Éven Shaman’s Coat

Éven Shaman’s Coat

Shaman’s Coat, ca. 19th century
Unknown maker, Éven, Siberia
Hide, metal, sinew, hair, and dye, 36 1/4 × 24 3/8 in. (92 × 62 cm)
Conserved, 2016
Courtesy the American Museum of Natural History, Division of Anthropology, New York City, 70/5772 A

This knee-length shaman’s coat made from rovduga (reindeer suede) belongs to the Éven people of Northern Siberia. Indigenous peoples such as the Éven, who live in one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth, are witnessing dramatic changes to their environment. They are among the most vulnerable to climate change as their traditional livelihood and cosmology depend on a finely kept ecological and spiritual balance that is centered on reindeer husbandry. As part of shamanic regalia, this coat facilitates the shaman’s social role as a mediator between human, animal, and spirit worlds. Évens, like other Indigenous peoples of the Russian North, consider the present ecological imbalance to be a result of the spiritual neglect of people-nature relationships under colonial rule. Collaborative conservation of such items in museums can support Indigenous efforts to revive techniques for making and using customary items in the hopes of restoring cultural, ecological, and spiritual balance.


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Shaman’s Coat, ca. 19th century

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