Science and Shamanism: Medicine Meets Myanmar’s Far-Flung Naga Tribes

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Science and Shamanism: Medicine Meets Myanmar’s Far-Flung Naga Tribes

Agence France-Presse

Quote:With malaria and tuberculosis screening out front and sacrifices to jungle gods out back, health worker Htan Pi and her shaman mother are an unlikely double-act in their isolated Myanmar village.

Quote:This is Naga territory, a tribal region of former headhunters with myriad languages and customs still largely based on animist beliefs.

But trainee Htan Pi, 24, is helping usher in modern medicine thanks to a band of health mentors on motorbikes.

Sitting on the porch of her family's bamboo house that doubles as a clinic, Htan Pi who can administer basic health care insists she is not in competition with her mother — the village shaman.

"People come to me first and only go to my mum if they don't get better," she tells AFP.

Her mother Jang Ngon picks up the story, describing the case of a man suffering from severe swelling all over his body which did not respond to treatment at the hospital, a day's walk away.

"We needed to call his soul back from the jungle, so we sacrificed a chicken and the patient got better," said Jang Ngon — who believes she is around 50 years old.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

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