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Sakhalin Ainu shamanism


I was interested in Chapter 2 : Shamanic Healing and decided to explore. I believe that the word Shaman or shamanism is very hard to define. What is Shaman? Who is shaman? In what conditions or situations do we use the word shaman to address the person? Anyone who travels this word and another word is called Shaman? Does this means that Jesus and Muhammad are also shaman?  Since the topic of shamanism was too broad, I decided to narrow my topic to Sakhalin Ainu shamanism.

At first, I search all books that discuss Ainu in general including ethnographies. I picked some good books from them and looked at their bibliography.  This is because most often good books include good footnote and bibliography. This is how I found this book. Since HIL library did not have this book, I document delivered this book.  What are important tips to find resources?  Find a book that contains good bibliography. From it, we can find search more books. In addition, I found that it is important to notice the public year of book. In my case, due to the topic, it is good idea for me to use both old books that was published 1907 also new book that was published 1996.

For example, in order for me to find my text that contains the information of Sakhalin Ainu shamanism, I look at these books.


1          Hideo Fujimoto.1964. Ainu no Haka. Tokyo: Nihonkeizaishinbunsya

2            Hitoshi Watanabe. 1973. The Ainu Ecosystem. Seattle: University of Washington Press

3          Inez M. Hilger. 1971. Ainu, a Vanishing People. Oklahama : University of Oklahoma Press

4          Fred C.C. Peng and Peter Geise. 1977. The Ainu: The Past in the Present. Hiroshima: Bunka Hyoron Publishing Company

5          Neil Gordon Munro. 1963. Ainu. New York: Columbia University Press 

6          A .H. Savage Landor. 1893. Along with the hairy Ainu. London: William Clowes and Sons Limited

7            Sugawara Kousuke. 1966. Gendai no Ainu. Tokyo: Gendaisya

8          The Ven. Dr. John Batchelor. 1971. Ainu life and Lore. Tokyo: Kyobunkwan


The text that I chose


William W. Fitzhugh and Chisato O. Dubreuil. 1996. Ainu. Los Angeles:  University of Washington Press


Overview of Sakhalin Ainu shamanism


The Ainu share in common with their Siberian neighbors- the Tungus, the Ul’ta (Orok), and the Nivkhi people.


For example, Ainu people have a basic mythological them of “wondering in the other world” in which a seamanlike hero Samaikur traveled to the multilayered other world to get back the spirit of the goddess who was abducted by an evil sprit.


Shamanistic rite, Tusu, a shaman becomes possessed by a spirit or spirits who usually receive instructions from higher deities or ancestors and convey their messages through the shaman.


Sakhalin Ainu shamanism


-         According to Pilsudski’s observations, many Sakhalin Ainu shamanistic practice

were very close to practices that were taken place in people in Siberia.


-         Seance usually took place in a dim hut and was conducted by a male shaman in a state of ecstasy (shamanistic trance)


-         Séance was well organized community ritual that include gradual falling into a state of self-oblivion by continuously striking drums and use of intoxications, the incitation of protective spirits, strong dance movements, spirit gesture and imitation sounds, and divine revelations.


-         Ritual sacrifice of Dogs was commonly performance before or after the ritual. According to the book, many native groups of Eastern Siberia believed that sacrificing and displaying dead dogs could help prevent epidemic disease and other misfortunes (263).


-         Initiated after having endured a disease early in life. It was taken as a sign that the spirit had chosen that individual as a vessel. His tasks include healing to divination to protection of the community.


-         Sakhalin Ainu initiation mythology describes the origins of shamanism as a mythical encounter between the divine spirit and human beings.