Journals & Publications :: Khyber.ORG

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Journals & Publications

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H. SIDKY., Shamans and Mountain Spirits in Hunza
The Hunzakut, a high-mountain people in the western Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan, possess a shamanistic tradition centered around religious specialists known as bitan. These practitioners inhale the smoke of burning juniper branches, dance to a special music, drink blood from a freshly severed goat's head, enter into ecstatic trances, and converse with supernatural beings. An ethnographic and historical analysis of this little-known shamanistic tradition is offered, focusing on the rituals, beliefs, and practices of Hunzakut bitan, the place of these practitioners in the traditional ritual and politico-ideological apparatus of the former Hunza state, and their role as healers and soothsayers.

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