Jul 30, 2012

Fortune telling with 41 grain of beans

Traditionally, Bosniak women have used beans for foretelling one's future by "throwing beans" (bacanje graha).

One fortune telling practice is said to be an exclusively Bosniaks one in that it is not practised by Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Croats or others. Further, it is said to have an Islamic religious basis and thus to be the truest of all techniques. This practice is fortune telling with beans which is said to have been done by the Prophet's daughter, Fatima, and thus to come "from God".  (Some Bosniaks denounce this as a mistaken belief but it is a widely held one. )

Fortune telling with beans is carried out in secrecy and talked of in whispers. The fortune teller or faladžija holds forty-one dried, white navy beans in her hands and murmurs a Quranic verse into them. They are then thrown onto a cloth and arranged into three columns of small bean clusters. As in the coffee cup, one side is the male, the other the female. The beans are thrown and arranged three times and the fortune told from them.

After the third arrangement the subject of the fortune leaves the room with a bean in each hand and one in her mouth. The first word she then hears is interpreted by the teller as having a certain significance for the future. In contrast to the coffee reading technique which I witnessed numerous times and was able to learn the details of, I witnessed the bean reading only twice and found it difficult to learn the details of the process from the teller who treated it with some secrecy. As in other traditional techniques, the teller Is not deemed to possess any particular power although she may have greater or lesser ability or "knowledge".