An Investigation into the Origin of the Term “Shaman”

in Sibirica
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The origin and meaning of the term shaman is a fundamental question in shamanic studies. There are conflicting views on this question in academic circles in China and overseas. Based on historical Chinese documents and Manchu-Tungus ethnic linguistic chronicles, this article argues that the term shaman originated from the language spoken by the Jurchen people of ancient northern China and was transmitted through the practices of generations of Jurchen descendants of the Manchu-Tungus peoples. The term shaman, as it is commonly used, is based on the root sar, which means knowing, or understanding, in the Manchu-Tungus linguistic family. The article concludes that shaman means “a wise man who knows everything.”

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies