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The shaman's costume
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The costume of the Evenk shaman is always made from buckskin. The costume evokes the elk or the reindeer by both its overall appearance and its details. A similar evocation can be seen in the shamanís physical conduct (he leaps, paws, rests his weight on one foot) as in his vocal productions (he bells, sighs, snortsÖ). This symbolism is fundamental to understanding the symbolic value and the meaning of the shamanís function, for one is obliged to ask: why does the shaman identify during the ritual with a big deer, the game animal par excellence in these regions?
The present costume is made of a thick piece of elk buckskin. It is composed of three pieces: a straight tunic made from a single piece, closed at the nek and chest by strips of leather, a coat front and a collar also made of buckskin. These three pieces are decorated with black canvas ribbons sewn on in appliquÈ with the guard hairs from the neck of a white reindeer as well as with numerous metal pendants, and tassels of cloth or fur. Buckskin boots usually complete the costume. The boots that went with this one were lost during the Second World War. Alternatively, the headdress that goes with this shamanís costume (cap and antler crown) as well as his drum and drumsticks have been conserved.
The costume is kept in a separate sack together with the rest of the shamanís paraphernalia. When the nomads move, the shamanís equipment is transported tied onto the packsaddle of a sacred reindeer. When performing a ritual, the shaman is usually helped into his costume either by his wife or a participant.

Author(s): R. Hamayon
Date created: 2003-06-04 - Date modified: 2004-04-14

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Evenk shaman's costume (front)

Evenk shaman's costume (back)

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