Balancing The Universe: Shamanism in Vietnam and Thailand

Essential to the shamanic traditions of the Vietnamese is the ability to read and write Chinese. A requisite, extensive knowledge of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Animism and Ancestor worship make the shaman’s training a long and rigorous process. They must draw on a complex base of philosophies and abilities which include the use of scroll paintings, ritual texts, and prints. The shaman use a collection of specific objects and instruments to aid them in entering the realm of the spirits. They wear intricately crafted robes designed for women, who were the original healers – before the demands of child rearing caused a gradual shift to a predominantly male profession. The elaborate imagery embroidered on the robes represents the universe with all its deities. Shaman wrap themselves in this ‘Universe’ for protection during rituals, in which they negotiate directly with supernatural beings – both good, and evil. Shaman are the cornerstones of culture and society in Vietnam and Thailand. They care for both rich and poor, and preside over individual and community events and celebrations. (please keep checking as we add to this Vietnam post)

Shaman Paintings (full set - 18 pieces) Thailand Vietnamese, Yap people Mid to late 20th c. Cotton, pigment The shaman derives spiritual power from paintings, who effectively become the deities they represent, and ritual texts that allow him/her to communicate with ancestors, negotiate with unfriendly beings and treat diseases. An essential set of three basic painting panels is the minimum requirement for a a newly initiated shaman. Full sets, required for many rituals, can range from 17 paintings to more than 27. An example of a ritual requiring a full set would be one performed to liberate souls of the dead from Hell to be reborn into Heaven. The many panels including those depicting the 10 Kings of the underworld are hung around the main room of a house. The shaman enters a trance and imagines them as the real underworld thereby entering Hell and chanting a ritual that will save the soul of the recently dead. 42” x 16” (18pcs) $7500
Shaman Paintings (set – 18 banners), Thailand (Vietnamese Yap people), Mid to late 20th c, Cotton, pigment

Shamans derive spiritual power from these paintings. When hung around the room in specifically arranged layouts, they effectively become the spirit world they represent and, like a portal, the shaman can then enter that realm. The ritual texts allow him/her to communicate directly with the deities and ancestors to negotiate and treat diseases and other things that have become out of balance.
An essential set of three basic painting panels is the minimum requirement for a a newly initiated shaman. Full sets, required for many rituals, can range from 17 paintings to more than 27.  An example of a ritual requiring a full set would be one performed to liberate souls of the dead from Hell to be reborn into Heaven. The panels depicting the 10 Kings of the underworld are hung around the main room of a house. The shaman enters a trance, thereby entering Hell, and chants a ritual that will save the soul of the recently dead. 42” x 16” (18 pcs), $7500. Or $425 for a single individual banner. Please ask us for detailed images of each of the banners.

Shaman Paintings (3 Banners) Thailand Vietnamese, Yap people Mid to late 20th c. Cotton, pigment The shaman derives spiritual power from paintings, who effectively become the deities they represent, and ritual texts that allow him/her to communicate with ancestors, negotiate with unfriendly beings and treat diseases. An essential set of three basic painting panels is the minimum requirement for a a newly initiated shaman. Full sets, required for many rituals, can range from 17 paintings to more than 27. An example of a ritual requiring a full set would be one performed to liberate souls of the dead from Hell to be reborn into Heaven. The many panels including those depicting the 10 Kings of the underworld are hung around the main room of a house. The shaman enters a trance and imagines them as the real underworld thereby entering Hell and chanting a ritual that will save the soul of the recently dead. (3 pcs - 17 ½” x 10", $170 each); (3 pcs - 10 ½” x 7 ½” , $110 each); (1 piece - 9" x 80", $325.)
Detail of Shaman Paintings/Banners

In addition to the previous set (previous image) of 18 large paintings – these are 3 smaller sizes – (3 pcs – 17 ½” x 10″, $170 each); (3 pcs – 10 ½” x 7 ½” , $110 each); (1 piece – 9″ x 80″, $325.) The horizontal one is shown folded. Please contact us for additional images.

Shaman’s Personal Instruction Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (tapa), Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and Feng Shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 9 ½” x 8 ½” x ¾”, $850.
Shaman’s Personal Instruction Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper  

Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and Feng Shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 9 ½” x 8 ½” x ¾”, $850. (see inside detail below)

Inside Detail of Shaman’s Personal Instruction Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (tapa), Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and Feng Shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 9 ½” x 8 ½” x ¾”, $850.
Inside Detail of Shaman’s Personal Instruction Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (some individual pages below)
Pages from Shaman's Personal Instructional Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Red Yao people Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (tapa), Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and feng shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 12” x 11” x ½” (framed), $120. each
Pages from Shaman’s Personal Instructional Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Red Yao people, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (tapa) (we have 19 individual framed pages), 2 more examples below. If you’d like to see more, please contact us. They are all different!)
Pages from Shaman's Personal Instructional Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Red Yao people Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (tapa), Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and feng shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 12” x 11” x ½” (framed), $120. each
Pages from Shaman’s Personal Instructional Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam, Red Yao people, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (tapa) 

Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and feng shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 12” x 11” x ½” (framed), $120. each

Amulet Yantra Shirt - extremely rare and powerful protective garment Thailand Vietnamese tribal shaman Mid 20th c. Cotton, ink, pigment Handmade and drawn by the shaman, it depicts prayers, signs, numbers and a deities. The sacred cloth is an undergarment worn as a talisman with great protective power against physical harm, like bullets, spears, knives, wild animals and evil spirits. This one may have been commissioned by a wealthy man who felt he needed protection. Soldiers would also wear these if they could afford one. 21” x 61” $2900
Amulet Yantra Shirt, Thailand (Vietnamese tribal shaman), Mid 20th c, Cotton, ink, pigment 

Handmade and drawn by the shaman, it depicts prayers, signs, numbers and a deities. The sacred cloth is an undergarment worn as a talisman with great protective power against physical harm, like bullets, spears, knives, wild animals and evil spirits. This one may have been commissioned by a wealthy man who felt he needed protection. Soldiers would also wear these if they could afford one. 21” x 61”, $2900. SOLD

Amulet Yantra Vest Nong Pho, Thailand Vietnamese shaman Mid to late 19th c. Cotton, pigment Handmade and drawn by the shaman It is endowed with prayers, signs, numbers and a depiction of the great guru monk Luang Phor Doem. The sacred cloth is an undergarment worn as a talisman with great protective power against physical harm, like bullets, spears, knives, wild animals and evil spirits. 19” x 22” $2,900.
Amulet Yantra Vest, Nong Pho, Thailand, (Vietnamese shaman), Mid to late 19th c. Cotton, pigment (Back view, see front image below)
Amulet Yantra Vest Nong Pho, Thailand Vietnamese shaman Mid to late 19th c. Cotton, pigment Handmade and drawn by the shaman It is endowed with prayers, signs, numbers and a depiction of the great guru monk Luang Phor Doem. The sacred cloth is an undergarment worn as a talisman with great protective power against physical harm, like bullets, spears, knives, wild animals and evil spirits. 19” x 22” $2,900.
(Front view) Amulet Yantra Vest, Nong Pho, Thailand, (Vietnamese shaman), Mid to late 19th c. Cotton, pigment

Handmade and drawn by the shaman. It is endowed with prayers, signs, numbers. The sacred cloth is an undergarment worn as a talisman with great protective power against physical harm, like bullets, spears, knives, wild animals and evil spirits. 19” x 22”, $2,900. SOLD

Instruments are essential tools for shaman. They create the rhythmic atmosphere that facilitates entering and maintaining the trance state necessary for the shaman to enter the spirit worlds. Cymbals Tuyen Province, Northern Vietnam Cao Lan People Late 19th to early 20th c. Bronze For welcoming divinities and warding off evil beings. The cymbals represent the turtle - legendary hero figures, who are exercised for killing monsters. (small - 3 ½” x 6 ¾’ x 6 ¾”, $400.), (large - 4” x 9 ½ x 9 ½”, $590.) Shaman/Buddhist Priest Bell, Vietnam, Black Yao people, Late 19th c, Metal coin as clapper, The handle is embellished with a human face. Used in religious rituals. Its sound is meant to evoke protective deities and dispel evil spirits. This type of bell is also used during chanting and incantations of mantras. 5” x 2 ½” x 2 ½”, $325. Round Finger Bells, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam, H’mong people, Late 19th to early 20th c, Bronze, Placed on one’s finger, the tone can be modified with the palm and remaining fingers. $90. each, (2 ½” x 1” x 1”); (2 ½” x 1” x 1”); (2 ¼” x 1” x 1”). Oboe/Flute Cao Bang province, Vietnam Red Yao people Early to mid 20th c, Wood, metal, An essential element of the musical ensembles that accompany the shaman’s rituals and performances to help the living and provide salvation for the dead. 19 ¼” x 4” x 4”, $220.
Shaman Instruments, Cymbals, Bells and Flute, Late 19th to early 20th c, wood, metal

Instruments are essential tools for shaman. They create the rhythmic atmosphere that facilitates entering and maintaining the trance state necessary for the shaman to enter the spirit worlds. (Cymbals, Bells, Flute)

Cymbals -;Tuyen Province, Northern Vietnam, Cao Lan People, Late 19th to early 20th c, Bronze. For welcoming divinities and warding off evil beings. Cymbals represent the turtle – legendary hero figures, who are exercised for killing monsters. Dimensions: (small – 3 ½” x 6 ¾’ x 6 ¾”, $400.), (large – 4” x 9 ½ x 9 ½”, $590.) SOLD

Shaman/Buddhist Priest Clapper Bell; Black Yao people, Late 19th c, Metal coin as clapper, The handle is embellished with a human face. Used in religious rituals. Its sound is meant to evoke protective deities and dispel evil spirits. This type of bell is also used during chanting and incantations of mantras. 5” x 2 ½” x 2 ½”, $325. SOLD

Round Finger Bells, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam, H’mong people, Late 19th to early 20th c, Bronze, Placed on one’s finger, the tone can be modified with the palm and remaining fingers. $90. each, (2 ½” x 1” x 1”); (2 ½” x 1” x 1”); (2 ¼” x 1” x 1”). SOLD

Oboe/Flute, Cao Bang province, Red Yao people Early to mid 20th c, Wood, metal, An essential element of the musical ensembles that accompany the shaman’s rituals and performances to help the living and provide salvation for the dead. 19 ¼” x 4” x 4”, $220. SOLD

Shaman's Court Tablet or Wand, Vietnam, Yao people, Mid to late 19th c, Wood, finely woven cotton band with glass beads. Potent tool used similarly to a Himalayan Phurba, to direct evil energy away and to summon and control spirits. Text characters are painted onto all sides. 13 ¼” x 16 ½” x ¾”, $650
Shaman’s Court Tablet, or Wand, Vietnam, Yao people, Mid to late 19th c, Wood, finely woven cotton band with glass beads

Potent tool used similarly to a Himalayan Phurba, to direct evil energy away and to summon and control spirits. Text characters are painted onto all sides. 13 ¼” x 16 ½” x ¾”, $650.

Dragon Robe (front), Shaman Priest's Costume, complete outfit; Robe, Skirt, Belt, ( Scarf see next image), Vietnam, Tao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery. Worn by shaman/priests for all ceremonies. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the universe for protection. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and child rearing, men replaced women as shaman but retained the same sacred costume. This type of headpiece/scarf is worn by postulant or newly ordained shaman. High level priests will wear a hat made of human hair. Dimensions (49” x 42” robe); (35” x 26” skirt); (106” x 3” belt); (118” x 9 ½” scarf), $3900 full costume
Dragon Robe (front), Shaman Priest’s Costume, complete outfit; Robe, Skirt, Belt, (Scarf – see next image), Vietnam, Tao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery

Worn by shaman priests for all ceremonies. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man’s place in the hierarchical order. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and child rearing, men gradually replaced women as shaman but the sacred costume remained the same. This type of headpiece/scarf (image below) is worn by postulant or newly ordained shaman. High level priests will wear a hat made of human hair. Dimensions
(49” x 42” robe); (35” x 26” skirt); (106” x 3” belt); (118” x 9 ½” scarf – below), $3900 full costume.

Shaman's Ritual Costume Headscarf (from full costume - see above image), Shaman Priest's Costume, complete outfit; Robe, Skirt, Belt and Scarf, Vietnam, Tao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery. Worn by shaman/priests for all ceremonies. (118” x 9 ½” scarf)
Shaman’s Ritual Costume Headscarf (from full costume – see above image)
Shaman Hat, Vietnam, Feng Yuan Fa people, Late 19th c, Human hair, pigment, Hats are a crucial part of the shaman's costume. Hats made from human hair are worn only by high level priests. Postulants and newly ordained shaman wear a cotton and silk head scarf. Human hair strands are twisted together to make thicker ones, dyed dark brown and woven into patterns. They are very difficult to make but are durable and last a long time. The symbol for good luck symbol is woven into the front of the hat and the shaman’s name into back. 9” x 10” x 2”, $675
Shaman Hat, Vietnam, Feng Yuan Fa people, Late 19th c, Human hair, pigment

Hats are a crucial part of the shaman’s costume. Hats made from human hair are worn only by high level priests. Postulants and newly ordained shaman wear a cotton and silk head scarf. Human hair strands are twisted together to make thicker ones, dyed dark brown and woven into patterns. They are very difficult to make but are durable and last a long time. The symbol for good luck symbol is woven into the front of the hat and the shaman’s name into back. 9” x 10” x 2”, $675.

Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (back), Vietnam, Late 19th to early 20th c, Dao Lan-Tien people, Early 20th century, Cotton dyed with local indigo, hand embroidered with silk, (dyed with very difficult to obtain, European dyes - indicating an exceptional piece. Worn only by high level shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. *more detailed information available. 45” x 26”, $2900.
Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (back), Vietnam, Late 19th to early 20th c, Dao Lan-Tien people, Early 20th century, Cotton dyed with local indigo, hand embroidered with silk

Worn only by high level shaman. The use of expensive and difficult to obtain brighter European dyes indicates an exceptional piece. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man’s place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. *more detailed information available. 45” x 26”, $2900. (front view below) SOLD

Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (back), Vietnam, Late 19th to early 20th c, Dao Lan-Tien people, Early 20th century, Cotton dyed with local indigo, hand embroidered with silk. Worn only by high level shaman. The use of expensive and difficult to obtain brighter European dyes indicates an exceptional piece. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. *more detailed information available. 45” x 26”, $2900. 
Dragon Robe Ritual Costume, Front view of previous Robe.
Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’ Wand Quang Ninh province, Vietnam, San Diu people, Early to mid 20th c, Wood with red pigment, patinated with use and age. Pan Hung is a Taoist mythical, composite beast: Dragon, Tiger, Dog. This particular wand is dominantly Dragon It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits - especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. The slot on the underside is for mounting on a wall when not in use. 3” x 1” x 8”, $375.
Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’ Wand, Quang Ninh province, Vietnam, San Diu people, Early to mid 20th c, Wood with red pigment

Pan Hung is a Taoist mythical, composite beast, usually a varied mixture of Dragon, Tiger and Dog. This particular wand is dominantly Dragon. It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits – especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. The slot on the underside is for mounting on a wall when not in use. 3” x 1” x 8”, $375.

Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’, Wand, Vietnam, Black Yao people, Early to mid 20th c, Wood, pigment, patinated with use and age. Pan Hung is a varied mythical, composite beast: Dragon, Tiger, Dog. It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits - especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. (small - Early 20th c, 2 ½” x 1 ¾” x 5”, $340.); (large - Mid 20th c, 3 ½” x 1 ½” x 6 ¼”, $240.) ,
Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’, Wand, Vietnam, Black Yao people, Early to mid 20th c, Wood, pigment

Pan Hung is a varied mythical, composite beast: Dragon, Tiger, Dog. It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits – especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. (small – Early 20th c, 2 ½” x 1 ¾” x 5”, $340.); (large – Mid 20th c, 3 ½” x 1 ½” x 6 ¼”, $240.)

Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’ Cat Wand, Northern Vietnam, Tay people, Mid to late 19th c. Wood with smooth patina from use and age. Pan Hung is a Taoist mythical, varied, composite beast: Dragon, Tiger, Dog. It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits - especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. 2 ¼” x 1 ¼” x 4”, $190.
Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’ Cat Wand, Northern Vietnam, Tay people, Mid to late 19th c, Wood with smooth patina from use and age

Pan Hung is a Taoist mythical, varied, composite beast: Dragon, Tiger, Dog. It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits – especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. 2 ¼” x 1 ¼” x 4”, $190.

Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’ Wand Dong Hy district, Thai Nguyen province, Vietnam Nung people, Late 19th to early 20th c, Wood, pigment, patinated with use and age, Pan Hung is a Taoist mythical, composite beast: Dragon, Tiger, Dog This particular wand is dominantly Dragon. It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits, especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. The slot on the underside is for mounting on a wall when not in use. 3 ¾” x 1 14” x 18”, $800.
Shaman’s ‘Pan Hung’ Wand, Dong Hy district, Thai Nguyen province, Vietnam, Nung people, Late 19th to early 20th c, Wood, pigment

Pan Hung is a Taoist mythical, composite beast: Dragon, Tiger, Dog. This particular wand is dominantly Dragon. It is typically used for calling spiritual powers and for fending off evil spirits, especially at funeral rites, and to wave over items to be burned as offerings to the ancestors. The slot on the underside is for mounting on a wall when not in use. 3 ¾” x 1 14” x 18”, $800.

Sacred Unicorn (Kỳ lân) Panel (rare), Vietnam, Bac Ninh province, Mid 19th c, Red cotton textile with hand embroidered silk and precious-metal-wrapped thread. One of the four sacred animals, the unicorn symbolizes purity, happiness and wealth. If the unicorn appears, many good things will happen. It is often hung over the altar table in pagodas, temples or in homes of traditional families. Its strength and faithful nature are desirable for guarding temples and places of worship. Almost all of these pieces from this time period are portrayed in blue, cream and metallic color schemes. Because of its coloring, this panel is unusual and particularly desirable. 15 ½” x 17 ½” x ¾”, $590.
Sacred Unicorn (Kỳ lân) Panel (rare), Vietnam, Bac Ninh province, Mid 19th c, Red cotton textile with hand embroidered silk and precious-metal-wrapped thread

One of the four sacred animals, the unicorn symbolizes purity, happiness and wealth. If the unicorn appears, many good things will happen. It is often hung over the altar table in pagodas, temples or in homes of traditional families. Its strength and faithful nature are desirable for guarding temples and places of worship. Almost all of these pieces from this time period are portrayed in blue, cream and metallic color schemes. Because of its coloring, this panel is unusual and particularly desirable. 15 ½” x 17 ½” x ¾”, $590.

Zhu Zhong Fan, Shaman Priest Altar Figures, Vietnam, Yao people, Mid to late 19th c, Wood, pigment, Kept in Shaman’s home. Part of necessary items to contact spirit world. Every shaman has a set of three called, Zhu Zhong Fan figures. The 3 are: To Sai - ancestor shaman priest figure; Nyut Hung - seated Mandarin or God figure; and Khong Zhao - a protecting officer or messenger to the gods. He is always mounted and brandishing a sword or pennant. They are only sacred when once they are gifted with a soul. A ceremony is performed calling for the deity or ancestor to enter the figure. A piece of silver and some threads are placed in a secret hole in the back and sealed up. This is where the soul resides. When the figure is given away or sold the silver is removed rendering the figure inert and no longer sacred. (left - 'Nyut Hung' figure, 8” x 4 ¼” x 2 ½”, $650); (middle - 'Khong Zhao' figure, 11” x 4” x 6 ¾”, $900.); (right - 'To Sai' figure,7” x 3 ¼” x 2 ½”, $650)
Zhu Zhong Fan, Shaman Priest Altar Figures, Vietnam, Yao people, Mid to late 19th c, Wood, pigment

Kept in a Shaman’s home. Part of the items required to contact the spirit world. Every shaman has a set of three ‘Zhu Zhong Fan’ figures. They are: ‘To Sai’ – an ancestor shaman priest figure; ‘Nyut Hung’ – a seated Mandarin or God figure; and ‘Khong Zhao’ – a protecting officer or messenger to the gods. He is always mounted and brandishing a sword or pennant. They are only sacred once they are gifted with a soul. A ceremony is performed calling for the deity or ancestor to enter the figure. A piece of silver and some threads are placed in a secret hole in the back and sealed up. This is where the soul resides. When the figure is given away or sold the silver is removed rendering the figure inert and no longer sacred. (left – ‘Nyut Hung’ figure, 8” x 4 ¼” x 2 ½”, $650); (middle – ‘Khong Zhao’ figure, 11” x 4” x 6 ¾”, $900.); (right – ‘To Sai’ figure,7” x 3 ¼” x 2 ½”, $650).

Shaman's Costume Tunic and Belt, Vietnam, Yao people, Late 19th c, Cotton, indigo, silk embroidery, Worn only by high level shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. *more information available. 47” x 27 ½” x 3”, $3100.
Shaman’s Costume Tunic and Belt, Vietnam, Yao people, Late 19th c, Cotton, indigo, silk embroidery

Worn only by high level shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man’s place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. *more information available. 47” x 27 ½” x 3”, $3100.

Shamanic Belt with full set of 12 Handkerchiefs, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam, Tight Trouser Dao people, Early to mid 20th c. Cotton, hand embroidered with silk. Worn by shaman while performing religious rituals. A complete belt would have a minimum of 12 handkerchiefs (embroidered squares). The belt is passed down through generations, revealing its history. If a shaman has two sons or apprentices, he will spit the belt and the new shaman’s wife will make the other necessary handkerchiefs. 75” x 18” x 2 ½”, $775.
Shamanic Belt with 12 Handkerchiefs, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam, Tight Trouser Dao people, Early to mid 20th c, Cotton, hand embroidered with silk

Worn by shaman while performing religious rituals. A complete belt would have a minimum of 12 handkerchiefs (embroidered squares). The belt is passed down through generations, revealing its history. If a shaman has two sons or apprentices, he will spit the belt and the new shaman’s wife would make the other necessary handkerchiefs. Several generations are represented in this belt. 75” x 18” x 2 ½”, $775.

Handkerchief/Panel from a Shamanic Belt, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam, Tight Trouser Dao people Early to mid 20th c, Cotton, hand embroidered with silk, Worn by shaman while performing religious rituals. A complete belt would have a minimum of 12 squares (handkerchiefs). The belt is passed down through generations, revealing its history. If a shaman has two sons or apprentices, he will spit the belt and the new shaman’s wife will make the other necessary handkerchiefs. $75. to $90.
Handkerchief/Panel from a Shamanic Belt, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province, Vietnam, Tight Trouser Dao people, Early to mid 20th c, Cotton, hand embroidered with silk

Worn by shaman while performing religious rituals. A complete belt would have a minimum of 12 squares (handkerchiefs). The belt is passed down through generations, revealing its history. $75. to $90.

Shaman's Personal Knife and Sheath, Vietnam, Yao people Late 19th c, Metal, horn, wood, 10” x 1 ½” x 1”, $580.
Shaman’s Personal Knife and Sheath, Vietnam, Yao people, Late 19th c, Metal, horn

Used in sacred rituals. 10” x 1 ½” x 1”, $580.

Shaman Medicine Flask, Thailand/Vietnam, Yao people, Early to mid 20th c, Wood, bamboo, For medicine used in healing rituals, 10” x 4” x 2 ½”, $420.
Shaman Medicine Flask, Thailand/Vietnam, Yao people, Early to mid 20th c, Wood, bamboo

To carry medicinal remedies used in healing rituals, 10” x 4” x 2 ½”, $420.

Shaman Printing Block, Tuyen Quang province, Vietnam, Mid 20th c, Printing blocks are important shaman tools for creating talismans and ghost money to burn as offerings to deities. They were stamped on paper or on envelopes to mark the contents as holy. (Top - 2 ¼” x ½’ x 5’, $110.); (Bottom, 1 ¾” x 6 ¼” x 1”, $90.)
Shaman Printing Block, Tuyen Quang province, Vietnam, Mid 20th c.

Printing blocks are important shaman tools for creating talismans and ghost money to burn as offerings to deities. They were stamped on paper or on envelopes to mark the contents as holy. (Top – 2 ¼” x ½’ x 5’, $110.); (Bottom, 1 ¾” x 6 ¼” x 1”, $90.) see image below for example of a print

Shamanic Print - Flying Horse, Vietnam, Thai Nguyen province San Diu people, Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade *Do paper from a hand carved, wooden shamanic printing block The print would be burned for carting a message to deities for protecting people against evil spirits. *Do is made from the bark of Rhamnoneuron balansae This one is for a variety of ceremonies: initiation of a shaman; fending off evil spirits; building a house or farm structure, 6 ¼” x 7 ¼” x ¾”, sold
Shamanic Print – Flying Horse, Vietnam, Thai Nguyen province, San Diu people, Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade ‘Do’ paper

Print from a hand carved shamanic printing block (see previous image). The print would be burned for carrying a message to deities for protecting people against evil spirits. ‘Do’ paper is made from the bark of Rhamnoneuron balansae tree. This one is for a variety of ceremonies: initiation of a shaman; fending off evil spirits; building a house or farm structure, 6 ¼” x 7 ¼” x ¾”, SOLD

Shamanic Print - Man Loading a Horse, Vietnam, Thai Nguyen province, San Diu people Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade *Do paper from a hand carved, wooden shamanic printing block. The print would be burned for carting a message to deities for protecting people against evil spirits. *Do is made from the bark of Rhamnoneuron balansae. This print is for worshiping the stars in an effort to relieve someone’s run of bad luck, 7” x 10 ¾” x ¾”, sold
Shamanic Print – Man Loading a Horse, Vietnam, Thai Nguyen province, San Diu people,Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade ‘Do’ paper

This print is for worshiping the stars in an effort to relieve someone’s run of bad luck, 7” x 10 ¾” x ¾”, SOLD

Shamanic Print - Tiger, Vietnam Dao Lo Gang people, Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade *Do paper from a hand carved, wooden shamanic printing block The print would be burned for carting a message to deities for protecting people against evil spirits. *Do is made from the bark of Rhamnoneuron balansae. 8” x 12” x ¾”, $55.
Shamanic Print – Tiger, Vietnam, Dao Lo Gang people, Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade ‘Do’ paper, 8″ x 12″ x 3/4″, $55.
Shamanic Print, Man with Horse / Man with Bird, Vietnam, Hoa Binh province,Dao Quan Chet people, Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade *Do paper from a shamanic hand carved printing block. The print would be burned for carting a message to deities for protecting people against evil spirits. *Do is made from the bark of Rhamnoneuron balansae The print would be burned for carting a message to deities for protecting people against evil spirits 7” x 10 ¾” x ¾”, $55.
Shamanic Print, Man with Horse / Man with Bird, Vietnam, Hoa Binh province,Dao Quan Chet people, Contemporary, Pigment printed on handmade paper, 7″ x 10 3/4″ x 3/4″, $55.
Shaman’s Stamp ‘Chop’, Northern Thailand, Mid to late 20th c, Wood, pigment, Important tool for a shaman. They are unique to a particular shaman and used as a mark of authenticity. They would be placed on a message from one shaman to another, to the deities or into the shaman’s book. $50./$60. each, Dimensions left to right: (left -2 ¾” x 2 ¼” x 3 ½”, $60.); (middle - 2 ¾” x 2” x 2 ¾”, $50.); (right - 2 ¾” x 1 ¾” x 2 ¾”, $50.)
Shaman’s Personal Stamp ‘Chop’, Northern Thailand, Mid to late 20th c, Wood, pigment

Important tool for a shaman. They are unique to a particular shaman and used as a mark of authenticity. They would be placed on a message from one shaman to another, to the deities or into the shaman’s book. $50./$60. each – Dimensions left to right: (left -2 ¾” x 2 ¼” x 3 ½”, $60.); (middle – 2 ¾” x 2” x 2 ¾”, $50.); (right – 2 ¾” x 1 ¾” x 2 ¾”, $50.)

Shaman Bag, Vietnam, Yao people, Late 19th to early mid c, Cotton and silk The shaman use this to keep and carry magic ritual items. 8” x 15” x ½”
Shaman Bag, Yao people, Late 19th to early mid c., Cotton and silk

Shaman use a bag or purse to keep and carry magic ritual items. 8” x 15” x ½”, $70.

Shaman Bag, Vietnam, Yao people, Early to mid 20th c, Cotton, Keep and carry magic ritual items, 11” x 17” x ½”, $120.
Shaman Bag, Vietnam, Yao people, Early to mid 20th c, Cotton

Bag or Purse to carry magic ritual items, 11” x 17” x ½”, $120.

Ritual Dagger with Rattle, Vietnam, Yao people Late 19th c, Iron, coins, cloth These commanding rattle daggers are the most common ritual weapon used by a shaman priest. Similar in function to swords, they fend off evil spirits when shaken. The red (sometimes blue) streamers attract cosmic energy to empower it. This coin-laden top is still wound with red streamers from the ceremony it was last used in. Dimensions (left - 15” x 6 ¼” x 4 ½”); (right - 16 ½” x 5 ½” x 5”) $350. each
Ritual Dagger with Rattle, Vietnam, Yao people, Late 19th c, Iron, coins, cloth

These commanding rattle daggers are the most common ritual weapon used by a shaman priest. Similar in function to swords, they fend off evil spirits when shaken. The red streamers attract cosmic energy to empower it. The coin-laden top is still wound with red streamers from the ceremony it was last used in. Dimensions (left – 15” x 6 ¼” x 4 ½”, $350 SOLD); (right – 16 ½” x 5 ½” x 5”, $350.)

Ritual Sword, Tuyen Quang province, Vietnam, Yao people, Early 20th c, Iron blade, aluminum bands, wood handle, metal coins, darkened patina from use and age An essential item for any Yao shaman ritual. Used to summon gods and goddesses and to punish disobedient spirits. Harmless to mortals but a formidable weapon when shaken against evil spirits. This is a male sword - top detail differs on female swords. $295. each, Dimensions left to right, (left - 15 ¼” x 3 ¼” x 1”); (middle - 15 ¼” x 3 ¼” x 1”); (right -13 ¾” x 3” x 1”)
Ritual Sword, Tuyen Quang province, Vietnam, Yao people, Early 20th c, Iron blade, aluminum bands, wood handle, metal coins

An essential item for any Yao shaman ritual. Used to summon gods and goddesses and to punish disobedient spirits. Harmless to mortals, but a formidable weapon when shaken against evil spirits. This is a male sword – top detail differs on female swords. $295. each, Dimensions left to right, (left – 15 ¼” x 3 ¼” x 1”); (middle – 15 ¼” x 3 ¼” x 1”); (right -13 ¾” x 3” x 1”)

Ritual Dragon Knife, Vietnam, San Diu people Early 20th c, Iron, patinated with use and age, Used in rituals to subdue evil forces. (small - 12” x 3 ¾” x 1 ¼”, $270.); (large - 13 ¾” x 4 ½” x 1 ¾”, $270.)
Ritual Dragon Knife, Vietnam, San Diu people Early 20th c, Iron

 Ritual Dragon Knife, Vietnam, San Diu people Early 20th c, Iron, patinated with use and age, Used in rituals to subdue evil forces. (small – 12” x 3 ¾” x 1 ¼”, $270.); (large – 13 ¾” x 4 ½” x 1 ¾”, $270.)

Shaman Cloth Vietnam Yao people Early 20th c. Cotton with pigment Ritual use 13” x 14” $190
Shaman’s Amulet Cloth, Vietnam , Yao people, Early 20th c, Cotton with pigment, 13″ x 14′, $190.
Shaman Cloth Vietnam Yao people Early 20th c. Cotton with pigment Ritual use 13” x 14” $190
Shaman’s Amulet Cloth, Vietnam , Yao people, Early 20th c., Cotton with pigment, 13″ x 14″, $190.
Shaman Cloth Vietnam Yao people Early 20th c. Cotton with pigment Ritual use 13” x 15” $160
Shaman’s Amulet Cloth, Vietnam, Yao people, Early 20th c., Cotton with pigment, 13” x 15”, $160″ 
Shaman Cloth Vietnam Late 19th to early 20th c. Cotton Ritual use
Shaman’s Amulet Cloth, Vietnam, Late 19th to early 20th c, Cotton, 36″ x 50″
Shaman Costume Belt, Vietnam, Mid 20th c, Cotton, embroidered with silk, glass beads, Part of shaman’s costume. 69 ½” x 3” x 1”, $180
Shaman Costume Belt, Vietnam, Mid 20th c, Cotton, embroidered with silk, glass beads

Part of shaman’s traditional ritual costume. 69 ½” x 3” x 1”, $180. 

Dragon Tunic Ritual Costume, Vietnam, Tight Trouser Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery. Worn only by high level shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. 34” x 24”, $2800
Dragon Tunic Ritual Costume, Vietnam, Tight Trouser Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery

Worn only by high level shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the protection of the universe. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man’s place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. 34” x 24”, $2800.

Shaman Belt, Vietnam, Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton cloth, indigo dye, Part of shaman's costume. 110” x ¾”” x ⅛”, $30
Shaman Costume Belt, Vietnam, Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, indigo

Part of shaman’s traditional costume. 110” x ¾”” x ⅛”, $30.

Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak, Vietnam, (front view) Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, indigo, silk embroidery. Worn only by high level priest/shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the universe for protection. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. 49” x 29”, $2200.
Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (front view), Vietnam, Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, indigo, silk embroidery

Worn only by high level priest/shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the universe for protection. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man’s place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. 49” x 29”, $2200. (see below for back view)

Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (back), Vietnam, Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, indigo, silk embroidery. Worn only by high level priest/shaman. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the universe for protection. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. 49” x 29”, $2200.
Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak, Vietnam, (back view of previous image) Yao people, Mid 20th c, Cotton, indigo, silk embroidery
Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (front), Vietnam, Tao people, Early to mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery. Worn only by high level priest/shaman for all ceremonies. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the universe for protection. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. 48” x 39”, $2700.
Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (front), Vietnam, Tao people, Early to mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery – front view, 48″ x 39″, $2700, (see below for back veiw)
Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (back), Vietnam, Tao people, Early to mid 20th c, Cotton, silk embroidery. Worn only by high level priest/shaman for all ceremonies. The motif typically includes all the deities of heaven to clothe the shaman in the universe for protection. Not a vain adornment, it is a reminder of man's place in the hierarchical order. Originally a female costume. Long ago shamans were women and men the providers. Not being encumbered by childbirth and rearing, men replaces women as shamans but retained this part of the sacred costume. 48” x 39”, $2700.
Dragon Robe/Ritual Cloak (back view, see previous image for front view)
Yin Yang Divination Blocks, Vietnam, Early 20th c, Bamboo, These pairs of blocks are used by shaman to get answers to questions and requests. They are round on the yin side and flat on the yang side. They are thrown like dice. The answer is determined by the configuration of how they land: 1 yin and 1 yang side up = YES; Both the same side up = NO (also typically made of wood or horn) $175 each set. Dimensions: (right - 5” x 1 ¾” x 1 ½”); (left - 4 ¾” x 1 ½” x 1 ½”)
Yin Yang Divination Blocks, Vietnam, Early 20th c, Bamboo

These pairs of blocks are used by shaman to get answers to questions and requests. They are round on the yin side and flat on the yang side. They are thrown like dice. The answer is determined by the configuration of how they land: 1 yin and 1 yang side up = YES; Both the same side up = NO (also typically made of wood or horn) $175 each set. Dimensions: (right – 5” x 1 ¾” x 1 ½”); (left – 4 ¾” x 1 ½” x 1 ½”)

Pages from a Shamanic Book, Vietnam, Cao Lan people, Mid 20th c, Ink and watercolor handwritten on Mulberry paper, It is a book for making astrological predictions using the East Asian zodiac’s twelve animal characters. The text of the book uses images, maps and text to describe in detail, for the learned shaman, how to navigate this complex system of looking into the future. 12” x 17 ¾” x ¾”, $260.
Pages from a Shamanic Book, Vietnam, Cao Lan people, Mid 20th c, Ink and watercolor handwritten on Mulberry paper

It is a book for making astrological predictions using the East Asian zodiac’s twelve animal characters. The text of the book uses images, maps and text to describe in detail, for the learned shaman, how to navigate this complex system of looking into the future. 12” x 17 ¾” x ¾”, $260.

Shaman’s Personal Instruction Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam Red Yao people, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper (tapa), Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and Feng Shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 9 ½” x 8 ½” x ¾”, $850.
Shaman’s Personal Instruction Book, Cao Bang province, Vietnam
Red Yao people, Early 20th c, Ink on handmade mulberry paper

Written in Nom (Chinese characters adapted to Vietnamese), books are an integral part of a shaman’s repertoire. They range from explanations of various rituals and use of objects, to astrology, history, songs, laws, etiquette, children’s tales, hunting practices, formulas, spells and Feng Shui. Shaman make their own books to help store their knowledge therefore no two are alike and a high level shaman will have a large library. 9 ½” x 8 ½” x ¾”, $850.

Shaman's Personal Instructional Book, China, Yunnan Shui people, Early 20th c, Paper, ink, pigment, Scripted by the shaman, on handmade paper, to record all his knowledge and to instruct future shaman, 9” x 6 ¼” 1”, $750.
Shaman’s Personal Instructional Book, China, Yunnan Shui people, Early 20th c, Paper, ink, pigment

Scripted by the shaman, on handmade paper, to record all his knowledge and to instruct future shaman, 9” x 6 ¼” 1”, $750. (see below for inside detail)

Inside detail of Shaman's Personal Instructional Book, China, Yunnan Shui people, Early 20th c, Paper, ink, pigment, Scripted by the shaman, on handmade paper, to record all his knowledge and to instruct future shaman, 9” x 6 ¼” 1”, $750
Inside detail of Shaman’s Personal Instructional Book, China
Ceremonial Mask Vietnam/Thailand Early 20th c. Pigment (ink and watercolor) on handmade paper Paper masks are required possessions for shaman. Usually tied to the forehead, they are worn during certain rituals to impersonate deities. A shaman will have a full set of twenty seven. Only female shaman can wear masks of female deities. 11 ¼” x 9 ¾” x ¾” (framed) $240 each
Ceremonial Masks, Vietnam/Thailand, Early 20th c, Pigment (ink and watercolor) on handmade paper

Paper masks are required possessions for shaman. Usually tied to the forehead, they are worn during certain rituals to impersonate deities. A shaman will have a full set of twenty seven. Only female shaman can wear masks of female deities. 11 ¼” x 9 ¾” x ¾” (framed) $240 each

Horn for Drinking Spirits, Vietnam, Nghe An province, Thai people, Mid 20th c, Water Buffalo Horn, (horizontal - 11 ¾” x 2 ¼” x 5”, $160.); (vertical - 12” x 3 ¼” x 2 ¼”, $160.)
Horn for Drinking Spirits, Vietnam, Nghe An province, Thai people, Mid 20th c, Water Buffalo Horn

(horizontal – 11 ¾” x 2 ¼” x 5”, $160.); (vertical – 12” x 3 ¼” x 2 ¼”, $160.)


Inquire About Items Featured in This Blog Post

Preferred method of contact:
EmailPhoneText