Taaveej (Taaveez)

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Pakistani
Age:
Occupation: Student
Residence: Lahore, Pakistan
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2007
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Urdu, Arabic

This is, in Pakistan, one of the worst forms of black magic that a person could wreak on another. It involves writing a spell or something on a piece of paper, then putting it in a leather pouch, before hiding it somewhere until it’s found. The spell would persist on the person until the pouch is recovered and opened, dispelling the curse.  One of the “blackest” or darkest forms of this curse is when the pouch is hidden in the mouth of a dead person because it is nearly impossible to be found by anyone else.  Manifestations of this spell or curse include but are not limited to (in order of seriousness from least to worse):  strange aches and pains, waking up with cuts all over their body, burns appearing spontaneously , blood spots appearing all over their abode, never able to get married or insanity.

My informant says that these spells are relatively common knowledge in Pakistan, but most people try to stay away from these sorts of things. Pakistan is an Islamic country and according to my informant, she states that Islam frowns on all things that involve black magic and that it is “hiram” or impure.  Generally, these items are viewed very seriously by most, if not all Muslims and going against or defying the Qur’an would be going against Allah, which is one of the most heinous crimes in their religion.

Additionally, she informed me of an instance that she had heard about first hand that was related to this phenomenon, when one woman was complaining that she was suffering a stroke of really bad luck and couldn’t figure out what was happening. This woman helped to purify and cleanse the death for burial, and this was a sacred task so, theoretically, she should have been blessed instead of cursed. However, after much deliberation, she revealed that she had collected money for hiding Taaveej in the mouths of the different corpses so they would not be found. This was a big revelation for my informant and all those that were listening to her. Largely because to do so was taboo and explained much of what was happening to her.

While I’m sure that these do exist and work, it can be also seen as an example of how older cultures explained phenomena that they could not explained by normal means. As it can be seen, this might reflect the superstitious nature of most agricultural based societies because, most rural folk are usually uneducated and more superstitious than most. However, regardless of this, these beliefs usually seep through all classes, no matter their wealth, educational status or religious beliefs. Additionally, this is an example of binary opposition in culture as well, because of the religious nature of most Pakistanis. For to have something good and holy, there needs to be something evil to balance things out and the Taaveej is just one of these exam