Now Showing | Healing Power at Museum Volkenkunde


Campagnebeeld - HELENDE KRACHT. Photo: Hamid Sardar




July 10, 2019 - January 5, 2020


Special collections, inspiring encounters, and mind-expanding workshops for balancing body, mind and soul.

Everyone is looking for health and happiness. If things aren’t going your way, there are plenty of options for restoring the balance beside visiting your doctor: from oracle cards, ayahuasca, the laying on of hands, singing bowls, and hypnotic drums to shamans, witches, and voodoo priests. The collective name for these therapeutic treatments is healing. In its new, large exhibition, Healing Power, Museum Volkenkunde turns the spotlight on this concept from Thursday, 10 July onwards.

From the Arctic to South America

The concept of healing is relatively new in Europe. It has been on the rise since the 1980s, concurrent with the increasing popularity of Eastern medicine and the New Age movement. The treatments are often centuries old and come from all over the world: from the Arctic to South America, and from Canada to China. And although methods and tools differ from one continent and one era to the next, the goal is always the same: learning to balance body, mind, and soul, while healing and gaining more self-knowledge in the process. The underlying principle is also the same: the belief that there is more between heaven and earth, more than we can explain with our ratio and (Western) science.  

Spiritual Journey

The extraordinary ethnographic collections in this field offer a unique opportunity to take visitors on a spiritual journey. Become inspired by meeting famous healers. Find out what moves witch Coby Rijkers, how Marco Hadzidakis performs his ayahuasca sessions, and what priestess Marian Markelo has to say about Winti.


Exhibition Preview


Jacket of a shaman (back); leather, iron, tendon wire; Northeast Siberia, 1800-1803. Collection National Museum of World Cultures Foundation

Jacket of a shaman; leather, iron, tendon wire; Northeast Siberia, 1800-1803. Collection National Museum of World Cultures Foundation


Egungun outer suit with mask; sequins, shells, cotton, skin (animal); Benin; 2005. Collection Foundation National Museum of World Cultures

Priest hat - Tindung; rattan, mica, cotton, beads; Sulawesi; before 1884. Collection of the National Museum of World Cultures Foundation


Editor’s Note

The May issue of Art of the Ancestors included a short piece by Dr. Reimar Schefold entitled "Shamans in Siberut, Mentawai: Restoring Threatened Harmony". This document was composed in anticipation of and support for this present exhibition on healing arts at the Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden.


Shamans in Siberut, Mentawai
Restoring Threatened Harmony

Incised and Relief Patterned Shaman’s Box with Suspension Strap and a Saddleback Cover with Rattan Binding | Salipa.png

by Dr. Reimar Schefold

The local kin-groups (uma) on SiberutSiberut is the northernmost and largest (4,030 square kilometres) of the Mentawai archipelago located off the west coast of Sumatra. traditionally live in large longhouses, also called uma. In these communities of on average five to ten families, particular emphasis is placed on maintaining a harmonious balance. Central to this goal are the ideas about the soul. The Mentawaians believe that everything has a soul – man, animals, plants, and objects. The people and their souls have to be in good relationship with each other. If they disregard the necessary consideration of their souls in their behavior, there is a danger that the souls will panic and flee far away. They then seek protection from the ancestors, and their owners must die.