An Archeological Study on the Northern Nationalities and China Ulanganhada Culture

By | 2014年2月6日 | 1,865 views

By Xuelian

Abstract(A dissertation of M.A degree)

Key Words: the New Stone Age, the Northern Nationalities, Chinese Ulaganhada Culture, Archeological Discoveries Jade Articles, Shamanism


It is very important to do some archeological study on the historical relics of the tribes and clans or nationalities in northeast China and northeast Asia. In 1935, the Ulaganhada Culture was discovered at the back of Ulaganhada Mount of Ulaganhada City of Inner Mongolia, China. And in 1954, the relic site called as Ulaganhada Culture. Then, many scientific summaries and studies have been done on the archeological discoveries which related to the New Stone Age by scholars both in China and abroad.

This article was based on the research achievements of archeological discoveries of jade articles of Ulaganhada Culture in China and abroad, some of the jade articles are noticed as religious tools which were used in Shaman activities or religious ceremonies when Shamans were contacting with their spiritual gods, according to the natural geological situation, life style, custom, beliefs and cultural psychology of the Chinese northern clans, tribes and nationalities, a new study is done on the very subject from the ideas of statistics, history, ethnic study, religious research, ecological geology and archeological methods.

The jade articles are also recognized as burial artifacts for diseased elders or shamans, thus funeral objects of Ulagangaha Culture was originated from the old cultural psychology and social custom of northern nationalities and I gave these ideas in a very progressive research.

Shamanism was a very popular belief of ancient Altaic nationalities. In Shamanism, people believe that all things of the universe having soul, and the universe is divided into three stories, such as upper world, middle world and under world, the upper world refer to god, the middle world refer to human, the under world refer to hell. And the Shamans are envoys between these worlds and were worshiped as enchanters who healing diseases or bringing happiness to the human world.

The nationalities who related to Shaman belief are some of Altaic Nationalities in China, such as Manchu, Ewenki, Orchon, Hezhe, Sibege, Uygur, Khasag, Kirgis, Mongol and Dagur etc. The primitive characters of Shamanism are inherited through the life and psychological history and some Shaman traditions and preserved until today. In fact, the ancient nationalities had been settled in northern China, as written down in some historical books of both in Mongolian and Chinese, are considered as ancestors of the northern China nationalities today. These nationalities were invaded into the south and built empires in different historical times. In this condition, the northern nationalities become one sometimes, hence formed a new culture and religion which combined with the original one and adopted some aspects from the south. And the special characteristic of Shamanism of the northern Chinese nationalities differs from the world Shamanism and the era.

The Shamanists said, the northeast and middle Asia is homeland of Shamanism and original relation with nationalities of Tungus Family Language, Turk Family Language and their religious cultural tradition in these areas. There are also many similarities among the basic ideas of Shaman beliefs, Shaman custom and ceremonies. With these characteristics, Shamanism in China has a special value in the world Shamanism history.

Based on the archeological discoveries which related to pre-historical local culture of Chinese northern nationalities, it is having a great realistic significance to study ancient Shamanism, in my thought. The reasons are: first, there is a Shaman performing in Ulaganhada Culture from ancient time and there is still left some characters and heritages in religious life of Northern nationalities today. Second, the jade articles from Ulaganhada Culture were tools of daily life and used as some special communicational tools between god and Shamans by them. According to hundreds of jade articles have discovered from the burial place in Ulaganhada Culture Area, those are maybe their daily articles which used in their life time of the diseased people. A cultural and custom study shows that burial artifacts as jade, coral and pearl articles were popular in ancient time and there still has this kind of traditions in some areas today. The tombs that have jade artifacts in Ulganhada Culture were placed on the mountains and hills have an altitude of 550-650 meters and buried with stone heaps in some square or circle stone gardens. It is interesting that there have only found jade articles as burial artifact but no porcelains and stone tools. In the time of tribal era, the head of the tribe also acted as a Shaman among Altaic nationalities, and they called as Shaman or Khan at that time.

The jade articles of Ulaganhada Culture were more important tools for Shaman life because those were even used as daily articles among ordinary people at that time. There is a common character in the jade articles, that is, each article has a hole for connecting thread and wearing. It is very popular methods used in the Northern nomadic people ornaments.

The Shaman performance is a special activity of worship and belief. The performance mainly acts in certain dance while the Shaman entering certain mental situation and it is believed that Shaman could contact with their gods in this way and doing the sacrifice. The god or soul appeared in advantage of the Shaman body and could communicate with the tribe people. Shaman always acts as an undertaker of multi-task obligation and wholly man, therefore, his clothes and tools are should be different and special from ordinary man.

The concept of soul is a very primitive and religious and popular idea of human beings. In Shamanism, there is an objective explanation about the existence of soul. The soul can move from the original body and also can back to the body again, it can move into other people’s body or objects and to do certain activities, but not being seen by human eyes. The different shapes of jade articles from Ulanganhada Culture, some of them made as fish, some as birds, some as tortoises, some as dragon horse, are may related to the soul ideology of the nomadic people.

The Shaman clothes and performance tools are very special and unique among Northern Chinese nationalities. The Shamans wear these unique clothes when they perform, so they looked very different from ordinary people and could acting as envoys between god and human, and doing their sacrifice and responsibilities. It is very significant to make their clothes,sound, articles and dances different, so that they could run the Shamanism theories, at that time.

There are loved and believed animals drawn or carved on the porcelain articles of Northern Chinese nationalities, animal designs such as boar, deer, bird , bear etc, from Ulaganhada of Inner Mongolia and certain areas of Liaoning Province. Bears are a very common animal design of symbol of strong and power among northeast Asian nomadic people and there many stories about bear and some influences found in Shamanism too. Deer are also a common thing in Shamanism, for example, the white and black deer always used in Shaman sacrifice, it means the soul of the deer could guide Shaman and meet with the god and back home. Eagles are both used in hunting and shamanism among the northeast Asian nomadic people from ancient time, even today. The jade bird from Ulaganhada Culture, it is not only a reflection of the life custom of some hunting or herding people, but also used as a certain article in Shaman performance, in my thought.

(translated from Mongolian into English by Delger)