EVENKI SHAMANISM more -->
Of particular interest is the example of an Evenki shaman's dwelling and ritual space including, galleries of wood carvings depicting spiritual animals, birds and fish. A shaman's tent is a conical structure called a yarnga and is made out of bark and fur (pictured above). The tree bark is laced around tipi style poles. Yarngas feature a central hearth where the smoke rises and escapes through a hole in the skins and out the top of the dwelling.
The shamanic concept, and indeed the word shaman, comes to common usage from the Evenki language. Vitebsky (1995:10-11) states:
"The word [shaman] comes from the language of the Evenk [... ] It was first used only to designate a religious specialist from this region. By the beginning of the 20th century it was already being applied in North America to a wide range of medicine-men and medicine-women, while some New Age practitioners today use the word widely for persons who are thought to be in any sort of contact with spirits.
The Siberian shaman's soul is said to be able to leave the body and travel to other parts of the cosmos, particularly to an upper world in the sky and a lower world underground. This ability is traditionally found in some parts of the world and not in others and allows us to speak of clearly shamanistic societies and cultures."
Evenki bird spirit poles (as seen below) are carved spiritual items that feature several types of birds mounted on 15-20 foot slender poles. These poles, in conjunction with the moose boards, pike logs, ancestor figures and the shaman's tent or yarnga are arranged in the museum in a traditional floor plan suggestive of shamanic properties.
That is to say, the space features both symmetry and representations of the upper, terrestrial and underwater worlds. The upper world is present in the bird poles and the terrestrial world is present in the yarnga and the moose boards. The underworld as well as the underwater world are represented by the uprooted tree trunks used in carving (bringing the underworld up to the terrestrial) and the pike boards which signify the realm beneath the water. These items are arranged around the shaman's tent so as to make the shaman's hearth the central feature of the ritual space.