Interviews conducted by Alexandra Tacea (an intern)

Interviews with traditional healers and predictors in Batken oblast in August 2011

The nine following interviews with two male and seven female traditional practitioners between the age of 35 and 90 were conducted during a field stay in Batken oblast between the 11th and the 16th of August 2011. Seven of the informants are living in five villages nearby the city of Batken two of them live in Batken itself.

The interviews were held within the context of my research focusing on the path of initiation of the different types of spiritual healers and predictors in Kyrgyzstan. Nevertheless the whole life of the informants as well as their way of practicing and their helpers or masters was of great interest. Spiritual healers and predictors as well as practitioners of traditional medicine were interviewed. To be able to conduct the interviews in Kyrgyz language I used the help of a translator, who simultaneously translated my questions into Kyrgyz and the answers of the practitioners into English.

The process of finding the informants was the following: first Abdulahad Matiraimov (my translator) called relatives in the different villages in order to find out the addresses of the traditional healers in these places. In a second step we went to the houses of the informants, sometimes accompanied by familiar village inhabitants, and asked for an interview after having introduced us and the research project. Almost all of the approached practitioners were willing to answer the questions about their lives and practices, claiming that they already knew we would be coming. This circumstance proved to be very helpful for obtaining the opportunity to talk to these special people.

Introduction to the Interviews with spiritual practitioners in Talas in September 2011

The following interviews were held in Talas in the period between the 10th and the 12th of September 2011. Two of the interviewed practitioners are members of the “ata joli” group of Talas, one of them is a тааб and the fourth interview partner had gained the experience of being with spiritual healers for three years in his youth, which gave him a good insight to the practices of the healers. Since two of the interview partners are members of “ata joli”, their views of spiritual practice are pretty similar and slightly differ from those of other practitioners.

The interview partners were found with the help of my translator Kamilja Appasova, who simultaneously translated my English questions into Kyrgyz and then back to English.

These interviews were held within the context of my research project on traditional healing in Kyrgyzstan.

The interviews in Talas gave me the chance to have a closer insight to the orthodox Muslim view of different practices, like speaking with the souls of dead people or praying to saints, which are used by many healers, giving me the ability of comparing it with the healer’s view.