Tuvan Shamanic Society

The Republic of Tuva, located in southern Siberia at the geographic center of Asia, is home to some of the extended nomadic people who gave us the word “shaman.” Quick anthropology lesson: the language spoken in much of Siberia and Manchuria is known as Tungusic, so they call this broad group of nomads Tungusic as well. In Siberia they include several distinct peoples: the Evenks in the north, the Tuvans in the south, and the Yakuts in the east. (In fact, one of my favorite sayings is an old Yakut proverb: “Smiths and shamans come from the same nest!”)

The Tuvans have kept the practice of shamanism alive. In fact, the shamanic society Tos Deer (“Nine Heavens”) has launched its official website, shaman.shude.ru. Sadly for us, it’s in Russian, Ai-Churekbut those who speak Russian can learn about the community’s shamans, their leader Ay-Churek (“Moon Heart”), shamanic seminars, and tours.

I understand there are at least six other shamanic societies in the Republic of Tuva, all officially registered; the Dungur Society (a “dungur” is a shamanic drum) was the first. The HQ for Tos Deer is on the bank of the Yenissey river, right next to the statue marking the exact center of Asia, a favorite tourist stop.

Tuvan shamanism became familiar to the Westerners after the First International Shamanic Symposium took place in Tuva in 1993 with Finnish ethnographer Heimo Lappalainen taking an active part.

According to Mongush Kenin-Lopsan, Shamanic President of Honor and the founder of the Dungur Society (and a Doctor of Historical Sciences), there only thirty shamans in Tuva at present whose shamanic credentials have been confirmed by their colleagues with an official certificate of ordination.

To learn more about Tuvan shamanism, be sure to read “In the Land of Song and the Drum: Receiving Inspiration from Tuvan Shamans” by a real expert on Tuvan culture and beliefs (and a shaman in her own right), Christiana Harle-Silvennoinen.

Important Update!

I’ve just learned that Google’s language tools will now translate Russian web pages (it’s still in Beta testing, but it worked great for me). Now you can see the English translation of the Tos Deer website!

Thoughts? Comments?

Categories: Shamanism | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Tuvan Shamanic Society

  1. You have hit a favorite topic here.

    I will share the little I know of this. One of the best documentaries I have seen in the last decade, Michael Palin aside, is by Paul Pena, blind West Coast blues musician, who went to Tuva to learn throat singing and ended up learning about much more than he anticipated. The film is called Gengis Blues. I saw it on PBS once and never saw it again.

    Also, for those physics heads among us, Richard Feynman’s last book and, indeed, his last journey was Tuvan. The book was “Tuva or Bust.”

    Both can be checked ot at http://www.fotuva.org/gb/quick.html Look at the left sidebar for the topics mentioned among others.

    I have, along with my dear daughter, been checking out Ukranian and Kazak heritage sites. there is a resurgence in Shamanism there and, if memory serves, which it almost never does, the indiginous shamanism of the Ukraine is an accepted national religion. Thee is a sacred mountain in Georgia that many, if not most of the people, look to as the center of their religious world even as many practice Orthodox Catholicism.

    I cannot find a good site for these. I have seen them but, alas, I am not finding them now.

  2. indigo bunting

    I went to hear Tuvan throat singers once. It was an unbelievable experience.

  3. Thank you for creating these pages.
    If I may, I will send out an invitation. I am looking for commens, interviews, testimonies, memories of Ai-Chourek. Please let me know if you have met her and what you remember of her. Anything that would help celebrate her life, teachings and transmission. Among the many teachers of different traditions I have met and studied with, she is the one who – unexpectedly – settled in my heart and she often visits me in dreams. Thank you! Mariabruna

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