Shaman Festival

June 21st, 2012  |  Published in Field Notes  |  1 Comment

Every summer, the Shaman Festival is held in Rebkong, Amdo. This important ceremony honors the local mountain god and requests that he bestows good health on the villagers and a successful harvest on the community. All of the local villagers participate in the ceremony: women dance, men beat drums, boys perform dramas, and girls show their traditional dress of the region. The festival is lively and colorful, with everyone dressed in colorful robes. The local mountain god is invited to join the ceremony, and shaman serves as his medium.

In the beginning of the festival all villagers made offering to the locals gods. They climbed up to the mountain behind the village, perform ritual dances and offer sang (natural incense made from juniper and barley flour), throwing lungta (“wind horse”, colorful papers, which represent good luck and life force) to the air, loudly chanting mantras and prayers.

Afterwards, all the villagers join together in a circle ritual dance. One man with a long braid emerged from the temple, shaking and moving uncontrollably. As a oracle, he served as a medium for the mountain god. He pour bottles of alcohol on the ground as an offering while other men stood around him, clearing his way. Then, two young men on stilts came out and danced while beating drums. Two other young men, wearing green masks, followed them, performing a dance together with villagers.

One of the most important activities of the festival is a piercing one’s mouth or back side of a body. Shaman, on behalf of the mountain god, pierces a steel into back or cheek of participants. Participants continue performing circle dance with pierced cheeks until shaman pulls out the needles, blowing to the wound in order to heal it.This performance represents the blessing of mountain gods as well as good harvest.

At the end of the festival all villagers gathered together to sing songs and perform local dances. Everybody wore their best clothes adorned with colorful jewelry made from precious stones.

Video: Rebkong Shaman Festival

Rebkong Shaman Festival 2012 will be held on August 03-13.
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  1. Alain says:

    May 10th, 2015at 5:44 pm(#)

    Hi, I am contemplating coming to Qinghai this summer and would like to know when the Shaman festival of Repkong will be held this year. What program do you organise at this occasion ?

    Best regards

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