NAs 01487

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us

Figure of a spirit

Asia, Russia, Ussuri river, Nanaier

End of 19th century

Wood, carved

J. F. G. Umlauff (ethnographic dealership)

Purchased by the museum from Umlauff in 1904

NAs 01487

According to many members of the Nanai people, the world is permeated with spirit beings that influence people's lives to a greater or lesser extent. Shamans have an essential function in communicating with these spirit beings. They are the only ones able to traverse between the worlds of humans and those of the spirits. They are accompanied by their protective and guardian spirits. These take the form of animals or humans, depending on their function, and sometimes they are amorphous.

Shamanism research has evolved considerably in the last decades. Until the 1980s, it was assumed that shamanism was a worldwide and, in certain respects, comparable cultural phenomenon. Nowadays, scholars are convinced that all the theories developed were based on a purely European point of view and completely disregarded ways of thinking of non-Western cultures. For Siberia and Central Asia, the term 'classical shamanism' is tolerated, even if one should instead speak of shamanism.

Marita Andó