting on behalf of their clans, the making of a costume is a clan business, and the clansmen contribute to it. When the costume is worn out, or burnt [595], a new one is made; but parts of a costume may also be renewed, or repaired. The costume can be given up on various occasions.

1. If a clan cannot afford to have a shaman (e.g. when the clan is too small), the costume is brought to the forest, on a mountain, and hung up on a tree. After a certain time the spirits may leave the costume, and then it becomes simply an old, useless thing. If a new shaman appears, it will be necessary to make a new costume, and the spirits will enter into it.

2. If a clan wants to make a new costume, the old one is brought away as in the first case, but the spirits are asked to move to a new costume. Their entering is recognized by the fact that the shaman feels them and is able to shamanize in the new costume.

3. Somebody makes a present of a new garment to the shaman, and the old costume can be taken away.

No renewing of costumes is at present practised, the chief reason of which is the prohibition of shamanism by the Chinese authorities. Under this pretext the clansmen very often refuse to contribute their money. Such a condition could be created only in the present relative decline of shamanism and in the ethnical disintegration of the Manchus in general.

It is believed that when the shaman introduces into himself the spirit of fire (cf. supra), the costume would not burn, even though the shaman should jump into a heap of burning charcoal; however, if there is no spirit, the costume would burn as any other thing, in spite of the fact that it was being used as a placing for other spirits. Generally it is believed that if there is no costume, the spirit (vochko) would not come, and the shamanising without costume is not regarded as a real shamanizing. There must be at least a s'isha and toli.

After the shaman's death, the costume may be handed over to jarumbo, i.e. to the house which used the shaman's assistance (details will be given later), where it will be preserved until a new shaman appears. Only some of the paraphernalia used for the secondary spirits, e.g. the trident, swords, axes, etc. are buried together with the shaman. If one of the children of the deceased shaman has been inclined, during his father's life, to become a shaman, the costume would remain in the shaman's family. However, the question as to whether the candidate would become a shaman or not, is decided by the clan.

The drum and other instruments have nothing sacred in them, but there is a strict recommendation to avoid the production of sound, when the shaman does not act, the reason being that the spirits may respond on the drumming by coming and entering the people who cannot master them. On the same ground the shaman's costume cannot be put on by people who are not certain of being able to master the spirits. It is clearly shown by the fact that the Manchus did not oppose my looking for details and handling the costume as much as I wanted: in their opinion, my attitude would not be offensive to the spirits. In this way the Manchus, who are experienced and «strong in spirits», do touch the costume without harm to themselves and to the spirits. Some who are not afraid may even put on the costume. Placing with the drum, when there in no danger of attracting the spirits, is very common. So one may see before and after shamanizing «fearless» persons who touch the paraphernalia and beat the drum [595]. During the performance many people also touch the shaman's paraphernalia, especially the drums and special instruments.

Certain precautions are used when the costume is carried from one place to another, but these precautions are of the same character as those of avoiding contact with other spirits, particularly the hostile spirits, keeping on woman's blood, and abstaining from useless disturbance of the spirits.

The same attitude is characteristic of other Tungus groups. As among the Manchus, the costume is a clan affair. The clan has to decide about it and usually helps in making it. Among all Tungus groups the costume is made by the women. It is desirable that they be of the age when there is no menstruation. If there is no such woman, any one can do it, but the costume, when ready, must be purified with the smoke of certain plants. The metallic parts are made by specialists — rarely by Tungus, but more commonly by Buriats, Yakuts, and other neighbouring groups, -while the wooden parts are made by the Tungus themselves. The costume is a placing for the shaman's spirits, so that when he or she puts it on, the spirit will come into the shaman almost without fail. The costume must therefore not be put on by people who cannot master the spirits. The people's fear of touching it is the fear of introducing the spirit into themselves. As among the Manchus, the idea of avoiding women's blood inspires certain precautions in the women's coming into a contact with the costume. However, there are some parts, as for instance toli in arkaptun, which may be left near a woman, when she is attended by a shaman, and there is no danger for the spirits or the shaman. Thus, there are spirits which are not afraid of woman's spirits, and in this case the woman may touch some paraphernalia of a shaman. Such ones are spirits of her own clan and those of her husband's with which she has become familiar and which are familiar with her. In fact, it must be so in principle, for female-shamans are common among both Manchus and Tungus. There is, however, a limitation, namely, when the female-shaman is menstruating, she does not touch the spirits' placing. Thus it is generally recommended to be careful with the shaman's costume. When the costume is carried on reindeer back or on horse back, it is put separately and is supplied with special thongs for packing.

The shaman's costume, among the Birarchen, remains for six days in the wigwam (or house) where the shamanizing was performed. Some parts of the costume may remain still longer. For instance, the toli is sometimes left for years in the home of a child, when the child's soul was saved by the shaman. In this case the spirit «placed» in the toli would watch over the child's soul.

After the shaman's death the costume is put on a special scaffold, near his or her tomb. Among the Tungus who are settled in villages the costume is kept in the house. There are still some spirits which place themselves in the costume, so that the Tungus say: the costume may show signs of life — it trembles and makes a noise with its iron and brass parts. A candidate for shamanship would know exactly in his dreams where the costume is and would come to that spot. Then the costume might be bought (among the Birarchen), for a horse or so, from the relatives of the deceased shaman. However, the costume cannot leave the clan, and it will not be taken by a new shaman, if the spirit of the deceased shaman are hostile to him, or vice versa. The perishable parts may be renewed, so only the metallic parts are taken. In this way the costume may be transmitted from one to another generation, but always within the same clan.

However, the costume, even though carefully kept in the house or near the tomb, is a source of worry, for the spirits are in it. The costume cannot be thrown away, for there are spirits in it, and if they get tree, they may bother the people. Therefore the Tungus always face the following problem: whether it is better to send on the spirits together with the costume, or to leave a permanent placing for them and thereby to avoid the creation of a new shaman. In case the spirits do not bother the people, it is very likely that the people who keep the costume would try to get rid of it without destroying it, i.e. to send the spirits off together with their placings. As a matter of fact, the spirits may leave the costume at any moment [596] and again make trouble to the clansmen; it is therefore safer to send off the costume and the spirits. Naturally, in the taiga there are many costumes which are left untouched and finally are altogether forgotten.

Among the Tungus groups the shaman may gradually renew his or her costume, so that during the life-time all parts may gradually be replaced. We have already seen that there may even be made two costumes for different forms of shamanizing.

The same attitude is characteristic of the Tungus with reference to the drum. The Tungus attach to it no idea of sacredness. The drum is merely an instrument. I have seen among the Khingan Tungus a man who, wanting to shamanize, used an ordinary enamel basin («made in Japan») as a drum (cf. infra. Section 128). What the shamans need is an instrument. However, some ideas ensuing from the complex «instrument» are also connected with drum. As with the Manchus, the drumming without the intention of calling out the spirits is not practised, especially in the dark, for the spirits may arrive. For this reason the Tungus dislike idle drumming and use to stop it. However, when such a danger is out of question, one is allowed to joke and to beat the drum, provided that the drum is not damaged, e.g.. by drunken people.

The drum may also be used in the treatment of certain diseases, but then it is used only as an instrument, e.g. for gathering swallowed things, as in the case of a swallowed and rejected needle, of the kidney of a sacrificial animal eaten by one of the persons who attended a sacrifice, etc.

594. e.g. A. V. Anoxin (op. cit.) gives a description of the process of receiving a new costume by the shaman who is inspired by his chief spirit. The costume must be altered, if it is required by the spirit, and after this it may be used. I do not understand why this author says that the costume becomes a «sacred garment» after the corrections are made. He points out that the female cannot put on a male-costume and vice versa, but this has nothing to do with the sacredness, for e.g. the woman cannot wear or touch a dress belonging to male, and a stranger would not risk to touch the things worn by a female we have seen that among the Tungus such an attitude is inspired by the idea of special properties of woman's blood. The same is known of other groups in Asia. Such an «impurity» of the woman has nothing to do with their «non-sacredness». A. V. Anoxin points out that the costume must he isolated from other things (i. e. clothes), which is not a sign of sacredness, but a means of avoidance of bringing the costume in contact with the things which may be placings for other spirits and which may receive the spirits from the shaman's costume. Indeed, no idea of sacredness may here be involved. 595. A great number of costumes were burnt during the Boxer rebellion in Manchuria.

595. Every assistant shaman must practise drumming before he can assist the shaman; I did it myself quite commonly without producing any negative reaction in the Manchus, even when I was not performing my duty as an assistant-shaman.

596. Owing to this, the acquisition of old costumes does not present great difficulties among the Tungus — the costume has nothing sacred, nor any memorial value for the living people. The only question is whether it is possible to hope that the spirits may be carried away by the new owner or not. The second question is, that if the spirits have already left the costume they may introduce themselves into one of the clansmen and a new costume will be needed which is a costly thing. Therefore, in a case of a shaman who was drowned together with two other woman, by accident during the drifting of ice in the Amur River, it was possible for me to buy her costume, which remained in the family for several years, for a price below that of the brass alone. Moreover, after having bought the costume, I received gratis other things, e.g. an ukoptun, etc. which belonged to her, but were kept in other families. I was told: «We are glad you are taking away the costume and all paraphernalia, for perhaps you will carry away to St. Petersburg not only them but also all the spirits». The costume in question is supposed to be in my collections of Tungus of Manchuria in the Museum of the Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg.

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