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144. Shamanism Among The Dahurs And Chinese Of The Aigun District

As shown before, the Tungus of Manchuria were influenced in their shamanism by the Dahurs. I did not investigate the Dahur shamans, but I have gathered from the Tungus some information and I had an occasion to see a few Dahur shamans. Since the Dahur shamanism is of importance and since the information about it, given by the Tungus, is interesting as reflecting, if not the reality, then the Tungus ideas, I shall now give some recorded details, without pretending to give a genuine picture of Dahur shamanism [687].

The Birarchen assert that among the Dahurs the method of shamanizing, the costume of the shaman, and the spirits are the same as their own [688]. However, the Dahur shamans have some special spirits unknown among these Tungus, but known among the Goldi. The most important spirit among them is a nine-headed spirit (jeyin delchi mangi) of the group malu. The Dahur shamans also operate with buseku seveng), which is carefully avoided by the Tungus (vide supra). The Dahur shamans make wooden figures of the animals (manifestations) which will be assumed by the shaman during the shamanizing. They also like the Fire Spirit, as it is used among the Manchus (manipulations with red-hot iron, burning incense etc.). According to a Birarchen who was familiar with the Goldi shamanism, the Dahur shamans have almost all placings which are used by the Goldi.

When the spirits are left without a master (ejan, Dahur) after the shaman's death, no sacrifice is offered to them. The ritual of election or a new shaman is similar practised by the Birarchen. The Dahurs have no p'oyun saman. Among the Dahurs, a long time ago much earlier than among the Tungus and the Manchus, a strong movement against shamanism began; so very few acting shamans remain there.

Among the Dahurs, the complex of actions, known as nira sard («moon-sun»), for curing and protecting the eyes is very widely practised. We have seen that a confused idea of this complex has penetrated among the Tungus. It seems to be greatly developed among the Mongols and Buriats.

Among the Tungus the Dahur spirits are believed to be very powerful and mischievous. The kind corresponding to xutu of the Manchus is pictured with a long nose and horns (Buddhistic iconography?). This is one of the reasons why the Tungus are afraid of the Dahur shamans. According to the Birarchen, a great number of Dahur shamans are also «bad-hearted» people, and they may harm the Birarchen and their domesticated animals.

In Chelu, during my stay there, an elderly Dahur shaman was living with whom the Tungus did not maintain any relations. He was living by the cultivation of a small piece or his own land. As he was a very skillful shaman, he could have been able to bring diseases upon the people and animals, even without shamanizing, only by means of his thoughts. Having discovered this, the Tungus requested the Chinese authorities to remove the shaman. The authorities categorically refused to do so, on the ground that the Dahur shaman was not shamanizing and therefore should be left alone. However, the Tungus did not share this opinion and they resented the Chinese inactivity.

Such a very negative attitude of the Tungus toward the Dahur shamans began long ago. They relate as follows: A Dahur shaman had a very mischievous spirit (buseku). this spirit used to gnaw the Birarchen spirits. So during this shaman's stay among the Tungus many of them fell badly ill. The illness was not very dangerous, but rather a chronic indisposition. This spirit mingled with the Tungus spirits and harmed the people, until a Tungus shaman discovered the spirit and expelled him.

In order to show how the Tungus behave, I shall now give a record from my diary: «W. brought the news that a Dahur shaman had arrived. He can shamanize, he said, and has with him an assistant, a Dahur, who had visited us before on several occasions. The Birarchen who were present at the moment of this communication began to discuss: who might be the shaman who had arrived? They knew an old shaman who possessed only very mischievous spirits, which were «biting», and therefore they did not want him to shamanize. Should it be another, a young one, he would be good. Then it was decided to send C. -a young man — to find out where the shaman was staying; if he had put up at a Birarchen family's, he might be allowed to shamanize; if he were in the Chinese shopkeeper's house no contact must be maintained with him. C. returned with the result of his investigation: the shaman who had arrived was the one who had not been expected, namely, a workman of M. (Birarchen). He was known before and was considered as a poor shaman — «he has no spirits», he explained. In spite of this, the Birarchen were interested in seeing him acting and decided to get for him a drum and to find a house for a performance. Since the Birarchen refused to let a Dahur shaman shamanize in their house, it was decided to hire for fifty cents a house for one night from the Chinese shopkeeper. «No Birarchen would consent to it, but the Chinese shopkeeper, when he sees cash, will consent to do anything we want» — they said. The shamanizing took place on the next nights. The actual cause of their worry was that this shaman was not powerful enough and perhaps himself did not know how to manage his own spirits, and perhaps could not master them, so that they might spread over the Birarchen.

The Tungus also fight Dahur shamans. For instance, a Tungus was ill in his childhood, and a Dahur shaman helped him. But one day the Tungus, who was now grown up, met the shaman and the horse of the Tungus fell ill. The Tungus inferred that the shaman wanted to do harm to him by bringing a sickness upon his horse, the reason being that this Tungus did not supply the shaman with meat. Then the Tungus decided to make an end with the shaman's spirit. He made a straw placing, put before it some meat, and with tender words called the shaman's spirit in. When the spirit was in, he discharged his rifle (with a blank shot, as usual in similar cases) into the placing. Nevertheless the horse died, but the shaman became sick for some time and exactly at the part of his body which corresponded to the spot of the placing that had been damaged by the shot.

The Birarchen believe that the first shaman was a Dahur [689], and for this reason they even now do not object to learning from Dahur shamans.

It is thus evident that the Tungus consider Dahur shamanism to be powerful and dangerous for themselves, but at the same time worthy of being imitated.

* * *

Shamanism among the Chinese is different. I have already shown, that during my visit to this region there were several Chinese (n'ikan) shamans, some of whom were professionally living on their shamanistic trade. I knew two shamans, whom I saw rather often, but since they were shamanizing in Chinese, I could only partly understand them and recorded no texts. My chief information about them was received from the Manchus.

According to the Manchus, the Chinese generally are not much addicted to shamanism. The «shantungese» (which is equivalent to «Chinese from China proper», jergin) know very little about it, but the local Chinese, formerly incorporated into the military organization, are very familiar with shamanism. The shamans use a red coat, belt and skirt, also a drum and other paraphernalia, as the Manchu shamans do [690].

However, the number of their spirits is, as a rule, much smaller, and the shamans are not connected with the clans, which have no p'oyun saman, but which, once every three years per form their rites in ancestral halls (m'ao) where tablets and lists of dead and living clansmen (japu) are preserved. Outsiders are not allowed to go in.

I have given before (vide supra) a list of five spirits of one of the Chinese shamans; however, Manchu and Tungus spirits may be used as well. The Chinese shamans commonly use fuch'k'i — i.e. Buddha — as one of the shamanistic spirits, while it is not usually so among the Manchus. They meet with a great difficulty, when they have to master Manchu spirits. As they do not know the Manchu language, they cannot read cholo kooli bitxe («books of names and ritual») and have to learn them from the seniors. Usually it is the father shaman who teaches his son who becomes a shaman. I was told that some of these books had been translated into Chinese.

The methods of shamanizing, in main lines, do not differ from those used among the Manchus. However, from my numerous observations of their shamanizing I have found that the Chinese shamans are still more formalistic than the Manchu shamans, the chief reason being probably that they are professionals.

The influence of Chinese shamans on the Manchus and especially on the Tungus is not great. Without denying that in China something formally approaching shamanism, perhaps a form of «mafarism» may exist, I have got the impression that the Chinese in Manchuria had borrowed their shamanism from the Manchus.

* * *

The Goldi shamanism had a great influence on the shamanism of the Birarchen in Manchuria, and the shamanism of the Buriats on that of the Tungus of Transbaikalia, especially on that of the Nomad Tungus. I have already pointed out that some Birarchen shamans were directly influenced by the Goldi [691]. In so far as I know, the shamanism of the Goldi of the Sungari River differs from the shamanism of the Goldi of the Ussuri and the Amur. According to the Birarchen, who are familiar with the Sungari Goldi, this shamanism is very near to that of the Manchus. This is quite natural, for this Goldi group is still considered as one of the Manchu groups — iche manju [692]. However, the complex of placings for the spirits of the Amur Goldi, demonstrated to the Birarchen, reminded them of the placings used by the Dahurs. This too would be only natural, for the Dahurs, in former days, lived near these Goldi and undoubtedly ruled over them. Even now the Amur Goldi have a clan which is called the daxsur clan, which, according to the Tungus and Dahurs of whom I inquired about it, is merely daxur, i.e. Dahur clan. It should be noted that the Birarchen are not hostile to the Goldi shamanism [693].

The influence of the Buriats on the Nomad Tungus is of course, very great. The Nomad Tungus have imitated the cattle breeding complex, the wedding complex, a great number of social institutions, and some of there groups have even appropriated the Buriat language. As soon as the language is appropriated the influence of the psychomental complex becomes overwhelming. It is thus much more convenient to treat it in forms of the Buriat complex. Naturally shamanism, in its earlier Tungus form, could be preserved only in rare cases. The influence of the Buriat shamanism upon that of the Reindeer Tungus of Transbaikalia is also strong, but it is not direct, while the Yakut influence, at least formerly, was direct.

Among the Nomad Tungus, as well as the Reindeer Tungus of Manchuria, I have not recorded any facts pointing to a negative reaction on the Buriat shamanism. However, the Tungus shamans fought with the Yakut shamans, which shows that the reaction might formerly have been quite negative.

The relations between the complexes of shamanism observed among different investigated ethnical groups are represented in the scheme shown below.

687. N. N. Poppe (Dahur) has published, as specimens of the Dahur language, some texts dealing with shamanism. However, I shall not use this material, for it was gathered from a Dahur group (Xailar) only little known to myself. In the Aigun District the shamans are numerous; I have no information how numerous they are among the Dahurs of the Butxa region, but I was told that there were shamans.

688. L. von Schrenck (op. cit. Vol. Ill, p. 128) observed in a Dahur village (Xolmoljin) a common Dahur shaman's costume. According to his description, the head-dress was evidently like that of the Buddhistic priests, an imitation of which I have observed among the Birarchen (vide supra),

while the coat, of red colour, was supplied with a great number of metallic (brass and iron) pieces. Apparently among the Dahurs there was more than one type of shaman's costume.

689. Some Tungus of the same group suppose that the shamanistic practices came from the Goldi, or even from the Manchus. 690. I was told by the Manchus that the shaman of jergin use a kind of special head-dress made of cloth. However, I could gather no details. The Chinese of Mukden, also those of the Shansi province, have also a drum and a short skirt. But they must shamanize secretly.

691. Within the memory of old men now living, the Goldi shamans were met near the present Chelu settlement, namely, about one hundred kilometers down the Amur River.

692. Vide details in my SOM and SONT, also Northern Tungus Migrations.

693. I had a very detailed discussion of the problem of Goldi shamanism with a shaman who for a long time had been connected with the Goldi. She told me that the Sungari Goldi have in the main lines the same complex of spirits as the Manchus, but they have also a special complex seveng headed by a tiger manifestation. In this complex a group of the bear is of the «night road», the group of the leopard (jarga) is one of the «midday road», the complex chani is odin okto, i. e. the «wind road». Such a complex does not exist in the Birarchen system, but its elements are seen in the Amur Goldi system. This shaman has adopted some of the Goldi elements and she used them in her shamanizing.

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