Saturday, August 31, 2013

A beautiful headdress

I found this Tibetan woman at the festival and I stuck my camera all over her head. She's so beautiful and the head dress is so lovely. It's festival time and a happy time. These are nomads and any reason to get together makes them happy. They don't have much but they have the green grass and the blue sky. I want to go back to spend more time among them.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The horse racing festival

 Every year on August 1 and for a few days after, the horse racing festival is in full swing in a field a few miles outside of Litang. I've been planning since last August to be here and to see the festivities in full swing. I came and spent only 10 minutes.

We missed the first day which was when the racing took place. When we finally arrived on the second day, the festivities was still going on but the minute we arrived, there was thunder and lightning and we thought it might pour, we waved down someone, got a ride and went back to Litang. I managed to take these pictures before leaving. We got a ride from a monk driving an SUV. A lot of monks have rich patrons and are therefore able to afford a lot of luxuries. Looks like I have to return next year and make sure I'm there on August 1, 2014 and not miss the horse racing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back to Litang

 View of Litang from the hills where the sky burial took place.

 On our way back to Litang we passed some interesting sights like this, a motorcycle towing a horse.

 It's impossible not to fall in love with everything Tibetan once one has encountered the culture and the people.
 We passed some women doing the laundry.

 A Tibetan child doing the family's laundry.
 other children were at play. I said,'tashi delek', they replied 'tashi delek'.
 We saw some black pigs looking for scraps in the yard.
Here is a khampa man with red wool threads in his hair.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another job well done

 With the completion of his job, the body breaker begins to dump his equipment, they never reuse the axe or the knives. they are left at the scene.
 Even as the vultures finish up, we started to leave also.

Someone was already getting lunch ready even while the sky burial was in progress. So the funeral crowd was to get lunch at the scene but we would leave. We walked back to Litang.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wasn't that fun?

 Far from being a sorrowful situation, there was lively banter between the body breaker and the attendees, presumably from the deceased family. Tibetans live a hard life even in modern China and far from being stoic, they are a very pragmatic people. The soul has departed and this is just the corpse and what better use can it be but be fodder for another living thing. It's a noble thing to do.

This was the monk presiding over the shole event. He is joking with them and was even interested in some of the photos taken by some of us.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Now the bones

 It's time to shoo the birds aside while the body breaker deal with the bones.
Even though the corpse was tied with a scarf around the neck and then to a stake, the bones were scattered everywhere, having come loose from its anchoring to the wooden stake.
 The body breaker had help retrieving the bones and placing them on a stone slab.

With the use of an axe and using both front and back, he pounds and crushes the bones into as small as he can. Then he mixes in tsampa so as to make it more palatable for the vultures. In this way the whole corpse is consumed. We watched as he cracked the skull, turned out the brains, chopped it up, chopped up the innards, mixes in tsampa and again let the vultures loose to devour the rest of the corpse. It's nothing we've ever seen, I've read about it and watched youtube videos of it but seeing it with my own eyes was something else. It's bizzare!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Time to feed

 It is a strange and macabre scene but that's what they've been doing for centuries.
The body breaker steps aside and let the vultures feed on the corpse.

 His job is not done, there is still the bones to deal with, he sits and waits.

Now he shoos them away to take care of the bones.....