Costumes – What shamans wear is often of considerable importance to the fulfillment of their roles. Costumes may not be mere decoration or artistic embellishment but helpers as significant as the otherworld or other-than-human persons with whom the shamans work. However, considered as art and artifacts, shamanic costumes may illustrate their understanding of the cosmos and advertise their skills. The donning of costumes may be an important part of shamans’ performances, and some wear different costumes to achieve different purposes (e.g., among the Altai different costumes are worn to ascend into the upper world or descend into the underworld). Where transvestitism is important, cross-dressing may be an important indicator of shamanic ability or training.
Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007