Shaman Rock on Olkhon Island


Scala Chamanka (also cape Burkhan, Shamansky cape, Pescherny cape) is a cape in the middle part of the western coast of Olkhon Island, on Lake Baikal. It ends with a double-peak cliff called “Shaman-rock”. Currently, the cape has the status of a state natural and historical monument located on Lake Baikal.

The cape is located on the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park. Located near the village of Khuzhir, the largest settlement on the island of Olkhon Lake Baikal.

The fact that the Cape Skala Shamanka goes far into Lake Baikal, connecting with the coast only by a low and narrow isthmus, gave reason to refer it to the capes of the “islet type. It is composed of crystalline limestones with streaks of quartz, and the adjacent coast of Olkhon Island is composed of granite rock interspersed with hornblended gneiss. The isthmus of the cape to the island of Olkhon is covered with sediment and passes into the meadow, grassy coastal area of ​​the neighboring bay.

The name of the cape “Burkhan” appeared after the penetration of Tibetan Buddhism in the Baikal region at the end of the 17th century, which partially replaced shamanism. Buryat Buddhists began to call the main deity of Lake Baikal the word “Burkhan”. And cape Burkhan with a through cave in the Shaman-rock on the island of Olkhon, Lake Baikal was considered its dwelling.

The shaman-rock on the island of Olkhon, Lake Baikal, one of the nine shrines of Asia (formerly called the “stone temple”), has become one of the most famous images of Lake Baikal: no film or photo album about Lake Baikal can do without its image.

The double-peaked cliff on Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, is composed of marble and dolomitic limestone, in some places rich in graphite spangles. The surface of the rock is covered with bright red lichen. The height of the part of the rock closest to the coast of Olkhon Island is 30 m, the height of the distant part is 42 m. In the part of the rock closest to the coast of Olkhon Island, there is a winding Shaman cave. It was formed in the process of weathering and erosion of limestone rocks by Lake Baikal. The length of the cave is about 12 m, width from 3 to 4.5 m, height from 1 to 6.5 m. The entrance to the cave is possible from two sides - from the north-east and west. The most convenient entrance from the west (Olkhon Island), where there is a pre-cave area. A narrow ascending passage leads from the cave to the eastern side of the cliff to Lake Baikal. In the cave there are side corridors and a narrow vent.

From the western side (Lake Baikal) on the surface of the distant part of the rock there is a natural outlet of brown rock that looks like a dragon image.

The shaman cave on Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal was the most revered holy place on Lake Baikal, which was sacrificed and vowed since the first shamans appeared. After the Tibetan Buddhism spread among the Buryats, the cave on Olkhon Island was also worshiped by the Buryat Buddhists. Earlier in the cave were shaman rituals, and after it was the altar of the Buddha on Lake Baikal.

In ancient times, cult sacrifices were made to the spirit-owner of Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, which, according to Buryat-shamanist beliefs, lived in the cave of the cape. The owner of the island Olkhon was the most formidable and revered deity of Lake Baikal. Near the cape in the sacred grove they burned and buried the shamans of Lake Baikal. In the local local lore museum of Lake Baikal there are shamanic items collected on ashes in this grove.

The sacred Shaman-rock of Lake Baikal with a through cave, where only a shaman had the right of access, remained forbidden for a long time, no one was allowed to approach it and pass through it. The first researchers of Lake Baikal in the 18th and 19th centuries noted that the cave on Cape Skala Shamanka on Lake Baikal caused “a particularly superstitious horror of all Baikal Buryats living on Lake Baikal; the custom of making sacrifices and giving vows is derived from this rock on the island of Olkhon. Nowhere have the Buryats made such abundant sacrifices as those of the white marble rock Shamanka on Olkhon Island. There are many interesting legends from these customs. ” The well-known Russian scientist V.A. Obruchev, who explored Lake Baikal, wrote about this: “... but the most wonderful thing is the superstitious fear that the Buryats of Olkhon Island feed into the cave. Past the shaman’s cliffs of Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal cannot be passed on wheels, but only on horseback or in a sleigh, why in summer time the communication between the western and eastern parts of Olkhon on Lake Baikal is done only on horseback, and even in rare cases, since Buryats generally reluctantly ride past the cave; moreover, in the event that there is a dead man in one of the clans, members of this clan, that is, a whole half of the island of Olkhon, were forbidden to drive past the cave for a certain time; for this reason, my guide - the Buryat from Dolon-argued brought me to Khuzhir and came back, but with another baptized Buryat I drove past the cave to the Kharantsy ulus and here I took another guide; on the way back was the same. "

Women were forbidden to approach the cape on the island of Olkhon, and they avoided this place for two miles. The ban for women to go through a rock cave on Olkhon Island, according to one version, is associated with the conviction of ancient people that the presence of "unclean and sinful" women could desecrate the purity of the sacred place. According to another version, this prohibition protected women, since it was believed that visiting the cave could complicate childbirth - and there would be no offspring.

At the Shamansky Cape, the Buryats of Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, swore oaths to remove the false accusation or to defend their honor, promises of fulfilling their duty. Childless Buryats from different regions came here to Lake Baikal with a request for the gift of children.

The cave was also venerated by the Khorin Buryats of Lake Baikal. This reverence, apparently, should be compared with the well-known legend about the original origin of the Buryat-Horintsa from the island of Olkhon of Lake Baikal. It is obvious that the reverence of the cave among the Horinans appeared from very ancient times, even before Tibetan Buddhism spread in the Baikal region.

In the old days in the Shaman cave on Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal there was a Buddhist chapel, in which various copper, bronze and silver figurines of Buddhist deities, paper and cloth icons, smoking candles and various sacrificial accessories were placed. According to the testimony of visitors to the cave in 1902, the cave contained suspended Buddhist icons on the canvas, copper cups and smoking candles. On the stones around the cave lay copper coins and pieces of blue cloth with inscriptions of good wishes.

According to the stories of old-timers, in the first decade of the 20th century, hundreds of lamas from the dachans of Transbaikalia came to pray at a rock near the island of Olkhon of Lake Baikal. The lamas said that a Mongol god lived in the cave of the cape, who had migrated from Mongolia in times immemorial, seeking salvation; that lamas from all 34 datsans operating in Buryatia necessarily come to Lake Baikal to pray here.

There are many legends about the cave, including the legends about staying on Lake Olkhon of Lake Baikal of Genghis Khan and the Mongol lord Gegen Burkhan.

On the very headland of Skala Shamanka on Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal and many archaeological finds have been made nearby. The shaman cave was first examined and described by the researcher of Lake Baikal, ID D. Chersky in 1879. Later, coins of the 18th century were found in Lake Baikal, and in 1989, extensive excavations were carried out at Lake Baikal and objects were found relating both to recent times (XVII – XIX centuries) and to the Neolithic era (V-III thousand years BC. e.). Some of the finds are kept in the museum of the village of Khuzhir of Lake Baikal.

Even more archaeological finds on Lake Baikal were made during excavations on the isthmus connecting the Shamanka Skala cape to the island of Baikal Olkhon. An ancient man’s site was found here, more than a dozen burials belonging to the Neolithic and Bronze Age eras (V – II millennium BC), and many objects: a jade knife and ax, arrowheads, ceramic fragments, objects from stone, bone, iron, bronze, gold and others.

According to the testimony of the researchers of Lake Baikal I. D. Chersky in 1879 and P. P. Khoroshikh in 1924, Tibetan inscriptions existed on the rocks of the cape Skala Shamanka on the island of Olkhon of Lake Baikal, facing the village of Khuzhir. traces of them could still be found in the 50-60s of the XX century. To date, the inscriptions are not preserved.

In 1952, in one of the cracks of the cave on Olkhon Island, P. P. Khoroshikh, a small plate made of slate slate with an image of a female shaman woman carved on it was found by P. Baikal. Similar images of shamans are known on the cliffs of Lake Baikal in the area of ​​Sagan-Zab and in the bay of Aya of Lake Baikal. To the east of the cave entrance in 1953, the explorer of Lake Baikal, P. P. Khoroshikh, discovered a cave painting, which he considered to be an image of a tambourine. The figure shows an elongated oval, within which a line is horizontally drawn, two more inclined lines are depicted outside the oval, right and left. The time when the image has appeared cannot be established.

Another picture on the island of Olkhon was found by a researcher of Lake Baikal, A. V. Tivanenko in the early 1980s. The drawing, which depicts a shaman with a tambourine in his right hand and a beater in his left, is made with red ocher and is located 5 meters to the left of the main entrance to the Shaman cave on Olkhon Island. The time of the appearance of this figure also could not be determined.

Near the Shaman cave on Olkhon Island, ancient inscriptions in Tibetan and Mongolian languages ​​are preserved on the rocks. Earlier, near the entrance to the cave on Olkhon Island, there were images of Buddhist deities, painted in white paint. It is difficult to establish whether the Shaman cave on Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal was inhabited, because the land was thrown from the bottom of the cave in ancient times by llamas during the construction of a prayer house in the cave. However, it is possible that the primitive man on Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal found a temporary shelter in the cave, since the remains of the Neolithic culture were found nearby, on the dune site. At 150 meters to the east of the Shaman cave on Olkhon Island of Lake Baikal, on a cliff of white marble, there are images of shaman tambourines carved by people of the early Iron Age. In recent years, these images were partially destroyed during the development of white marble for burning lime.