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This photograph is part of the collection entitled ‘Ritual Singapore’.
This picture was taken in a Taoist Temple near Serangoon North Ave. 1 where ‘tangki’ shen-mediums regularly hold seances. During said scenes, these mediums are believed to be possessed by ‘shens’ or Taoist deities (as opposed to spirit-mediums that are possessed by the souls of the deceased). The tangki are consulted for help in overcoming issues such as illness, marital or workplace problems, or getting information about the financial prospects of the year, and auspicious dates to set weddings for example. To become possessed, the tangki first goes into a trance state, which usually takes half and hour. He will then begin to show signs of possession. During possession, the tangki acts and speaks like the deity, and it is up to the assistants to recognize which deity is possessing the medium. In this image, we see the material used by the tangki during his possession to quickly write spells whispered to him by the deity.