Enlightenment and Romantic Writers Look at Shamans

Andrei A. Znamenski

in The Beauty of the Primitive

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780195172317
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199785759 | DOI:
  Enlightenment and Romantic Writers Look at Shamans

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This chapter discusses Enlightenment travel writings on Siberia as well as contributions from Romantic writers and scholars, who laid the foundations of shamanism studies. Among them are such pioneers of shamanology as Orientalist Dorji Banzarov and Finnish folklore scholars and writers. Although inspired by different intellectual and cultural ideals, all of them found tribal spirituality attractive and worthy of recording. Wilhelm Radloff, one of the prominent representatives of European Romantic Orientalism, is a Russian-German linguist and ethnographer who pioneered shamanism studies and wrote a book that remained the major source on “classical” shamanism for Western audiences until 1900. The word shaman originated from the language of the Tungus (Evenki), one of the Siberian indigenous groups. Russian settlers in Siberia chose this expression and eventually began to apply it to all native spiritual healers. Russian-educated people learned about Siberian shamans from original or translated writings of Western explorers of Siberia.

Keywords: shamans; shamanism; Enlightenment; Romantic writers; India; Siberia; spirituality; Finland; ethnography; Wilhelm Radloff

Chapter.  14841 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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