Tambourine of the “big” shaman. Shor.

Tambourine of the “big” shaman
Collection MAE RAS: № 5073-3
Image ID: 3949795
Tambourine of the “big” shaman
Kemerovo region
North Asia. Siberia, South Siberia
Early 20th cent.
birch, deer leather, steel, cotton, mineral colourant
This is a tambourine (tuur) of the “big” shaman of the Shor people who inhabit South Siberia (northern Altai region). It was acquired in 1930 by an external-economic establishment called “Novoeksport” which, among other things, engaged in buying objects of the traditional culture of the peoples of Siberia, some of which were given to the museums of Russia. This tambourine is of a traditional oval shape. It consists of a wooden rib made of birch and covered with maral skin, and a long handle that fixes the rib from the inside. A tambourine has a complex cosmological symbolic meaning that originates from the archaic beliefs of the peoples of northern Asia about the structure of the Universe. In this system of beliefs, the he-deer embodied the celestial sphere and the sun, and the she-deer embodied the middle world. This is vividly expressed in the painting that covers the outer surface of the tambourine and depicts the three spheres of the Universe: the upper sphere is filled with images of anthropomorphous spirits, animals and birds of the upper world, the middle part is represented by a horizontal line with “grids”, and the lower part contains fishes and reptiles that embody the lower world. In the shaman mythology, a tambourine implied the image of a mythical deer, the main helper-spirit of a shaman and his draft animal that he rode to travel to other worlds. This tambourine was often used in shaman rituals aimed at a family’s well-being and easy childbirth.