Pre-Buddhist Beliefs

Although the ancestors of the Kalmyks adhered to both Buddhism and shamanism, shamanism was officially banned among the Kalmyks following the historic 1640 meeting of Khalkha Mongol and Oirat lords at which Buddhism was declared as the state religion. According to the new law, not only shamans but also those who sought their services were subject to severe punishment. Following the official ban, shamans, however, did not disappear overnight. But under pressure from the Buddhist establishment and later the Orthodox Christian Church, by the 19th century bo and udgn had already been shamanising without traditional shamanic implements such as mirrors, drums and other 'musical' instruments. In this way, they looked less 'shamanic' and acted more like healers and bone-setters. Today shamanic elements have survived mainly in traditional medicine, especially in the healing rituals and practices of Kalmyk folk healers.


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