What is Shamans of the Blind Country about?
The film was shot under difficult physical conditions between 1977 and 1979 on three successive expeditions to a remote Himalayan village in the vicinity of the Dhaulagiri Range in north-western Nepal.The almost four-hour documentary shows Shamanism in the lives of the Magar in all its variety and range. It follows the arduous process of initiation that each student has to go through before he or she can enter the guild of the chosen healers. It participates in many rituals and séances the Shamans perform to cure their patients' illnesses and avert their misfortune. The many facets of this religion are presented in a visual language that suit the Magar's perspective, disregarding all theoretical speculations that usually overgrow this kind of subject. The film asks plain questions: How does one become a Shaman? What tests must one undergo? What is required of the candidates, and what do they acquire? What world view and what cosmology govern Shamanistic healing? What purpose do the nightlong rituals serve; and in what ways do they differ from one another? Who are the supernatural agents the Shaman has to deal with, how does he communicate with them, and how does he convince them to do what he wants? What myths, dances and songs are performed in ritual? What impact do the myths have on the lives of contemporary villagers? What is the role of the Shaman in everyday village life? How profane is the sacred, how sacred the profane? Is there such a distinction at all?