Wu: female shamans of ancient China

© 2011 Max Dashu

‘We rise to heaven and brush away the comets,’ said a shamaness in her song.

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dancing women in masks, clay

Old sources show the Wu carrying out invocation, divination, dream interpretation, healing, exorcism, driving off evil spirits, and performing ecstatic rain dances. Dramatic descriptions recount the powers of the wu in their ecstasies:

they could become invisible, they slashed themselves with knives and swords, cut their tongues, swallowed swords, and spat fire, were carried off on a cloud that shone as if with lighning. The female wu danced whirling dances, spoke the language of spirits, and around them objects rose it the air and knocked together.

tiger mask, the taotie

Article uploaded March 11, 2011 is a draft. More to come...

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