THE SACRED BASISES OF KHAKAS ETHNIC CULTURE
03 Qurgen 2003
second half of XX century there are a situation when development of society by
consuming natural component of life s environment leads to real danger of self-destruction.
Within these conditions only the culture (including ethical one) becomes a
factor of the human, society and nature`s self-protection. The non-foreseeable
future of humanity and it`s some nations have forced to apply to an experience
of the past in which it looks for prescriptions of solution to problem.
Furthermore, necessity to find out one`s self in eternity leads to intention to
unite the time (past, present and future) in a whole space. In this context
anthropologists have marked a growing interest to Shamanism dated many thousands
years as the most ancient form of humanity`s adaptation in world.
feature of world`s present-day shamanism contains a lot of moments.
Shamanism has developed as philosophical-religious system (but not exclusively
as cultural-ritual practice) which is a completed transcendental world`s view,
goal and main sense of which are not only to honor and to protect the life but
also to rouse to it.
Shamanism has aspired to find out its own niche, to determine the community with
world`s religious systems by stressing on particular (e.g., Turk-Mongolian,
Siberian Shamanism) and singular (e.g., Khakas, Tuvan, Yakutian, and other) ones.
first what has tied Shamanism to world`s religious systems is common humanity`s
ethical norms. At the same time it`s well-known that some particularities of
ritual practice (incense, sprinkling, movement around, and many others) have
precisely been presented as gifts by Shamanism. The relationship with
Buddhism and Zen-Buddhism is provided by theory of reincarnation and meditation.
According to Shamanism as well to Daoism the essential basis of world [Earth] is
the Law (the way of world, Dao). Confuscianism and Shamanism have similarity in
cults of the Heaven [Sky], ancestors, and strong system of society`s
construction. Together with that the uniqueness of Shamanism is that there is no
other sacred tradition which oriented to the Nature as far as Shamanism.
New forms of Shamanism have appeared. Thus famous researcher of world`s
Shamanism M. Hoppal has distinguished `the urban Shamanism` which accoring to
him has its own specifics in rituals.
present-day environment there is a question regarding authenticity of shamanic
rituals over which should be paid closer attention. Under detailed researching
you may discover that every shamanic act and word bear the strict determined
sense. But at the other hand modern audience who has been snapped away from
traditional world`s view and life style, often don`t understand and percept many
things. For a modern man who has education and training based on European
rasionalism it`s very difficult to percept many things through belief [i.e.,
beyond rationality]. In this context the factor which complicates this process
is fact that each shaman in spite of common basis of world`s view, was and is
having his own individual specifics as a sphere of acting, selection of allies,
power, song, destiny, and so on. At the other side the most important condition
of shaman`s ritual action`s effectiveness is the confidence of audience toward
the shaman`s power. Modern man is radically different from traditional one and
the ability of shaman to convince a patient in his own power is depended to
shaman`s ability to be psychologist when there is necessity to use the
shamanic tradition dated many thousands years there is the idea about `places of
power` which may be unimportant as well as important in the world`s scale. And
the fates of world`s existence are indexed to state of these territories. The
ancient Khakas land is belonged to such sacred regions.
modern-day Khakasia`s territory Shamanism has been appeared in ancient times.
Shamanic (trisylabbic) model of world has in most developed form been presented
even on petroglyths of Okuneff archaeological culture (IIIrd millennium B.C.)
which puts forward a necessity of appearence a special type of humans known as
shamans who are able to travel (in different state of consciousness) to all
three worlds where gosts and ghosts have resided.
complex history of Khakas nation has showed and proved not only the amazed
ability of Shamanism to live and to survive but also its assimilationist effect
over Buddhism, Maniheism and Christianity which have once been tried to spread.
Khakas ethnographer K.M. Patahcakov has presented following figures: in
1924-1925 in 26 aals [villages] of Khakas county there were 71 shamans 54 of
whom were males, 17 were females; 39 shamans had shaman drums and clothes; a
number of genuine shamans who have been descendants of shaman by blood was 15
20 century there has been marked a need of Khakas nation to reconstruct of
sacred (religious) basises of its own ethical culture and:
to reconstruct of a whole world`s view and cultic side of Shamanism, a
traditional religion of the Khakas;
to worship and respect toward ancient sacred places which are more than 300
throughout the present-day Khakas land (according to Khakas scientist and
ethnographer Prof. Dr. Victor Butanaev);
to use Shamanism as a mean to invigorate physical and psychological health of
to assist to young shamans in learning and shamanic acceptance;
to percept Shamanism from position of world`s religious, philosophical and
this goal the Assosiation of Khakas Traditional Religion of Shamanism was been
registered by Justice Ministry of Khakas Republic on July 29, 1994.
research of opinion of the Khakas implemented in 1996 (by the author) was showed
that 26% of interviewed peoples have introduced themselves as Shamanists and
together with that a lion`s proportion of respondents (in some cases up to
70-80%) in their answers to questions regarding world`s view (about the Goodness
[Good] and Badness [Evil], world`s destinies, life and death, sin and punishment,
and so on) may be classified as shamanistic ones.
incorporated analysis of specifics of existence of modern Khakases` shamanic
world`s view give us an opportunity to distinguish three essential tendencies:
the group of shamanists who believe in existence of sacred reality and who
compare and determine their own world`s view and activity with powers of other
worlds; in this group there stratum of traditional Shamanism will dominate in
inevitable form; this would play an positive role in respect to realization by
Khakas ethnos his strategy of
revival, but not of development; and the extremal attitude in this situation
would be orthodox conservatism;
the modernizational tendency which followers believe surely that an object of
shamanic activity is the human consciousness which is the only sacrable reality;
and in this context Shamanism has common points of contact with science and
psycho-therapeutical practice; in en extremal form under such approach Shamanism
would be threaten by possibility to melt among psychology and to lose its world`s
and finally, as the most complicated but at the same time the most productive
tendency we may accept the attempt to combine these above-mentioned two groups
which contains the right to existence of sacred reality, polydimensionality,
comlication of Universe, and life`s forms in it, its reasonal dependence,
synchronizedness of existence [being], reflexible interaction with depths of
human consiousness; such type of view point allows to combine harmonicly
modernity and traditionality, to find out contactness of scienc and religion as
two forms of perception of world and human being.
these searchings which sometimes have reached the level of intensive and tensive
discussions related to world`s view are paricular for the Association of
Traditional Khakas Religion.
we would like to emphasize on the basises of Khakas Shamanism as the world`s
view of communality in which all the most important problems of people have
estimated from positions of interaction between the Nature and the Human.
Philosophical analysis of traditional world`s view of people allows us to
distinguish the following basic ideas which have been the nucleus of ethnical
culture since very ancient times:
World is united and alive and within it all is tied with everything, and all is
The absolute and eternal Life is the highest value, and human in this there is
not a `trembled creature [or animal]`, and human has synchronously appeared with
world and so human has beared individual responsibility for welfare [well being]
of the Universe, Nature, society, tribe, family, own eternal life here, in this
The World is in permanent movement and development, and it has the natural
rhythmics at every moment of its existence (alteration [circulation] of year`s
seasons, states of society as harmony and chaos).
The Universe has been directed by objective, eternal law of justice so a human
can not escape from punishment
caused by non-clearness of thought, feeling, and behaviour no by compensative
sacrifice (furthermore if it is not his own acts) nor in case of indulgence.
The most important values of traditional world`s view of the Khakas are children,
family, society, tribe, ethnos, and motherland.
The traditional world`s view gives the birth to positive perception (because of
life and death are eternal and inevitable stages within the process of
transformation) which in an inescapable form encourages the positive activity
oriented on creativity.
The human of traditional society has an evident integrity (e.g., unity of body,
consciousness, and soul).
Occurences of existencial vacuum in traditional society are unusual and that
state is caused by strong social orderliness together with psycho-therapeutical
activity of shamans.
The people`s pedagogy is a sense constructive or creativable factor and forms
human`s sense of self-sufficiency, individual and ethnical pride.
who knows the philosophical and scientific searchings of XX century may seize
the amazed modernity of these ideas.
traditional world`s picture of Khakas Shamanism is as follow.
Upper World (Khan-Tigir) is a source of all existed things, and a place of the
divine Light, together with that it determines the fates of world and all
indivuals separately. Therefore the Khakas Shamanism has often been called as
Tengrianism. The strongest shamans (who are `accepted` and `approved` and who
have more 9 shamanic drums) have gotten upper to the Heaven [Sky] in order to be
defenders [protectors] of human.
Middle World is belonged to human where human realizes himself feeling happiness
and existence`s satisfaction. The most important sense creativable goal of an
every Khakas was not to violate the completeness and harmony this world, and
individual responsibility for continuation of Life in its all forms. The
Khakases have in evident form possessed the cult of ancestors who represent the
power of tribal protectors and defenders (historical heoes, great shamans). The
ancestors are eternal, strict and judicious. The main condition of life and
power of ancestors is protection and development of ethnos with all of its
attributes (like native land, ethnical culture, particularly language, and
tribal relations as preconditions of integrity of people and its genetic health
and so on).
clearness of thought, sense and act are the
basis of long and welfared life; violation of these requirements (according to
common law of justice) inevitably leads to punishment during of which the most
horrible penalty was punishment in form to absent children [or childlessness],
to put end on tribe`s continuity.
result of careless contacts with powers of the Lower World and due to violation
prohibitions and norms of morality human may be seriously suffered. And in this
situation a defender is shaman who attend to deathly-dangerous struggle for life
and soul of human.
most widespread methods of treatment were consist of programming and self-programming
of patient on a mode of recovery, rhythmo-therapy (by use sounds of shaman`s
drums, other musical instruments, individual songs of shaman, movements of dance
and so on), aroma-therapy (Irben [Thymus Vulgaris], Artysh , and other plants),vegetable
treatment, manual therapy, psycho-correction, hypno-therapy, visualization, placebo-therapy,
alia, in Shamanism as well as in other religious systems there we may
distinguish internal (esoteric) and external (for people) sides. Regarding the
latter there has been told above. What about the former there we may emphasize
the following. During thousands years from teacher to pupil there have been
transferred the philosophical basis and ritual practice of Shamanism. This has
been caused by that the at high extent complicated shamanic reality (due to its
own eternal [endless] polyplannedness [polyorderliness]) has not been suitable
to rational perception and verbal explanation. The knowledge has been hidden
because of shaman`s trips were always dangerous and non-foreseeable; together
with that they have requested strong spiritual power, physical health and moral
analysis of Russia`s and world`s scientific thought and my own researching of
this event [occurrence] within its historical and present-day`s contexts allow
us to do some prognoses related to perspectives of development of Shamanism.
Shamanism attracts evident interest in the world (both traditional and
industrialized) not only by scientists of different specializations
(anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, physicians, physiologists,
psychologs of different schools, linguists, musicologs and others) but also by
wide audiency of public.
global ecological crisis has been tied by some scientists and practicians, inter
alia, to loss of biophylic consciousness of humanity who once dominated in
shamanic world`s perception.
reviving nations are seeking for the deepest factors of ethnical identification
including religious ones. Part of these factors peoples find out in Shamanism.
Shamans (as well as servants of other religious systems) were psychotherapists
till XX century, and among many peoples they still perform this function. Modern
researchers of Tuvan Shamanism S.I. Vainstein and N.P.Moskalenko have marked
that a positive effect [result] is gained not only in case of patients with
psychical illnesses, and neural indispositions, but also in case of some
sicknesses caused by other factors <..> 49 men from 57 interviewed former
patients of shamans have in result of kamlama [shamanic style of worship]
recovered and their condition has gotten better.
Shamans have gotten their gift [talent of capability], as a rule, by hereditary
from ancestors, and it means that shamans were in the past, shamans are alive
today, and they will be in the future. There were attempts to conduct struggle
agaisn them (by use fires of Inquisition [in the Middle Ages Europe], camps of
GULAG [in former USSR]) but they have not successed. And now there have been
born young shamans who have strong shamanic lineages. In addition to that, we
also have to remember, that there are shamans who have become shaman in result
of serious illnesses, traumas, clynical deaths, and others. And finally, men
have become shamans through training in many centers like the Foundation for
Shamanic Studies of M.Harner (California, USA) where thousands of men have been
trained and dealed. President of this Foundation Ph.D. Michael Harner thinks
that 9 from 10 men are capable to take shamanic journeys during of which they
may `to turn on` their own internal doctor`s function.
recent years we have witnessed to new event in Shamanism like an intention of
shamans to unite under associations of national, regional and even global
levels. Themselves of shamans have predicted that we have to expect a
rebellion of ghosts resided in various places of the Earth. And shamans of
quite different peoples and continents have often emphasized that thanks to
their activity related to preservation of the Universe`s balance, humanity is
still protected from total death caused by technogenic catastrophes,global wars
and existencial vacuum.
Anzhiganova Doctor in Philosophical Sciences, Professor at Culturology
Department of Khakas State University named after Nikolai Katanov)
[Tilbesteen: Timur B. Davletov, 03 Qurgen 2003]