The Native American shaman is a spiritual guide and healer, a man with traditional knowledge, visionary power, and enormous tribal respect. Associated with the rituals of the shaman are objects invested with everyday magic. This lavishly illustrated record of the accoutrements of shamanism among Northwest coastal Indians is the product of 15 years of research by Allen Wardwell, former curator of primitive art at the Art Institute of Chicago. The items shown include amulets and robes, each a tangible echo of shamanistic power.
From Publishers Weekly
This groundbreaking study reclaims a little-known body of American art-the ritual objects used by Northwest Coast shamans of the Tlingit, Tsimshian, Haida and other tribes. More than 600 photographs (325 in color) show spectacular masks; powerful figure sculptures; tambourine drums; gorgeous tunics and costumes; intricately carved amulets and storage boxes; crowns made of bear or lynx claws, goat horn and ivory; and soul-catchers or bone pendants used to hold the errant souls of sick people, which were captured and then returned to the patient to effect a cure. Much shamanic art represents helping spirits that came to shamans in visions or dreams; other objects record encounters with animal spirits or evildoers; still others served to embellish songs, stories and performances. Thirty turn-of-the-century photographs depict practicing shamans and their grave houses, which contained their ritual paraphernalia. In his valuable essay, Wardwell, formerly curator of primitive art at the Art Institute of Chicago, discusses shamanism as an ancient, widespread form of religion, albeit a nonstandardized one.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.