Shaman's costume

19th century


Hamburg, Germany

Shamanism exists in many parts of the world and encompasses a great variety of religious and ritual practices. Shamans are seen as intermediaries between the various cosmic levels. The notion of a world of spirits beyond the human world is especially pronounced in Siberian shamanism. This robe for a male shaman comes from the Tuva region of southern Siberia and was acquired by the museum in 1910. The swallow-tail-shaped cloak of reindeer skin is covered with coloured strips of cloth. They represent the auxiliary spirits of the shaman, which are believed to be attracted by the sound of the iron bells fastened to the garment’s back. The iron plates in the shoulder area protect the wearer from adverse, malevolent powers. The headdress adorned with owl feathers symbolises the transformational abilities of the shaman in his travels between the worlds. A drum – the shaman’s most important instrument – completes the costume. This was used by the shaman to put himself in a trance and achieve an enhanced state of consciousness.

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  • Title: Shaman's costume
  • Date Created: 19th century
  • Type: Clothing
  • Publisher: Museum of Ethnology Hamburg
  • Rights: Museum of Ethnology Hamburg | Photo: Brigitte Saal
  • External Link: Homepage Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg
  • Medium: reindeer skin, fabrics, metal, owl feathers
  • on display: not on display
  • Date of Acquisition: 1910
  • Context of Origin: Tuva, Russian Federation
  • Collection: Coll. Eugen Alexander