M A Czaplicka - Siberian shaman’s dress
Type of Spiritual Experience
Shamans in Siberia ‘became’ the spirit of the animal who was their spirit helper, thus they perceived themselves to be a bird or wolf or reindeer. This animal spirit helper then aided them in their healing, in their search for game or in their battles with other shamans.
Their clothes then reflected this affiliation and they would wear a bird feather cloak or antlers or a wolf’s pelt.
The earliest known depiction of a Siberian shaman, produced by the Dutch explorer Nicolaes Witsen, who authored an account of his travels among Samoyedic- and Tungusic-speaking peoples in 1692. Witsen labelled the illustration as a "Priest of the Devil" and gave this figure clawed feet to highlight what Witsen perceived as demonic qualities.
That the Siberian shaman knew of kundalini energy can also be deduced from his coat and cap.
The shamanistic coat is characterized by a fringe round the sleeves a little above the opening, or round the neck a little below the collar. The fringe is an indication that he can ‘fly’ – go out of body as the fringe is a simulation of feathers. Occasionally the shaman actually wore feathers.
Among the anthropomorphic personages depicted in the pre-Bronze and Bronze Age rock art from the Altai region, Tuva and Mongolia, there are frontal images of male and female figures wearing long, fringed coats with bands hanging down from the hands, arms, and sometimes from the sides, chest and hem. Most of these figures are shown with the raised hands typical of the ecstatic ; others are shown with extended hands, as if they are flying.
Besides the fringe there were slits ornamented with cured leather. 'These slits are said to represent curves and zigzags’ and these are like the lightning marks used by other cultures showing the energy pulsing up the arms, legs and spine – kundalini energy.
Occasionally the lightning bolts are held separately.
Alternative representations of the kundalini energy experienced by shamans can be found on shaman’s coats and include the very common snake motif.
The shamanistic cap is also supplied with fringes, but more importantly with a tassel on the top and a long double tassel on the left side. The tassels are of the type adopted for magic purposes, that is, they are formed of alternating pieces of white and black fur. Another cap with the opening on top, and likewise fringed and tasselled, was used by the shaman. In effect we have here a symbolic representation of the crown chakra.
An alternative representation was a burst of feathers.
Rock art drawing from Mount Ukir (after Khoroshih, cited in Mikhailov 1987); showing the kundalini energy, the metal disc, the crown chakra and the drum
The Siberian shamans also used the concept of a crown – the ultimate spiritual experience in which the person has become a ‘god’.
A description of the experience
Shamanism in Siberia - excerpts from Aboriginal Siberia by M. A. CZAPLICKA 
Gmelin saw a costume of another old and revered female shaman near Selenginsk. Her costume was hanging in her yurta, but, according to her account, was not complete.
Among other things he mentions a box, full of strips of cloth, small stones and thunderbolts, which she used for magical purposes.
............The Buryat shaman's costume was first described by Pallas. It belonged to a female shaman, who was accompanied by her husband and two other Buryat, each of them holding a magical drum. She herself held in her hand two sticks, ornamented at the top end with a carving of a horse's head surrounded by small bells. …..From the back of the shoulders reaching to the ground hung about thirty snakes, made of white and black skin, in such a way that the snakes seem to be composed of white and black rings. One of the snakes was divided into three at the end, and was accounted indispensable to each Buryat female shaman. The cap was covered with an iron casque having horns with three branches, projecting on both sides like those of a deer.
The shamanistic cap is also supplied with fringes, but more importantly with a tassel on the top and a long double tassel on the left side.
The tassels are of the type adopted for magic purposes, that is, they are formed of alternating pieces of white and black fur.
Another cap with the opening on top, and likewise fringed and tasselled, was used by the shaman. In effect we have here a symbolic representation of the crown chakra.
An alternative representation was a burst of feathers.
Rock art drawing from Mount Ukir (after Khoroshih, cited in Mikhailov 1987); showing the kundalini energy, the metal disc, the crown chakra and the drum.
In the exhaustive work of Agapitoff and Khangaloff there is a description of the old shaman costume among the Buryat-a costume of a kind which, however, is very rarely to be met with at present.
According to them, the coat (orgoy), the cap, and the horse-staves (morini-khörbö are the chief appurtenances of a shaman.
- The orgoy is of white material for the white shaman, and of blue for the black shaman. Its shape does not differ from that of the ordinary coat.' Klementzsays that the old-fashioned orgoy was shorter than that of the present day. The front of the coat is covered with metal figures of horses, fishes, birds, &c. The back is covered with twisted iron representing snakes, -with rattles hanging from them (shamshorgo),together with a whole row of little bells and tambourine bells. On the chest above the thin plates used to hang little shining copper disks, and on the sleeves were also hung thin iron plates, in imitation of the bones of the shoulder and forearm.
- The cap, which is peaked, is made of lynx skin, with a bunch of ribbons on the top. After the fifth consecration the shaman can wear the iron cap; it is composed of a crown-like iron hoop with two half-hoops crossing each other, above which is an iron plate with two born-like projections. Klementz calls this cap the metal diadem, 'consisting of an iron ring with two convex arches, also of iron, crossing one another at right angles, and with a long jointed chain which hangs down from the nape of the neck to the heels-we know of them only from the descriptions of travellers and from specimens preserved in a few museums'.
- The horse-staves (morini-khorbo) are to be met with among all the Buryat of Baikal, but among the Buryat of Balagan they are not used. Each Baikal shaman possesses two. They are made of wood or of iron; but the iron staff is only given to the shaman after the fifth consecration, when he also receives the iron cap. The wooden horse-staves are cut for the novice the day before his first consecration, from a birch-tree growing in the forest where the shamans are buried. The wood for the horse-staves must be cut in such a way that the tree shall not perish, otherwise it would be a bad omen for the shaman. This implement is 80 cm. long; the upper part is bent and has a horse-head carved on it; the middle part of the stick forms the knee-joints of the horse, and the lower end is fashioned into a hoof. Little bells, one of which is larger than the rest, are tied to the horse-staves. Likewise small conical weights of iron, khoubokho, or kholbogo, blue, white, yellow and red-coloured ribbons, and strips of ermine and squirrel fur. To make it look more realistic miniature stirrups are also attached. The iron horse-staves are not very different from the wooden ones. They represent the horses on which the shaman rides to the upper and lower worlds.
The source of the experienceSiberian shamanism
Concepts, symbols and science items
Black and White
Thunder and lightning