Shamans and Elders: Experience, Knowledge and Power among the Daur Mongols


Shamans and Elders is a major study of Mongolian shamanism and society, past and present. It presents a wealth of new information, and offers a fresh understanding of the widespread phenomenon of shamanism. This unique and detailed analysis of a fascinating subject combines a discussion of Urgunge Onon's memories of shamanism with Caroline Humphrey's text- and field-based analytical knowledge of Central and North Asian shamanism. It covers among other things: notions of gender in Mongolian society, including male and female traditions in ritual, female shamans, and goddess worship; attitudes to death, and funeral rituals; the importance of old men and of ancestors; and Daur notions of landscape within their direct experience (the importance of the sky, of the mountains, of the forest, rivers, etc.) and beyond. In covering these diverse areas, the authors depart from the general cultural models usually offered in discussions of shamanism, providing a new vision of 'shamanism' as made up of fragmentary, non-formularized parts. It presents much-needed insight on a little-known world, and points to an original new way of doing anthropology.