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Valentina Badma-Ubushaeva, About Traditional Healing Methods

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Valentina talks about a ritual of ‘pouring lead’ (to heal scared children), a ritual of ‘life substitute’ and other traditional healing methods. About the ritual of ‘pouring lead’. First melt a chunk of lead in oil and then pour it into a cup with cold water, which must be held above the patient’s head, who is usually a child. In Kazakhstan, to protect from evil tongues, children were given dried snake heads. About a ritual of ‘life substitute’. In the olden days when a person fell ill, a sheep was brought in and designated (mal zaakh) as a special animal. That sheep was supposed to take the illness of the person to itself. In order to counteract slander or envy, people also made small human-shaped sculptures from dough, smeared it on their skin and then buried it. Lamas told people how to perform this ritual. If someone had a fever, that person was given kimr, a drink made from water and milk. Kimr was also given to women immediately after childbirth. Before childbirth women were given melted butter to drink, which was believed to make childbirth easier and quicker. Melted butter was also considered good for liver related diseases. A story about a devil’s claw. In the village where Valentina lives there was an old Caucasian man who healed people and was a clairvoyant himself. One day while driving cattle to the grazing field Valentina found an old lamp and a ‘devil’s claw’ on the ground. She brought the findings home, gave them to her sister and forgot about them. Later the old Caucasian man said to Valentina: ‘You, Valya, have found what ordinary people do not find’ to which she replied: ‘What did I find? I do not know, I found nothing’. Later Valentina remembered the lamp and the claw that she had given to her sister. She took the claw back home where it is still kept. Valentina uses this object to heal both her children and herself. This object is yellowish in colour, thin, long in shape and has a pointed tip. Valentina’s paternal grandmother used to say this to her: ‘If you crumble this claw on an ulcer, it will heal that ulcer. It crumbles like chalk.’ In the past, people called such objects ‘a devil’s claw’ or ‘a claw of the master of death’.



Fear, rituals, lead, healing, methods

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin