Shamanic Regalia

Shamanic Regalia in the Far North

  1. Patricia Rieff Anawalt
  • ISBN 9780500517253
  • 24.00 x 17.00 cm
  • Hardback
  • 192pp
  • With 109 illustrations
  • First published 2014

A rare window into the deep past of humanity and an insight into one of the world’s oldest religions

‘A beautiful, intriguing book for those interested in dress, textiles, masks and how they inform a culture generally’ – CurrentWorldArchaeology.com


Shamanism goes back to the Ice Age. It spread with migrating ancient settlers around the remote lands of the north Pacific, where the practice survived into the early 20th century.

Shamans communicated with the spirits, supplicating them for success in hunting, healing and divination, to help humans survive in the harsh northern lands. Clothing and regalia varied as cultures did, but always embodied the shaman’s mystery and power.

Without this paraphernalia, he – more rarely she – could neither establish authority among humans nor venture safely into the spirit world. Elaborate, heavy costumes featured rare and valuable elements of metal, ivory and wood. Fantastical masks, drums, amulets, staffs, fringed headdresses, coats and gloves were the tools, armour and weapons of the shaman, requiring a lifetime of training to wield.

This richly illustrated book explores the diverse shamanic regalia and traditions of the lands of the Far North: Siberia; the Arctic and Alaska; and the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. These strange and often beautiful objects have inspired Western scholars, artists and sculptors, including the Surrealists, and the artifacts still speak to us today of humanity’s multivalent connections to the natural world.

Dr. Patricia Rieff Anawalt is Director Emerita and founding director of the Center for the Study of Regional Dress at the Fowler Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles. Dr. Anawalt is a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Costume Society of America. She is an authority on worldwide regional dress, and her publications include The Worldwide History of Dress, The Codex Mendoza) and Indian Clothing Before Cortes: Mesoamerican Costumes from the Codices.