Shamanism and Material Culture in the Northern Circumpolar Area, brought to the fore by some newly discovered South-Saami Drums with Accessories in the Norwegian Mountains
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Original versionWesterdahl, Christer [Eds.] A Circumpolar Reappraisal : The Legacy of Gutorm Gjessing (1906-1979) p. 17-41, Archaeopress, 2010
Shamanism is known among native peoples in the northern circumpolar areas, but also occurs among other peoples around the world. Defining shamanism is problematic, but is usually connected to a special material culture of which shaman drums are essential part. Three South-Saami shaman drums were discovered in the late 20th century in the Norwegian mountains. They are here presented and seen in the light of the shamanism in the circumpolar area of the Northern Arctic, especially Siberia, as it is described in the ethnographical literature. The three drums are of frame type as almost all shaman drums in the northern circumpolar area. A retrospective glance of shamanism is given and some of its important characteristics are stressed. They include both immaterial aspects of the shaman séance such as trance and material aspects such as shaman dresses and shaman drums. The use of Saami shaman drums in Scandinavia is also looked at in a historical perspective with emphasis with emphasis on early authors’ narratives on important characteristics of shamanism. There are also given some considerations about the use of shamanism in an archaeological context.