Mongolian shamanism

Mongolian shamanism, more broadly called the Mongolian folk religion,[1] or occasionally Tengerism,[note 2] refers to the animistic and shamanic ethnic religion that has been practiced in Mongolia and its surrounding areas (including Buryatia and Inner Mongolia) at least since the age of recorded history. The Mongolian endonym is Böö mörgöl (In Mongolian cyrillic: Бөө мөргөл). In the earliest known stages it was intricately tied to all other aspects of social life and to the tribal organization of Mongolian society. Along the way, it has become influenced by and mingled with Buddhism. During the socialist years of the twentieth century it was heavily repressed and has since made a comeback.

Yellow shamanism is the term used to designate the particular version of Mongolian shamanism which adopts the expressive style of Buddhism. "Yellow" indicates Buddhism in Mongolia, since most Buddhists there belong to what is called the Gelug or "Yellow sect" of Tibetan Buddhism, whose members wear yellow hats during services.[3] The term also serves to distinguish it from a form of shamanism not influenced by Buddhism (according to its adherents), called black shamanism.[4]

Mongolian shamanism is centered on the worship of the tngri (gods) and the highest Tenger (Heaven, God of Heaven, God) or Qormusta Tengri. In the Mongolian folk religion, Genghis Khan is considered one of the embodiments, if not the main embodiment, of the Tenger.[5] The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan in Ordos City, in Inner Mongolia, is an important center of this worship tradition.

The yard leading to The White Sulde Temple
Temple of the Sülde Tngri in the town of Uxin Banner in Inner Mongolia, China, in the Ordos Desert.[note 1]


Mongolian shamanism is an all-encompassing system of belief that includes medicine, religion, a reverence of nature, and ancestor worship. Central to the system were the activities of male and female intercessors between the human world and the spirit world, shamans (böö) and shamanesses (udgan). They were not the only ones to communicate with the spirit world: nobles and clan leaders also performed spiritual functions, as did commoners, though the hierarchy of Mongolian clan-based society was reflected in the manner of worship as well.[6]

Divinities and their class divisions

Klaus Hesse described the complex spiritual hierarchy in clan-based Mongolian society based on sources that go back to the 13th century. The highest group in the pantheon consisted of 99 tngri (55 of them benevolent or "white" and 44 terrifying or "black"), 77 natigai or "earth-mothers", besides others. The tngri were called upon only by leaders and great shamans and were common to all the clans. After these, three groups of ancestral spirits dominated. The "Lord-Spirits" were the souls of clan leaders to whom any member of a clan could appeal for physical or spiritual help. The "Protector-Spirits" included the souls of great shamans (ĵigari) and shamanesses (abĵiya). The "Guardian-Spirits" were made up of the souls of smaller shamans (böö) and shamanesses (udugan) and were associated with a specific locality (including mountains, rivers, etc.) in the clan's territory.[7]

The difference between great, white and small, black (in shamans, tngri, etc.) was also formative in a class division of three further groups of spirits, made up of "spirits who were not introduced by shamanist rites into the communion of ancestral spirits" but who could nonetheless be called upon for help—they were called "'the three accepting the supplications' (jalbaril-un gurban)". The whites were of the nobles of the clan, the blacks of the commoners, and a third category consisted of "the evil spirits of the slaves and non-human goblins". White shamans could only venerate white spirits (and if they called upon black spirits they "lost their right in venerating and calling the white spirits"), black shamans only black spirits (and would be too terrified to call upon white spirits since the black spirits would punish them). Black or white was assigned to spirits according to social status, and to shamans "according to the capacity and assignment of their ancestral spirit or spirit of the shaman's descent line."[8]

Reverence for Genghis Khan

Main hall of the Shrine of the Lord Genghis Khan, in Ordos City, China.

Nationwide reverence of Genghis Khan had existed until the 1930s, centered on a shrine which preserved mystical relics of Genghis, that was located in the Ordos Loop of the region of Inner Mongolia, in China.[9] The Japanese, during the occupation of China, tried to take possession of the relics in order to catalyse a pro-Japanese Mongol nationalism, but they failed.[9]

Within the Mongolian People's Republic (1924–92) the Mongolian native religion was suppressed, and Genghis' shrines destroyed.[9] In Inner Mongolia, otherwise, the worship of the cultural hero persisted; the hereditary custodians of the shrines survived there, preserving ancient manuscripts of ritual texts, written partially in an unintelligible language called the "language of the gods".[9]

With the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese rallied Mongol nationalism to the new state and constructed the Shrine of Genghis Khan (or Shrine of the Lord, as it is named in Mongolian[10]) in Ordos City, where they gathered the old sanctuary tents, confirmed the guardians of the groups in office, and subsidised annual sacrifices.[9]

The shrine in Ordos has since then become the focal point of a revival of Genghis Khan's reverence throughout Inner Mongolia.[11] The Han Chinese, the major ethnic group in Inner Mongolia, pay themselves homage to him as the spiritual foundation of the Yuan dynasty.[12] Various other temples of Genghis Khan, or branches of the shrine in Ordos, have been established in Inner Mongolia and northern China.[13][14]


Ovoos or aobaoes (Mongolian: овоо, Traditional Mongol: ᠥᠪᠥᠭᠭᠠ) are sacrificial altars of the shape of a mound that are traditionally used for worship in the indigenous religion of Mongols and related ethnic groups.[15] Every ovoo is thought as the representation of a god. There are ovoos dedicated to heavenly gods, mountain gods, other gods of nature, and also to gods of human lineages and agglomerations.

In Inner Mongolia, the aobaoes for worship of ancestral gods can be private shrines of an extended family or kin (people sharing the same surname), otherwise they are common to villages (dedicated to the god of a village), banners or leagues. Sacrifices to the aobaoes are made offering slaughtered animals, joss sticks, and libations.[15]



Mongol Shaman just before rituals.
Mongolian Shaman just before rituals. 3 March 2019. Khovsgol lake, Mongolia.
Мальчик на шаманском обряде
A Buryat boy in a shamanic ritual.

Various aspects of shamanism, including the tngri and their chief deity Qormusata Tngri, are described in the thirteenth-century The Secret History of the Mongols, the earliest historical source in Mongolian.[16] Sources from that time period, though, do not present a complete or coherent system of beliefs and traditions. A much richer set of sources is found from the seventeenth century on; these present a Buddhist-influenced "yellow" shamanism but in the opinion of many scholars they indicate the continued tradition of an older shamanism.[17]

Buddhism first entered Mongolia during the Yuan dynasty (thirteenth-fourteenth century) and was briefly established as a state religion. The cult of Genghis Khan, who had been accepted into the tngri, the highest pantheon of spirits in Mongolian shamanism, became annexed into Buddhist practice as well. Mongolia itself was at a political and developmental standstill until the sixteenth century, when after the conversion of Altan Khan Buddhism re-established itself.[18] In 1691, after Outer Mongolia had been annexed by the Qing Dynasty, Buddhism became the dominant religion of the entire area and shamanism began incorporating Buddhist elements. Violent resistance in the eighteenth century by the hunting tribes of Northern Mongolia against the (Buddhist) ruling group, the Khalka Mongols, led to the foundation of black shamanism.[3]

During the Soviet domination of the Mongolian People's Republic, all varieties of shamanism were repressed; after 1991, when the era of Soviet influence was over, religion (including Buddhism and shamanism) made a comeback.[3] Recent research by anthropologists has indicated that shamanism continues to be a part of Mongolian spiritual life; Ágnes Birtalan, for instance, recorded a series of invocations and chants to the important deity Dayan Deerh in 2005 in Khövsgöl Province.[19]

In June 2017 psychology professors Richard Noll and Leonard George conducted fieldwork among Mongol shamans and posted to YouTube seven short videos of a nocturnal summer solstice (Ulaan Tergel) "fire ritual" held near midnight some 20 km (12 mi) outside Ulaanbaatar. The event was organized by Jargalsaichan, the head of the Corporate Union of Mongolian Shamans, and was closed to tourists.[20]


Buryat shaman performing a libation.

The territory of the Buryats, who live around Lake Baikal, was invaded by the Russian Empire in the seventeenth century, and came to accept Buddhism in the eighteenth century at the same time they were recognizing themselves as Mongol; to which extent Buryat shamanism mixed with Buddhism is a matter of contention among scholars. A nineteenth-century division between black and white shamanism, where black shamanism called on evil deities to bring people misfortune while white shamanism invoked good deities for happiness and prosperity, had completely changed by the twentieth century.

Today, black shamanism invokes traditional shamanic deities, whereas white shamanism invokes Buddhist deities and recites Buddhist incantations but wears black shamanist accoutrements. White shamans worship Sagaan Ubgen and Burkhan Garbal (the "Ancestral Buddha").[3] The proliferation of Buryat shamans in the 1990 to 2001 period is analyzed as an aspect of historical and genetic "search for roots" among the marginalized Buryat peoples of Mongolia, Russia and China by Ippei Shimamura, Associate Professor of cultural anthropology and Mongolian studies at the University of Shiga Prefecture in Japan.[21]

Attributes of the shamans

An important attribute for Mongolian shamans is shared with all other shamanisms of Inner Asia: the drum. Mongolian shaman drums may incorporate the shaman's ongon or ancestral spirit, as in a drum described by Carole Pegg, where the drum handle represents that ongon. The drum's skin was often made of horse skin, the drum itself standing for "the saddle animal on which the shaman rides or the mount that carries the invoked spirit to the shaman."[22]

See also


  1. ^ The White Sulde is one of the two spirits of Genghis Khan (the other being the Black Sulde), represented either as his white or yellow horse or as a fierce warrior riding this horse. In its interior, the temple enshrines a statue of Genghis Khan (at the center) and four of his men on each side (the total making nine, a symbolic number in Mongolian culture), there is an altar where offerings to the godly men are made, and three white suldes made with white horse hair. From the central sulde there are strings which hold tied light blue pieces of cloth with a few white ones. The wall is covered with all the names of the Mongol kins. No photos are allowed inside the temple.
  2. ^ Tengrism is a broader term for the indigenous religion of Central Asia. According to Stausberg (2010): "Julie Steward, alias Sarangerel Odigon (1963-2006), a woman with a Mongolian (Buryat) mother and a German father, born in the United States, started to practice shamanism (or what she would refer to as 'Tengerism') as an adult; she then moved to Mongolia where she strived to restore and reconstruct the 'ancient and original' religion of the Mongolians. Among her major moves was the founding of a Mongolian Shamans' Association (Golomt Tuv) which gave Mongolian shamans a common platform and brought them into touch with shamans in other parts of the world, with the prospect of starting a shamanic world organization. Through some books Sarangerel also spread her Mongolian message to Western audiences. She traveled widely, giving lectures and holding workshops on Mongolian shamanism. Moreover, she started a Mongolian shamanic association of America (the Circle of Tengerism)."[2]



  1. ^ Heissig, 2000. p. 46
  2. ^ Michael Stausberg. Religion and Tourism: Crossroads, Destinations and Encounters. Routledge, 2010. ISBN 0415549329. p. 162
  3. ^ a b c d Shimamura 2004, pp. 649–650
  4. ^ Pegg 2001, p. 141
  5. ^ Man, 2004. pp. 402-404
  6. ^ Hesse 1986, p. 19
  7. ^ Hesse 1987, p. 405
  8. ^ Hesse 1987, pp. 405–406
  9. ^ a b c d e Bawden, 2013.
  10. ^ Man, 2005. p. 22
  11. ^ Man, 2005. pp. 22-23
  12. ^ Man, 2005. p. 23
  13. ^ 成吉思汗召.
  14. ^ 成吉思汗祠.
  15. ^ a b Li, 2006. pp. 58-59
  16. ^ Pegg 2001, p. 116
  17. ^ Hesse 1986, p. 18
  18. ^ Hesse 1987, p. 409
  19. ^ Birtalan 2005
  20. ^ Noll, Richard. "Mongol shamans summer solstice fire ritual". Youtube. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  21. ^ Shimamura, Ippei (2014). The Roots Seekers: Shamanism and Ethnicity Among the Mongol Buryats. Kanagawa, Japan: Shumpshua Publishing. ISBN 978-4-86110-397-1.
  22. ^ Pegg 2001, pp. 127–28


  • Birtalan, Ágnes (2005). "An Invocation to Dayan Dērx Collected from a Darkhad Shaman's Descendant". In Kara György (ed.). The Black Master: Essays on Central Eurasia in Honor of György Kara on His 70th Birthday. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 21–33. ISBN 9783447051866. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  • Hesse, Klaus (1986). "A Note on the Transformation of White, Black and Yellow Shamanism in the History of the Mongols". Studies in History. 2 (1): 17–30. doi:10.1177/025764308600200102.
  • Hesse, Klaus (1987). "On the History of Mongolian Shamanism in Anthropological Perspective". Anthropos. 82 (4–6): 403–13. JSTOR 40463470.
  • Мелетинский, Е.М. (1998). "ЦАГАН ЭБУГЕН". Мифология ["Tsagan Ubugen", Mythology, Great Russian Encyclopedia] (in Russian) (4th ed.). Большая российская энциклопедия.
  • Pegg, Carole (2001). Mongolian Music, Dance, & Oral Narrative: Performing Diverse Identities. University of Washington. ISBN 9780295981123. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  • Shimamura, Ippei (2004). "Yellow Shamans (Mongolia)". In Walter, Mariko Namba; Neumann Fridman, Eva Jane (eds.). Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture. Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture. 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 649–651. ISBN 9781576076453. Archived from the original on 2014-07-15.
  • Bawden, C. R. Modern History Mongolia. Routledge, 2013. ASIN B00K1GW48Y
  • Isabelle Charleux. Chinggis Khan: Ancestor, Buddha or Shaman?. On: Mongolian Studies: Journal of the Mongolia Society, 31, 2009. pp. 207–258.
  • John Man. Genghis Khan. Bantam, 2005. ISBN 0553814982
  • John Man. Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection. Bantam Press, London, 2004. ISBN 9780553814989
  • Walther Heissig. The Religions of Mongolia. Routledge, 2000. ISBN 0710306857
  • Xing Li. Festivals of China's Ethnic Minorities. China Intercontinental Press, 2006. ISBN 7508509994

Further reading

  • Bira, Shagdaryn (2011). About the history of the Tngri cult of the Mongols. III Международная научно-практическая конференция — Тенгрианство и эпическое наследие народов Евразии: истоки и современность, 1 по 3 июля 2011 (in Russian).

External links

  • Samgaldai NGO - A charitable, non-for-profit NGO for preserving Mongolian traditional Shamanic practices and rituals, operating in Mongolia.
Arshi Tengri

Arshi Tengri, the "Hermit God", is a god who is associated with the fire ritual as practiced in Mongolian Buddhism. The epithet is found in a prayer by the 18th-century lama Mergen Gegen Lubsangdambijalsan, where it is added to the name of the "Khan of the fire". "Arshi" derives from Sanskrit rsi; "tngri" refers to the 99 tngri or Mongolian deities.

Black shamanism

Black shamanism is a kind of shamanism practiced in Mongolia, Siberia and Romania. It is specifically opposed to yellow shamanism, which incorporates rituals and traditions from Buddhism. Black Shamans are usually perceived as working with evil spirits, while white Shamans with spirits of the upper world.Buddhism entered Mongolia in the sixteenth century after the conversion of Altan Khan. In 1691, after Outer Mongolia had been annexed by the Qing Dynasty, Buddhism became the dominant religion of the entire area and shamanism began incorporating Buddhist elements. Violent resistance in the eighteenth century by the hunting tribes of Northern Mongolia against the (Buddhist) ruling group, the Khalka Mongols, led to the foundation of black shamanism.

Dayan Deerh

Dayan Deerh or Dayan Degereki is one of the most important divinities in the folk practices and shamanic invocations in Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia. His cult is linked to fertility rites which are practiced in yellow shamanism (which incorporates Buddhist ritual and belief) as well as in black shamanism (a less Buddhist-influenced type of shamanism). He is still venerated, especially on the eastern side of Lake Khövsgöl.

Dayisun Tngri

Daichsun Tngri, also known as Dayisud Tngri and Dayičin Tngri, is a Mongolian war god "of a protective function" to whom captured enemies were sometimes sacrificed. One of the equestrian deities within the Mongolian pantheon of 99 tngri, Dayisun Tngri may appear as a mounted warrior. Some of his characteristics may be the result of the "syncretistic influence of Lamaism" (Tibetan Buddhism); the fifth Dalai Lama composed invocations to this deity.

Mausoleum of Genghis Khan

The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan is a temple dedicated to Genghis Khan, where he is worshipped as ancestor, dynastic founder, and deity. The temple is better called the Lord's Enclosure (i.e. shrine), the traditional name among the Mongols, as it has never truly contained the khan's body. It is the main centre of the worship of Genghis Khan, a growing practice in the Mongolian shamanism of both Inner Mongolia, where the temple is located, and Mongolia.The temple is located in the Kandehuo Enclosure in the town of Xinjie, in the Ejin Horo Banner in the Ordos Prefecture of Inner Mongolia, in China. The main hall is actually a cenotaph where the coffin contains no body (only headdresses and accessories), because the actual tomb of Genghis Khan has never been discovered.

The present structure was built between 1954 and 1956 by the government of the PRC in the traditional Mongol style. It was desecrated and its relics destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but it was restored with replicas in the 1980s and remains the center of Genghis Khan worship. It was named a AAAAA-rated tourist attraction by China's National Tourism Administration in 2011.


Ovoo, oboo, or obo (Mongolian: овоо, Traditional Mongol: ᠣᠪᠤᠭ᠎ᠠ, "heap"; Chinese: 敖包 áobāo, lit. "magnificent bundle [i.e. shrine]") are sacred stone heaps used as altars or shrines in Mongolian folk religious practice and in the religion of other Mongolic peoples. They are usually made from rocks with wood.

Ovoos are often found at the top of mountains and in high places, like mountain passes. In modern times, especially in China, some of them have developed into large and elaborate structures, becoming more like temples than simple altars. In many of these aobaos of China, a trident symbol is put on top of the structure.

They serve mainly as sites for the worship of Heaven and lesser gods led by shamans and kins' elders, but also for Buddhist ceremonies.

Qormusta Tengri

Qormusta Tengri (Qormusata Tngri "King of the Gods", also transliterated as Qormusta Tngri and Hormusta) is a god in Mongolian mythology and shamanism, described as the chief god of the 99 tngri and leader of the 33 gods. It is the same of Turkish deities / gods Hürmüz and Kormos Han.According to Walther Heissig, the group of 33 gods led by Qormusata Tngri exists alongside the well-known group of 99 tngri. Qormusata Tngri is to be equated with Ahura Mazda, the chief Iranian god, and with Esrua, who in turn is Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. The Indian influence may explain the 33 gods, analogous with Indra (to whom Michael York compares him, as a more active being) and his 33 planets (or gods). Qormusata Tngri leads those 33, and in early Mongolian texts is also mentioned as leading the 99 tngri. He is connected to the origin of fire: "Buddha struck the light and 'Qormusata Tngri lit the fire'." A Mongolian fable of a fox describes a fox so clever that even Qormusata Tngri (as the head of the 99 tingri) falls prey to him; in a Mongolian folktale, Boldag ugei boru ebugen ("The impossible old man, Boru"), he is the sky god with the crow and the wolf as his "faithful agents".Qormusata Tngri's relatively recent entrance into the Mongolian pantheon is also indicated by the attempts on the part of Mergen Gegen Lubsangdambijalsan (1717-1766?) to replace earlier shamanist gods in the liturgy with five Lamaist gods including Qormusata Tngri. In one text, he is presented as the father of the 17th-century cult figure Sagang Sechen, who is at the same time an incarnation of Vaiśravaṇa, one of the Four Heavenly Kings in Buddhism.

Religion in Inner Mongolia

Religion in Inner Mongolia is characterised by the diverse traditions of Mongolian-Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, the Chinese traditional religion including the traditional Chinese ancestral religion, Taoism, Confucianism and folk religious sects, and the Mongolian native religion. The region is inhabited by a majority of Han Chinese and a substantial minority of Southern Mongols (the Mongols of China), so that some religions follow ethnic lines.

According to a survey held in 2004 by the Minzu University of China, about 80% of the population of the region practice the worship of Heaven (that is named Tian in the Chinese tradition and Tenger in the Mongolian tradition) and of aobao. Official statistics report that 12.1% of the population (3 million people) are members of Tibetan Buddhist groups. According to the Chinese Spiritual Life Survey of 2007 and the Chinese General Social Survey of 2009, Christianity is the religious identity of 2% of the population of the region and the Chinese ancestral religion (traditional lineage churches) is the professed belonging of 2.36%, while a demographic analysis of the year 2010 reported that Muslims comprise the 0.91%.Mongolian Buddhism, which is of the same schools of Tibetan Buddhism, was the dominant religion in Inner Mongolia until the 19th century. Its monastic institution was virtually eradicated during the Cultural Revolution, that was particularly tough against the political power of the lamas. Since the 1980s there has been a modest revival, with the reconstruction of some important monasteries and new smaller temples.At the same time, there has been an unprecedented development of Mongolian shamanism, especially centered on the cult of Genghis Khan and the Heaven, the former being traditionally considered an embodiment of Heaven itself, in special temples (many of which yurt-style), and the cult of aobao as ancestral shrines. The cult of Genghis is also shared by the Han Chinese, claiming his spirit as the founding principle of the Yuan dynasty.In facts, there has been a significant integration of the Han Chinese of Inner Mongolia into the traditional Mongolian spiritual heritage of the region. Reconstructed Buddhist monasteries and folk temples are massively attended by local Han. Moreover, as elsewhere in China, there has been a growing conscious adoption of the Gelug sect, and other Tibetan-originated Buddhist schools, by the Han Chinese.

Religion in Mongolia

Religion in Mongolia has been traditionally dominated by the schools of Mongolian Buddhism and by Mongolian shamanism, the ethnic religion of the Mongols. Historically, through their Mongol Empire the Mongols were exposed to the influences of Christianity (Nestorianism and Catholicism) and Islam, although these religions never came to dominate. During the socialist period of the Mongolian People's Republic (1924-1992) all religions were suppressed, but with the transition to the parliamentary republic in the 1990s there has been a general revival of faiths.

According to the national census of 2010, 53% of the Mongolians identify as Buddhists, 38.6% as not religious, 3% as Muslims (predominantly of Kazakh ethnicity), 2.9% as followers of the Mongol shamanic tradition, 2.2% as Christians, and 0.4% as followers of other religions. Other sources estimate that a significantly higher proportion of the population follows the Mongol ethnic religion (18.6%).

Religion in Northeast China

The predominant religions in Northeast China (including the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, historically also known as Manchuria) are Chinese folk religions led by local shamans. Taoism and Chinese Buddhism were never well established in this region of recent Han Chinese settlement (Han people began to be a large part of the population only by the Qing dynasty). For this reason the region has been a hotbed for folk religious and Confucian churches, which provide a structure, clergy, scriptures and ritual to the local communities. The Way of the Return to the One, the Universal Church of the Way and its Virtue (Shanrendao), and more recently the Falun Gong, have been the most successful sects in Manchuria, claiming millions of followers. Schools of Tibetan Buddhism, traditionally transmitted by the region's Mongol minorities, have made inroads also among Han Chinese.

The period of the Japanese occupation (1931) and the establishment of an independent Manchukuo (1932–1945), saw the development of Japanese scholarship on the local religion, and later the establishment of Shinto shrines and sects.

The native Manchu population, today mostly assimilated to the Han Chinese, practices Han religions but has also maintained pure Manchu shamanism. The local Chinese folk religion has developed many patterns inherited from Manchu and Tungus shamanism, making it different from central and southern folk religion.

According to surveys conducted in 2007 and 2009, 7.73% of the population believes and is involved in cults of ancestors, while 2.15% of the population identifies as Christian. The reports didn't give figures for other types of religion; 90.12% of the population may be either irreligious or involved in worship of nature deities, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, folk religious sects, and small minorities of Muslims. The Mongol minority mostly practices Mongolian folk religion and Tibetan-originated schools of Buddhism, while the Korean minority is mostly affiliated to Korean shamanism and Christianity.

Sagaan Ubgen

Tsagaan Ubgen ("The elder White", "White Old Man"; Mongolian: (Дэлхийн) цагаан өвгөн Buryat: Сагаан үбгэн Russian: Белый Старец) is the Mongolian guardian of life and longevity, one of the symbols of fertility and prosperity in the Buddhist pantheon. He is worshiped as a deity in what scholars have called "white shamanism", a subdivision of what scholars have called "Buryat yellow shamanism"—that is, a tradition of shamanism that "incorporate[s] Buddhist rituals and beliefs" and is influenced specifically by Tibetan Buddhism. Sagaan Ubgen originated in Mongolia.In some versions of the mythology, Sagaan Ubgen the White Elder is the partner of Itügen, Mother Earth, also known as Etügen Eke.

Shamanism in China

Shamanism in China (中国萨满教 Zhōngguó sàmǎnjiào) may refer to all the forms of shamanism practiced in China:

Chinese shamanism or "Wuism", the term referring specifically to the indigenous shamanic tradition of the Han Chinese, practiced by wu;

Tongji, southern Chinese mediumship;

Chuma xian and other forms of shamanism within Northeast China folk religion;

Manchu shamanism, practiced in northeast China;

Mongolian shamanism, practiced in Inner Mongolia;

Imperial shamanism in the Qing dynasty

Shamans in Ming China

Sülde Tngri

Sülde Tngri is an equestrian war god, one of the tngri, the highest group of divinities in Mongolian shamanism. He is usually depicted as an armored warrior riding a horse. In Mongolian shamanism, everyone possesses a guardian spirit, called a sülde. "Sülde Tngri" can refer to the sülde of any great leader, but it primarily refers to the deified sülde of Genghis Khan. As a war god, Sülde Tngri's primary function is protecting his devotees from their enemies and aiding them in battles against their foes.


Tengrism, also known as Tengriism, Tenggerism, or Tengrianism, is a Central Asian religion characterized by shamanism, animism, totemism, poly-, and monotheism, and ancestor worship. It was the prevailing religion of the Turks, Mongols, Hungarians, Bulgars, Xiongnu, and, possibly, the Huns, and the religion of the several medieval states: Göktürk Khaganate, Western Turkic Khaganate, Old Great Bulgaria, Danube Bulgaria, Volga Bulgaria and Eastern Tourkia (Khazaria). In Irk Bitig, Tengri is mentioned as Türük Tängrisi (God of Turks).Tengrism has been advocated in intellectual circles of the Turkic nations of Central Asia (including Tatarstan, Buryatia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan) since the dissolution of the Soviet Union during the 1990s. Still practiced, it is undergoing an organized revival in Sakha, Khakassia, Tuva and other Turkic nations in Siberia. Burkhanism, a movement similar to Tengrism, is concentrated in Altay.

Khukh tengri means "blue sky" in Mongolian, Mongolians still pray to Munkh Khukh Tengri ("Eternal Blue Sky") and Mongolia is sometimes poetically called the "Land of Eternal Blue Sky" (Munkh Khukh Tengriin Oron) by its inhabitants. In modern Turkey, Tengrism is known as the Göktanrı dini ("Sky God religion"); the Turkish "Gök" (sky) and "Tanrı" (God) correspond to the Mongolian khukh (blue) and Tengri (sky), respectively. According to Hungarian archaeological research, the religion of the Hungarians until the end of the 10th century (before Christianity) was Tengrism.

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (Tib. o thog bstan 'dzin dbang rgyal) is a teacher (lama) of the Bon Tibetan religious tradition. He is founder and director of the Ligmincha Institute and several centers named Chamma Ling, organizations dedicated to the study and practice of the teachings of the Bon tradition.


In the pantheon of Mongolian shamanism, tngri (also tengri, tegri) constitute the highest class of divinities and are attested in sources going back to the 13th century. They are led by different chief deities in different documents and are divided into a number of different groups—including black (terrifying) and white (benevolent), and eastern and western. While there generally seem to be 99 tngri, some documents propose three others (from the north), and while they are generally the highest divinities, some liturgical texts propose an additional group of 33 chief gods alongside the tngri. They were invoked only by the highest shamans and leaders for special occasions; they continue to be venerated especially in black shamanism. Chief among the tngri are Qormusata Tngri and (Khan) Möngke Tngri.

The term tngri is cognate with the Turkic theonym tengri "sky", Mongolian taŋɣaraɣ "oath".

Toli (shamanism)

A toli is a round, ritual mirror used in Shamanism in some parts of Mongolia and in the Republic of Buryatia. The mirror, ornamented on one side and polished on the other, may be made of bronze, brass or copper.Toli are traditionally worn as part of a shaman's attire around the shaman's neck, or in quantity on the shaman's kaftan or apron - often called their armour as these pieces of ritual clothing help to protect the shaman from hostile spirit attack. Toli help ward off harmful or attacking spirits in their own right, and also can be thought of as an object which signifies the shaman's authority or role.Toils have additional purposes as well, for example, amongst the Daur people and all the other shamanistic groups who use them, they are used for a variety of practices, including to purifying and empowering water or vodka, collecting and trapping hostile spirits, and providing a home for helper spirits. They also act as vessels for spiritual power - called 'wind horse' in Mongolia - which is the shaman's power. They can also collect and store the power of blessings, or power given from the sun, moon, stars or other parts of Creation, all of which can be given to a sick person, or which can be added to the shaman's own power.

Walther Heissig, describing shamans and their incantations in Hure Banner in the 1940s, remarks that one shamaness indicated that the toli contained "the white horses of the shamans"; the mirror itself was seen as a vehicle for the shamans.Toli may be used in different sizes; among the Daur, the front and back of the shaman's costume was covered with small toli placed like overlapping scales while the front might also feature eight large mirrors and one medium-sized mirror to protect the heart, the neker-toli; according to Heissig, in Hure Banner shamans wore nine mirrors, nine being a particularly meaningful number in Mongolian religion and mythology. The neker-toli might be plated in nickel. The number of toli collected by the Daur shaman was an indicator of his or her level of power.


Tokhta (Toqta, Tokhtai, Tochtu or Tokhtogha) (died c. 1312) was a khan of the Golden Horde, son of Mengu-Timur and great grandson of Batu Khan.

His name "Tokhtokh" means "hold/holding" in the Mongolian language.

Yellow shamanism

Yellow shamanism is the term used to designate a particular version of shamanism practiced in Mongolia and Siberia which incorporates rituals and traditions from Buddhism. "Yellow" indicates Buddhism in Mongolia, since most Buddhists there belong to what is called the "Yellow sect" of Tibetan Buddhism, whose members wear yellow hats during services. The term also serves to distinguish it from a form of shamanism not influenced by Buddhism (according to its adherents), called "black shamanism".

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