The Akha phi ma performs funeral ceremonies and other functions. I’m told that the phi ma is an exceptional person, as in intelligence and endurance, but doesn’t necessarily possess any mystical powers. There are other people who possess special powers, such as to foresee the future or sense and communicate with spirits, and they are called ni pha. Their powers are inherited and can not be learned. The skills of the phi ma, however, are learned, but only by those who are judged capable.

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