Author: Tkacz, Virlana
This rare firsthand account, accompanied by 175 photographs of the setting,sacred tools, and costumes, follows each step of the shanar-a Siberian shamandedication ritual. The Buryats are indigenous people of eastern Siberia, an areawhich gave rise to the languages from which the term "shaman" is derived.Shamanism is dependent upon intimate connections to specific places andcultures, and this account of a ceremony celebrates that relationship, whileusing the ritual as an entry point to explore the living culture of a peopleobscure to most Western readers. This accessible and authentic guide to trueshaman practice reveals the personalities involved and respects the complexitiesof the Buryat community, thereby achieving greater depth than conventionalanthropological studies.
About the Author:
Virlana Tkacz, Sayan Zhambalov, and Wanda Phipps have published theirtranslations of traditional and contemporary Buryat poetry in Agni Review, TerraNova, Two Lines, and Shaman's Drum. They all live in New York City.
From Publishers Weekly:
The Buryat are a people indigenous to eastern Siberia, living mainly in the areanear Lake Baikal called Buryatia. In 2000, a Shaman named Bayir Rinchinovinvited Tkacz, Zhambalov and Phipps, translators of Buryat poetry, to theSiberian town of Ust-Orda to document a Shanar, the dedication ritual for a newshaman. This lucid, day-by-day account of the Shanar begins with the cleansingof the participants and the preparation of ritual objects (such as theinitiate's goatskin drum and headdress) and continues through to the climax ofthe ceremony, a ritual called Bring Up the Dust, in which ancestral spiritsenter the initiate (in this case, a man named Volodya) as he runs around a groveof birches. This particular Shanar turns out to be a difficult one: the spiritsrefuse to enter Volodya. The older shamans officiating the ceremony have to do agreat deal of spiritual detective work to figure out what's gone wrong. Aftersome back and forth with the spirits (their conversations are transcribed), itturns out that Volodya had slighted one of them with his inept performance of anearlier ritual, and appeasements are in order. As she describes these livelyproceedings, Tkacz explains the beliefs of the Buryat and the role of shamans inthe village (Rinchinov does healing, for instance, but only for those who can'tbe helped by Western medicine-he tells a villager with a toothache to "stopwasting his time and go to a dentist"). The authors have also translated theceremony's ritual chants. This glimpse of Buryat culture does not aim to becomprehensive, but it will be fascinating to those interested in Easternreligions and anthropology. Of particular note are the hundreds of full-colorphotographs that grace the handsomely produced volume; there's also a usefulglossary.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.