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What If We Don't Know Our Clan?

The City as New Ritual Form in Buriatiia

Justine Buck Quijada

“Traditionally” Buriat shamanism is clan-based. Ritual practice embedded kinship relations within a sacred geography, linking the living and the dead through a relationship to the landscape, reaffirmed at yearly tailgan ceremonies. In Buriatiia, Soviet modernization transformed the Buriat relationship to the land, and with it, the conditions of shamanic practice. As a result, many urban Buriats either do not know their clan affiliation, or no longer hold clan ceremonies. In response, two urban shaman's organizations have begun to hold tailgans on behalf of the residents of the city. The new ritual form relieves anxiety at the loss of tradition and underscores that loss. However, by redefining the ritual community around the city instead of the clan, the ritual community becomes multiethnic.