Not Quite Shamans, 3



Layered Lands, Layered Minds


pp. 116-7 the 2 sides to each person

p. 116

"many aspects of Shishged social life revolve around ... an existential contrast between ... the two basic components of Darhad persons -- the "yellow side" (shar tal) and the "black side" (har tal). The black side comprises everything that is ... shamanic. The yellow side, conversely, contains all that is ... Buddhist. Thus people often refer to shamanism as the "black religion" (haryn shashin) and to ([d]Gelug[s-]pa) Buddhism as as the "yellow religion" (shayn shashin). ...

p. 117

Thus every Darhad person is simultaneously black and yellow inside, but not on the outside, where certain persons ... stand out from others by being particularly black, while other persons ... are prominent in a yellow way."

{Could this color-pair be related to the black-and-yellow god Tezcatli-poca?}

p. 118 notoriety, throughout Mongolia, of Darhad shamanry

"a steady flow of films, TV shows, newspaper articles, and cultural performances highlight ... aspects of Darhad life, notably its shamanic faith (see also Lacaze 2000, 24-25 ...). ... . ... Darhads are often presented as being the shamanic yastan [p. 116 supra : "a "people" (yastan)"] in Mongolia,

despite the fact that the revival of shamanism seems to have been {and to be} more prominent among Mongolia's Buryat minority (... Swancutt 2006, 2007)."

{In Mongolia, although the Darhad are publicized, the Buryat are ignored : simply because the Buryat are mostly located outside of Mongolia Propre, in Siberia to its north; whereas all the Darhad reside within Mongolia Propre itself.}

Lacaze 2000 = Gae:lle Lacaze : Repre'sentations et techniques du corps chez les peuples mongols. PhD diss, Univ of Paris--X.

Swancutt 2006 = Katherine Swancutt : "Representational vs. Conjectural Divination ... in Mongolia". J OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE 12.2:331-54.

Swancutt 2007 = Katherine Swancutt : "Virtuosity and Transparency in Mongolian Games". INNER ASIA 9.2:237-60.

{For the nation-state of Mongolia to confess to the praesence within it of a sizable minority of Buryats, would be tantamount to admitting to the validity of Buryatia's claim to suzerainty of their lands now within the borders of Mongolia.}

pp. 118-20 popular compraehension, throughout Mongolia, of Darhad personality

p. 118

"Indeed for many non-Darhads, to visit the Shishged is to be propelled into a ... land ... which ... exudes a strangely compelling attraction ... . ... Revealing anything about yourself {by a non-Darhad visiting the S^is^ged} ..., ... such information may be used {by Darhads} to feed the jokes (hoshin shog) ... to which Darhads are supposedly prone {habituated}. ...

Similarly any suspicious-looking spot in the landscape ... . ... Perhaps that pool is home to demons (cho:tgo:rtei gazar); perhaps the tree is a shamanic cult site (bo:o: mod); and perhaps the ovoo harbors a land spirit (lus savdag)."

"When asked to characterize Darhads, non-Darhads

p. 119

tend to single out ... : (1) all Darhads ... are ... poor; (2) all Darhads are inherently shamanic ...; and (3) all Darhads are inveterate jokers ... .

This joking ability ... is imbued with a unique {shamanic} efficacy."

{similarly as with satires by Druids or by Cymry bards}

p. 120

"the Darhads were ... secretly admired -- by Halh traders in Mo:ro:n of having "layered minds" (davhar uhaan). Interestingly, the term davhar, in addition to meaning ... "layered," or "stratified," also denotes processes of ... hollowing-out".

{Such admirers must be inhabitants of "the land of Moron" (Ether 7:5); whereas "the land of Nehor" (Ether 7:4) could be the the NEn river-valley's city HaRbin. Of "the land of Moron", CORianTUMr (Ether 14:6) may be KORea's river TUMen.}

pp. 120-1 Darhad understanding of their own distinctive personality

p. 120

"Even in the eyes of many people in Ulaan-Uul themselves, they are ... funnier, and (above all) more shamanic than

p. 121

the people living farther south. ... Above all, I was constantly reminded jokingly ... about the special relationship between Darhad tradition (Darhad yos) and the shamanic religion (bo:o:giin shashin)."

p. 122 a woman who was transformed into a rainbow

"In a famous narrative, as female shaman is transformed into a rainbow that hovers over a valley where a caravan of [b]lama[-]s ... is passing through. The [b]lama[-]s are terrified : the rainbow-shaman[ess] is defiling them, for what they see is the gigantic underside of a menstruating woman." (... Humphrey 1996, 131-32)"}

{In Murnin (northeast Arnhem Land) myth, "the Rainbow Snake ... brought on the second sister's menstrual flow ... and swallows them alive. ... . ... southern Venezuela, the Rainbow Serpent ... is driven "crazy with desire" by the smell of menstrual blood. The anaconda ... capture the women" (BR, p. 108).}

Humphrey 1996 = Caroline Humphrey : Shamans and Elders ... among the Daur Mongols. Oxford : Clarendon Pr.

BR = Barbara Ehrenreich : Blood Rites. Henry Holt & Co, NY, 1997.

{In a Murnin variant of this myth, the sistren are collectively named /WAWiLak/, similar to the name of the Polish royal castle /WAWeL/. "Wawel’s traditions go back to ... the XIX century ... confectionary workshop in Kraków." ("WB") With this confectionery, cf. the snake-swallowed Wawilak-sistren's cat's-cradle string-figures repraesenting, successively, 3 sweet substances : their honey, their yams, and their menstrual blood (McCarthy 1960, p. 426 -- cited in "MS&AARS"). The middle one of their sweets, the yams, is the Australian aboriginal aequivalent to the Maori kumara ('sweet potato') : "loaded with kumara, ... RONGO ... crossed to Ao-tea-roa on a curving rainbow." (MLA, p. 14) This kumara, brought in the canoe Manuka (name of a variety of honey), Rongo had grown with assistance from (MLA, p. 13) god Maui-i-Rangi ('Witchcraft in Sky') [the feats of Maui being often repraesented by ("WhOCC") string-figures of whai ('cat's-cradle')]. Rongo is patron-deity of peace : cf. the modern emblem of pacifism, a bird's foot in a circle : 'hen's foot' (Kurza Stopka) being the name of a tower in Wawel castle ("WCHCW".}

"WB" = "Wawel Brand".

McCarthy 1960 = F. D. McCarthy : "The string figures of Yirrkalla". In :- RECORDS OF THE AMERICAN-AUSTRALIAN SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION TO ARNHEM LAND, vol. 2 : Anthropology and Nutrition, ed. by C. P. Mountford. Melbourne Univ Pr.

"MS&AARS" = Chris Knight : "Menstrual Synchrony and the Australian Aboriginal Rainbow Snake". In :- Thomas C. T. Buckley & Alma Gottlieb (edd.) : Blood Magic : the Anthropology of Menstruation. Berkeley & Los Angeles : Univ of CA Pr. pp. 232-55.

MLA = Johannes Carl Andersen : Maori Life in Ao-tea. Whitcombe & Tombs, Christchurch.

"WhOCC" = Elsdon Best : "Whai or Cat's Cradle". In his Games and Pastimes of the Maori. A. R. Shearer, Wellington.

"WCHCW" = "Wawel Castle … The „Hen’s Claw” Wing".

pp. 123-4 geographic names in Mongol myths

p. 123

"It is written in the Secret History that ... forefathers crossed the river Tengis and also ... traveled around a river called Irmegen Gu:n."

p. 124, fn. 4

"the name Tengis figures in the opening paragraphs of the Secret History of the Mongols : "There was a bluish wolf ... having his destiny from Heaven above. His spouse was a fallow doe. They came, passing over the Tenggis" (Cleaves 1982, 1). The established scholarly convention, however, is that

Tengis here refers to a "sea" or "lake," and

{the Behring Strait?}

not to the river Tengis, which flows across the northern portion of the Shishged."

Cleaves 1982 = Francis W. Cleaves (transl.) : The Secret History of the Mongols. Cambridge (MA) : Harvard Univ Pr.

p. 125 the 3 White Animals

"White merit ["tsagaan buyan"] emanates from the three White Animals : the Darhad White Sheep, the Darhad White Fish, and the Darhad White Horse.

The merit of the White Sheep stems from its tail ... .

The White Fish has healing powers

{The "white fish" ("HN!") is eaten in celebration of Nouruz (Zaratustrian New Year).}

from the Shishged River : when it is pulled out of the water, it shines ... . ...

The Bogd... said : "... Your friend should drink the mare's milk (airag) three times a day and

eat the mutton the Darhad White Sheep. Then he shall be cured.""

{evidently "a snow ram", described ("FPE&Ch", p. 55) as ritually slain in order to be eaten}

"HN!" = "Happy Nowruz!"

"FPE&Ch" = Rane Willerslev & Olga Ulturgasheva : "Fabricating Persons among the Eveny and Chukchi". In :- Marc Brightman et al. (edd.) : Animism in Rainforest and Tundra. Berghahn Bks, Oxford, 2012. pp. 48-68.

p. 128 valuation-unit for counting of livestock

"livestock (mal) can be ... counted ... and priced according to the so-called livestock unit or bod. (One bod equals

one horse, cow, yak, or hainag,a yak-cow hybrid;

two-thirds of a camel;

seven sheep; or

ten goats.)"

p. 130 Mongol geographical administrative "banners"

"From the mid-seventeenth until the early twentieth century, most of Outer Mongolia was divided into numerous "banners" (hoshuu {any relation to the name of /Hon-s^u/ isle?}) ..., ... home to ... Buddhist monasteries (hiid) headed by senior Mongolian [b]lama[-]s, some of whom bore the title indicating holy reincarnation (hutagt)."

{There are, similarly (and more renownedly), Manc^u "banners" and "bannermen".}

p. 133 former sites of the prime monastery of the Darhad

"the first monastery ... Zo:o:lo:ngiin Hu:ree (also known as the Darhadyn ...) ... was ... the religious, administrative, and commercial center of the Darhad Ih Shav' for ... 175 years or so. ... Initially it was built at the river mouth called Ivdiin Am, which is located in the present-day Soyot subdistrict of the Ulaan-Uul district in the area known as Behiin Suur'. But ... it was later relocated in two stages to Tovogiin and Tasarhian Khash, respectively, finally finding its base ... near the present-day Renchinlhu:mbe district center , Zo:o:lo:n."

p. 135 ovoo in general

"sacred stone cairns (ovoos) ... have ... been constructed at places believed to be the abode of "land masters" (gazryn ezed), spiritual entities that are considered responsible for the natural conditions ... on which human and animal life are dependent. ... Ovoos traditionally were associated with the reproduction of different kinship groupings (clans) ..., whose male members performed annual sacrificial rites at ovoo sites. When people travel, they should ideally stop at any major ovoo encountered on the way. The traveler must then pick up three stones and circumabulate the ovoo three times ..., each time throwing a rock at the ovoo".

p. 136 the 2 categories of ovoo

"in 1855 the Ih Shav' contained twenty-six zu:u:nii ovoo and twenty-four hiliin ovoo, ... the latter "demarcating the border" to different political entities neighboring this ecclesiastical estate".

pp. 137, 142 caerimony involving particular ovoo-s

p. 137

"the ovoo called Jargalant, which is also known as Zo:o:lo:n Ovoo, ... was -- and still is -- located on a hilltop close to the geographic center of the Shishget. At this site ..., seven [b]lama[-]s from the Zo:o:lo:n monastery ... perform an important annual ceremony.

First, the [b]lama[-]s ... visit a small island in the middle of a holy lake (... Deed Tsagaan Nuur). Here they ... make offerings and read prayers to seven larch trees

named for the stars in the Great Bear constellation.

{These 7 names are provided in Heissig 1980, pp. 83-4 : they are mostly names of species of domesticated mammals.}

They ... then climb a nearby hill, on whose peak towered the Jargalant Ovoo. ... The seven [b]lama[-]s then performed an ovoo sacrificial rite (ovoony tahilga), in which ... beckonings were made for the local land master {sa-bdag}."

p. 142

"In one recent Mongolian film I saw an udgan ['shamaness'] participating in ovoo worship, wearing shamanic clothes. ...

{This was the original and authentic mode of performing the caerimony, standard in Mongolia until invaded by the Sa-skya, and afterward by the dGe-lugs, intrusions.}

Near the source of the Harmyn River there is an ovoo called Zu:rhnii Ovoo, where the [b]lama[-]s ... make sacrifices."

Heissig 1980 = The Religions of Mongolia.

{Of course, the "ovoony tahilga" was originally a caerimony of the local shamanic religion,

until rudely and illegitimately appropriated by intrusive Bauddha missionaries.} {p. 142, fn. 22 : Locals "could hardly know" (i.e., could not know, though falsely thus informed by the intruders) "that the Jargalant Ovoo did not exist before" the intrusions.}

p. 143 bibliography of description of the ovoony tahilga

"the Mongolian ovoo rite is meant to summon (dallaga) good fortune (hishig) from the spirit masters of the land ... .

... the ritual and the complex mediations between human and nonhuman "owners" ... have already been described in detail by others (Bawden 1958; Heissig 1980; Sneath 2000)".

Bawden 1958 = Charles R. Bawden : "Two Mongolian Texts Concerning Obo Worship". ORIENS EXTREMUS 1:23-41.

Heissig 1980 = Walter Heissig : The Religions of Mongolia. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Sneath 2000 = David Sneath : Changing Inner Mongolia. Oxford Univ Pr.


Morten Axel Pedersen : Not Quite Shamans : Spirit Worlds ... in Northern Mongolia. Cornell Univ Pr, Ithaca (NY), 2011.