The last snake charmers
An ancient Indian art form doesn't stand the test of time
An ancient Indian tribe called the Saperas has wooed venomous snakes out of baskets and into hypnotizing dances for generations.
A snake charmer plays a gourd flute in front of cobras after the morning prayer at a temple in Jogi Dera (the snake charmers' settlement), in the village of Baghpur, India, on Nov. 10, 2016. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
The Saperas were originally known as healers, one of the few clans able to handle deadly snakes and treat bites. Their unique skills lent them a considerable amount of respect; they were invited to palaces to entertain crowds with their death-defying abilities. Soon, the Saperas were performing at bazaars and festivals, charming snakes out of baskets with music. The music, though, was all a part of the act; snakes can't hear the music and only respond to the charmer as they would a predator.
Today, snake charming is a dying art form. Instead of following in their family's footsteps, younger generations of Saperas are choosing vocations with more reliable incomes. Recent wildlife protection laws are also making the tradition increasingly difficult to practice.
Below, catch a glimpse of the Saperas snake charmers before they disappear:
A snake charmer holds a cobra, which was caught in a house in a nearby village, in Jogi Dera. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
Children of snake charmers attend a class at their school in the village of Baghpur. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
Ravi Nath holds a cobra in Jogi Dera. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
A baby rests in a hammock as a cobra peeks out of a bag in Jogi Dera. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
A snake charmer sits on a road with his belongings after returning home from a month-long trip. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
A snake charmer cleans the eyes of his snake. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
The wife of a snake charmer stands outside her house in Jogi Dera. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
The daughter of a snake charmer plays with snakes after breakfast. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)
A snake charmer's family prepares dinner outside their home in Jogi Dera. | (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)