Borderland Legend, Carnival Fetes and Cinematic Opera

pTrajectorying through Shamanic Interlude:
“Carnival” as Interlude or Narrative Pivot

Shamanic rites lurk within just about all variants of what we would call “carnival” (including or enfolded into stage enactments, atavistic or archaic costume and related dance [such a stilt-walking and circular excursion around settlement (xiang, cun) peripheries] both centers time flow and space- and persists (even if subtly) across the center and (sub-ethnic) borderlands of practically all the Chinese Imperium save where priestly administered monotheisms (esp Moslem) exclude(d) them as pagan heresies, idolatries. (Xinjiang and the China portion of Kazakhstan). Contrary to what one might expect under the textual hegemony of Neo-Confucian orthodoxy, local officials nominally charged with the assertion of non-pagan (viz non-shamanic, non-magical doctrine) seem always to have discharged their supervisory functions (ceremonial, divinity – excluding textual recitals) with an awareness that multi-theist, Daoist/Buddhist numena were understood to be all around and perhaps more embedded in temple buildings/shrines than anything purely “Confucian” (D Johnson, Spectacle and Sacrifice, 253-7, Cambridge MA, HUP, 2009, description of saihui 赛会 ceremony) however much the latter was recited as governing ideology, in both grand and kinship rites: for the latter see also Huang Tudi 4:23 ff, where the master of ceremonies commands newly weds to kneeling before the bridegrooms‘ ancestral tablets). Were nonetheless articulated through mainly “pagan” seasonal ceremonia maxima, still remembered (sensed?) as moments of numinous interruption, “cracks” in the the self-repeating cycle of earthly time. And thus as fissures when gods “spoke/sang” to mortals as response to the reverse flow of music and song. Miraculous concerts occasioned, both, by agro-cyclic fissures in the cosmic clock. Or of their dangerous potential.

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