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A Torghut Shaman

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Bulag, Uradyn E. 


Batbold was a local herder for many years before he became a visionary. Asserting that his ability to predict came down from the sky, he says that one day when he was herding goats on the mountains in Balgantai, white, blue and red lights appeared in front of him and he played with these lights the entire afternoon. Unfortunately, two days later he became disabled as he lost one of his arms and a leg. A local lama told him that he entered a space that wasn’t suitable for ordinary people. The lama also said that he would be a good fortune teller after he reached 40. Currently, he is 45 years old and locals call him Shaman.The shaman has a unique pack that contains 41 stone balls, two pairs of chopsticks, 41 corn niblets, and multiple prayer beads. He uses these tools while looking at people’s palms to tell their future. He also uses the 41 corn niblets to locate lost animals. There was a time when he tried to tell fortunes at nighttime but failed. As he says, the best time for fortune-telling is between 7 am and 1 pm.



Torghut herder, Shaman

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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