Tag Archives: shamanism


‘Se bompo, se, se’ by Martushka Fromeast


Power (or sakhti in Nepali) is a source of a shaman’s fame. Jongge enjoys power competitions a lot. Once, thanks to his sakhti, he opened a new source of underground water in the mountains.


Tyetye Bompo is a natural-born shaman and was taught the craft directly by Devil Forest, the mysterious ghostly being living in the jungle. As a child Tyetye spent half a year in the forest. He never had any official guru, but he won power competitions with other shamans. He claims to be able to change a piece of wood into a cobra.


Dubsang Tamang trains his son to become a shaman. This year during Janai Purima they went to Parvati Kunda, a holy lake linked with the cult of Hindu goddess Parvati, wife of Shiva. The lake is located a walking distance from the village.  For the first time ever Dubsang Tamang’s son was dressed in a full shaman attire.


Rikzen spent 4 months in the jungle. He is strictly against killing animals during shamanistic rituals, pudjas and claims that Bompos who require chicken being killed deal with devils, which is never good. That is why they often drink a lot of alcohol.


Nurbu Tamang has been practicing to become a fully qualified Bompo for the last 3 years. He often undertakes a role of a shaman helper during pudjas run by his guru from Shalgarbeen cast of shamans.


Risowangdi was trained to become a shaman by his older brother. He has been practicing as a Bompo for the last 13 years. Before becoming a shaman he served in the army. Risowangdi’s father was also a Bompo, but he divorced Risowangdi’s mother for another woman. Risowangdi himself married for love at the age of 17 and is a very proud father of three sons.


Kam Dindup has worked as a Bompo for the last 22 years. For him a shaman is a mediator between humans and gods. He claims that we live in the second era of humanity, The Era of Buddhas. The first era, which has ended many years ago, was the Era of Guru Rinpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Himalaya.


Shakti of Kami Tamang from Narobeen cast of shamans is famous across the Himalaya. Sometimes he is also called to run pudjas in China.

‘Se bompo, se, se’ is a series of portraits of Nepali Shamans posing in their living rooms by Photographer Martushka Fromeast made during her residency in Syafrubesi. More information on this and other projects here.



costume spiritual

Mongolian Shaman

Shaman costume from the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts

Shaman costume from the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts

Shaman helmet from the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts

Shamans helmet. Silk, cotton, eagle feather. Early 19th Century. From the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts

Above own photos taken at the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Collection: Danish National Museum, Copenhagen. lllustration courtesy Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

Collection: Danish National Museum, Copenhagen. lllustration courtesy Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

From Tigerbells

Shaman's mirror costume from North East Manchuria ,The Peoples Republic of China.

Shaman's mirror costume from North East Manchuria, The Peoples Republic of China.

“This Shaman’s costume (pictures above) is one of a series of elements which allowed a shaman’s body to transform into a ‘vessel’ that received different spirits. Among the Imin Numinchen, shamans were primarily concerned with healing, prediction and with people’s relations with their ancestors. This costume belonged to a young female shaman who died in the 1930s, aged 25. No two costumes are identical. They are assembled and added to as a shaman becomes more experienced, incorporating materials from different sources. The brass mirrors came from Chinese merchants. The heavy shaman’s mirrors act in a double capacity – they protect the shaman by deflecting harm, while revealing what is normally invisible to the human eye. The number of mirrors on the costume indicates the shaman’s powers and maps a geographical cosmos. By wearing the costume, the shaman is located in the centre of this cosmos. During performance, a shaman is seized by one or more ancestral spirits, so that what is inside the mirror-costume is the spirits, rather than the shaman’s body. Here, the body is something open to forces that can control it, inhabit its form and shape its physical features.”

From ebay user spiritual-sky‘s Mongolian shaman’s bronze mirror auction.

The shaman performing. His headdress had painted eyes. Eyes which see to the spirit world. Tassels conceal his own eyes.

The shaman performing. His headdress had painted eyes. Eyes which see to the spirit world. Tassels conceal his own eyes.

Photo by Lee Marshall (boristhegreat)

There are also some great photographs of Mongolian Shamans on Donna Todd’s site.


Upper Tibet





Photographs by John Vincent Belezza from tibetarchaeology.com via Christine!


Inuit Shaman

From randafricanart.com. And I think I read the following from Shaman: the wounded healer by Joan Halifax: 

This art is not art for art, rather it is art for survival for it gives structure and coherence to the unfathomable and intangible. By ‘making’ that which is the unknown, the shaman attains some degree of control over the awesome forces of the mysterium.



The helping spirit, Issitoq, assists in locating those who have breached taboos. Known as Giant-eye, his melancholy nature and peculiar appearance was portrayed by the Eskimo Arnaqaoq… (Drawing by Arnaqaoq from Rasmussen, Rasmussens Thulefahrt.) 

‘The Big Lemming’, stonecut print by Pudlo, Cape Dorset, Eskimo, 1961

Carving of a tupilak (spirit), Eskimo, collected in Angmagssalik, E. Greenland, 1931-2. National Museum of Denmark, Department of Ethnography

An Eskimo shaman spirit, with leg bones and inner organs revealed, seems to stalk his prey with sacrificial blade in hand. The … deer mask reveals the transcendental nature of the spirit’s bloody mission. Stonecut print by William Noah, Barnabas Oosuaq and Martha Noah, Baker Lake, Eskimo, 1970. Sanavik Cooperative, Baker Lake, on loan to the Winnepeg Art Gallery

Screen print after a canyon painting. S.E. Utah

The spirit that attacks and destroys the shaman-neophyte can become instructor, ally, and helper after the trials and ordeals of initiation have been endured. Among many Eskimo peoples, for example, the acquisition of spirits was often a violent process involving maiming and dismembering, The Eskimo shaman Niviatsian reported that, when he was being attacked by a walrus two other spirits ravaged him. This carving depicts a spirit wielding a knife of initiatory dismemberment. (Whalebone, antler,  sinew, ivory, and stone carving by Karoo Ashvak, Spence Bay, Eskimo, 1972) 

Reading Shaman: The wounded healer by Joan Halifax. 



(Photo of an unidentified Shaman stolen from here – a poetry blog?)

I’ve been reading Shamanism by Nevill Drury:

“The Goldi and Dolgan…believe that prior to being born, the souls of little children sit like birds on the branches of the World Tree, and that shamans go there to find them.”

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