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Shamanism 2

Foundation and Development of Mongolian Shamanism

The Development of Mongolian Shamanism

Several scholars have divided Shamanism into historical stages, according to Mongolian history. In 1985, H.Buyanbat analyzed the distinctions made in 1959 by Ch. Dalay between ancient and medieval phases and proposed his own five-stage periodization:

  1. Foundation of Mongolian Shamanism including its historical stages from the Matriarchy to the seventh century AD or Borte Chinua | Grey Wolf | period.
  2. Development of Mongolian Shamanism from the seventh century to 1271, when Mongolia was known as the Yuan Empire.
  3. The decline of Mongolian Shamanism, from the Yuan Empire’s disintegration to the relocation of the Mongolian capital in 1368.
  4. Rehabilitation of Mongolian Shamanism between 1368 and the 1670s, when “Yellow” Buddhism |Lamanism| became predominant in Mongolia. 
  5. Destruction of Mongolian Shamanism from the 1670s to the beginning of the twentieth century [6: 89-168].

     Academics after H.Buyanbat raised no objections to this classification, which may signify their approval for this model. Subsequently, D.Mansan and Mr.Yonsog |People’s Republic of China| explored the development of Mongolian Shamanism, and its peak at the beginning of the thirteenth century, when Chinggis Haan united all the Mongols. They wrote, “In that period Mongolian Shamanism experienced a higher rate of growth than at any other time” and “Passing through a gradual process of development, it reached its peak” [11, 13, 19; 7: 103|. Moreover, G.Sukhbaatar, during his concluded, Hunnu’s social, economic and political history, concluded, “The Hunnu’s had specialized Shamans, which meant the height of the Shamanist religion’s development” [37: 75].

     The main reason why the scholars reached different conclusions was because of disagreement concerning Chinggis Haan’s foundation of the Mongolian State in the thirteenth century. In other words, they artificially related the development of the Shaman religion to the state and therefore made spurious distinctions between stages. D.Mansan and Mr.Yonsog’s conclusions provided an insufficient evaluation of the Mongolian state’s historical role and importance in the thousand years prior to the thirteenth century.

     The Shaman Religion, which was founded in the Matriarchal period, passed through thousands of years of development and its peak provided a structured organizational and ideological background for the first nomadic states that, in turn, played an appreciable role in the history of the Mongols and other nomadic peoples of Central Asia. More details of this are provided in subsequent chapters.

     However, the united Mongolian state established by Chinggis Haan in the early thirteenth century relied upon the structural, organizational and ideological traditions of previous states going back as far as the Hunnu dynasty. 

     Thus, the main ideological framework of the Mongolian United States was rooted in the customs and practices of the Shaman religion. After the formation of the first Mongolian State, the culture of the Shamanist Religion became more developed. From this standpoint, Dr. G.Sukhbaatar’s conclusion concerning its appears to be justified.

     Taking all of these arguments into account, I purpose that the History of the Mongolian Shaman religion should be divided into the following stages: 

  1. Foundation, from the Matriarchy to the establishment of the first independent state on Mongolian territory;
  2. The peak of Development during the Hunnu Dynasty;
  3. Co-existence with many religious groups and sects in Mongolia;
  4. Decline, or disintegration of Shamanism as a major religion in Mongolia. 
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