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Boris Dochkaev, Fortune-Telling with a Rosary and a Sheep's Shoulder Blade

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


This is Boris’ story: Before doing divination with a rosary, one should read the mantra of Okn Tengri. First, hold the main bead of the rosary and roll the rosary on your hand arbitrarily. Then pinch an occasional bead and start counting every three beads. The number of remaining beads is used for divination: three beads means ‘it is closed’ (byutyu), two beads – ‘a road’ (khaalg), one bead – ‘a joy’ (bair). Next, read the mantra again, hold the rosary from its short side and count every three beads. To be sure, one needs to do the divination three times. For the third time, take a bead from the middle of the rosary. At the end, analyse all three results. For example, if two results are ‘one’ (a joy), and one is ‘three’ (closed), then this may be interpreted as a good result overall: despite obstacles, in the end everything will be alright. The divination should be only performed early in the morning. Kalmyks traditionally did divination by using a stick or a rosary. By contrast, Tibetans used dice. Kalmyks used a sheep’s shoulder blade for divination rarely. This type of divination was used mainly to predict the upcoming winter. One should look at the shoulder blade by holding it against light and examining it. If the wide part of the shoulder blade is white, it means that the winter will be cold and snowy. If the blade has dark strips along its edges, the beginning of the winter will be muddy. I do not know the rest. Kalmyks used only sheep’s shoulder blade for divination, may be because the head of a sheep is used as an offering.



yas kemyalgn, divination, rosary, shoulder blade

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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