Apatani Shaman – The Oracle and the Egg

The time to take our leave from Ziro and the Apatani was drawing near, but we had one more stop to make. It was customary for travellers to seek the blessing of the village shaman before embarking on a journey, so we were on our way to do just that.

An Apatani shaman dressed in traditional vestments

An Apatani shaman dressed in traditional vestments

Shortly after we got to his house, the shaman arrived in his formal garb which included a vest and a head adornment both decorated with bear’s hair. He made quite an imposing figure.

Egg in the Fire

He invited us inside and we sat down around the fire that burned in the open hearth. After our guide had introduced us, the shaman took out a white hen’s egg and, holding it gently in his hand, began to chant, blowing the power of his blessing onto it. We sat almost motionless for several minutes while he performed the incantation.

Then the shaman filled a metal can with water from a nearby bucket and gingerly placed the egg inside it. Using some tongs he positioned the can in the embers of the fire and quickly, the water came to a boil. The fire hissed from time to time as an occasional droplet was thrust out onto the glowing coals. We waited.

Apatani Shaman Reads my Egg Fortune

With the can almost dry, the shaman used his tongs again to withdraw it from the fire and deposited the boiled egg in water to cool. Outside in the daylight, he adeptly peeled the egg and cut it in two. Examining the yolk, which was even in colour and unblemished, the shaman declared that our trip would be without complication. We would arrive safely at our next destination. And so it was.

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