Maria Marhoffer-Wolff: Frauen und Feen – Entwicklung und Wandel einer Beziehung (Besessenheit in Yasin / Nordpakistan). With an English Summary [PDF]


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CAK Culture Area Karakorum Volume 10

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XVI, 408 pp.
1 map, 3 graphs, glossary

Text language: German

Shamanism is a classical topic of anthropological research. The present book deals with a hitherto rather unknown form of shamanism in North Pakistan, i.e. the special relationship between fairies (parí) and women. Those fairies are depicted as female entities, who belong to a world of spiritual purity and bliss. They often possess young women called mómalas, who receive religious treatment to rid them of the intruder, but a few of these women cannot be healed and develop into spiritual media between the physical world and the world of the fairies. When their possession is cultivated, a mómala can call her parí for prophesying purposes.

The author spent 20 months of field study in the Yasin valley of North Pakistan (1989–1991) on ethno-medical research in the context of an interdisciplinary research project concerning the relationship between humans, environment and culture in North Pakistan. During her stay she became aware of the existence of the mómalas and began to focus on the influence of fairies on the lives of these women.

The discussions with the mómalas and their social environment resulted in a collection of empirical reports, self-descriptions, accounts of narrative situations, local and emic stories, as well as appraisals by others. With her book, the author breaks new ground in this traditionally male dominated ethnological field of study in North Pakistan, gaining intimate access to the otherwise closely guarded women of Pakistani society.

Under these links you will find further studies of shamanism, traditional healing practices and ritual beliefs:

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