Sciamanism in Tuva: meeting Kuzhuget

During our last day of staying in Kyzyl a famous Shaman, Kuzhuget, accepted to receive us.

The shaman accepted to be filmed, but for his respect I will only include some freeze screen and comments to this story.


In Tuva, by the end of the 19th century, there were around 7000 shamans, more than half of them were women. After the end of the Second World War, the USSR Government put many efforts to eliminate religion from the daily life of the population. So, as for Christians, Muslim, Jews, Buddhists etc. communities also shamanic ones had been repressed and survived “under the carpets”.

Before the meeting our family friends told us to prepare some White Food for the rituals, which subsequently will be offered to the spirits as soon as we entered into his house.

In our list we took: Milk, Cheese and some candies.

White in Tuva tradition represents the positive energy. For example, is common etiquette during friends or family farewell to wish to have a “white journey (litt. To have white road)” to the person. Also another way of saying is that a rich man has a white yurt.

We arranged the meeting with Kuzhuget during our last day in Kyzyl because he just come back from a special reunion of the shamans in the western part of Tuva, “Zov trenadtsati shamanov” (“Voice of thirteen shamans”). He explained to us that this meeting was meant to find a sacred place to carry on some rituals in the future.

I’m very curious to meeting him, because we heard he is a white shaman and often Tuvan families invites them to give benediction to the house, and so on. A ritual non very different from Italy, were in fact our priest are called even to benedict the vehicles.

The building where he lives is a common soviet style compound, which doesn’t surprise me, after all also we had previously a meeting with a Buddhist lama who also lives with his “brothers” in a compound in the center of Kyzyl.

When the door opened it appeared to us a big, quite and solemn Tuvan man.

shaman 1

Meeting the shaman Khungesh in his kitchen.

We understand immediately that he is the shaman by his neckless.

A few days before, we attended to the Tuva Wikipedia Project meeting where also another shaman, Lazo Mongush, was wearing a similar neckless made of bones  and felines nails.

Lazo Mongush, from

In his kitchen Kuzhuget created a little altar and arranged some Buddhist mandala-posters on the walls, that later will explain to us he likes because of the things that shamanism and tibetan buddhism shares together, mostly symbols.

Kuzhuget is very open with us about his doctrine and immediately ask us if we are interested in opening our energy cannels.

Following suggestion of some friends, we decided to avoid to received any benediction, etc. but we are willing to experiment this little test.

Kurzhuget is showing us how to activate the energy.

Kurzhuget is showing us how to activate the energy.

Surprisingly  this practice reminds me pretty much of Qigong practices I used to study during my years of martial arts in Italy and China.

The shaman is willing to show us the result of an experiment he asked his wife to conduct a few years earlier.

The experiment consists into taking picture of his rituals on the fire when he is in trance. He explained us that usually people are skeptical in doing so, probably thinking that it’s  bad luck to do so, but he disagrees.

Our Shaman showed us that is actually possible to “freeze” the figure of the sprits that appears on the fire’s flames during their trances.

Each picture, perhaps around 50-60 in total, should reveal different moments of the rituals and each shape should have his own meaning/spirit.

The shape of the flames would in fact reveals the real nature of the spirits and the faith of the peoples that asked for Kuzhuget’s help.

The most common shapes are bears (the sacred spirit of Tuva), some devil spirits, girls shape spirits and other animals.

He explains that usually spirits come out from the fire for just few seconds, but when are benefic spirits their power is enough strong this is to cure many people.

In one of his trips in other countries he met new spirits, autochthonous who even told him that nobodies prayed in that soils for long time and their were glad that he come to balance the equilibrium with his rituals.

But he warned us that not all the shamans have healing powers, some of them  can just see the spirits but cannot ask their support to change the  people faith.

He says that he can cure disease, and also do hypnosis to relatives of missing people to find out where they are located. Because of his powers he is often request in the villages. He tells us about a story of a family too poor to pay his transportation to their house to do the ritual. He is sorry that they havent found the money for his trip (Tuva is quite big and to access some areas might even took a day trip), because he knows that one missing girl has been assassinate. Often some cases are closed without a solution by the police, but he hopes that in the future the system will ask more support to the shamans to help to find missing people.

Because he is very open to introducing his rituals to us, I ask him some questions:

– What are your main capabilities?

Kuzhuget reply that he can treat people that have only few months of life by slowing down their biological clock.

Basically the treatment of the people takes place when they can change the head of spiritual body of the person, to be treated. The only thing that is not possible to do is to change the spiritual head of the person because in some cases it happened that in the same bodie there were two spirits.

– Does these rituals affect your health?

“My powers and curing people doesn’t affect my health”, Kuzhuget explain he can open his channel to cosmos to clean the energy and in the same day he can treat many people without influencing his health.

To the question about his trance he says that the fire is telling him what are the achievements of the treatment.

-What are the characteristics of the Shamans?

There are 3 ways to become a shaman:

  1. Natural born shamans. Kuzhuget belongs to this tipe. Usually the family wait for the successor to be ready for the initiation so he can have a healthy life as shaman. Supposly this kind of shamans are quite powerful because more aware about their powers;
  2. Energy transmission trough Masters or Reincarnation;
  3. Initiation to Shamanism;
    It happens that sometimes there are shamans interrupting their shaman life, but it is dangerous for their natural successors, that might be misguided or imprepared in front of their powers.

Shamans can also be divided into another 2 class:

  • Light Shamans: their final aim is to treat the people from disease or spiritual/physical problem, and not taking advantages from their spirits;
  • Dark Shamans: they can actually use the people to cure themselves or to accumulate people’s energies;

Becuase of this distinction many people are scared to go to shamans they don’t know or trust, that’s what happened to us when our family friend introduce us to him while other part of the family didn’t knew him and suggested us to don’t do rituals with him.

For him it is important to help the people, but he warn us that every person react differently to the rituals.

What kind of kind of reccomandation you would like to give to the people to live their life better?

Kuzhuget beliewes in the life after-life. We all should do good in this life so we can have better chance to have a better next-life.  He says he has the capability to read the previous lives of the people, and this is helping to explain many details in this life. Access to these information can help for example the person to know what are the things he/she will be good at (work, study, etc.). Some times it shows that people having troubles in this life are actually paying some consequences from their previous lives.

At the end of the meeting we ask how much should we pay him for the visit, but he says that is not necessary to pay, but we decide to leave a little offer at his altar for his curtesy.


Meeting Kuzhuget the shaman has been very interesting and intense. He filled my curiousity of meeting a Shaman but finally he made me arose more questions that I’m surely going to explore in future during my next trips in Tuva.


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