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Monthly Photos April 2013

Photos taken by ILCAA staff and associates are posted here once a month; most of them are taken during their field research in Asia and Africa.

(The copyright belongs to the photographers.)

The divination with shăba leaves

Kachin People such as Jinghpaw, Lhaovo, Lacid used to do traditional divination using a kind of long leaves called shăba lap "divination’s leaf" in Jinghpaw. First of all the diviner chants a spell to ask the shăba leaf to tell him the truth. Then he tears the leaf into six strips along the veins, leaving its base unseparated. Next he pinches the base of the leaf with one hand and twists the leaf together with another hand, so as not to see the order of the six strips. He ties two of the strips together, and ties two of the remaining strips again, as in the photos. Finally he checks which strips are tied. There are totally 45 patterns of the two knots, by which various matters were divined, from the spirit to sacrifice in a traditional festival to where a disappeared cow is now.

While Kachins still worship their traditional spirits, they say, shamans did the divination with shăba leaves sacrificing a brace of chickens, and the results were accurate. Now Kachin people converted to Christianity and there is no shaman anymore. Mr. Lang Zung, who works in Lacid Literature and Culture Committee and showed me how to divine, said that he learned the divination from a late shaman. “I often divine the numbers of lottery. I hit a lottery about once per week”, He said frankly. I dared not ask him how often he divines the numbers of lottery in a week.

13 MAR 2013
Dukahtawng Ward, Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar
Photograph by Hideo SAWADA

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