Snake charming is the practice of appearing to hypnotize a snake often a cobra by playing and waving around an instrument called a pungi. A typical performance may also include handling the snakes or performing other seemingly dangerous acts, as well as other street performance staples, like juggling and sleight of hand. The practice was historically the profession of some tribesmen in India but this is no longer the case. Ancient Egypt was home to one form of snake charming, though the practice as it exists today likely arose in India. Despite a sort of golden age in the 20th century, snake charming is today slowly dying out.
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Most people would be horrified to have snakes under their roof. But i Mr Mohd Yusof Kassim. During my hour-long show, I gets my audience to interact with the snakes, together with magic performances and comedy.
Said himself did not mention the painting in his book. The painting depicts a naked boy standing on a small carpet in the center of a room with blue-tiled walls, facing away from the viewer, holding a python which coils around his waist and over his shoulder, while an older man sits to his right playing a fipple flute. The performance is watched by a motley group of armed men from a variety of Islamic tribes, with different clothes and weapons. Sarah Lees' catalogue essay for the painting examines the setting as a conflation of Ottoman Turkey and Egypt, and also explains the young snake charmer's nudity, not as an erotic display, but "to obviate charges of fraud" in his performance:.
In Singapore, this art is mainly performed by Indians although some Malays and Chinese have also picked up the skill. Most of them came from Poona, India. Any attempt to hurt or kill a snake is considered sacrilegious. In the past, cobras were also featured until a biting incident brought an end to their performances.