The Northwest coast makes up one of the last regions on earth to be traversed by Western explorers. In this region an ensemble of related peoples created a large cultural universe derived from the cross-fertilization of ideas, oral traditions, and art. The shaman’s cosmos was divided into three worlds, Lower, Middle and Upper, where the spirits ruled. With supernatural helpers, shamans sought to manipulate the environment, making use of regalia and objects that bequeath an acute sense of the animistic world that reflects the early interactions between man and nature.
Structuring her account by the three geographical regions, Patricia Rieff Anawalt not only probes deeply into the significance and meaning of the shamanic practices, but also points up the intriguing differences in the ritual garb across the vast territories concerned as generation after generation sought to influence events through the aid of spirits.
The strength of the book lies in its attractive and well-curated photographs of various costumes and artifacts, and in its detailed descriptions of both the materials and the designs of shamanic paraphernalia and art. Anawalt is at her best with her visual choices, and her nuanced ability to bring the costumes to life through vivid description.
— Journal of Anthropological Research
Patricia Rieff Anawalt
Patricia Rieff Anawalt is Director Emerita of the Center for the Study of Regional Dress at the Fowler Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles, and an authority on worldwide regional dress. Her publications include The Worldwide History of Dress. She lives in Los Angeles.