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127. Transmission Of Shamanship

On different occasions I have already shown that, apart from the clan priests — p'oyon saman — of the Manchus, there are two different kinds of shamans, namely, the shamans depending on the clans and shamans independent of clans. Both groups are called saman-saman, but among some groups they are specified. So among the Manchus they are opposed to the p'oyon saman and both clan and independent shamans are called amba (great) saman. However, among the Manchus themselves, all shamans are connected with clans, but the people apply to the Chinese and Dahur shamans, if a shaman is needed, the former being disconnected with the Manchu clans. As to the Dahur shamans, I cannot say whether they are connected or not. in Manchu the term amba saman may be intensified by an addition xala mokun'i (the clan) xala-mokun saman or xala-mokuni'i amba saman - the clan great shaman [641].

Among the Tungus of Transbaikalia the term «shaman» is applied to all shamans, but there can not be several shamans in the same clan. Some of the shamans may be considered more or less powerful. These Tungus know shamans of neighbouring groups and naturally shamans of other clans. Among the Tungus of Manchuria there is a sharp distinction between the clan shamans, called mokun saman (Bir. Kum.) — the clan shaman — and independent shamans, called dona saman — «the foreign (alien) shaman». Their power does not depend on whether they are clan or independent shamans, but on their personal qualities. In reality, when the shaman is connected with a clan, the conditions of assuming these functions are not similar to those of an independent shaman. The difference will be clearer when the process of formation of new shamans is discussed.

The shamanistic functions in a clan are naturally transmitted within the clan, so that the transmission may assume a form of inheritance. However, it may not always be so, as I shall now show.

Although among the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia no formal prohibition of having two shamans exists, a coexistence of two shamans never occurs. If there were two shamans, these Tungus say, one of them, and more likely the older one, likely the older one, would die [642]. The shamanship is transmitted from a grandfather or his brothers to the grandchildren — males and females from the grandmother (father's mother) to the grandchildren. However, the shamanship may also be transmitted to other young members of the clan, usually missing one generation [643]. The same practice exists among the Khingan Tungus and other groups, but I have not observed it among the Manchus. However, the missing of one generation may not have the character of a regulation. In fact, the Tungus clans are not numerous, but one of the members must become shaman; the shaman's activity usually lasts more than a generation, for they become shamans rather early and continue this function to their death or loss of efficiency, i.e. on an average of more than thirty years; so by this time the son of the shaman would be too old to become shaman. Moreover, there is another reason, namely, the son is usually looking after his father-shaman, because, as will be shown, the shaman cannot do two things — the hunting and a regular carrying out of the shamanistic performances — so the shaman usually needs support of the junior groups, and therefore both the father and the son cannot be shamans. It is thus evident that the existing practice is not of a legitimate form of inheritance.

Among the Manchus, who live in large families, the son may have in the same way as his father, i.e. devoting his time and energy to the shaman's function. The most common case is the transmission of shamanship from father to son. If there is no son, the shamanship may be transmitted to the son of a brother («nephew»). A definite tendency to transmit shamanship to the males is observed. The son of a female shaman has therefore more chance to become a shaman, although the daughter may also become a shaman, if she has been sick because of spirits. Cases when a daughter inherits her father's shamanship are even rarer. Moreover, among the Manchus, inheritance of shamanship by people from other clans may occur, if during the shaman's life a connection between the spirits was formed and if the spirits consent to leave the clan.

The transmission of shamanship consists in a mastering of the spirits left by the deceased shaman. Therefore the spirits are also interested in the question as to who would be their master. In Manchu it is called: barg'jaxa vochko, — «collected (gathered) spirits». If nobody in the clan were willing to take up the spirits, or there were no person who could do it, the spirits might be «collected» by an outsider. The Manchus say: cn'gu xala vochkobe barg'jaxan'inga — «of another clan spirit (he or she) collects». Such persons may be either members of two clans kapchi («connected») which have the same shamanistic spirits, or by the family which often enjoyed the shaman's assistance during his life. Such a family (house) is called jurumbo(=jarun bao), and the shaman's spirits are supposed to be acquainted with the members of the family. If there is nobody who can master the spirits and if they cause harm, a shaman, familiar with the case, may accept them too. If the spirits can be carried away by an outsider — a new shaman — this may only satisfy the Manchus (and generally Tungus), for in the mind of the people these spirits are a real burden [644]. However, it is not always so -the spirits may return. If such is the case, the clansmen would call the shaman who «collected» the spirits, and he would perform the duties which are usually performed by the native shamans of the given clan. In such a case it would be likely that the next shaman would be again one of the clansmen. More precisely the candidate will be either the person who was affected by the spirits or another member of the family that was attended by the shaman-outsider, this family in relation to this shaman being jarumbo. The spirits may gradually become common in both clans. In the way the shamanship may be shifted from clan to clan, because the spirits of these clans are not fixed.

The fact observed in all groups, of the transmission of shamanship to females who are sooner or later married to members of other clans might give the idea that the mastering and general dealing with the spirits is going on independently in the clans. This would not be exact. In fact, a female, being married remains connected with her native clan — she has her own spirits, etc. she is protected by her native clan in case of necessity (vide SOM and SONT). If she becomes a shaman, she attends all cases when it is necessary to deal with the activity of spirits or her native clan; after her death her spirits (clan spirits mastered by her and other newly mastered spirits) will be «collected» by one of the members of her clan (let us remember that in the Manchu complex her clan and particularly the families attended by her jarumbo) and more likely by one of the grand-sons of her father. However there are some cases when a woman becomes shaman after being married and yet she may master her native clan's spirits and those of her husband's clan as an «outsider».

Owing to the fact that the females when there is no opposition have more personal chance of becoming shamans (this will be shown later), female shamans are very common; but since the spirits mastered by her are likely to main with her native clan (psychomental condition) a peculiar form though not quite regular can be observed of the transmission of shamanship by omitting one generation. As a matter of fact there are several combinations due to these practices namely; (1) whether the spirits in the two clans are the same (kapchi clans) or not; (2) whether the mother is succeeded by her son or not; (3) whether there is a dual organization of clans connection (vide SONT particularly p. 370) or not. I shall not describe all possible and observed combinations for they are evident. I give here an instance.

There are cases of transmission of shamanship from nakchu (or gusin) i.e. from the senior males of the mother's native clan, to the candidate, in this case if there is opposition to the female-shamanship the transmission of shamanship would proceed as «sex-linked inheritance». The Tungus of Manchuria say that «it is good because the shamans are good». Generally it is believed that if there are ancestors-shamans on both sides of the father's and mother's clans, the shaman will be good. In fact, there are clan lines of shamans which satisfy this desideratum, but this is by no means a rule or a regulation.

The above indicated facts show the tendency of keeping shamanship in lines, where there already were some shamans, but practical considerations (no need of having two shamans), the system of organization (e.g. a dual clan organization), the clan specification of spirits, and the intrusion of new spirits do not leave place for the elaboration of a rigid system of transmission of shamanship.

In case of shamanship, independent of the clan, its transmission is not regulated at all. Those who used to know the shaman personally and those who are familiar with his spirits have more chance to become shamans. However, the

transmission has also a tendency to confine itself to the clan of the shaman.

Besides a formal side of the transmission of shamanship, so to say, there is another side, namely, a transmission of the shaman's knowledge to the candidate, which may take place prior to the formal installation of the new shaman or after it. in the first case the old shaman may elect a successor and work with him, in order to prepare him for further functions, to make of him a shaman. Such a «teaching» may last for years. However, in the second case, the old shaman may happen to be forced to teach a person who was not chosen by him. So if the candidate shows inclination to become a shaman during the life of the old shaman and proves himself to be an able man, he may become a shaman during the life of the old shaman, and the latter would «teach» him. The «teaching», as will be shown, may grow into a special complex with which I shall deal further on. The transmission of knowledge may happen independently, when the potential candidate is a clever person, a good observer, who accumulates facts and forms of them a more or less accomplished system of theory and practice. Such occurrences are common.

641. This terminology might produce the impression of a certain confusion but there is none. In fact, we have seen that the complex of p'oyon vochko is that of exogamic units-clans now acting. These spirits are dealt with by the «priests» and they are not outside of the clan, and even the house (bao=bo->boiyun—>p'oyun), while the clan spirits mastered by the great shamans may leave their clans and go to the other world and may disappear altogether. However, during the shaman's life these spirits remain with him, and they are clan spirits as long as they are recognized as such. Therefore, they are styled xala mokun'i vochko, both p'oyon vochko and xala mokun'i vochko being spirits of exogamic units-clans, in which the Manchus distinguish unmastered and mastered, permanent or shifting spirits.

642. One day I heard that an acting shaman was greatly disturbed by the news that his nephew (brother's son) wished to become a shaman.

643. Once I observed an old shaman who was teaching his niece. However, I cannot say whether he was «teaching», as any other experienced shaman would do it, or was handing over to her his spirits, which seems to me doubtful.

644. If the spirits show no activity (there is no more any mass psychic disequilibrium or any individual troubles) it will be believed that the clan spirits have left for ever, and no new shaman will be made.

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