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Transgendered Shamanism in Ancient India 
16th-Feb-2010 11:38 am
Hi, i'm currently researching the Indus Valley Civilization of around 5000-1300 BCE Punjab, and while i've come across a few examples of male shamans/seers who took on symbolic female attributes, such as the later Scythian seers (Enarees) who acted in an effeminate manner and wore women's clothing, I was wondering whether there is much precedent for the reverse - of women taking on symbolic male attributes in the same manner?

I ask because of the most famous stone seal from the IVC is of a figure with a female physique and wearing female clothing and hair-styling but with obviously male genitalia, which I believe indicates a female figure wearing a phallus object on her belt (it's my Icon for this post if you can make it out). Other objects around "her" seem to indicate a shamanic context (a drum and the seated semi-yogic posture). I came to that conclusion given that there are other seals of more obviously male figures with a "V" shaped, possibly vaginal, symbol in the crotch. The horns may be important too - this figure's horns are much larger, possibly from a male bison, whereas the others have much smaller horns.

I was wondering if any of you had come across any good examples or articles on the topic, even if its just to say how rare it was, that you'd be willing to share? Examples from around the same period would be especially useful, but anything from around Central Asia or India would help.

16th-Feb-2010 11:53 am (UTC)
Hello there!

I'm not sure if you've already come across this but the Philippines used to have male Babaylans before it was colonized by Spain. Male Homosexuality in the Philippines: A Short History by J. Neil C. Garcia might be of some interest.
16th-Feb-2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
You can find out some more about Baylans and Babylans of the Philippines here
5th-Mar-2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
you should check out barbara's tedlock's book the woman in the shaman's body. excellent research on the importance and prevelance of female shaman's in many cultures. it has some examples of role reversal while a wife gives birth in order to transfer some of her pain to the husband, and rituals such as a wife physically hurting her husband so that he can feel some of her pain.
5th-Mar-2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
Hey thanks for the tip, and judging by the amazon preview it looks like it has a whole chapter on what i'm looking for :D
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