Online Encyclopedia

SHAMANISM

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 798 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SHAMANISM, the name commonly given to the religion of the Ural-Altaic peoples. Properly speaking, however, there is nothing to distinguish Shamanism from the religions of other peoples in a similar stage of culture. On the other hand, the shaman or priest (Tungus saman, Altain Turk kama, cf. Russian kamlanie) performs duties which differ in some respects from those of the ordinary magician; one of his main functions is to protect individuals from hostile supernatural influence. He deals both with good and bad spirits; he also performs sacrifices and procures oracles. The drum (tungur) is an important instrument in his ceremonies; it may be assumed that in many cases the effect of the preliminary performances is to induce autohypnotic phenomena. The shaman's office is held to be hereditary and his chief assistants are ancestral spirits. See Radloff, Aus Sibirien, ii. ; C. de Harlez, Religion nationale des Tatares orientaux; Hiekisch, " Die Tungusen," Mitt. der anthropologischen Gesellschaft, Wien, xviii. 165-182; Revue de l'histoire des religions, xl. 321, idyl 51.
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