NEAR SAQQARA, EGYPT
Egyptians call a man who can summon snakes and control them a "Rifayeh" after the Moslem prophet of that name who had special powers over the reptiles.
NEAR SAQQARA, EGYPT
1. SV ZOOM INTO CU Snake charmer goes into bush chanting and brings out snake by the tail, throws it on ground to applause. 0.38
2. SV & CU Charmer takes one snake from bag hanging on back of donkey and rips off its fangs with the aid of a cloth. (2 SHOTS) 1.09
3. SV & CU Charmer and customer select snake from bag and charmer wraps it around customer's neck, forcing snake's fangs into customer's ear, thus immunising the man. 1.36
4. CU Snake removed from customer's ear. 1.49
5. SV Charmer picks up another hissing snake from ground, wraps it round his own neck. 2.12
6. CU Charmer forces snake to bite his ear, chanting. 2.33
7. LV Charmer rides off on donkey. 2.51
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: NEAR SAQQARA, EGYPT
Egyptians call a man who can summon snakes and control them a "Rifayeh" after the Moslem prophet of that name who had special powers over the reptiles. A modern-day Rifayeh, like Abdu, can make a good living by clearing farmers' fields,immunising people against snake bites and selling snakes for their skins or curiosity value. Abdu travels around the Nile Delta on a donkey and local people needing his services hail him as he passes. Once in a field infested by snakes he calls to them in the names of Allah and the prophet Rifayeh. After a few minutes, he is answered by rustling and hissing in the undergrowth. He picks up the snakes, meeting no apparent resistance. He declares a field clear of snakes when there is no more rustling and no more hissing. For this service he is paid the equivalent of ten to 15 US dollars. For another ten dollars, he immunises people, often the farmers themselves, against snake venom by making the snake bite the ear-lobe of the customer. He stays resistant to venom by performing the same act on himself. At the end of the day's work the hessian bag on his donkey is filled with snakes and he makes still more money by selling them to manufacturers of handbags, belts and other decorative objects, and to scientific institutions and zoos needing live snakes. A good cobra fetches 30 dollars; an especially rare or colourful specimen can earn him 50 dollars.
Source: REUTERS - MOHAMAD FAHMY