Inside and Outside the Mirror: Mongolian Shamans’ Mirrors as Instruments of Perspectivism

in Inner Asia
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Abstract

This article explores the implications of the fact that shamans’ mirrors, and mirrors in general, have two quite different sides, one reflecting images and the other a dull blank or imagined as a teeming other world. It is argued that, for shamanists, the far side of themirror is conceived as the world of the dead, which is populated by spirits. Living people can, in certain circumstances such as divination, see ‘through’ the mirror into that world, and shamans when interacting with spirits in trance place themselves inside it. Two different perspectives, of the living and of the souls/spirits, are thus produced. The article ends with some speculations about the non-symmetrical character of these perspectives and concludes that the Mongols upholding these traditions are not post-moderns.

Inside and Outside the Mirror: Mongolian Shamans’ Mirrors as Instruments of Perspectivism

in Inner Asia

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