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Rare Photos Of Kazakhstan's Last Shaman And Their Rituals (NSFW)

Rare Photos Of Kazakhstan's Last Shaman And Their Rituals (NSFW) image

Rare Photos Of Kazakhstan's Last Shaman And Their Rituals (NSFW)

Taken by photographer Denis Vejas, these photos give us a peak into the world of Kazakhstan's shaman culture.

Here, shaman are known as Sufi dervishes. The role is something of a hybrid, created when Kazakhstan's shaman began to convert to a mystical branch of Islam known as Sufism. The Sufi dervishes combined the mystical religion with traditional nomadic culture to create a blend of Sufism totally unique to the region.

Today, meeting a Sufi dervish is extremely rare. In this series, Vejas introduces us to one of the last Sufi dervishes in Kazakhstan. Her name is Bifatima Dualetova and he spent a winter living with her to capture the series.

Traditional Kazakh culture might seem shocking to Westerners, but in this part of world, it's treated with great respect.

Taking vows of poverty, Bifatima lives at the foot of the Scared Hill in Ungurtas where she solemnly leads followers in cleansing rituals. The ritual involves slaughtering a sheep above the subjects head and later rinsing the blood in a freezing creek.

According to Bifatima, the ritual mimics being born– we arrive covered in blood and are then cleansed with water.

What was it like to live with Bifatima and watch pilgrims undergo the ritual?

"Of course, seeing all of this is definitely a trip—but it's also a trip being with all of these radically different people, living a metaphysically rural life on what's essentially a commune," Vejas says of the winter with Bifatima. "Some just come for a few days; others, seeing Bifatima as a guru, will stay for years."

Staying with Bifatima, I felt lost in her supposed miracles.

"Making this series was truly spellbinding. Traditional Kazakh culture might seem shocking to Westerners, but in this part of world, it's treated with great respect," he continues.

"Staying with Bifatima, I felt lost in her supposed miracles. I was almost forced to turn my mind off to comprehend everything that was happening around me."

Interested in other subcultures around the world? Vejas shot this series of rainbow gatherings around the world which provides fascinating look inside modern hippie culture.

Follow Vejas on Instagram or visit his websitefor more rare and compelling photographic work.

Via Denis Vejas & Vice

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