Volume 3 Number 1 (Spring 1995)


V .N. BASILOV (Moscow): "Shamanic Disease" in Uzbek Folk Beliefs

The Uzbeks believed that the shaman’s career began with a special disease caused by the spirits. The case study of an Uzbek woman, Achil, reveals that she was haunted by spirits, went mad and, finally, on the advice of a Muslim holy person (ishan), became a shamaness (qushnach). Later she was visited several times and instructed in divination and healing by a helping spirit that appeared in the form of an old man. In Central Asia the "shamanic disease" sometimes manifested not as mental but as physical illness. Such ailments might strike not only the shaman but also members of his or her family. The nature of the "shamanic disease" is determined by the traditions of the given society and its culture.

Daniel A. Kister (Seoul): Dramatic Characteristic of Korean Shaman Ritual

In Korean shaman rituals, worship and lively theater become one to form a rich, sometimes sophisticated body of drama. Rites dramatize a Spirit’s presence and power by means of costumes, role-playing, and feats of wonder that strengthen believers’ faith in a Spirit’s words as proclaimed by the shaman. Many rites use role-playing and humor that, with the believed aid of deceased ancestors, provide family healing. Dramatically the richest rites present theatrical symbols and comic scenes of daily life in a way that draws believers and non-believers alike into a typically Korean sense of the mystery, complexity, and humor of human life.

TAKEFUSA SASAMORI (Hirosaki): The Use of Music in the Ritual Practice of the Itako, a Japanese Shaman

Itako are able to go into a trance without taking narcotic drugs or engaging in some strenuous physical exercise. They do so simply through chanting sutras. Before going on to describe the musical structure—the tonal system and rhythm—of these sutras, the author clarifies the notion of a trance, and what it would look like in practice. This is to preclude unproductive arguments about whether an itako is a shaman or not. The historical background of the itako’s practices will also be described in brief, as will the qualifications required for someone to become an itako. The procedures and ascetic rites engaged in, and the kinds of sutras and sacred ballads sung will also be described. Then, taking a typical sutra, kuchi yose (spirit talk), the text of the chants will be examined. So will the manner of its performance, its function for the itako, as well as its psychological effect on the audience. Finally, the significance of the itako for Japanese society will be addressed.

ZHONG JINWEN (Beijing): Shamanism in Yughur Folk Tales

Shamanism, an archaic religion, represents a traditional way of thinking that pervades Yughur (Yellow Uyghur) folklore. It has also deeply influenced the history of Yughur culture. Based partly on Yughur folk tales published in Chinese translation and partly on his own fieldwork, the author discusses shamanic elements that occur in Yughur folk beliefs.

Field Reports

T. D. BULGAKOVA (St. Petersburg): An Archaic Rite in Nanai Shaman Ceremonies

Book Reviews

KURT DERUNGS. Struktur des Zaubermärchens I. Methologie und Analyse. (by Sabine Wienker-Piepho)
MIHÁLY HOPPÁL. Sámánok: Lelkek és jelképek (Shamans: Souls and Symbols) (by Felicitas D. Goodman)

News and Notes

LAUREL KENDALL (New York) and NANCY LUTKEHAUS (Los Angeles): Shamans and Cameras: A Review of the Symposium and Screenings held at the Margaret Mead Film an Video Festival. American Museum of Natural History, October 12-18, 1994.

Volume 3 Number 2 (Autumn 1995)


ÁGNES BIRTALAN (Budapest): Some Animal Representations in Mongolian Shaman Invocations and Folklore

Wolf, dog, crow, snake, deer, owl, swan, eagle and raven are some of the most important animals to feature as totemic ancestors in Turkic, Mongolian and Manchu-Tunguz oral tradition and written sources. The study, based in part on shamanic invocations and shamanic folklore collected by the author in Western and Northern Mongolia recently, discusses the animal references characteristically found in Inner Asian mythology. Totem animals such as wolves and deer, we learn, function as mounts for the shaman, while dogs and ravens are the shaman’s helping spirits. Possible connections between among the different functions of the animals are also discussed.

GREGORY G. MASKARINEC (Honolulu): The Origins of Order. A Set of Nepalese Shaman Recitals

Continuing a series of Nepalese shaman oral texts and translations, this article presents a set of three short texts recited in public over critically ill patients. The first is used to treat adult males, detailing the creation of the first human being and narrating both the origins of the planets and of healing rituals. The text used to treat women introduces their (separate) origin and outlines their proper behavior, while the recital over seriously ill children introduces the eldest ritual specialists. Together the three texts constitute a concise introduction to the most important features of the world of Nepalese shamans.

MICHAEL PERRIN (Paris): Intellectual Coherence and Constraining Fuction of Shamanism

The author engages in a "systematic" approach to shamanism, which is a set of ideas justifying a set of acts. It entails a specific representation of the person and the world and requires a particular type of alliance between men and "gods". Lastly, it is constrained by a function, which is to prevent imbalance and to avert or remedy misfortune. This brief "description" implies several logical consequences, which give rise to as many ethnographical issues. It can also help to make a distinction between shamanism and the other great magico-religious systems (possession, mediumism, sorcery, etc.), and to resolve the problem of the limits of and the relationships between these systems in time and space.

Field Reports

ROMANO MASTROMATTEI (Rome): A Shamanic Séance Conducted by a Woman in Nepal


ROY ANDREW MILLER (Sulzburg) and NELLY NAUMANN (Baden): Reviewing a Review

Book Reviews

N. A. ALEKSEEV. Schamanismus der Türken Sibiriens (by Catherine Uray-Köhalmi)
TAE-GON KIM and MIHÁLY HOPPÁL (eds.) Shamanism in Performing Arts. MIHÁLY HOPPÁL and KEITH D. HOWARD (eds.) Shamans and Cultures (by László Kürti)
E. S. NOVIK. Ritual und Folklore im sibirischen Schamanismus. (by Catherine Uray-Köhalmi)
A. V. SMOLYAK. Shaman: lichnost', funktsii, mirovozzreniye (narodi nizhnego Amura). (by Catherine Uray-Köhalmi)