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«    April 2010    »
электронный журнал "Новые исследования Тувы"

An exhibition “Call of the Drums” will open at the National Museum of Tuva

The remote sound of the shaman’s drum, which carries the agent of the spirits into other worlds, attracts more and more of those who are searching for the mysteries of the universe. Many scholars, scientists, ethnographers, graduate students and schoolchildren come to study shamanism in Tuva as one of the world’s main religions, following the “call of the drums.”

That is exactly the name of a coming exhibition at the National Museum, which will be dedicated to Tuvan shamanism. The opening of the exhibition will coincide with the 85th birthday of the chief shamanologist, the “Living treasure of Shamanism”, Mongush Borakhovich Kenin-Lopsan, which will be celebrated on April 16.

Shamanism is an indelible part of the world view of any Tuvan, and this religious belief is the foundation for many of the traditions and rituals of the Tuvan people.

In the opinion of the museum staff, the exhibition will be interesting to the scholars-ethnographers and the regional experts, as well as to simple spectators who will be exposed to such an ancient pagan belief system as shamanism for the first time.

The new conceptual exposition will graphically demonstrate shamanism through the method of showing, in dioramas, two of the core functions of Tuvan shamans’ rituals – healing and cultic. The cultic structure “ ovaa” will be presented, which is associated with the “ ovaa dagyyr” ritual, in the form of a tree with the skull of a sacred horse hanging on it, as well as others.

The start of the exhibition will be decorated by petroglyphs depicting shamanic masks. Archeological material from ancient kurgans will be represented by various protective amulets made of deer teeth, tusks of musk deer and wild boars, ritual “kuzungu” mirrors and much more.

The exhibition is so vivid and picturesque that it will leave no room for indifference; it discloses to the full extent all the core aspects of the phenomenon of shamanism.

Each one of the shaman’s costumes, hats and cultic objects is a unique thing, whose numerous and various details each carry specific sacral functions, and as a whole make up the inimitable appearance of each shaman, telling his special, personal history.

More than that, the shamanism exhibition is not just an exposition of the shamanic rituals and cultic objects; it is also the story of the scholars who dedicated their scholarly work and research to shamanism. Among them are turkologists V.V.Radlov, N.F. Katanov, E.R. Tenishev, S.E. Malov and S.I. Vainshtein, as well as foreign research workers Heimo Lappalainen – a Finnish professor, researcher of Tuvan shamanism; M. Harner – President of the American Foundation for Shamanic Studies; P. Uccusic, director of the European branch of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in Austria, who organizes international shamanic expeditions to Tuva, and of course, Mongush Borakhovich Kenin-Lopsan, who is the chief shamanologist of Tuva and the president of Tuvan shamans for life. His scientific works, dedicated to shamanism, will be exhibited in a separate glass case.

A stylized “ ovaa” structure with a bear skull stands in the center, with Valeriy Yelizarov’s ( ) paintings on leather. This part of the exhibition is part of the “Bear as human ancestor” module.

In the end, it must be remarked that the hall is decorated with many hanging arrows – ydyk-ok, which are all flying in one direction, to defeat evil spirits. That is why there are never any evil spirits in the museum.

Mariya Mongush,, translated by Heda Jindrak
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