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Shamans Still Cast Their Spells Along the Modern Silk Road

With a glass, a hank of silk, and ashes from burned cotton plants, faith healer Shakhlo Teshabaeva plies her trade in Kokand, Uzbekistan. (Photograph by Paul Salopek)
With a glass, a hank of silk, and ashes from burned cotton plants, faith healer Shakhlo Teshabaeva plies her trade in Kokand, Uzbekistan. (Photograph by Paul Salopek)

The babel rose from the cemetery gate.

A man grunted as if punched again and again in the gut. Someone else was moaning in a low, weepy singsong. Another burped spasmodically. Underneath it all was the soft, raspy muttering of prayers, like leaves tumbling in an autumn breeze.

The prayers came from the shamans. They were curing patients.

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