Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Ta-Tung | Rooe | Storehouse

Photo © Rooe | Courtesy Storehouse

I'm always intrigued by out of the mainstream religious traditions and rites, and was often able to photograph and document them wherever they occurred. This is how I have been working for the past 18 months on my forthcoming photo book Hầu Đồng: The Spirit Mediums of Việt Nam.

Cap Goh Meh is a festival celebrated in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar calendar. It officially ends the Chinese New Year celebrations. In Singkawang, Kalimantan, Tatung performers - people believed to be possessed by the spirits of ancestors – perform various ancient rituals, during the festival, the performance has similarities with Dayak rituals and is also performed by local Dayaks.

The Dayak are the native people of Borneo, and were feared for their ancient headhunting tradition.

Tatungs are mediums who exercise their craft during the Cap Go Meh ritual to ward off evil spirits, and cleanse the town and temples from evil and bad luck. During the Tatung rituals, participants enter into a trance and perform many bizzare actions, such as stepping on a sword, or piercing steel wires or nails into their cheeks or through their tongues.

The Intermediary is a photo essay by Indonesian photographer Rooe on the Tatungs published on Storehouse.