What was the equipment that the astrologer carried?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The astrologer's "professional equipment" is itemized in the first sentence of the story.

...he opened his bag and spread out his professional equipment, which consisted of a dozen cowrie shells, a square piece of cloth with obscure mystic charts on it, a notebook, and a bundle of palmyra writing.

Cowrie shells are large sea-snail shells. Some of them are very pretty. Palmyra writing is mystical writing on the leaves of the Palmyra palm tree. No doubt the writing is only an imitation of sacred Palmyra writing. The astrologer may not even be able to read in any language. All of these items of professional equipment are obviously intended just for show. They give the astrologer an appearance of having esoteric knowledge. The astrologer goes further: he paints his forehead with ash and vermillion and wears a turban. 

Guru Nayak, the astrologer's nemesis, is not taken in by the specious paraphernalia. He has been searching for the astrologer for a long time and has evidently consulted astrologers before. He is not impressed by the usual platitudes of these fortune tellers. But he is totally astonished when this astrologer knows his name and the details of his near-death experience in his home village.

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