Shamanic Attributes of the Peoples of Siberia: the Origins of the Semantic Unity and Polyfunctionality
The article presents a comprehensive semantic and functional analysis of central shamanic attributes — tambourine, stick, bow with arrows, and swagger stick — drawing on a wide body of ethnographic materials on the Turko-Mongol, Samoyed, and Manchu-Tungusic peoples of Siberia as well as on the Ob Ugric people and the Kets. It argues that the shamanic attributes considered in a semiotic way constitute complex symbols that organize communication between the human and the spirit worlds. The analysis allows us to track the formation of two types of sound — a percussive (two sticks hit against one another, with one of them carrying ringing or clattering objects) and a string one (the sound is produced by a bowstring) — which act as different ways and types of communication. The research reveals semantic and, possibly, genetic consistency between various ritual objects, which indicates that many elements of the tambourine’s design, its symbolism and functional characteristics genetically go back to simpler and, apparently, universal ritual tools based on sound.
Key words: tambourine, staff, bow, percussion and string instruments
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