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Shamans Update Their Style

After 10 minutes of drum-beating and incense-burning by her assistants, Chang Yin donned a black, spotted robe and pointed hat. She picked up a fan with her right hand and a silver flask of sorghum liquor with her left.

Then, she sat down on a chair before an altar piled with images of deities, fruit, cans of beer, snacks and joss sticks. The session began. She slipped into a trance.

Chang is a jitong – a shaman who dispenses advice while said to be possessed by a spirit. Here, inside a modern office building next to Taipei’s bustling main train station, she is carrying on a folk tradition that goes back hundreds of years in Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.

As demand shrinks, shamans who channel gods update their style – International Herald Tribune