Reviews

This book is the first one ever published on Uighur Shamanism.  Within twenty unequal sections, the author—a specialist of folklore—attempts to survey the various facets of Uighur Shamanism, including general anthropological remarks or theoretical explanations about common beliefs in Uighur society.  These sections are definitely not the most enthralling ones in so far the author remains unaware of recent studies on Islamic Shamanism (e.g., by Valentin Ogudin or Patrick Garrone).  Surprisingly, there is no mention of Abdurehim Häbibulla’s Uyghur etnografisi published in 1993 (section 12, chapter 4 deals with Shamanism).  On the other hand, Western experts will find several unknown Uighur publications among the references used by Abdurehim, especially those of his mentor Dilmurat Ömer.  Another weak point of the book is the absence of illustrations of any kind, which is highly regrettable for such a visual, “material” topic.  Indeed the most interesting chapters regard precisely the material features of Shamanism, viz. the shaman’s clothes, tools and amulets (tumar).  A second important subject is the animal (haywan) in section 8: the horse, cow, camel, sheep, lion, argali, tortoise, frog and snake, all together form a symbolic bestiary in the Islamic Uighur “pantheon.” Birds (section 10) would figure also inside this bestiary but they assume a different function.  Given the current vogue for the animal in anthropology, the Uighur case provides an original perspective.  Focusing more specifically on shamanic practices, section 13 about spirits worshipping (ruhgha choqunush) and section 14 on invocations (qoshaq) give to read the very idiom of Uighur shamans.  The last chapters contain valuable and, so far, rather unique descriptions of healing rituals performed by perikhuns.

Alexandre Papas, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.1.C-404