Shamans throughout much of Asia are regarded as having the power to control and coerce spirits. Many Asians today still turn to shamans to communicate with the world of the dead, heal the sick, and explain enigmatic events. To understand Asian religions, therefore, a knowledge of shamanism is essential.
Shamans in Asia provides an introduction to the study of shamans and six ethnographic studies, each of which describes and analyses the lives and activities of shamans in five different regions: Siberia, China, Korea, and the Ryukyu islands of southern Japan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The essays show what type of people become shamans, what social roles they play, and how shamans actively draw from the worldviews of the communities in which they operate. As the first book in English to provide in-depth accounts of shamans from different regions of Asia, it allows students and scholars to view the diversity and similarities of shamans and their religions. Those interested in spiritual specialists, the anthropological study of religion, and local religions in Asia will be intrigued, if not entranced, by Shamans in Asia.
Clark Chilson is the associate editor for Asian Folklore Studies and the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies.
Peter Knecht is Professor of Anthropology at Nanzan University and editor of Asian Folklore Studies.