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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Dances of Manchu Shamans

Many of the dances Manchu shamans perform are offerings to animal deities. The shaman first performs an invocation dance, sometimes carrying two drums (the so-called "grabbing" and "carrying" drums), and then the shaman enters a trance state, alternatively referred to as the act of "contacting the deity".  The shaman embodies the deity, behaving in a manner characteristic of the animal summoned, often emitting calls. For example, "when the ‘Spotted Leopard Fire God’ enters the shaman’s body, the shaman immediately drops to the ground and begins to walk on all fours. Sometimes he puts his hands in his lap in order to look around, and may roar loudly. The shaman’s helpers then hold up some burning coals which the shaman puts in his mouth. At this moment all the lights go off. The shaman’s cheeks are burning red and he spits sparks, some of which are over a meter long. Puffing and blowing sounds are heard emanating from the shaman." Read More

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