Headdress of a “big” Evenk shaman. Evenk.

Headdress of a “big” Evenk shaman
Collection MAE RAS: № 1879-21-1
Image ID: 3944209
Headdress of a “big” Evenk shaman
North Asia. Siberia, East Siberia, Transbaikal
mid-to-late 19th c.
steel, cloth, sueded leather (rovduga), cotton thread, silk textile
Epov Aleksandr Grigorievich, teacher, revolutionary
This headdress of a “big” Evenk shaman (avun) made of steel was part of a full ritual costume worn by a shaman for very important rites and rituals. This unique exhibit was received by the Museum in 1911 from A. Epov, a student of the St. Petersburg University sent to an expedition to Transbaikalia. He acquired this headdress from shaman Tarchin Isheev. Its condition allows us to date it to the second half of the 19th century. The structure of this headdress reflects its symbolic meaning and contains an archaic image of the model of the Universe. The hoop embodies the concept of the closed space of the world of people and solid earth. Two crossing arcs symbolize the parts of the world and the seasons. The cosmic vertical that reflects the sacral center of the Universe is embodied in the horns of the mythical deer that stands for the sun in the mythical beliefs of the peoples of northern Asia. The deer was one of the main characters in the myth about the celestial hunt and embodied the archaic concepts of the day and night and the cosmic order. The horns also symbolized the sacred deer – the helper spirit of the shaman, his draft animal that he rode to travel to other worlds. Long cloth ribbons embody snakes and lizards, the shaman’s powerful helpers that accompany him in his “travels” to the lower world. They also symbolize the sacred birch – the totem tree of the shaman. It is also associated with the World Tree that symbolizes the Universe as a whole and Axis mundi – the cosmic axis connecting the spheres of the Universe. Such ritual headdresses were conditionally referred to as “crowns”. Such headdresses demonstrate the development of ritual headdresses of the peoples of Eurasia: from a detailed depiction of the Universe to its conditional, symbolic model where trees are embodied in stripes of metal and the image of a deer is replaced with deer horns.