Sensing “Place”: Performance, Oral Tradition, and Improvisation in the Hidden Temples of Mountain Altai

This article suggests that during two Ak Jang (“White Way”) Sary Bür (“Yellow Leaves”) rituals in hidden open-air temples in Mountain Altai, kaleidoscopic relations are created through bodily movements, oral poetry, epic, and song. These components stimulate three interrelated senses of “place” for participants: a topographical, indigenous “place of gatherings;” a numinous interactive spiritual place; and a situational “being-in-place” that serve to strengthen personhood and enable personal transitions in the face of difficult contemporary political and natural change.