FOBOS: Weather in Kyzyl/Tuva
Kyzyl Weather


Editor's note: these photos are made available through the gracious generosity of Abbas, a member of the prestigious photo agency Magnum.  Visit Magnum at to learn more of Abbas's work, as well as those of other accomplished photographers.

Shamanism, probably the earliest religion on earth, believe that every mountain, river or forest has its own spirit which owns the place, and is in command of animals and birds living there. Spirits can protect people, provided their goodwill is obtained with prayers and sacrifices. Shamans have therefore a vested interest in protecting their environment. They were our first ecolo ancestors. They were also our earliest doctors and psychiatrists: through a trance, the shaman engages in a dialogue with spirits to clean the patient of evils which affect his heath, physical and psychic. Spirits help the shaman to look into the patient's past and apprehend his future. After decades of violent persecution by Communists, shamanism makes a forceful comeback in Russia, mainly in the Siberian republic of Tuva.

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Spirit of the steppe around lake Sut Khol.
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Kyzyl. Spirit of the bird on a ovaa (chamanic altar).
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An ovaa (shamanic altar) on the road to lake Tere Khol.
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Village of Belder. Nomad's yurt and cattle in the taiga.


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Village of Belder. Shamans MOKUR-OOL (seated) and ANISSIA cleanse the inside of a nomad's yurt of evil spirits. They drum up their dungurs.


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Village of Belder. A shaman heals a patient inside a nomad's yurt.


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Moscow. Russian shaman VERA cleanses a patient of evil spirits, by drumming her dungur. She operates in a small forest set in the capital.


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Kyzyl. Russian Shaman VERA cleanses, with smoke from a juniper twig, a patient possessed by evil spirits. She operates in the TOS DEER (nine skies) shaman association.


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Kyzyl. Shaman ZOE drums up her dungur during a ritual of cleansing a patient of evil spirits. She operates in the TOS DEER (nine skies) shaman association.


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Kyzyl. Birds become spirits over the ovaa (altar) of the TOS DEER shaman association.


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Kyzyl. Shaman AY CHUREK leads a night kamlaniye (ritual with fire) outside the TOS DEER shaman association she founded.


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Kyzyl. Shaman AY CHUREK leads a night kamlaniye (ritual with fire) in the open.


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 A boy drinks water from a brook.


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Kyzyl. Shaman LUDA uses smoke from a juniper twig to clean up a patient of evil spirits. She operates by the ovaa (altar) of the TOS DEER shaman association.
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Hunter VALERY in the taiga near the village of Eshtehem.

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On Sept. 13, 2001 I went with Vera to visit the new shaman clinic she had set up in the village of Chaganar. On the way from Kyzyl, we stopped at the sacred mountain of Hayirakan ( the bear) where Vera wanted to perform a kamlaniye to pay respect to the mountain. I asked her if she could perform one for Richard Feynman. Although a strict rationalist - like me - I am sure Richard would have appreciated....I would.

I showed her Richard's photo printed on the back of his book adding that Professor Feynman appreciated drumming. "Good, good - said Vera - it means that he was close to shamanism" and she performed a full kamlaniye. At the end of the ritual she added : " He was an enlightened soul, his spirit moved south west". I think Richard would also have appreciated the antenna in the background : shaman and antenna, are they not both about invisible communication ?