Traditional Medicine - Healing Methods
About this collection
Methods employed by folk healers are varied and eclectic, consisting of herbalism, medicinal diet advocacy, massage, magical objects, as well as shamanic and Buddhist elements such as pulse treatment, prayers, cleansing rituals and divination. Magical objects include medicinal stones, metals, animal bones, meteorite fragments, silver and copper coins, sticks, rosaries, lamps filled with oil, a Buddhist bell and vajra, statues and depictions of deities, etc. As a repository of diverse knowledge, the institution of folk healers employs a number of assumptions about the causes of illness or misfortune. For example, depending on the patient, sometimes folk healers work on the assumption that illnesses are caused by the dissatisfied or angry spirit of a deceased relative. Once the needs of this spirit are satisfied - for example, by offering food if the cause of the spirit's dissatisfaction happens to be hunger - the patient is expected to return to health. Another healing method is used when a child becomes frightened or psychotic. Firstly, the head of the child is covered with a white sheet. Then a piece of melted lead is poured into a bowl with cold water held by another person above the head of the child. When the lead cools down, the folk healer takes it out to read for the shape(s) which indicate what the fear was - for example, a dinosaur, a dog or a sharp object. Afterwards, the figures are destroyed with a hammer, signifying the destruction of the cause of fear or phobia. The child is advised not to watch cartoons with dinosaurs or keep away from dogs or not to touch sharp objects. Magical objects such as meteorite fragments (called 'dragon' arrow'), animal bones, and saiga horns are used to cure various tumours and bone growths.