(Books can be purchased on Amazon, the Libreria Aseq of Rome or directly through the web-site of the author)




COVER_DIARIO dal KALI YUGAAn initiatory itinerary made of sounds and words leads to the discovery of Kathmandu, the mythical sacred city of divine origin set among the shining mountains of the Himalayas. The refined sounds of the STENOPEICA musical group are combined with the voice and the precious artistic contributions of FRANCO BATTIATO, TERESA DE SIO and GIOVANNI LINDO FERRETTI.

As an authentic diary from the Kali Yuga – the final dark age that, according to ancient Indian mythology, concludes a cosmic cycle – the CD-book (consisting of texts, photographs and 20 musical tracks), represents a unique contribution to the knowledge of the abysses of this Himalayan city.

Kathmandu. The living count the dead between fingers and thumb. The dead count the living from behind the windows. Along the road, high up, electricity races in thin filaments.

Stenopeica, Franco Battiato, Teresa de Sio, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti, Kathmandu: diario dal Kali Yuga (Book + CD), Paris, Le loup des steppes, 2016

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COVER_ANIME DI SABBIA by Martino Nicoletti

Against the background of ultra-modern Bangkok, between skyscrapers, temples and crowded streets, Nina, a young expatriate and French teacher, meets Mei, a Thai filmmaker, just returned from Europe.

From the plot slowly emerges the account of Edward Matthews, a British anthropologist who, in 1925, left for Malekula, the wild and indecipherable island in the heart of the South Seas. Attracted initially by the ancestral cults of the indigenous religion, Edward is eventually entrapped by the occult power of the place.

Water, as a silent witness of the entire work, is living matter capable of connecting different times and destinies: “…Water really stores many memories, Nina. Fluid and elusive memories. Memories that become voices for those who become like the ocean”.

Martino Nicoletti, Anime di sabbia, Paris, Éditions Le loups des steppes, Paris 2016, 460 pages.

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cover_constellations_janvier-2017Martino Nicoletti (in collaboration with Claudie Chlasta), Les constellation médiumniques: L’âme, les ancêtres et l’au-delà dans la pratiques des constellations, Paris, Éditions Le loup des steppes, 2016

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– LA PETITE FILLE QUI PARLAIT AU SOLDAT MORT : UNE MEDIUM RACONTE LE LONG VOYAGE DE l’AME (“The little girl who talked to the dead soldier: a medium retells the long journey of the soul”) (with Claudie Chlasta) 

cover_con-banda-lwThis book retraces the main aspects of spiritualism, according to the actual experience and biography of the French medium Claudie Chlasta. Developed in the form of an open dialogue, the book provides the reader with a large set of information about the delicate theme of the dialogue between living and dead, enlightening on the main aspects of the activity of a medium.

Claudie Chlasta, Martino Nicoletti, La petite fille qui parlait au soldat mort : une médium raconte le long voyage de l’âme, Paris, Le loup des steppes, 2016 (1st edition: Le Touvet, Ambre Editions, 2015).

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international-art-nicoletti-kathmandu.inddThis unique work offers the reader a poetic depiction of the abyssal Himalayan city of Kathmandu: the mythical sword-shaped sacred city of divine origin set among the shining mountains of the Himalayas; the open-air mandala studded by golden-roofed temples; the cradle and melting pot of millenary civilisation and spiritual tradition; the mesmerising destination for generations of flower children and “dharma bums”; Asia’s present-day dirty, derelict and broken mirror…Kathmandu.

A visionary katabasis, this book, enriched by a wide selection of artistic B&W photos, leads the reader through the mazes of this remote location, simultaneously a real venue, a sacred land and an inviolate recess of the soul: sharp shadows and piercing shouts mingle with bursts of overwhelming light and tremendous beauty. 

Kathmandu, Lessons of Darkness: the ultimate, vivid portrait of the world that existed prior to the terrible earthquake on April 2015, which turned it into debris and dust…

Martino Nicoletti, Kathmandu: Lessons of Darkness, Milan, Mimemis International, 2015

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SNOWY SNAPIn a remote village of eastern Nepal, lacking electricity and any other facilities, Chaturman, a farmer belonging to the Kulung Rai ethnic group, has for many years cultivated an original passion: photography.

Chaturman fell in love with this art in his youth, as a result of a fortuitous encounter with travelling photographers, enigmatic characters who, until recently, used to wander through the remotest villages of Nepal working as “nomadic” professional portraitists.

Despite the acrobatic split needed between his work as a farmer, herdsman, porter and father of a family, Chaturman, wholly self-trained, developed his passion tenaciously, also thanks to his simple and rudimentary equipment: an old-fashioned plastic “Made-in-China” camera and a few black-and-white films purchased and processed at a shop three days’ walk from his village.

This work – created by the author over a timespan of about twenty years, thanks to a close personal friendship with Chaturman –, enriched by a wide selection of images, retraces the main steps in his multifaceted and highly experimental activity from the very beginning up to his later work as a documentary filmmaker.

Through the life and artistic work of Chaturman, this book provides a glimpse of one of the most original and moving true stories from this distant and seductive corner of Asia.

Martino Nicoletti, The Snowy Snap: The Story of Chaturman Rai, Himalayan folk-photographer and Film-maker, Milan, Mimesis International, 2015

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– CE CORPS QUI NOUS GUERIT : LA CONSCIENCE CORPORELLE COMME CLE’ DE CONNAISSANCE ET OUTIL DE TRANSFORMATION DE SOI (“This body that heals us: body awareness as a key of knowledge and a tool of self-transformation”)

Mise en page 1Synthesising the concrete experience of over twenty years of Il corpo di guarigione_di Martino Nicoletti_coveranthropological research in Asia, the direct knowledge of shamanic and spiritual traditions of the Himalayas, as well as a long personal work within the Japanese Butoh dance and performance art, the work – enriched by numerous photographs and illustrations – the work presents a complete and practical psychophysical training aimed at directly reconnecting us to our body and our deep emotions: to listen them, to perceive, to give voice and to employ them as unique tools of transformation and powerful means of self-healing.

Based on simple and highly effective dynamic exercises combined with breathing, mental visualisation, the employment of voice and sound, this training represents a unique itinerary – made with the body and through the body – enabling us to draw with both hands to our authentic potential of life, regeneration, happiness and liberation.

Martino Nicoletti, Ce corps qui nous guérit : la conscience corporelle comme clé de connaissance et outil de transformation de soi, Romont, Recto-Verseau, 2014.

Italian edition: Martino Nicoletti: Il corpo di guarigione: la consapevolezza corporea come chiave di conoscenza e di trasformazione di sé, Torino, Età dell’Acquario, 2014

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– CANTARE TRA LE MANI: UN VIAGGIO TRA GLI ISMAILITI DELL’HINDUKUSH (“Singing in your hands: A Journey among the Ismailis of Hindu Kush)

Martino Nicoletti_Cantare tra le mani_lowBased on a combined work in experimental photography and travel writing, the book is devoted to a long journey by the author among the Ismaili community of Hindu Kush (N-W Pakistan).

The work contains texts from author’s travelogue and a wide selection of B&W photographs taken using vintage low-fi analogue cameras.

Martino Nicoletti: Cantare tra le mani: un viaggio tra gli Ismailiti dell’Hindukush, Torino, Lindau, 2014

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Cover-The Zoo of the Giraffe Women-FINAL.inddIn a village in the far north of Thailand, under the stunning Martino Nicoletti Lo zoo delle donne giraffalight of a tropical sun, surreal women impeccably wearing their ethnic attire, smiling and motionless, offer themselves to the cameras of voracious tourists.

Adorned with gorgeous necklaces of shining brass coils, they are the famous “giraffe women”, the epithet commonly used to define members of the Kayan tribe originally from eastern Burma.

The vivid contrast between the myths narrating the origin of this ethnic group and their current condition as refugees from the civil war in their homeland provides an outstanding and sharp testimony to life in Thailand’s “human zoos”.

A wide selection of photographs taken by the author using primitive vintage cameras from the early 1900s and a poignant short video, shot with Super-8 film, enrich the volume, visually amplifying the unique mood of the written account.

Martino Nicoletti,  The Zoo of the Giraffe Women: A Journey among the Kayan of Northern Thailand, Kathmandu, Vajra Publications, 2013.

(Italian edition: Lo zoo delle donne giraffa: un viaggio tra i Kayan nella Tailandia del nord, Roma, Edizioni Exòrma, 2011).

Link to the video demo.


– KATHMANDU: LEZIONI DI TENEBRE (“Kathmandu. Lessons of Darkness”)

Martino Nicoletti_Kathmandu lezioni di tenebre_cover_lowA literary work devoted to the Himalayan abyssal metropolis of Kathmandu. A visionary catabasis, made by words and photographic images, able to lead the reader along the hidden paths of this remote place, which is simultaneously a real space and an inviolate part of the soul.

Inspirational muse of the work is the Hindu deity Chinnamasta, ferocious emanation of Durga: a young goddess naked and self-decapitated, emblem of a profound initiatory symbolism.

The volume is integrated by a musical CD, inspired by the texts of the work, with songs composed by Roberto Passuti and featured by Franco Battiato, Teresa De Sio, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti and Mekhe Kulunge.

Martino Nicoletti, Kathmandu, Lezioni di tenebre, Roma, CasadeiLibri Edizioni, 2012.



cover Nomadic sacrifice_ Martino Nicoletti CHOD_Cop_copertinaIn the heart of the Himalayas, officiants belonging to Tibet’s ancient religion, Bön, undertake a long ritual pilgrimage through wild and inhospitable places inhabited by mountain deities, water genii, ferocious demons and dangerous ghosts.

As the pilgrimage unfolds, having attracted the spirits’ attention with wildly provocative acts and evoking their presence by reciting a ritual text and the sound of magical musical instruments, the practitioners celebrate the meditative sacrifice of their own body (chöd), offered to a whole host of invisible beings as spiritual nourishment during a singular ritual banquet.


Texts, diary excerpts and photos recount this archaic ritual, deeply rooted in the notion of Universal Compassion and chiefly aimed at severing the practitioner’s attachment to his physical body and overcoming identification with his own illusory ego.


The work is also enriched by a translation of the sacred ritual text The Secret Wisdom Dākinī (Khandro Sangba Yeshe) by Geshe Gelek Jinpa and by a DVD containing a short Super8 film by the author, as well as the liturgical chöd chant performed by the monks of the bönpo monastery Triten Norbutse in Nepal.

– Martino Nicoletti: The Nomadic Sacrifice: the Chöd Pilgrimage among the Bönpo of Dolpo (Western Nepal), Kathmandu, Vajra Publication, 2013.

(Italian edition: Nomadi dell’invisibile: l’autosacrificio rituale del chöd nel Bön tibetano, Roma, Edizioni Exòrma, 2010).



Martino Nicoletti luomo-che-dialogava-con-il-coyoteAn original and innovative essay devoted to the theme of the relationships between the thought and the work of Joseph Beuys and the universe of Asian shamanism.

The enquiry approaches some of the most relevant aspects of Beuys’s creative work. Starting from his personal “mythical” autobiography, it involves an analysis of his early paintings and drawings, the collection of blackboards hosted in Perugia, the “Difesa della Natura” action as well as some of the most impotant Beuys’ performances.

The work – enriched by pictures and by a large set of hand made drawings by Marco Nicoletti inspired to Beuys’s work – also contains a rare interview to the German anthropologist Michael Oppitz, who personally knew Beuys and who discussed with him on the theme of the Nepali shamanism.

Nicoletti Martino, L’uomo che dialogava con il coyote: una breve incursione sul tema Joseph Beuys e sciamanesimo, Roma, Exòrma, 2011.


– BIRBAL: IL PICCOLO SCIAMANO (“Birbal, the Little Shaman”) (a book for children)

birbal-piccolo-sciamano-di-martino-nicoletti-edizione-corsare3The work, magnificently illustrated by numerous colour plates by Lucia Sforza, narrates the story of Birbal, a child from the Himalayas, describing his encounter with the spirits of the wood who, through an authentic initiatory path, will lead him to know the hidden mysteries of the nature and will transform the young child in their own mouthpiece among men.

In the shape of a fairytale, the book evokes the echo of remote worlds, where the boundaries between reality and dream are enough subtle to allow, still nowadays, to human being to overlook on the deep abyss of the sacred and of mystery.

Martino Nicoletti, Birbal: il piccolo sciamano, Perugia, Edizioni Corsare, 2011.


– PICCOLO TACCUINO DI KATHMANDU (“Little Kathmandu Notebook)

imagesA visual account on the Asian metropolis of Kathmandu

Nicoletti Martino, Piccolo taccuino di Kathmandu, Roma, Exòrma, 2010


– CHATURMAN RAI: FOTOGRAFO CONTADINO DELL’HIMALAYA (“Chaturman Rai: A Folk-Photographer Of The Himalayas”)

Martino Nicoletti Chaturman RaiIn a remote village of the Himalayas, Chaturman – a young farmer and shepherd belonging to the Tibeto-Burman Kulunge ethnic group – since many years cultivates an original passion: photography.

Chaturman enthused himself about this art thanks the encounter with some travelling photographers: enigmatic characters who, until a few years ago, were used to wander through some of the furthest villages of Nepal offering their expertise as nomadic professional portraitists.

Wholly self trained, Chaturman develops his passion thanks a strong tenacity and despite enormous difficulties: a rudimentary equipment, the necessity of acrobatically split himself between his work in the fields and with livestock, his occasional job as porter, his duties as head of family, the purchasing and the processing of films. This last is an activity made possible only thanks periodical expeditions in a distant small town, situated several days walking from the village where Chaturman lives.

Thanks the personal biography of Chaturman and his work, the book – enriched by a large selection of Chaturman snapshots – is a surreal journey through one among the remotest, less known and most seducing corners of Southern Asia.

Martino Nicoletti, Chaturman Rai: fotografo contadino dell’Himalaya, Roma, Edizioni Exòrma, 2010



THE PATH OF LIGHT_cover digital CD_photo by Martino NicolettiA work devoted to the ritual music of Bon, the prebuddhist religion of Tibet

The Path of Light: Ritual Music of the Tibetan Bon – the first CD of the series Seeds of Sound in the Autumn of Power directed by Martino Nicoletti and distributed by the label Borgatti Edizioni Musicali – represents a fascinating journey through the ritual music of one of Asia’s most ancient and least known spiritual traditions: Bon, the autochthonous religion of Tibet.

Ancient religious texts trace Bon’s origins back to the figure and doctrines of the Buddha Tonpa Shenrab, who appeared in Olmo Lungring, the invisible realm of light identified with the regions of Central Asia, perceptible and accessible only to enlightened beings through the da’ lam, the mystic “arrow way”.

With its wealth of introductory texts and images (more than one hundred pages of photographs and texts giving an introduction to the history, the myths, the rituals, the traditional musical instruments of the bon-po liturgy) this CD – produced thanks the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of CNR – provides a rare selection of chants, music and mantras, most of which are connected with the esoteric path of Dzogchen, or Great Perfection.

The authentic gem of this CD – recorded live at the Nepalese monastery of  Tritan Norbutse – is an extremely rare collective performance of the chö, a meditative ritual of self-sacrifice, as found throughout bonpo tradition.

Part of the proceeds from the sale of this CD will be assigned directly to the bonpo monastery of Tritan Norbutse as a contribution to the cultural safeguard projects promoted by the monastery itself.

Martino Nicoletti, The Path of Light: Ritual music of the Tibetan Bon, Bologna, Borgatti Edizioni Musicali, 2008.

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The shamanic body by martino nicoletti“The shaman who entertains the gods by dancing and music, is the same man who entertains the audience through the more performative aspects of the séance. Here, it is ordinary people who exploit the situation, coming to attend a performance that, in primis, has been organised for the gods.

A singular performance, to which, besides the chance of direct witness of the epiphany of gods, spirits and demons, is added the no less stimulating possibility of witnessing human destinies suspended over an uncertain fate”.

Martino Nicoletti, The Ecstatic body: Notes on Shamanism and Corporeity in Nepal, Kathmandu, Vajra Publications, 2008 (Liminalia – Sketches of Visual Anthropology and Aesthetics)



Martino Nicoletti RiddumOne day, the aged shaman Sancha Prasâd Râi told me the story of his people. The story that even today the elders of the Kulunge Râi tribe hand down orally from generation to generation, under the name of ‘riddum’.

This story starts a long, long time ago. It begins before all the objects that surround us were manifest in their infinite variety, and even before human beings appeared on the face of the Earth.

For the Kulunge Râi, the riddum is the sacred tale describing the origin of the cosmos, of nature and the living beings that populate it. Expounded using the formula of a specific ritual language, the riddum is narrated whenever an important religious ritual is celebrated. According to the Kulunge Râi, the ritual language of the riddum is the primordial language, the one that the ethnic group’s forefathers once used daily for communication. With every passing generation, it began to be forgotten. Many other different idioms arose and thus the primordial tongue of the riddum began its slow, but inexorable, eclipse. Among human beings, only a few continued to hand it down, in order to keep alive a dialogue with the ancestors who lived in mythical times, and with the gods of their own religious tradition”.

Martino Nicoletti, Riddum: The Sacred Word of Sancha Prasād Rāi, Shaman of the Himalayas, Roma, Castelvecchi, 2005 (orig. edition: Kathmandu, Vajra Publications, 2004);




Shamanic Solitudes by Martino NicolettiAn itinerary – only apparently circular – furrows the universe of Vertigini in carne viva di Martino NicolettiKulunge Râi shamanism in Nepal. A nomadic religion, generated within the space of a double geography that weaves vivid visionary foreshortenings into the flat weft of reality.

A  journey through the principal places composing the universe of shamanic reality: the “call” by the spirits of the wood. The dreams and initiatic visions; the vocational sickness and flight into the forest – mandatory steps on the path to obtaining powers; the praxis of healing and funerary rituals, centred on the experience of a “magic journey” accomplished by crossing different regions of the cosmos; the body’s function and corporeity within the choreutic-musical world of shamanism: a body acting as temple and simulacrum for a divine epiphany. As a frontier between worlds. A vocal and sonorous body capable of starting up the great shamanic machine.

Martino Nicoletti, Shamanic Solitudes: Ecstasy, Madness and Spirit Possession in the Nepal Himalayas, Kathmandu, Vajra Publications, 2006 (Cinnabaris – Series of Oriental Studies II) (orig. edition: Napoli, L’ancora del Mediterraneo, 2002);



The ancestral forest by martino nicolettiLa foresta ancestrale di martino nicoletti

Settled in the high hills of eastern Nepal, the Kulunge Rāi ethnic group have tenaciously maintained their religious tradition ever since their ancient origins. Bearing witness to a far-off past of hunting and nomadic life, their myths and legends form a plot and scenario that comprise a multitude of invisible entities: the “hunter-spirits” and the “monkey spirits”, the undisputed sovereigns of the forest world; Laladum, the deity who resembles a little girl, the initiator of young shamans from the villages of the area; the Nagi, or ophidiomorphic-spirits, dwelling in the waters, the totem ancestors of the Kulunge Rāi group; Molu, a mythical forefather, lost in the woods and transformed into a deity. A fascinating journey through the oral memory, the sacred geography and religious imaginary of this people. An ideal itinerary that progressively abandons the inhabited world and enters the abysses of the mythical woodlands – the silent witnesses of the group’s ancient life style – only to lose itself in the thick of the immense forests that even today surround the settlements of the Kulunge Rāi.Starting from the cults of domestic deities, the research goes on to analyse the rituals that accompany the souls of the dead and the village farming cults, as a necessary step before dealing with the hunting cults and the hidden paths beaten by Kulunge Rāi shamans.

Martino Nicoletti, The Ancestral Forest: Memory, Space and Ritual among the Kulunge Rāi of Eastern Nepal, Kathmandu, Vajra Publications 2006 (Cinnabaris – Series of Oriental Studies I) (orig. edition: Milano, Franco Angeli 1999);



COP_Nove_Porte_Layout 1– Nicoletti M. (2014), “Dèmoni di polvere e dèi di riso bollito: Sciamanesimo e arte rituale effimera in Himalaya”, in: Pagnani O. (a cura di) Le nove porte: sciamanesimo e arte contemporanea, pp. 131-169

– Nicoletti M. (2014), “Al nono piano, un’installazione: ‘Abitazione di antropologo – 1977’”, in: Pagnani O. (a cura di) Le nove porte: sciamanesimo e arte contemporanea, pp. 227-236

download  – Nicoletti M. (2014), “Visual Media Primitivism: Toward a Poetic Ethnography”, in: Schneider A. & Pasqualino C. (Eds.), Experimental Film and Anthropology, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 165-181

– Nicoletti M. (2011) “Demons of Dust and Gods of Boiled Rice: Shamanism and Ephemeral Ritual Art in the Himalayas”, in: Proceedings of: Fourth Annual International ACSA (Asian Cultural Studies Association) Conference: “The Visual Imagination: Across Boundaries” (Assumption University, Bangkok, 1-3 November 2010)

– (2010a) “Vintage Visual Anthropology: A Himalayan Pilgrimage Narrated through 16 Black and White Photographs, 34 Pages of Field-work Journal and 6 Minutes of Super8 Film”, in: Proceedings of the International Symposium: Freeze Frames. For a Combination of Photography and Film (Musée du Quai Branly, Paris – 9-10 April, 2010) (on line publication:

–  (2010b), “Presenza e vertigine: il corpo sciamanico”, in: Conforti R., Scalera McClintock G. (eds.) La Mente e l’Estasi (Atti del Convegno tenutosi presso la Provincia di Salerno il 20-22 ottobre 2005), Catanzaro, Rubbettino, pp. 45-70

–  (2006) “L’ingresso simbolico nella selva: appunti intorno ai motivi del pericolo, del potere e della conquista”, in: Falini P.E. (ed.) Lucus: Luoghi sacri in Europa. Spoleto, Litostampa 3B, pp. 59-80

– (1999) “Say pom: Space, Movement and Symbol in a Himalayan Therapeutic Ritual”, in:  Mastromattei R., Rigopoulos A. (eds.), Shamanic Cosmos: From India to the North Pole Star. Venice – New Delhi, Venetian Academy of Indian Studies – D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd., pp. 143-180

– (1999) “Geografie  vissute e ‘geografie occulte’ nella realtà del fiume Bagmati in: Sestini V., Somigli E. (eds.), Bagmati River Park 2000, Firenze, Polistampa, pp. 17-18;

– (1995), “Bon e sciamanismo: studio introduttivo di comparazione tra le due realtà religiose” in: Mastromattei R., Nicoletti M., Riboli D., Sani, C., Tremore e potere: la condizione estatica nello sciamanismo himalayano, Milano, Franco Angeli, pp. 104-164


– Nicoletti M. (1995-’96) “Sacro e storia: appunti e considerazioni sul tema della critica di Ernesto De Martino alla corrente di Fenomenologia delle Religioni”, Annali della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia – Università degli Studi di Perugia (sezione: studi storico-antropologici), Vol. 33, pp. 205-256

– (1995) “L’espace humain et l’espace non-humain: contribution à l’étude de l’habitation  et des conceptions qui y sont associées chez les Yakha Dewân du Népal oriental”, Studi e Materiali di Storia delle Religioni, Vol. 61 (n.s. 19,1), pp. 151-202

– (1990-’91) “Elementi sciamanici nel rituale autosacrificale del gcod”, Annali della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia, Università degli studi di Perugia, Vol. 28, pp. 237-257


indexDozon J.P, L’Africa tra Dio e il Diavolo. Stati, etnie e religioni, Napoli, Liguori, 2014