Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1800 Mongol jaarin
Subjectjaarin shaman
Culture: Mongol
Setting: animist ritual, Mongolia 18th - early 20thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Atwood 2004 p495
"From the 18th century much more information exists on shamanism.  Accounts of Buddhist missionary activity in the 16th and 17th centuries supply little new information about shamanism, save that the title of beki was replaced by that of jaarin and that leading shamans still rode white horses and had some form of organization.  From the 18th century, however, both ethnographic accounts and the use of texts emanating from shamanist circles allow shamanism to be described in more detail.
    "Shaman functions, even among the non-Buddhist peoples, are much more limited than during empire times.  Astrology is no longer a shamanistic practice, and shamans play no role in casting horoscopes for babies, or arranging marriages and funerals.  Calendrical ceremonies, such as the first fruits of mares' milk and the oboo ceremony in high summer, are also off limits to shamans.  Instead, shamans now specialize in healing and have a very ambivalent relation to the larger clan structure."

* Bonnefoy/Doniger 1993 p330 (Jean-Paul Roux, "Turkish and Mongolian shamanism" p329-330)
"Accounts of shamanic sessions become more numerous and detailed from the seventeenth century onward. They show, as would later ethnographers, that these sessions constitute a real journey which the shaman recounts step by step as he is undertaking it.  He goes to search for the soul that has fled or been stolen by evil spirits, or else he drives out the spirits which have entered the body of the patient; he conducts the soul of the dead to heaven; he interrogates the Sky or the gods in order to know the future.  On his path, he encounters noxious powers in the form of animals who attempt to hinder his passage, but he is helped by benevolent powers, also in the forms of animals.  He is himself, with his stag or bird costume, a veritable animal.  He is integrated into the world of animals and has become one of them, often by virtue of a preliminary initiation that sometimes involves ritual nudity."

* Schmid/Trupp 2004 p244
"The Tsaatan are served by shamans, who mediate between the here-and-now and the other world, between the forces of nature and the gods.  The shamans play many roles in society: they are healers, controllers of the weather, fortune-tellers, astrologers, miracle-workers for the hunt and masters of ceremonies.  Every shaman -- man or woman -- is assisted by personal guardian spirits from the other reality.  When one of the members of a family group dies, the shaman accompanies the spirit of the dead person on its way into the next world.  Eagles are thought of by the Tsaantan as the embodiment of deceased shamans.  Spirits love what is beautiful and so shamans try to call up the spirits and make contact with them by means of song and by dressing in fine garments.  In a state of trance, the shaman contacts his guardian spirits and the demons who cause illness; he finally captures them both in his drum, to appeal to the former for protection and help, and to render the latter harmless.  He also requests help and protection on behalf of his fellow men, so that they may survive the winter unharmed and carry on their traditions, and also on behalf of the reindeer, that they may escape unharmed from the snow leopards and wolves.  As Western medicine is still unknown in this remote area, the shaman also functions as a healer.  If the Tsaatan show symptoms of any illness, the shaman tries to chase these out of the body of the sick person by means of songs and magic spells.
    "Both man and women may be called to be shamans and to pass on the vocation in their turn.  The signs that they have a vocation consist in extraordinary physical markings and in modes of behaviour that mark them out as different.  The Tsaatan even speak about a particular illness that shamans typically suffer from; it is often compared with epilepsy when spoken of by Western medical experts.  The principal function of the shaman is to bring about harmony and balance between the physical soul and the spirit soul of the sick person.  healing first takes place on a spiritual level, and only after this has happened are therapeutic measures carried out on the patient.  A patient's session with the shaman ends when diagnosis is provided and a programme for healing given.  Healing ceremonies can last hours or even days.  The shaman does not stop until there has been some success.  His tasks also include ensuring successful hunting and guaranteeing the welfare of the herd."

* Irving Arts Center > Genghis Khan: The Exhibit
"Tuvan Shamanism  In Tuvan myths, native wildlife and the landscape are characters and settings in epic stories that describe and explain the world.  There are dragons in the sky, sirens inhabit the steppe, and a sacred flower has the power to hold strangers together in marriage.
    "Each place in nature has its special spiritual inhabitants.  This spiritual aspect is as important to Tuvans as nature's physical attributes.  Ritual specialists, known as shamans, are trained to relate to and interact with nature's spiritual side."


* Lessem p14
"Shamanism is still practiced in Mongolia, particularly by the reindeer-herders of northern Mongolia. Shamans dress in elaborate robes, wave musical instruments and enter into trances that, in the past, lasted for days."

* Bonnefoy/Doniger 1993 p330 (Jean-Paul Roux, "Turkish and Mongolian shamanism" p329-330)
"The dress and instruments of shamans are known to us through precise descriptions and from fragments conserved in museums.  The most rudimentary of these have at least deer antlers, feathers, and wings; sometimes they have organs from other animals, such as bones, bear paws, and furs.  Their essential utensils are horse-headed canes, mirrors, and especially drums decorated with designs representing the cosmos, with the two zones of the universe, the axis which joins them, and the different beings that inhabit them."

* Atwood 2004 p496
"The shaman costume and equipment are a crucial part of his or her work.  Generally based in the past on a leather caftan, the shaman's cloak is a melange of extraordinarily complex elements intended both for symbolic purposes and to create an impressive magical effect.  All costumes contain a mirror to reflect any evil and to allow the shaman to view the unseen.  Many have snake figures hanging from the armpits or back.  The hat is usually crowned by antlers tied with khadags, or ceremonial scarves.  Among the Buriats the face is covered by a fringe, and a skull cap is decorated with eyes.  The shaman's large handheld drum is made of goatskin."

* Golden deer of Eurasia 2002 p48 caption
"Modern Siberian and Mongolian shamans wearing deer antlers for magical protection act as intermediaries between the human and spirit worlds."