Monthly Archives: June 2012

I am a Wolf Shaman in the Tuva Republic

My name is Cenk Sertdemir, or Salchak Kurt Şaman.

Here, I am performing the ritual Sacrament of the Black Sea, or Karadenizde Saman Ayini.

It is important to me that people know Siberian Shamanism is directly linked to the real Turkish culture, in which we are called Kham Kishi. It means protector of the tribe or clan. We have a lot on our to-do list, actually.

Before I get to that, I would like to thank you for asking a very good question, “What it is like to be a Siberian Shaman?” You see every book about shamans or shamanism is written from the point of view of the author, not the subject himself. There is no traditional shaman, who has ever described his inner self. There is no example of what goes on within the shaman when he enters a trance situation or when he performs a healing ritual. It is far more than words can describe.

To be a Kham Kishi is the biggest responsibility that the tribe could give to someone. Can you imagine being the only one who can cure people from their death beds, and it depends on your power of faith to achieve that? And the person’s loved ones are standing outside of the house, praying silently, so as not to be seperate from their relative so soon, when they are still madly in love?

Sometimes we have to decide that death is the best thing a sick person can experience. Of course, we are not the ones who decide his fate, but we are the ones who make it happen. Death is not something to fear. No one fears death. People are afraid of being alone at the other side. That is why they cannot leave directly after death. They hang around, so to speak, because they do not want to believe they are gone.

So we have to explain to the dead one what happens from now on — that it has 42 days to visit every single memory and experience before he or she has to leave totally. The spirit must make peace with everything in their life-path. As they are able to walk through dimensions, they go from their day of birth, until the day they die, and make peace with every trauma they ever had. Otherwise, they would be too heavy for the other side.

They have to lighten up or enlighten themselves. This ritual is parted in two. The first part takes place on the 7th day of death. The second one happens after 42 days after that. If they still do not go, they start to manifest themselves as a negative influence on the family, and later on the Earth. At that point we come in and banish the spirit to another place where its radiating energy cannot harm anyone. This Death Ritual, we call Ot Kypsyk.

Besides rituals for death, we have them for the four seasons, healing, and cleaning.

All of them are performed with our Dungur (shaman drum). The simple reason for that is vibration. Everything in nature has its own vibration or resonance. The Dungur helps us to find the correct rhythm of the spiritual plane where healing happens for that specific subject or object. Every organ in our body has its own vibration. When is it out of tune, sickness will occur. Then we come in and drum the correct vibration, so that the organ finds its resonance with its origin.

Chief Tulush Kara-ool Dopchun-oglu doing a ritual in his office

Besides the drum, our tools include a whip, juniper, bells and Eeren (supporting spirit), and tos karak (a nine-eyed spoon).

I am a Wolf Shaman of the Adyg Eeren Religous Center in Kyzyl, Tuva Republic. Our Chief is Kara-ool Dopchun-ool Tulush. He is well known in Siberia and a powerful shaman.

Chief Kara-ool Dopchun-ool Tulush

One of the most celebrated festivals is Shagaa (New Year). It is the day, when Sook-İrey turns back into the depth of the mountain. That happens in the middle of February. You can say, that day is the last, hardest, and coldest day in winter. From the next day on, eveything starts to heat up. People celebrate with happyness because we believe that if our seed for New Year is full of sorrow and sadness, the gain of it will be the same but bigger. So we live with the philosophy, “You get, what you seed…”

Afghan Gold and the Silk Road

Artisans as well as objects were itinerant along the Silk Road, named for Chinese silk traders in the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). No one traveled the entire route from end to end. Land and sea routes formed a series of networks, where philosophies, religions, ideas, goods, and even the bubonic plague spread across cultures.

Click this image for a larger version of the map.

In 1937 and 1939, Joseph Hackin and Jean Carl discovered the New Royal City at Begram, modern-day Bagram, south of the Hindu Kush Mountains in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. It was a strategic location leading south to Kabul and to the Khyber Pass, which connected Afghanistan to Pakistan. In two sealed rooms were extraordinary glassware, bronzes, plaster and alabaster objects from Rome, fragments of Chinese lacquer boxes, and Indian-style bone carvings that outlined furniture.

This carving could have been a furniture ornament.

Because of three uncarved ivory blocks found at Begram, scholars believe the city was not only a drop-off point, but a production center and part of an ivory-distribution network.

Digging at Begram, 1939

The links proving this can be found in two combs, identical in form and content to one discovered at Begram.

The first was excavated at Dal’verzin Tepe in ancient Bactria (now southern Uzbekistan), and the second comb, shown here, was found at Tillya Tepe in northern Afghanistan. Its rounded corners, the type of ivory used, and the fine engraving indicate the comb came from India. All three combs were made in the second half of the 1st Century AD.

Tillya Tepe was the Hill of Gold. A 1st-Century nomadic princess was found there with her crown and appliques in tact. Her maidens were also found. This drawing represents her costume.

For maidens, hair ornaments dangled from headdresses, and trees of life were also attached to the top. The crown comes apart with 5 trees of life attached to a band. Feast your eyes.

What I find interesting is the tree-of-life headdress-top ornament of Tillya Tepe.

Made in the 1st Century AD, it is very similar to what the the Murong branch of Xianbei peoples made in the Yan Dynasties in China (265 – 420 AD).

Could a Tree of Life hair ornament have been one of the ideas that traveled along the Silk Road?


For more scholarly research, please examine

Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul

The Ulu Kysh of the Tandy Taiga Peak

Cenk Sertdemir, a real Siberian Shaman, wrote in and corrected an old post with priceless scholarship: “This figure is Sook-Irey, or Father Frost. He comes in the coldest winters from the depth of Tandy-Taiga Mountain. Magically he takes on a human form and seeks warmth in houses and people. Before he becomes human, he is the spirit of one of the four Ulu (dragon). These dragons are the seasons. The Winter Ulu is called Kysh.” Thank you, Mr. Sertdemir.

My research: The Taiga Mountains are part of a series of Boreal, or subarctic coniferous forests. In Russia, they cover the Ural Mountains, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River, northwestern Kazakhstan, and most of Sibera.

The Tuva Republic is in Southern Siberia and borders with Mongolia. It has 9 peaks: Tandy, Bai-Taiga, Mongun-Taiga, Koshrarlyg-syny, Kulun-duger, Kizhi-unmes, Kyzyl-Taiga, Bugra, Bora-Taiga.

In the Tuva creation legend, when Mother Earth was lonely, Father Heaven blew nourishing clouds to feed her. The clouds split into four and turned into Ulu, or dragons, representing the four seasons. The oldest brother, Kysh, was the heaviest and fell asleep. Forests, stones, and animals grew over him, forming the Tandy-Taiga peak.

As Mr. Sertdemir states, Kysh turns into a human being called Sook-Irey. His body is made of ice, and he wears a white and light-blue costume to stop the sun from melting him. On his hat are the colors of the sun and moon to remind us of his mythical origins. The costume of Sook-Irey, shown at the top of this post, was probably created by Vyacheslav Dongak, a ballet master and the Tuvan Minister of Culture.

Here are two of his other couture designs, which were displayed in the V.Kok-oola Tuva State Music and Drama Theater.


For more scholarly research, please examine

The New Research of Tuva
Where Rivers and Mountains Sing: Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond

Shamanism In Siberia

Cartier in the Art Deco Period

Louis Cartier was vice president of the committee that organized jewelers for the 1925 “L’Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in Paris. His jewelry was greatly influenced by the costumes Coco Chanel was designing for the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo. In fact, Cartier and Jeanne Lanvin were the only jewelers to display their work in the fashion section, rather than in the jewelry section of the Exposition.

Here is a pair of Art Deco tortoiseshell combs, bordered with onyx, surrounded by diamonds. Their simplicity gives great elegance to a style that could also produce wild, contrasting colors. C. 1925, they are priced at 10,000 Euros.

One of the hallmarks of Art Deco diamond pieces is the combination between small baguette diamonds and round ones. This Cartier tiara is made up of 5 graduated clips, which can fit on the diamond frame or could be worn separately. C. 1930, Christies estimates its value in the $200,000 range.


For more scholarly research and must-have jewelry, please examine

Cartier: Innovation Through the 20th Century

White Gold 2/3ct Square Princess and Round Pave Diamond Earrings (G-H, I1-I2)

Cartier Coccinelle Diamond Ruby White Gold Ladybug Enhancer Charm

Some Lovely Things on Ebay

Three stunning way-too-expensive pieces are selling on E-bay. They come from different worlds. Looking at them, I feel like I’m in a historical conference in an imaginary United Nations.

The first piece is a back comb from the French Empire’s Eugenie period, c. 1860. A blue enameled center sets off two sides of gilt-bronze scrolls, as well as a scroll at the top. The tiara sits on a tortoiseshell comb. Bidding starts at 1190 EUR, and you may examine auction 221042135855.

Scholarship by Joost Daalder (thank you!): “This rare silver head piece comes from the Yao people, one of the 55 recognized ethnic minorities in China. It was known as a celestial crown, made by girls at puberty, using silver pieces and human hair. The original early piece was worn every day by one Yao sub-group but only for special occasions by other sub-groups. You may see the discussion in Truus Daalder’s book, Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment, pages 209-10. The more modern versions – several of which were not made by the Yao themselves – usually lack the human hair and are less fine and less intricate.”

As you can see, this piece is original. Price: $4800. You may examine item 260814325656.

Our last piece is a comb from the Batak peoples of Sumatra (thank you Jen Cruse), made from wood, bamboo, and brass. It sports a beautifully carved handle. The condition is fabulous. Price: 600 EUR or best offer. You may examine item 330743121368.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books in our Resource Library.

Paris Salons 1895-1914: Jewellery, Vol. 1: The Designers A-K

The Art of Silver Jewellery: From the Minorities of China

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

Chinese Enamel Hair Pin for Sale at Le Boudoir

Hello, it’s a pleasure to introduce myself. Many long-time collectors know me already. I’m Sue Marie Turner of Le Boudoir. You can see my profile on the Dealer Program page.

I just came home from a buying trip with a lovely collection of antique combs. Barbara picked this one. Anyone who sends me a serious inquiry about purchasing this 19th Century Chinese enamel hair ornament, and mentions that they came from BarbaraAnne’s Hair Comb Blog, will get a 5-pound discount off the listed price and free shipping.

This 19th Century enamel rooster only has specks of enamel missing and is signed. You can see the wonderful combination of light and dark aqua with red accents on the bird’s body, wings, and crest. The way the single pin on the back is curved shows the correctness of this piece. The design is quite unusual.

You may make serious inquiries for purchase here. The piece will be available to blog members exclusively for one week, before I send the listing out to my customer base.

Introducing our Dealer Program

I am introducing a program for sellers who know what they are doing to offer exclusive discounts on beautiful, rare pieces from anyone who makes an inquiry and mentions they came from BarbaraAnne’s Hair Comb Blog. The discount will apply to the piece featured because I or one of our authors pick it. In so doing, we’re saying that if a collector buys this, they can feel safe that they are buying first-class, original treasure. Please see our Exclusive Discounts page for our list of vetted dealers.

The Nuba People of Sudan

In 1974-’76, Leni Riefenstahl published portraits of the Nuba people in two books: Africa, which was about the Mesakin Nuba, and the People of Kau, which featured the South East Nuba 100 miles away.

In the mid-70’s, the Nuba’s artistic adornment included tattoos and complex geometric designs. A man or woman could chose one color or line to decorate themselves, as well. Hair was matted with clay, braided, and topped with feathered headdresses and/or beaded bandeaus. Women also wore clay beads at the bottom of braided hairstyles. Necklaces and armbands were also an essential part of Nuba attire.

This is what their villages looked like:

In the 1990’s, genocide came to Sudan, and the Nuba looked like this:

On July 1, 2011, the world recognized South Sudan, a country with a majority of Christians, whose borders could now be protected from the imposition of Muslim sharia law in the North. The Nuba desperately wanted to be part of the South.

Their Muslim, Christian, and shamanistic tribe members lived peacefully and exchanged ideas. However, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir started to bomb South Kordofan, where the Nuba Mountains lie. Crimes against humanity ensued. The people fled. As Nicholas Kristof reports, some had the guts to fight back.

One of the places they sought refuge was Israel. The African Refugee Development Center in Tel Aviv was formed to integrate African asylum seekers into Israeli society. However, the Israeli Ministry of Information frequently revokes Nuba permits because of a geographical misunderstanding.

What kind of jewelry do the Nuba make now?

Rene Lalique: Glass in Jewelry

Lalique dazzled the public, carving combs of flowers and butterflies using new materials, such as ivory, bronze, and horn. But in 1901, he was the first to exhibit crystal-glass jewelry at the Exhibition of the Paris Salon. These four pieces show how he developed his idea.

In 1897-98, Lalique cast a mermaid in bronze. She has three fins. The outer two are solid, decorated with small emeralds, and swirl to encase opals. The middle fin is divided in three, as the engineering element that forms the prongs of the diadem. Highlighting her long, flowing hair, the mermaid also holds up a third opal.

In this 1905 corsage spray, Lalique uses plique-à-jour enamel, glass, and diamonds to depict insects pollinating a flower. It resides in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Here is a comparison of a lovers’ kiss in an ivory comb c.1902

and the same idea done in a brooch of molded glass encased in silver, also at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Jewellery from Pforzheim

Man Of Glass ( L’homme De Verre )