Ritual Songs of Khorchin Mongol Shamans

The research project focuses on a corpus of ritual songs memorised by elderly Khorchin shamans and recorded during the 1980s by local researchers in the neighbouring districts of Khüree and Darkhan, in eastern Inner Mongolia. The investigation of the songs is enriched by other oral material collected by Mongol researchers during the past fifteen years and by written sources as well.
The songs show the vast range of ritual activities of the Khorchin shamans, including that of sacrificial priest. They also reveal that the Khorchin shamans have knowledge of their historical past and they are the guardians of ancient Mongolian ideas and practices. The current analysis also aims to cast light on how shamanic knowledge was transmitted until recently, and to place the songs in the dynamic process of political and religious changes. The songs evoke the conflict between the shamans and the buddhists during the period of the intense dissemination of Buddhism in the region, which took place in the first decades of the 17th century. They also show how the two spiritual traditions existed side by side and how they interacted with each other. The songs of the Khorchin shamans also contain a great deal of Chinese lore. To date a group of ritual songs addressed to the Jayaachi, the spirit protecting livestock and wealth, have been analysed and translated. They form part of the repertoire of ten Khorchin shamans.

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