THERE IS A SPECIAL BASEMENT ROOM at a clinic in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, where shaman master Bai Aolao goes to contact the spirit world. A Shaman is a person who has access to and can interact with the spirit world. They claim, to be able to communicate with the divine and gain guidance from the world beyond as well as having healing powers.
Bai Aolao is one of the many shamans still practicing in northeastern China. Patients seek out care from him and the other shamans to cure physical or mental illness. The healing ritual is very intense and involves evocative dancing, chanting, rice wine spitting and culminates in a trance like state of mind where the shaman ends up collapsing - totally drained from energy.
Photographer Ken Hermann traveled to Hohhot in the summer of 2017 to do a portrait series of the shamans whom he had been very intrigued by since he met them on his first trip to inner Mongolia. Ken was fascinated by the very distinct and colorful robes of the shaman and the stark contrast between the age-old shaman tradition and the fast pacing industrial China. This contrast is also a focal point in his new photo project.