The Art of Shamanism

The Art of Shamanism

Shaman’s costume and drum, next to a photo of a sacred tree.

The eastern Spanish city of Valencia is rich in museums. Besides the usual archaeology, history, and military museums, there are quirky ones like the Toy Soldier Museum and the one true Holy Grail at Valencia Cathedral. There are also several art museums and galleries. While visiting last year, I came across an exhibition on shamanism at the Valencian Museum of Enlightenment and Modernity.

Titled “Between the Worlds: Shamanism in the Villages of Siberia,” the exhibition brought together more than two-hundred objects on loan from The Russian Museum of Ethnography. Most were collected around the turn of the last century, before the Communist Revolution led to a national effort to stamp out shamanistic practices.

Shaman’s costume and drum next to several panya, images of deceased feminine spirits. They’d be put on the bed of the deceased and offered vodka, tobacco, and food.


A shaman’s tent and totemic statue.
Glove made of bear claw for use in rituals.
Glove made of bear claw for use in rituals.


Animal hide depicting legends of Siberia, which were sadly not detailed in the signage!


The metal pendants seen on many of these costumes would rattle as the shaman moved or danced, and were said to be the voices of the spirit world.
Note the falcon’s plumage on the cap and the crow’s feathers on the shoulder. These were the shaman’s protectors. The colored lines symbolize serpents.

For more posts on Spain, check out my Spanish Castle Magic series.


All images copyright Sean McLachlan

Sean McLachlan is a freelance travel and history writer. He is also the author of the historical fantasy novel A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri, and the post-apocalyptic thriller Radio Hope. His historical fantasy novella The Quintessence of Absence, was published by Black Gate. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page.

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Wild Ape

Cool. Thanks for the photos–great eye candy and inspiration for the fantasy artist.

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