§ Широкогоровы §
toggle menu

109. Conclusion

From the above given description of the shaman's costumes and other paraphernalia the following general inference can be made: the complex of paraphernalia is formed of elements of various «origins»; the elements may assume different functions in the given complex; in different complexes the same elements may have different importance (weight).

Naturally a general question arises as to the reason of the existence of the costume. In fact, such a question has been several times put by several authors and answered by them in various ways in accordance with their own complexes [597]. V. M. Michailowskii [598], who made forty years ago an attempt to deal with shamanism, put special emphasis on three conditions, namely, the costume is needed for making an impression upon the audience; the hounding parts are needed for impressing the sense of hearing; the components of the costume have a symbolic meaning connected with shamanism. Such an interpretation does not help much and is not correct. First of all, shamanism cannot be explained as «an intentional production of impression», for, as has been shown, such is not the nature of shamanism. This was the point of view of early travellers and missionaries who believed that the shamans are knaves and impostors who want to produce an impression on ignorant people [599]. It is quite true that the costume, as such, is a musical instrument as well, and we shall later discuss this subject, when the performance is described. We shall then also show what influence the same musical instrument may have on the shaman himself. It is also perfectly true that the costume has a symbolic meaning, as has been shown in the analysis of the costume. But the question is: what is the purpose of having such symbols and various instruments which are not symbolic? This cannot be answered before we analyse the psychological conditions of the audience and the shaman during the performance, I shall therefore leave this question unanswered for the time being.

597. It would be futile to discuss all kinds of guesses, e.g. regarding the animal form of the costumes. For instance, Karjalainen conjectured that the shaman must «hide his everyday appearance in order to remain untroubled at other times from the side of the spirit which he must raise for the performance of his duties» (I quote U. Holmberg, op. cit. pp. 20-21.), while Kai Donner remarks, by the way, that the shaman bore a cap embellished with the sign of his «totem-animal» (quoted by U. Holmberg, ibid.). E. K. Pekarskii and V. Vasiliev [Coat and Drum of the Yakut shaman in Mater, conc. Ethnography of Russia (Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III) St. Petersburg, 1910, vol. 1], who gave a description of the Yakut costume, and A. V. Anoxin, {Materials concerning shamanism among the Altaians in Publ. of Mus. of Anthrop. and Ethn. of RAS. vol. IV, 1924, pp. 1-148), who gave a description of the Altaian costume, are much more sound in this respect.

598. V. M. Michailowskii, The Shamanism (in Russian) Moskow 1892. Soc. of Friends of A. and Eth. I. U. M. This work is now out of date and, in so far as «theory» is concerned, is not to be considered as a reliable source.

599. In the same manner speaks I. A. Lopatin (op. ct. p. 269), when he asserts that the costume of the Goldi shaman shows a tendency to produce on the spectator an impression of «something supernatural and divine» and in this way to dispose the spectator to «prayer and reverence». As a matter of fact, the spectators have nothing to do with prayers and reverence. I. A. Lopatin is wrong when he asserts that the shaman produces a very strong impression on the Goldi, when he is dressed in a costume. We shall later see that the Tungus and Goldi do not react in this way on the costumes, but if they really are afraid of something, they fear only spirits which may be introduced into the placings of the costumes. In the descriptions of ethnographers of all sorts of nations the shaman's costumes and the shamans themselves produce a greater impression upon the reader than they do upon the natives, whose reaction is usually quite different and is brought about by other motives.

Электропочта shirokogorov@gmail.com
© 2009 - 2024