"Siberian Shamanism" (instruments, devices, costumes)

[cited by p. in S^S, and by p. in the summarized Russian texts]

pp. 144-147 S. V. Ivanov : "Siberian Shaman Drums".


"A characteristic feature of Siberian drums was that animal skins covered only one side of these drums."



"The Evenki and Nentsy had so-called moving handles, which were connected to a rim by small thongs, whereas natives of the Alai and Sayan areas firmly attached their handles to frames. Among the moving handles, ... three categories :

(1) the handle in the form of a metal ring in the center of a drum; in this case, the ring is usually connected to the frame with four small ropes or leather thongs; this type of drum was used by the Koryak, the Yukagir, natives of the lower Amur area, extreme Far East and Sakhalin Island, the Evens, ... the Buryat and the Eastern Mongols ...;


(2) the handle is shaped in the middle of a drum as ... cross with small thongs, which are tied to both the edges of this "cross" and to a frame; such drums were used [by] ... the Evenki, the Dolgan, the Entsy, the Nganasan, the Sakha, the Selkup ...;

(3) the handle is represented by sticks, which are tied to a frame by small thongs; ... as in the Khanty, Mansi, and Nentsy drums".


"Drums ... with a firmly fixed handle were ... two variants.

(1) Handles that are ... in the forms of ... a small wooden bar that narrows to the middle .... were used by ... the Khakass, ... the Tubalar, the teleut, the Shor, the Tofalar, and by ... [Eastern] Tuvinians. ...


(2) Handles that are shaped as anthropomorphic images ... which depict one-headed ... masters of drums and ancestors of shamans, were used by the Altaians proper, the Western Tuvinian of the Khemchik River ...

the Chelkan and Kumandin; the latter two groups carved their handles as two-headed images, with one head located in an upper side of the drum and the other in the lower part."



"among the Evenki, names for ... drumsticks originated from a word root gis or gisun, which means "speaking.""

pp. 149-151 E. G. Kagarov : "A Shamanic Ceremony of Passing through a Hole".


"The Tungus in the Olekma area have a "cleansing device"made in the shape of the mouth of a large sea fish. They believe that the person who goes through the fish’s "mouth" usually leaves his or her ailment on its teeth."


"the Tungus view the "walls" of a "path" or "tunnel" as being able to absorb sources of illness such as bad spells or ailments". {Is this likewise the function of the tunnel travelled through during "near-death experiences"?}

"The Yakut (Sakha) ... rite ... includes passing between the legs of a wooden image of the daughter of the hunting spirit. {[Inuit] Sedna & her father ?} .... Inside a yurt in front of a carved image of this spirit, natives set bent poles that form a structure that resembles a tunnel. After a shaman crawls through this tunnel ... ,the shaman again crawls back between the "legs" and "shakes" off the spirit of hunting."

pp. 157-160 I. D. Khlopina : "Mythology and Traditional Religious Beliefs of the Shor People".



"Young shamans without drums ... could perform se’ances using a mitten, a switch of green birch twigs (venik), a cap, or a small bow. The shamans who did not have drums were usually called shabychi.

When Pustag, the major mountain spirit, reported to new shamans that U:lgen "permitted" them to make a drum, Pustag instructed the novices where and when to manufacture a drum. Trees used to amke a frame should grow far from human dwellings and places where stock grazed. Pustag also directed who should cut and bring them to make a rim.

A handle for a drum, which was called mars (tiger), was usually manufactured from birch wood. ... Clan members prepared themselves in advance for the "drum feast," which members of a shaman’s clan treated as their own feast. Any qualified people ... to participate in making the drum ... were to be males, even in cases where the spiritual practitioner was a woman. The person who was responsible for making a drum’s frame usually brought home rose willow wood and ... Then the wooden board was soaked in river water for a few days, after which it was easy to bend. On each side of the board this person made holes using a hot iron rod. Then he bent it in the form of an oval and sewed it with thongs made of horse skin. ...



In the upper and lower part of the handle, ... carved an image of the master of a drum and made drawings using the burned bones of a hazel-hen. ... The a blacksmith hammered a thin iron rod with small curves to serve as a crossbar. The curves helped to keep pendants, which hung on the rod, separate. The rod was called temir (iron) or kyrish (a bow-string). ... The pendants, which hung on the rod, were small cylinders rolled from metal plates. The number of the pendants matched the number of a shaman’s spirit helpers. ... In addition, a blacksmith hammered special pendants called "sabers," which were shaped as small sharpened leaves. The "sabers" were usually attached to the frame of the drum. The Shor believed that all pendants were supervised by the spirit called tengis who lived underground, and who in turn was subjected to the control of Erlik ".



"The Shor usually used the skin of a wild goat to cover a drum’s frame. The Chelkan natives used the skin of a horse or a deer for the same purpose. The skin was soaked in river water, after which the fur was easily separated from the skin. ... Then they stretched this skin over the frame and tightened it with a rope. Then they inserted a small stick in the rope, and ... tightened the rope as much as possible. ... In the evening, a large fire was set up, and a few men took turns smoking the drum over the fire. ...



In the morning, ... men painted on the drum. ... For red paint, the Shor used red stone, for black they used powder, and for white they used chalk ...

In the middle they painted a white rainbow ..., while under the rainbow natives depicted a birch tree. The sky was represented by three suns : two large ones and one small sun. Under the sun near the birch tree, they drew to:s spirits : a falcon sitting on the birch ... There was also a squirrel above the rainbow, and a cat under the rainbow. On one side of the birch tree, there was a frog, while on the other side of the same tree, there was a snake."



"In the morning before the beginning of a shamanic se’ance to introduce the new drum, each man ... brought a ribbon on behalf of an entire family. the ribbons were tightened to the iron rod. Before the first se’ance, some Shor shamans attached only nine ribbons to a drum, which matched the number of spirit masters of the mountains, through which the route to U:lgen goes. Ribbons served as clothing for to:s spirits."

pp. 205-207 Leonid P. Potapov : "Bow and Arrow in Altaian Shamanism".



"the Kumandin Altaians used a bow to shamanize to the spirit protector of hunting (tajgam). ... in the Altai the shamanic se’ances in which bows and arrows were used instead of drums served only the needs of shamans’ relatives". [cf. (p. 209) Kumandin se’ances for relatives]



"The Buryat shamans used bows for soothsaying by placing their ears close to [twanged] drawn bow strings and interpreting the sounds they produced {did use of the bow as a musical instrument praecede use of bow-with-arrow as a hunting-implement?} or by looking at a fire along a bow string."



"on their backs, Altaian shamanic costumes has applique’s of a small bows with arrows. Karagass shamans sewed to the backs of their costumes an applique’ of a small bow with arrows. Inhabitants of the Minusinsk area (the Khakass) drew bows and arrows on their drums. An ancient Altaian goddess called Umai {cf. [Astika] goddess UMA}, the protector [protectrix] of women and infants, always carries a bow and arrows." {cf. also [Hellenic] Artemis & [Kemetian] NTt (Neith)}



"among the Buryat, strong shamans inherited from their ancestors so-called shamanic root (utkha or udkha) that literally means thew arrow. In the same manner, among the Altaians and the Tubalar, strong shamans who inherited their sacred power from ancestors-shamans were called uktu-kam, which means "a shaman who has an arrow.""


"Buryat funeral ceremonies for deceased shamans" :- "When a funeral procession went far enough from a camp, an arrow (utkha) was shot back in the direction of the camp. On the way back, people tried to find this arrow. ... Native believed that once recovered, the arrow would bring shamanic power back to a lineage."

 pp. 208-211 Leonid P. Potapov : "Teleut Shamaness’s Drum".



" a drum’s handle was usually carved in the form of a snow leopard and ... Small round dark hollows carved on the handle depict the spotted skin of the leopard. {cf. grasping of cat by To`rr in U`t-gard}

Comb-shaped edges of the handle have seven cross-holes and symbolize the so-called earthly slot, which shamans go through during their journey to other worlds. During a se’ance, a shaman summons the spirits of the deceased "master tailors," who sew these holes with twenty-seven thick threads to make sure that a shaman does not drop through this "earthly slot."

From inside near the iron rod, the handle has a small carved depression. That is where the a shaman hides the soul (jula) of a patient. During se’ances, shamans usually catch a patient’s soul and hold it their by keeping their fingers on the depression. After this, shamans try to get the soul back into its body through the right ear of the patient". {cf. diks.a by whispering mantra into right ear}



"The drum also has an iron crossbar, which is called kirysh (literally, a bow string) and which has four hanging iron pendants made in the form of tubes (sunkar). {cf. [Skt.] /sukara/ ‘swine’} Above, on the rim of the drum, one can see six small hanging iron plates, three plates on each side. {cf. 6-headed Skanda, god of iron weapons} These plates resembling knife blades symbolize sabers (kylish). It was believed that in case of danger these "sabers" began to ring, warning a shaman about a coming threat." {the Korubantes (earlier /Kurbantes/ – BNW, s.v. "Mysteries" ) "invented the drum" (EGM, p. 148) and are depicted (DG&RA, s.v. "Corybantes") holding swords}

"The drum is covered with covered with the skin of a young colt that fed only on horse milk.

The handle is made from birch wood,

the rim is manufactured from cedar, and

the iron parts are taken from the drum of a shaman ancestor ...

From the outside, on the cover one can see drawings made in red stone paint. Spiritual practitioners ... solicited help from male neighbors who "painted," using their fingers ... who tried to replicate the drawings from the drums ..."



"The rim of a drum was usually made from cedar wood, which was to make a drum sound louder. ...

Before they received their first drums, Kumandin shamans would perform a se’ance only for relatives, using a drumstick {wand} and a square piece of cloth called an alaas {prayercloth}.

A handle of a drum was always carved from a piece of growing birch tree. ...



"Unlike the southern Altaians, the Tubalar, the Chelkan, the Kumandin and the Shor, the Teleut did not practice a ceremony of animation of a drum. ... Yet the Teleut did "animate" a drumstick, which was covered with the skin of a mountain goat. ... For a drumstick, the Teleut used purple willow ... During a se’ance devoted to an animation of a drumstick, a shaman usually imitated the mountain goat whose skin covered the drumstick."



For a dead shaman, "Ribbons from your drumstick are spread over seventeen roads."

BNP = Brill’s New Pauly.

EGM = Timothy Gantz : Early Greek Myth. John Hopkins U Pr, 1993.

DG&RA = A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. 3rd edn., 1901.


pp. 220-223 G. N. Prokof’ev : "The Ceremony of Animation of a Drum among the Ostiak-Samoyed" (Selkup)



"A rim of a drum is usually made from spruce or larch wood.

Drum resonators can be manufactured from seven kinds of trees : alder-tree, bird cherry tree, purple rose willow, larch, pine-tree, birch and fir tree.

A skin used to cover a rim is usually taken from a wild buck deer.

Cedar wood is used to make a drumstick. ... The lower part is usually painted in black, which symbolizes the underworld, while the upper part is colored in red, which symbolizes the upper world. To the interior of a drumstick, natives glue a skin from the forehead of a wild buck deer. ... the Khanty-Nentsy shamans have a special all-black drumstick that is used only when a shaman descends to the underworld. To the interior of such drumstick they glue a piece of fur from the right paw of a bear."



"After a community finishes manufacturing a drum and a drumstick, these items should be animated. .... The ceremony of animation, in which all members of a shaman’s clan participate, is timed to a seasonal migration of birds and usually lasts ten days. {cf. <arabi^ 10-day cycle (3 per month), and [implicit in repeats of names of deities of nights of the month] Hellenic 10-day cycle (also 3 per month) – the 3 sets of 10 each being matched with the Maori sets of 10 (of heavens & of underworlds)}



On the first day, a shaman goes to the woods and finds ... the trees that were used to make a rim for a drum and a drumstick. Guided by helping spirits, and old shaman collects all remaining parts of these trees, including tiny wood chips. {cf. [Maori myth of] wood-chips reconstituted by the Patupaiarehe (fairies) after Rata had chopped down the tree} All collected parts are stored together in a pile at a swamp, where "old sister-in-law," the spirit-protector of all Khanty-Nentsy communities, resides. In their shamanic mythology, the spirit-protector lives at the point where two shamanic rivers flow side by side : "the Eagle River" and "the River of kedrovka bird."



"On the second day, the old shaman locates a place where the deer whose skin was used for making the novice’s drum and drumstick lived. ... Each dropped antler, each bone, and even the waste of people and dogs, which ate the meat of this deer {cf. dung in stables of Augeias}, are collected ... Now the old shaman faces the ... task : to catch the soul of this deer. During this venture, the shaman uses spirit helpers."


"On the third day, the remnants of the deer are "resurrected." ... The shaman makes an image of a deer from ... seven ... ribs. After this, upon the shaman’s request, two spirits, "Father Raven" and "Mother Raven," fly to fetch "water of death" and "water of life." {cf. <arabi^ 2 ravens of the <aKK leading pilgrimage-procession (BI, p. 7) -- <uKKah ‘change in color of female camel after conceiving’ (LA-L 3:199) [to suggest revival of animal by its re-incarnation?]} ... With the "water of death," all pieces of the deer become connected ... "Water of life" makes the deer breathe, and ... to "stand" up ...



Now riding the animated "drum-reindeer," the shaman journeys to the "shaman tree"."


"On the fourth day, from the early morning, the shaman sets out on a spiritual journey. By the evening the spiritual practitioner reaches a bank of the "Eagle River." The river has a bridge that is tested [on 5th day?] by seven mighty warriors (bogatiry). If the bridge is durable enough, the shaman crosses the river [on 6th day?]. The next points of destination of the shaman are



[on 7th day?] a "river with black paint," where black paint is "taken" to color parts of shamanic paraphernalia,



[on 8th day?] a "river with red paint," where red paint is "taken," and


[on 9th day?] a "stone river," where special spirits "collect" for future shamans small pebbles to be inserted inside ... a drum’s resonators." {cf. river Sambat.yon, "which without water rolls sand and stones with such force" according to >eldad ha-Dani^ (SSS)}


"On the tenth day, the shaman "reaches" the place where blacksmiths live, "shaman father-in-law and son-in-law," who provide images of spirits ... used to decorate the manufactured shaman drum and a costume.

Finally, the shaman "comes" to the "the shaman tree," the final point of destination."

BI = Hisham ibn-al-Kalbi : The Book of Idols. Princeton U Pr, 1952.

LA-L = Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Beirut, 1975.

SSS = http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=113&letter=S


pp. 223-226 E. D. Prokof’eva : "Shaman Drums".



"After a frame was bent, its ends were connected with thin threads made of cedar roots or strong fibers of a bird cherry tree."



"When an animal skin was stretched over a frame, the sticks ... served as sound resonators."


"Handles were ... a forked structure ... naturally forked branches of birch trees (northern Khanty) or selected forked antlers of reindeer (the Nentsy)." {the golden-antlered doe at the river Kerunitis being a "reindeer" (LH 3); the "gold" of its antlers being "Amber" (GM 125:2) – as also the "gold like unto clear glass" in the Apokalupsis}

"coastal Chukchi, who were marine hunters, stretched the stomachs of walruses over their drum frames".



"drums with an exterior handle ... are usually small in size, the smallest drums in Siberia. ... Such drums were used by the Chukchi and the Eskimo (Yupik).


Among drums with an internal handle ... (1) Western Siberian drums, which ... had ... seven "bumps" on a frame, a ... forked handle, and drawings depicting circles that symbolized the universe. ... Such drums were used by the Ugr people of the Obsk area, the Nentsy, and some Entsy."


(2) South Siberian drums, which ... were large, with ... elaborate drawings which symbolized the universe. The frame of these drums did not have special resonator holes. ... the South Siberian type has three local versions :

(a) the "Sayan and Yenisei area version," which ... was used by the Ket Selkup, the Eastern Tuvinian, Tofalars, ... the Evenki of the Sym area, and the Khanty of the Vakh area;

(b) the "Shor version," which tended to have an oval form, ... and resonator "bumps" in the upper part of a drum; on both sides there were also pendants ("sabers") hung on the cross-rod. ... and

(c) the "Altaian version," which differed from the Shor version by its handle that had one or two carved human images on both ends.



(3) The drums that belong to the middle Siberian type were of a medium size, ... with resonator "holes" and an iron crosspiece. There drums were made in the form of an oval and usually had no drawings. ... this type can be divided into two versions :

(a) Evenki-Yakut drums that had all of the aforementioned features and were used by the Yakut; Evenki ...; the Dolgan; ... and

(b) Nganasan-Entsy drums that had round form and that were smaller."



"Far Eastern drums ... had an oval form and narrow but thick frame ... without any resonator "holes." The handle was represented by a metal ring that was attached to four belts. In such drums, a skin cover was glued to the frame. Drums of this type were used by the Nanai, Udege, the Ulch, the Nivkh, the Ainu, the Even, the Buryat ... divides Far Eastern drums into two local versions :

(a) the "Amur version" that has all "classical features" and

(b) The drums of the "TransBaikal version," which were used by the TransBaikal and the Okhotsk Evenki ... Transbaikal drums were round ..., and sometimes were decorated with drawings, as among the TransBaikal Evenki".

LH = http://www.greecetravel.com/greekmyths/argos7.htm

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.


pp. 226-230 E. D. Prokof’eva : "Shamanic Costumes of the Siberian Native Peoples".



"the headdress was a mandatory part of the shamanic costume among all Siberian tribes except the Shor and the central Sakha."

"young Selkup shamans received waistbands and headbands but not metal pendants. ... Beginning Kachin (Khakass) shamans had only small blankets."



"During their se’ances, some Siberian shamans attached to their casual wear such ritual marks as ribbons or plaits. Sometimes, male shamans used female clothing or their own casual wear, turned inside out. {turncoat} Other shamans used clothing that looked almost like their casual wear except a color : for ritual purposes, they usually selected clothes of lighter colors."



"The Entsy tribe shamans even depicted marrow on their footwear."



"the Selkup, the Dolgan, and the Sakha designed the whole costume as the bear symbol."



"Altaian and Khkass shamans attached genuine bird wings to the backs or shoulders of their caftans. Frequently they also sewed to the sleeves, at the spots that matched hand joints, iron or copper plates of a square or oblong form. These plates symbolized the joints of bird wings."


pp. 238-242 A. M. Sagalev : "Percussion Instruments in Rituals of Lamaism and Southern Siberian Shamanism".



"Bo:n "conjurers" used the Siberian type drum (buben) with a wide frame and with a short wooden handle."



"Bo:n "magicians" used the "Siberian" drum not only as a percussion instrument, but also as a ritual object in their rite called "soothsaying with the help of the drum. ... The "conjurers" who performed the ceremony drew two circles on their drums, and then divided them into sixteen sections by drawing perpendicular lines. ... In the boxes created by the perpendicular lines, "conjurers" wrote in the names of spirits ... In addition using their fingers, soothsayers applied a drop of milk to each section and then placed a seed in each drop of milk. On the white [right] side of the drum, a few seeds "stood" in a row symbolizing the "guards" of a patient. On the border between the black [left] and right sides, another seed was placed that symbolized the patient. In the course of such se’ances, "conjurers" addressed their appeals to various deities and spirits."



"There are obvious similarities between bo:n drums and southern Siberian drums called tungur (diungur).

Like southern Siberian shamans, bo:n "magicians" used their drums as "flying devices" to travel to the upper world."



"All shaman drums in southern Siberia were covered with a hide on one side [only]. ... according to a Buryat legend, in old times drums were covered from both sides ... after the first shaman, Morgon-Khara, riding his drum, ascended the heaven in search of a lost human soul, powerful deity Esege-malan-tengri became so angry that he reduced the power of shamans by dividing their drums into two halves."


"the name for the Tibetan gong khar nga means a "copper drum." ... in Ataian legends one may find frequent legends to a copper drum (dzes tiungar). In these legends, the mythological owner of such drums is usually an old shamaness."



"the costumes of Vietnamese shamans had pendants that look similar to those that Altaian shamans attached to their own costumes. Moreover, ritual drums used during shamanic se’ances by several tribal groups of southeast Asia resemble Siberian drums."


Andrei A. Znamenski : Shamanism in Siberia : Russian Records of Indigenous Spirituality. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 2003. pp. 131-278 Chapter 2 – "Siberian Shamanism in Soviet Imagination".