Panel 20:

FUNCTIONALITY AND MORALITY IN RITUAL, SACRIFICE, AND PERFORMANCE

Chair: Eva Jane Neumann Fridman


Kiviuq — Inuit Shamans, Stories, Sacred Landscapes and the Effects of Global Warming in Nunavut

Van Deusen, Kira

Independent Scholar, Vancouver, Canada

The Inuit of northern Canada have a long history of shamanism, always very quiet. For at least seventy years it has existed underground when practiced at all. Political, religious, and educational oppression have taken their toll. Thus I refer mostly to the respected elders who play many cultural and spiritual roles, whether or not they are shamans.
Motivated by a sense of responsibility to the youth, today’s elders revive ancient stories and consider bringing back parts of their spiritual past to solve today’s urgent social and ecological problems. These include teen suicide, drug abuse, domestic violence, and the effects of global warming.
The Inuit epic “Kiviuq” reflects a traditional shaman’s life and practice. I recorded it from forty Nunavut elders in 2004, and later augmented my fieldwork through conversations with younger scholars and activists.
Kiviuq taught today’s elders about animal spirits and other non-human beings, about the consequences of their behaviour and ways shamans moved through the sacred landscape. Kiviuq’s service to the community and protection of an orphan child are highly respected. Women have also been powerful shamans.
The Inuit no longer live nomadically, in constant contact with animals and the elements. As the climate shifts, skilled hunters are no longer at home on the ice. Elders feel they must help bring Canadian law to harmony with Inuit values and protect their physical environment. They also recognize the dangers of the spirit world for young people. They focus the power of words on building generosity and understanding instead of using ancient curses.


Symbol and Function of Han Banner Sacrificial Rites – Case Study of the Rite of the Zhang Clan in Wula, Jilin

Guo Shuyun (in collaboration with: Liang Yanjun)

Professor, Director of the Shamanistic Culture Study Institute of Dalian Nationalities University Normal College, China

Han Army or Hanjun for short constituted a particular organizational structure among the Manchu and Han peoples in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties. The Han Army played a unique role in Chinese history in that: “This kept a balance between the Manchu and Han Chinese.”
The Han Army’s shamanic sacrifice, a comprehensive form of this kind, is dubbed “Shaoxiang” The ceremony is, in fact, a new form of sacrifice that takes shape on the basis of their original ancestors’ sacrificial customs under the influence of Manchus’ shamanic trance-dance. Hence, it not only takes a final form different from Manchus’ sacrifice, but it is also dissimilar to Chinese’s sacrifice .
The sacrificial rite of the Han Army has an exclusive symbolic system. It has outstanding performance, exclusive cognition value and particular function. For example: Sacred symbols, Evil-expelling and luck-embracing, Clan cohesion and Clansmen enlightenment.


The Ethno Aesthetics of Shamanistic Performance

Sheethal, V.S.

Research Scholar, Dept. of Malayalam, University of Kerala, India

This paper discusses the ethnoaestheics of the Shamanistic folk performance like Padayani in the Kerala. Padayani is a ritualistic art form performed in the sacred groves of Central Kerala especially in Pathanamthitta district. It is a form of ritualistic folk theatre dedicated to the primal Goddess. The performance that begins after harvest lasts 28 days that uses evocative language. The story most commonly dramatised in Padayani is the scene after the annihilation of Darika, when Kali sets out on her Kailasa journey. To make Kali sober and calm, Subramanyan and the boothas in different forms of kolam take up a procession in front of her. A procession of Pakshikkolam (mask of bird), Yakshikkolam, Maruthakkolam etc. is presented on her way to appease her; figures are drawn on the sheaths of areca palm in vibrant colours and there is much musical extravaganza. Figures are drawn in natural colours in which the enlarged shape of eyes in the night light glitter and seem to project up.
This shaman’s performance begins after the harvest with elaborate rituals. Each day diverse kolams (masks) do the performance with a number of magical songs having very strong rhythmic thalas on the instrument thappu (beating instrument). The whole village participates in it. After the padayani there is a ritual related to fertility called Vithidal (sowing the seeds). Sacred ‘thottam pattu’ is sung as part of Padayani performance and also in connection with the worship of Kali and others. Thottam is derived from the root ‘thondruka’ meaning ‘to create’. Shamanistic Kolam thullal usually begins with the ‘thottam paattu’ (ritualistic ethnomusic) narrating the myth of Gods and is an invocation of the spirit and faith of the entire village. The myth of the deity sung with the accompaniment of ‘thappu’ instrument is thottam pattu.


Doing Religion/Doing Culture: Performing Female Shamans (memoeds) in Zhuang Folk Culture and Art Festival

Kao Ya-ning

Department of Ethnology, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan

This paper examines the process of how private rituals carried out by Zhuang female shamans (memoeds) have been transformed into public performance in a post-socialist Zhuang society. Memoeds are popular ritual practitioners in southwest Guangxi, China. Their rituals had been identified as “superstitious” by officials carrying out government policy regarding the elimination of superstitious practices. Local Zhuang people believe that their hometown of Ande is where their hero, Nong Zhigao, established his Southern Heavenly Kingdom a thousand years ago. In 2005, a memoed and a group of local women conducted two private rituals, one inside a dark cavern and one in front of a Nong Zhigao temple in the woods, a day before the first “Commemorating National Hero Nong Zhigao Festival” opened to the public in Ande. Seven years later in 2013, a group of female performers dressed in memoed’s costumes performed in front of government officials during a folk culture and art festival held in Ande on a traditional song festival day. Performing memoeds in a culture and art festival corresponds to one of the two strategies of “doing religion” in China outlined by Adam Chau (2011:6-7). Zhuang people are “doing culture” as a strategy to protect folk religious practice. This paper both illustrates how local Zhuang people “do culture” in Ande and also explains why only shamans, one type of ritual practitioner among the three kinds present in the village, have been chosen to represent local folk culture and art.


Gadhika/Shadow of the Shaman in the Sacred Body

Ethnographic Film (2015, India, 15 minutes)

Rajagopalan, C.R.

Professor, Dept. of Malayalam, University of Kerala

The Adiyar, first people, are the inhabitants of the Waynad, Western Ghats of Kerala. They have preserved their shamanistic indigenous tradition of ethnomusic and mysticism in the Gadhika Performance. The rhythm of percussion instruments, Thudi and sacred chants reverberated in the nights. Healing through magic is the principle of the performance. The songs, movements, and the diagnostic sign language express the ASC of the performer. The performance acts as a healing therapy for the community.