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fowl bone prognostication

Ritual in which the outcome of certain events are interpreted by reading the bones of a fowl (fig.). It is usually practiced by a shaman and the fowl used may be a chicken, hen, cock or even a small chick, depending on the occasion or function. In Thailand it is still common practice with most of the northern hill tribes. Prior to the prognostication the shaman will conduct an invocation. He holds the fowl with his left hand and his right hand holds the neck facing eastwards while reciting his oaths. After the incantation he kills the fowl, takes out the thighbones and pricks them with tiny pointed bamboo sticks. The right thighbone is extracted first and then the left one. They are then place next to each other and pricked with the bamboo sticks which position in relation to each other can than be read. Fowl bone prognostication is practiced since ancient times for settling discords, for guidance about certain major works, for hunting, in family affairs and for religious functions. A single bone can retain as many as seven sticks and the interpretation is rather complex. There are a total of 42 symbols that can branch off into various interpretations and a versed shaman has as much as 170 interpretations. According to Kayan lore the art of fowl bone prognostication started when an old man who wished to pass his legacy to his three sons earmarked a golden scroll for his firstborn, a silver scroll for the second son and a scroll of parchment for the youngest son. Since the oldest son lived far away and didn't come to collect his scroll as he was unaware of it, the youngest son took it over to him on his hill farm. On arrival he tried to explain about the scrolls but his brother was too busy to take heed and told him to wait. The youngest son grew bored of waiting and decided to keep the golden scroll for himself. He left the parchment scroll on a tree stump and returned home. After work the oldest son went looking for the scroll but couldn't find it and so asked his dog. It said it had eaten it and already dropped it as excrement. The man asked where it had dropped it and the dog said that a fowl had already eaten it. The man went to the fowl and asked the fowl where the excrement of the dog was. The fowl said it had been assimilated and it was now in its body, pointing with its wing tips to its thighbones. At the last resort the man had to read the bones of the fowl that had eaten the dung of the dog, interpreting the holes in them as if he was reading the script of the scroll. See also bone prognostication and krab.