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130. Cases Of Formal Recognition

I. The Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia give us a CASE OF A CANDIDATE DESIGNATED BY THE CLAN. A child is selected and educated, i.e. influenced in the required direction by the clansmen and sometimes even by an old shaman; the child shows, in one or several performances, as well as in its general attitude, a certain ability which is required from a candidate before becoming a shaman; the clan informally decides to make of the candidate a shaman and gives him an opportunity of dealing with the spirits. This is a period of trial. So the candidate must help some sick clansmen, practice divination, interpret dreams, etc., which would show that he can become a shaman. The most important moment is that when the candidate, being in an extasy, points out particular marks of the animals which will be sent to the spirits dayachan for making the costume from their skins. The candidate is assisted by an old shaman; all clansmen pray to the clan spirit and offer a rich sacrifice. Such animals must have some mark such as, for instance, a white spot on one of the legs, white hoofs, a white head, a mutilated ear, etc. One of the clansmen starts hunting the designated animals and sooner or later finds them. The search for such animals may take several months. In case the indicated animals cannot be found, the spirit may be asked (the candidate introduces it) to send another animal. As stated, the skins used are those of Cervus Elaphus and Alces Alces which are now not common. Anyhow, the needed animals are always found.

When the costume is ready, there is again a great gathering of clansmen. A rich sacrifice, which consists of an adult reindeer, is given to the soul of the last deceased clan shaman. Then the candidate puts on the new costume and performs a great sha-manizing as described before. So the candidate becomes clan shaman. The great shamanizing is performed as usual, e.g. with the erecting of turn, placings for the spirits, etc. Unfortunately I did not observe such a performance, but the statement of several shamans coincided with that of the old experienced persons. In reality the last performance is a mere formality, for at the moment of the performance the candidate is already an acting shaman. However, the period of trial is of importance, for the candidate must show his ability in treatment etc. I have heard of no other forms of this act. In case the child assigned for this function dies or falls to produce extasy, a candidate is selected among those young clansmen who would be able to introduce spirits, and the whole act proceeds as has been shown.

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II. Among the Tungus of Manchuria the procedure is different. The child may be selected and educated, but the first extasy is especially important, for the first spirit seven conditions further steps of the clan. It is difficult to find it out, for the candidate is usually unconscious and the spirit does not speak. Sometimes the candidates run away to the mountains and remain there for seven days or more, eating there animals caught by them, directly with their teeth, and usually they return home dirty with blood, torn clothes, and disheveled hair, «like wild people». About ten days later, the candidate begins incoherently to speak a few words. An old experienced shaman asks with great precautions various questions. The candidate (the spirit) becomes angry, but finally designates the shaman who should perform the act. The act is designated by the verb umna (they umnattan) (Bir.), which may be referred to the act of general sacrifice to the spirits, their periodical review and to the first performance of the new shaman. The old shaman and the new shaman call each other dovei (Bir.), when the spirits are introduced into them, while other people are called by them asaran (Bir.) and the old shaman is called sebu (Bir.) [cf. Shifu—>sefu] which is merely «teacher». A certain day, sometimes rather soon after the first extasy, is fixed for the trial. However, the trial may be refused by the clan, if the candidate is considered «un-desirable».

Two turo are erected in front of a wigwam (theoretically the same may be done in a spacious house) facing south. The turd are trees with big branches cut off, but surmounted by crowns. These two turd are connected by cross beams, about 90 or 100 centimeters long, in an odd number, namely 5, 7, or 9. A third turo erected in a southern direction at the distance of several meters and connected with the eastern turo by a string, or narrow thong — s'ij'im-s'id'im [which is a «rope»; cf. sit'im (RTM.), s'it'm (Yak. Pek.), also siji (Man. Writ.)] supplied at a distance of about thirty centimeters with bunches of ribbons and feathers of various birds. It may be made or Chinese red silk or of sinews colored red. This is the «road» along which the spirits will move. On the string a wooden ring is put that moves freely from one turo to another. When sent by the «teacher» the spirit is located in the plane of the ring (juldu). Three wooden anthropomorphic placings — an'akan, of an unusually large size, about 30 centimeters long, are put near each turo.

The candidate sits down between two turo, and drums. The old shaman calls one by one the spirits down the southern turo, and with the ring sends them to the candidate. Each time the teacher takes back the ring and sends off a spirit. If this were not done, the spirits would enter the candidate and would not leave him. A special man makes marks on a wooden device (a tally, quadrangular in cross section) called kirchi jang'i in the shamans' terminology [646].

During the entering of the spirits the elders examine the candidate who (the spirit) must tell the whole history («biogra-phy») of the spirit, with all details, such as who it had been before, where it had lived (in which «rivers» it had been), what it had done, with which shamans it had been and when the shamans had died, how many times this spirit had been called for the performance of umna and many other questions, in order to convince the audience that the spirit is really in the candidate. If the candidate is tired and cannot answer, there is no escape, because the teacher will not allow the spirits to go away. After every night of performance the shaman climbs up to the upper beam and remains there for some time. The costume is hung up on the beams of the turd. Since the biographies of great seven are rather long, and since these spirits do not easily come, and as shown, are numerous, the performance may last several days, no less than three and sometimes 6, 7 and even 9 days.

If the candidate passes through the trial successfully, a great sacrifice to all clan spirits is ordered, for which cows and other big animals are slaughtered [647]. The turo and an'akan are taken away and blood is smeared on the faces of the placings. On the drum and arkaptun cross signs are made with blood.

Such a performance requires a rather long technical training of the candidate, which is done by the «teacher» who explains everything concerning the spirits and ritualism. The costume may either be made, or «found», or it may be borrowed from another shaman. However, a number of brass-mirrors must be added to the costume.

I have not heard whether the candidate is rejected after his failure to give satisfactory answers to the elders, but I think that in case of failure, if the candidate is not hopeless, the ritual can be repeated within a few years so that this single performance need not be the only trial to decide the issue of the candidate's attempt at becoming a shaman. Perhaps, it is simply regarded as a formal examination. I was told that the methods used by the Dahurs are the same, and in so far as I can see, it is not a Tungus invention.

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III. Among the Manchus the recognition is decided by the clan meeting. There may be three cases. Firstly, the candidate who already has been entered by the spirits and has mastered them, does not raise any doubt and is immediately recognized. The next step would be a solemn form of «recognition», the main part of which is the sacrifice to all spirits of the new (ici) shaman, during which the spirits would be called in. This performance is not long and not all spirits are called by the shaman; the chief performers are the seniors of the clan, who pray and perform the main part of the sacrifice. The second case is that when some doubt arises as to the candidate's ability and a trial must be organized. The third case is that when two or more candidates, who want to become shaman, compete. A long operation with the trial of all candidates is then carried out. However, the candidates may be rejected by the clan, usually on the ground that the candidate is possessed by spirits, i.e., in European terminology, is sick, and therefore needs treatment. When the candidate is admitted, he learns from old men of the clan, or even from the shaman, if the latter is alive, all the names and characters of the spirits which, as shown, may be recorded in the book of spirits. The candidates learn also, as far as possible, the ritual, which is rarely recorded in a written form.

The trial may last several days, in most of the clans the trial and the act of recognition must last nine days, but this is not always observed. In some clans (e.g. the wuza clan), owing to a special character of the spirits, the performers abstain from eating meat during eight days — the spirits do not like it, it is explained — but on the ninth day this fasting is compensated by an unusually rich feast. This fact shows that the clans differ as to the order of acts and rituals, conditioned by the character of the clan spirits, and these, as shown, greatly depend on the former shamans, who may not only discover new spirits, but also become spirits which preserve at least some characters. For the trial the Manchus, chiefly the clansmen, come together in a large house which is put at their disposal by one of the rich clansmen. Outsiders may assist at the performance, but the women of other clans must keep away, when the clan spirits come. A special jury consisting of experienced people may be elected the number of the jurymen, as far as I know, is not fixed; there may be three members and more, but all of them are naturally members of the clan, or well known experts. A special shaman, who may be one of another clan, is invited for helping the candidate. The keepers of traditions are also invited.

There are two important parts, namely, the reciting or so (list of spirits) by heart, followed by the answering of questions on the details of the spirits, and the trial. The recital must be done correctly. However, some deviations are admitted — the candidate is a young person and may make mistake, the Manchus say. From the description of lists of Manchu spirits we have seen that there are spirits which can handle «hot» and «cold», which can go into the water, and many others which use swords, spears, etc. If the candidate pretends that he has one of the spirits of this type, he would be required to perform an operation with «hot», «cold», etc. Here it should be noted that these spirits are much more common among the Chinese shamans than among the Manchu shamans whose ritual is simpler and does not include so many tricks. The situation is complicated by the fact that the spirits are distributed according to rows, so that If the candidate pretends to possess the head of a row, he must «master» all manifestations of this row. However, it is also supposed that even a beginner must know the chiefs of the principal rows, whence the candidate may be tried on all manifestations of these rows As a matter of fact, so it is in the clans which have included a great number of manifestations with tricks, while the Manchus, little influenced by the Chinese are not very strict in requiring difficult trials. This may be so, if the candidate cannot be formally rejected, but is considered undesirable.

I have already given an instance (vide supra) of jaya batur'i spirits to prove that the candidate really has this manifestation he must several times jump into a heap of burning charcoal there were cases, the Manchus assert, in which candidates were burnt, for they had no spirit, but only pretended having one. This method is now not often used, because, the Manchus say, the shamans have become weak. Here is an interesting instance of what may happen with a candidate who is not desirable to his clan, and at the same time the same instance can be used as an example of the method of treatment practised by the shamans. Among the Manchus of the Aigun district a man pretended having a spirit (vochko). The clansmen opposed his desire to become a shaman, but he continued to insist. Then an old experienced shaman decided to try the candidate. He ordered a heap of wood (about two tons !), to be set on fire, and when the wood was reduced to burning charcoal, he lifted up his trousers and went (so the record says, but I think it would be better to say «moved towards») into the fire, pulling with him the candidate. It was done on the supposition that if there is real vochko, the candidate would go without fear of being burnt. The candidate refused to follow the shaman and declared that he had no vochko. He gave up his idea of becoming a shaman and at the same time was cured of the idea of possessing a spirit, if that had been his idea.

Another method of trial is that of one of the batur'i manifestations, which can dive. If the trial is carried out in winter, when the river is covered with ice, they make several holes at a certain distance from one another and the candidate is required to dive through one hole, pass under the ice and come up at the next hole, come out, dive again and come out through the third hole; and so on, altogether nine times. The same is done, if it is a mujuyu n'imaya vochko.

These two instances show to which degree the imagination may go in inventing methods for verifying the candidate's nine times, ability and the genuine character of his spirits.

If the candidate survives (there were cases in the past when candidates did not survive) and the trial is considered satisfactory, the candidate is recognized by the jury and thus by the whole clan, as being a shaman. The trial, as stated, may last several days, so the candidate usually becomes exhausted before the expiration of nine days. Therefore the jury may shorten the trial. A good deal of the success depends on the character of the spirits. In some clans some spirits are very slow to come, so the calling of the spirits may sometimes take several hours. Naturally it cannot be changed by the candidate who by the change would show his lack of knowledge of the ritual (kooli). Still greater is the importance of the assistance of the old shaman who may do his world in different ways — shorter or longer.

The last day is spent on a sacrifice to the spirits of the new (id) shaman

I was told by the Manchus that the complexity of the trial, as shown above, and its «atrocity» has been introduced chiefly under the Chinese influence. The knowledge of cholo (list of spirits) and kooli (rituals) is also an innovation, which could not appear prior to the introduction of written records. If we exclude the above indicated innovations, and omit some details implied by the complications of the milieu and the peculiarities of the Northern Tungus complex, the Manchu performance of recognition and trial is near to that of the Tungus of Manchuria the latter seem to have borrowed their complex from the Dahurs, who had it perhaps in forms similar to the Manchu complex. However, it should be noted that, although the ritualism was the same, the spirits may have been different, and even, in olden days, there might have been some special elements in the ritualism.

646. In common language it is called sanyur or sangnan. In shamanistic texts there is the following expression of the spirit: kirchi jang'edu komnajak'iw, — «on the tally I was wriggling».

647. At one of the performances, among the Manchus, eleven pigs were slaughtered which had been bought. Together with drinks the performance cost over five hundred dollars.

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