Films by Itsushi Kawase


When Spirits Ride Their Horses

28min / 2012

In Gondar, the possessed body of the Zar spirit medium is referred to as Yäzar Färäs (literally meaning ‘the horse of Zar') In this rhetoric, spirit possession can be understood as the spirit riding the body of the medium. Participants of Zar are described as ammwmwqi (literally meaning ‘the one who warms up the space’) or anqäsaqaš (or 'the one who shakes and wakes you up'), while the body of the medium through which the spirit departs is described with a word with best refers to ‘coldness’. The ceremonial space has to be “warmed up” by the dance, music and various kinds of smells (e.g. incenses, roasted coffee beans and perfumes) to awaken spirits’ power. Spirit possession takes on almost sensuous overtones. The film portrays one lady who devotes her life to Zar spirits and explore the sensory quality of the interaction between her and various spirits including Seyfou Tchengar, who is said to be one of the most powerful spirits in the region.