Art piece by the Yakut artist Raisa Dolgunova, 1968
A USSR-born Yakut shaman…This sculpture of a mysterious pagan
carved from mammoth bone was created by Soviet artist Raisa Dolgunova.
This sculpture depicts a Yakut shaman with his mandatory attribute,
the tambourine, a very specific musical instrument. In a state of trance,
he is performing a shamanistic ritual of dancing with spirits.
“Driving” his tambourine with a thumper, the shaman flies to the “higher” worlds, emotionally describing every twist and turn of this
journey: humming his spells, he recreates fights with evil forces.
The sculptor has shown the shaman in special ritual dress.
Interesting fact: the word “shaman” or “saman” translates
from Evenki as “aroused, ecstatic person.” In the 19th century,
scientists and travellers, who observed the shamans, often
concluded that these people with quite specific psyche had
nervous ailments. However, there is also an opposing view:
the so-called “shaman disease” is just a traditional role,
in which the shaman intentionally performs the earlier
Inhabitant of the extreme North shaman Akkr 1931, June 1932
“The medium between mortals and the ‘higher’ world has always been of great interest to artists as a sculptural subject-matter. This Yakut shaman’s sculpture, which was crafted in the atheist Soviet country, is quite conventional. As for the carving technique, it is characteristic of the ancient style: the statue’s frame is fixed to the stand and the shaman’s dress carries local geometric decorative motifs. Carving as a craft was trusted only to extremely talented and highly spiritual people.”
Inhabitant of the extreme North shaman Tneimin 1931, June 1932