This photograph is part of the collection entitled ‘Celebrations’.
This image of a tang-ki medium was captured at a Taoist ceremony during the ceremony of the Nine emperors Gods festival. During ceremonies and seances, 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 an 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. Here we see the medium undergoing extreme facial piercing. Such painful procedures participate in bringing the medium to a state of trance.
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