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Dance CultureCoastal Community
Place of OriginTawi Tawi
Ethnolinguistic GroupSama
Background / Content

In certain rites, the bearers of the so called igal-djin, or “dancing djin”, are persons who perform this dance while in a trance. They represent the chosen vessels where spirits dwell which makes the ritual an interesting example of possession. Unlike other djin-spirits which have specific characterizations, the igal-djin only defines and expresses itself in the dance. The dances can take place during the day or night, inside the house or outside in open spaces. It can be performed as a stand alone or inter-connected with another rite such as a wedding or a funeral.

The performance starts with having those that intend to participate come to the dance floor. Dancing freely, they provide a prelude until the igal-djin bearer falls into a trance and begins to dance. Slowly, he abandons his normal state and passes into a trance. His body shakes uncontrollably, he grinds his teeth, he utters inarticulate sounds and incoherent phrases, mixed with some meaningful sentences. No stimulant substances are used. At times, seawater is offered to the dancer, who takes it only to spit it out on those present. Finally, the dancer slowly comes out of the trance and returns to normal, the signal to the end of the dance.

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