Toli (shamanism)

Last updated
Tsaatan shaman wearing a toli
hanging from her neck; Khovsgol Province, Mongolia Mongolian 087 cropped.png
Tsaatan shaman wearing a toli hanging from her neck; Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia

A toli (Mongolian : ᠲᠣᠯᠢ, тольlit.'mirror') is a ritual brass, copper, or bronze mirror used in shamanism in some parts of Mongolia and in the Republic of Buryatia. [1] [2] [3] [4] The mirror is typically round and ornamented on one side but polished on the other, [2] [4] although this may vary between regions and ethnic groups (see below).

Contents

Description

Toli are traditionally worn as part of a shaman's attire around the shaman's neck, or in quantity on the shaman's deel or apron - often called their armour as these pieces of ritual clothing help to protect the shaman from hostile spirit attack. Toli may be used in different sizes: among the Daur, the front and back of the shaman's costume was covered with small toli placed like overlapping scales while the front might also feature eight large mirrors and one medium-sized mirror to protect the heart, the neker-toli, which might be plated in nickel; [5] according to Heissig, in Hure Banner shamans wore nine mirrors, nine being a particularly meaningful number in Mongolian religion and mythology. [6]

Function

Buryat shaman wearing a toli
hanging from his neck; Olkhon Island, Russia Khagdaev1.JPG
Buryat shaman wearing a toli hanging from his neck; Olkhon Island, Russia

Toli help ward off harmful or attacking spirits in their own right, and also can be thought of as an object which signifies the shaman's authority or role. [1] [7] [4] Among the Daur, the number of toli collected by a Daur shaman was an indicator of their level of power. [8]

Tolis have additional purposes as well, for example, among the Daur people and all the other shamanistic groups who use them, they are used for a variety of practices, including to purifying and empowering water or vodka, collecting and trapping hostile spirits, and providing a home for helper spirits. They also act as vessels for the shaman's spiritual power, called the 'wind horse' in Mongolia. They can also collect and store the power of blessings, or power given from the sun, moon, stars or other parts of the world, all of which can be given to a sick person, or which can be added to the shaman's own power.

Walther Heissig, describing shamans and their incantations in Hure Banner in the 1940s, remarks that a woman shaman indicated that the toli contained "the white horses of the shamans"; the mirror itself was seen as a vehicle for the shamans. [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

Shamanism Practice of seeking altered states of consciousness in order to interact with a spirit world

Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner who is believed to interact with a spirit world through altered states of consciousness, such as trance. The goal of this is usually to direct these spirits or spiritual energies into the physical world, for healing, divination or another purpose.

Black magic Magic used for evil and selfish purposes

Black magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for evil and selfish purposes. With respect to the left-hand path and right-hand path dichotomy, black magic is the malicious, left-hand counterpart of the benevolent white magic. In modern times, some find that the definition of black magic has been convoluted by people who define magic or ritualistic practices that they disapprove of as black magic.

The Oroqen people are an ethnic group in northern China. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. The Oroqen people are largely concentrated in the northern Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia, which are home to 45.54% and 41.94% of the 8,659 Oroqen people living in China, respectively. The Oroqen Autonomous Banner is also located in Inner Mongolia.

Himiko 3rd century Queen of Yamataikoku

Himiko, also known as Shingi Waō, was a shamaness-queen of Yamatai-koku in Wakoku (倭国). Early Chinese dynastic histories chronicle tributary relations between Queen Himiko and the Cao Wei Kingdom (220–265) and record that the Yayoi period people chose her as ruler following decades of warfare among the kings of Wa. Early Japanese histories do not mention Himiko, but historians associate her with legendary figures such as Empress Consort Jingū, who was regent in roughly the same era as Himiko.

Tengrism Original Religion practiced by Turkic and Mongolic peoples

Tengrism is an ancient ethnic and state Turko-Mongolic religion originating in the Eurasian steppes, based on folk shamanism, monotheistic at the imperial level, and generally centered around the titular sky god Tengri. The term also describes several contemporary Turko-Mongolic native religious movements and teachings. All modern adherents of "political" Tengrism are monotheists.

Altai people Turkic people living in the Siberian Altai Republic, Russia

The Altai people, also the Altaians, are a Turkic ethnic group of indigenous peoples of Siberia living in the Altai Republic and Altai Krai, Russia. Several thousand of the Altaians also live in Mongolia and China but are officially unrecognized as a distinct group and listed under the name "oirots" as a part of the Mongols. For alternative ethnonyms see also Tele, Black Tatar and Oirats. During the Northern Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia, they were ruled in the administrative area known as Telengid Province.

Shamanism in Siberia Indigenous religions in Siberia

A large minority of people in North Asia, particularly in Siberia, follow the religio-cultural practices of shamanism. Some researchers regard Siberia as the heartland of shamanism.

Religion in Mongolia

Religion in Mongolia has been traditionally dominated by the schools of Mongolian Buddhism and by Mongolian shamanism, the ethnic religion of the Mongols. Historically, through their Mongol Empire the Mongols were exposed to the influences of Christianity and Islam, although these religions never came to dominate. During the communist period of the Mongolian People's Republic (1924–1992) all religions were suppressed, but with the transition to the parliamentary republic in the 1990s there has been a general revival of faiths. Buddhism was passed to Mongols by Tibetan people.

Gada Meiren was the Mongol leader of a struggle and, eventually, an uprising against the sale of the Khorchin grasslands to Han settlers in 1929.

Walther Heissig was an Austrian Mongolist.

Shamanic music

Shamanic music is music played either by actual shamans as part of their rituals, or by people who, whilst not themselves shamans, wish to evoke the cultural background of shamanism in some way. Therefore, Shamanic music includes both music used as part of shamans' rituals and music that refers to, or draws on, this.

Crazy Shagdar was a wandering lama from the Baarin banner in Inner Mongolia. He is the hero of a number of, usually quite critical, tales, in which he mocks corrupt nobles, other lamas etc. One tale deals with how he rebuked Chinese traders on a temple fair:

The annual Baarin temple fair had always attracted many traders from Inner China.

Shagdar came very close to the side of the tent of one of these traders, made a fireplace from three stones, pulled a Tibetan cooking pot from his bundle, then he helped himself to the water from the traders' clay ton and made a fire from their wood. When the eldest of the traders scolded him and called him crazy, Shagdar replied

That is how he swore at them in both Mongolian and Chinese.

Mongolian shamanism Indigenous Mongolian religion

Mongolian shamanism, more broadly called the Mongolian folk religion, or occasionally Tengerism, refers to the animistic and shamanic ethnic religion that has been practiced in Mongolia and its surrounding areas at least since the age of recorded history. In the earliest known stages it was intricately tied to all other aspects of social life and to the tribal organization of Mongolian society. Along the way, it has become influenced by and mingled with Buddhism. During the socialist years of the twentieth century it was heavily repressed and has since made a comeback.

In the pantheon of Mongolian shamanism, tngri constitute the highest class of divinities and are attested in sources going back to the 13th century. They are led by different chief deities in different documents and are divided into a number of different groups—including black (terrifying) and white (benevolent), and eastern and western. While there generally seem to be 99 tngri, some documents propose three others, and while they are generally the highest divinities, some liturgical texts propose an additional group of 33 chief gods alongside the tngri. They were invoked only by the highest shamans and leaders for special occasions; they continue to be venerated especially in black shamanism. Chief among the tngri are Qormusata Tngri and (Khan) Möngke Tngri.

Sülde Tngri

Sülde Tngri is an equestrian war god, one of the tngri, the highest group of divinities in Mongolian shamanism. He is usually depicted as an armored warrior riding a horse. In Mongolian shamanism, everyone possesses a guardian spirit, called a sülde. "Sülde Tngri" can refer to the sülde of any great leader, but it primarily refers to the deified sülde of Genghis Khan. As a war god, Sülde Tngri's primary function is protecting his devotees from their enemies and aiding them in battles against their foes.

Qormusta Tengri is a god in Mongolian mythology and shamanism, described as the chief god of the 99 tngri and leader of the 33 gods. It is the same of Turkic deities / gods Hürmüz and Kormos Khan.

Shamanism was the dominant religion of the Jurchen people of northeast Asia and of their descendants, the Manchu people. As early as the Jin dynasty (1111–1234), the Jurchens conducted shamanic ceremonies at shrines called tangse. There were two kinds of shamans: those who entered in a trance and let themselves be possessed by the spirits, and those who conducted regular sacrifices to heaven, to a clan's ancestors, or to the clan's protective spirits.

Religion in Inner Mongolia

Religion in Inner Mongolia is characterised by the diverse traditions of Mongolian-Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, the Chinese traditional religion including the traditional Chinese ancestral religion, Taoism, Confucianism and folk religious sects, and the Mongolian native religion. The region is inhabited by a majority of Han Chinese and a substantial minority of Southern Mongols, so that some religions follow ethnic lines.

Durin-gut

The Durin-gut, also called the Michin-gut and the Chuneun-gut, is the healing ceremony for mental illnesses in the Korean shamanism of southern Jeju Island. While commonly held as late as the 1980s, it has now become very rare due to the introduction of modern psychiatry.

References

  1. 1 2 DeMello 2012, p. 221.
  2. 1 2 Edson 2009, pp. 42, 135.
  3. Hoppál 2000, p. 74.
  4. 1 2 3 Tedlock 2005, p. 48.
  5. Edson 2009, pp. 117, 135.
  6. Heissig 1944, p. 45.
  7. Edson 2009, pp. 77, 135.
  8. Edson 2009, p. 135.
  9. Heissig 1944, p. 45-46.

Bibliography