Ghost Boards

If a ruler knows a thousand things, and a minister a hundred, the things a bimo knows are innumerable.     - Nuosu proverb 
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Making the invisible manifest
In Nuosu belief, ghosts are at the root of most evils, including illness, infertility, jealousy, crop failure, and livestock sickness. Bimo perform many rituals both to prevent attacks by evil spirits and to exorcise the ghosts and evil spirits when they are already present and causing trouble.

Ordinarily, ghosts are invisible; there presence can be detected only by their action. In order to be able to expel them physically from a house, a person, or an animal, the bimo must first make them visible, and he does so by painting their images on wooden planks, known as nyicy sypi, or ghost boards. The front of the ghost board portrays the ghosts, and the back contains an exorcistic text. When the bimo has finished the ritual, he takes the ghost boards and throws them away in an unpopulated place to which he is expelling the ghosts.

Leprosy Ghosts:
Leprosy is one of the most dreaded illnesses, and is thought to be caused by a whole family of ghosts, headed by the Nine-headed Father of Leprosy, shown at the right end of this board, and the seven-braided Mother of Leprosy, next to him. Two of their sons, one of whom is missing a leg and the other an arm, are also shown on this board.

Exorcistic spell:
The back of each ghost board contains an exorcistic incantation, written in the Nuosu syllabic script, which until recent times was a virtual monopoly of the bimo. Each letter represents a single syllable; the text is read from right to left and top to bottom.

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