John C. Huntington huntington.2 at OSU.EDU
Tue Apr 2 23:23:23 UTC 2002

Dear All,

I have no idea where the word comes from but I have heard it used by
anthropologists to describe the ritual specialists in an animistic
religion called "Shamanism" that circles the pacific rim.  There
shamans in Burma, Thailand, Laos, Kampuchia, Tibetans, Chinese
minorities especially among the Mongyur or Tu peoples among the
Mongols, the Siberian and Alaskan Eskimos, North West coast Indians,
the Huichol of Mexico and among the Inca of Peru. There is a
remarkable parallelism among the activities of Shamans through out
all of these cultures.there is also residual shamanism in Korea and
Japan and Pakistan.  Shamans go into a ritual dance and become
possessed by a "friend" or "guide" and descend to the underworld to
benefit their moiety group. some shamans are epileptic although that
is rare.  Most simply bring on the trance state or induce it with
some substance.

There is a relatively vast literature  on the subject in religious
studies and anthropological studies.

According to Soothill & Hidous the Chinese word 'sa men' is a
phonetic rendering of zramaNa.
I have included a tiny graphic of the characters, but, if I remember
correctly, this list deletes graphics so you may not get it. (it was

Their similarity might just be coincidental or possibly the Chinese
word for priest might have been adapted  during early periods of
European contact?

John C. Huntington

>We use the same word in Russian. I always assumed, it
>is coming from a local dialect. Unfortunately, I do
>not have any Russian or Slavic dictionary around to
>check it up. Perhaps, someone could do it?
>      Regards.
>     Marina Orelskaya
>--- Valerie J Roebuck <vjroebuck at MACUNLIMITED.NET>
>>  According to the OED, it was first recorded in
>>  English in 1698.  It now
>>  occurs in books and newspapers without italics or
>>  explanations, so I would
>>  think it is.
>>  Valerie J Roebuck
>>  Manchester, UK
>>  >Is "shaman" a really English word?
>>  >
>>  >Regards,
>>  >Marina Orelskaya
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >--- Valerie J Roebuck <vjroebuck at MACUNLIMITED.NET>
>>  >wrote:
>>  >> What is the current thinking on the relationship
>>  (if
>>  >> any) between English
>>  >> "shaman" and Sanskrit "zramaNa"?
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