Shors - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Among Siberian peoples, Shamanism is an ancient system of belief that encompassed religion, medical practice, folklore, philosophy, and worldview. In addition to shamanism, the Shors had a cult of mountains, associated with individual clans, and a bear cult. They also propitiated the game animals that they killed. All of these beliefs were once widespread in Siberia but have fallen into disuse. The Shors were converted to Christianity in the nineteenth century, and this contributed heavily to the decline of shamanism and other aboriginal beliefs.

Religious Practitioners. The shamans believe that animate beings and inanimate objects have spirits, which they seek to know, understand, and, if possible, control or manipulate through song and by using special paraphernalia. The Shor shaman's most important piece of paraphernalia was the drum, which was inscribed with special designs of supernatural significance. He also used a birch-bark mask. In earlier times the Shor shaman was connected to a seok, and the spirits he sought to control were considered hereditary within a particular seok.

Arts. The Shors once sang epics, which were similar to those sung by the Teleut (among whom they are still sung). The singer was accompanied by a two-stringed musical instrument known as the komys.

Death and Afterlife. The dead were traditionally wrapped in birch bark and, in a shamanic ritual, placed in a tree. This practice lasted until sometime in the nineteenth century, although the practice of placing dead children in trees survived into the twentieth. The shaman's drum was also placed in a tree at its owner's death.

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