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Ancient Shaman culture grabs weekly spotlight

THE Shaman culture of Manchu is being highlighted by Jilin Province as its provincial week started yesterday.

Shaman culture was derived from an ancient ritual that allowed the emperor to make decisions by communicating with the Shaman god.

A Manchu Shaman descendant will make Shaman instruments including drums and bells and Manchu paper-cutting to show the history of the culture. The show will be presented daily at Baosteel Stage until Monday.

Guan Yunde, the 63-year-old leader of a Shaman clan in Jilin, is said to be the only person in the world who can perform the traditional ritual.

"The ritual is a kind of traditional culture," Guan said.

He is a descendant of the Shaman of the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan, who claimed he could communicate with the Shaman god and guide the Mongol army.

Guan brought three Shaman gods' drums made of sheepskin. Ancient priests played the drums, which hang around the waist, to perform the ritual.

He also knows Manchu paper-cutting, which has been passed down for 13 generations. He has infused his paper-cutting works with many Shaman fairy tales to offer something more original, meaningful and creative.

In one of his paper-cutting works, a figure with the head of an eagle and body of a female human breast feeds a girl in her arm.

This is the Goddess of Eagle Mother, an original Manchu Shaman goddess. "The totems are known to few people," he said.

Most of his works show the masks of various Shaman gods. Guan said he visited all the Shaman clans to learn their styles and add them to his paper-cutting repertoire.

His great grandfather made Shaman instruments for emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

He also added many Manchu hieroglyph characters, which are near distinction, into his paper-cutting works.

Visitors can buy his paper-cuttings at the stage. A series of nine costs 1,000 yuan (US$146.4). Other Manchu items on display include handmade imperial costumes from the Qing Dynasty.

Visitors can try an imperial costume and take a picture of themselves.


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