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Donyi Polo, "A Religion From The Beginning of Time"

Jane Tuckerman | India

Donyi Polo Temple with pictures of deities representing the Family, the Virgin and the Warrior.

 “A Religion from the Beginning of Time”

I was in Arunachal Pradesh, India, 23 miles from the Chinese border to visit the Donyi Polo tribal people. Still animists, the Donyi Polo people believe in the forces of the Sun, Donyi, and Polo, the Moon, which are respectively male and female. Trying to preserve their traditions and religion, many Donyi Polos still practice shamanism accompanied by sacrifices. In Mudang- Tage village, I witnessed a Shaman consulting the lines in the liver of a freshly killed chicken. These would foretell the acceptance of the offering by the gods or be a demand for a greater sacrifice, goat, cow, or dog to placate the spirits. Outside every home is an intricately woven bamboo sculpture decorated with white egg -shells. Each sculpture, depending on its size, represents varying degrees of animal sacrifice needed for prosperity in the coming year.

Prayers are sung, the Donyi Polo flag , red sun on white ground, flies over each house and prosperity comes from farming and a belief in the ultimate wisdom and power of nature.

Many years I have been photographing religious rituals and ceremonies. It is the power of belief that I find the most extraordinary, the spirituality and the ability for transendence. Having grown up on a farm and been attentive and dependant on natural forces,  I am particularly interested in religions that accept the incarnation of " The Divine" in all living matter. Belief as magic. The Donyi Polo tribes are farmers that consult their supernatural gods daily and hope that by sacrificing and giving back their prosperity will be assureed.


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