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Early Origins and Foundations of Ulchi Shamanism

Neolithic Period Amur River Region

The traditions of the art of shamanizing begins with the seminal legend of the great mammoth transferring the ancient knowledge to the first human (some stories say it was a female and others a male). The hunter/tress was given instructions about the drum and other paraphernalia necessary to begin the transmogrification from human to shaman at the base of the world tree. The earliest legends speak of the animal people (megafauna of the Pleistocene era) as assistants and guides to the culture. The shaman's spirit arsenal was replete with mammoths, cave lions, bison, crocodiles, Kaluga sturgeon, etc. from this epoch.

The Ulchis speak a southern dialect of the Manchu-Tungus language from the Altaic language family that had no original written form. Early twentieth century Soviet ethnographers and linguists recorded oral histories where a complete legend would take 11-12 hours to recite. These ancient histories and teachings were memorized and passed down from one generation to the next by the wisdom keepers within each familial clan. Even now the preservation of the early shamanic instructions remains the foundation of the work.