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Shamanic Regalia in the Far North

Patricia Rieff Anawalt


A rare window into the deep past of humanity and an insight into one of the world’s oldest religions


The striking accoutrements of shamanism give us a rare window into the deep past of humanity and an insight into one of the world's oldest religions. Shamanism goes back to the Ice Age. It spread with migrating ancient settlers around the remote lands of the north Pacific, where the practice survived into the early 20th century.

Shamans communicated with the spirits, supplicating them for success in hunting, healing and divination, to help humans survive in the harsh northern lands. Clothing and regalia varied as cultures did, but always embodied the shaman's mystery and power. Without this paraphernalia, he - more rarely she - could neither establish authority among humans nor venture safely into the spirit world. Elaborate, heavy costumes featured rare and valuable elements of metal, ivory and wood. Fantastical masks, drums, amulets, staffs, fringed headdresses, coats and gloves were the tools, armour and weapons of the shaman, requiring a lifetime of training to wield.

In these richly illustrated pages, Patricia Rieff Anawalt explores the diverse shamanic regalia and traditions of the lands of the Far North: Siberia; the Arctic and Alaska; and the Northwest Coast of British Colombia. These strange and often beautiful objects have inspired Western scholars, artists and sculptors, including the Surrealists, and the artifacts still speak to us today of humanity's multivalent connections to the natural world.

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'A beautiful, intriguing book for those interested in dress, textiles, masks and how they inform a culture generally'

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 17.0 cm

Extent: 192 pp

Publication date: 10 March 2014

ISBN: 9780500517253

Contents List

Introduction; I Siberia; II The Arctic and Alaska: Eskimo; III The Tlingit of the Northwest Coast; Conclusion

About the Author

Patricia Rieff Anawalt was an international authority on worldwide regional dress, and was Director Emerita of the Center for the Study of Regional Dress at the Fowler Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles. She is the author of The Worldwide History of Dress and Shamanic Regalia in the Far North.

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