Film: 8928

Places + Locations | 1950 | Sound | Colour

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Synopsis:

Tibet 1950's

Rugged mountainous terrain with snow capped peaks in background. With a small hut in foreground. Goats are herded into pens by a small boy. Area identified as the Pamir Nat. Cut to market at the foothills of Indian. Selling rice, sugar and precious grain. Riverside scene with goats making their way up a large rocky pathway. Market stall holders bargaining for salt and wool. Colourful clothing, unusual hats and shoe are displayed on a sheet placed on the ground. Himalayan mountain tops seen through cloudy skies. Lower villages at the foot of the mountains. Map of region showing the three villages which the villagers inhabit at different times of the year. The lower village at 5,000 feet elevation, the upper village 150 miles away at 12,000 feet. Shot of second village in late spring where the villagers remain to early Autumn. Small village located at the bottom of a valley where the villagers make roof repairs after the damage sustained after seven months snow. Exterior of a traditional hut. The hocka or pipe is passed around, and the women and men enjoy a smoke. Two young girls play with dried yak knuckles sitting on a mat outside their home. An elder daughter with ceremonial mouth jewellery carries crafted pots on her head to a small well where she fills them up. A young woman washes clothes by kneading them with her feet. A woman applies mustard oil to her daughters hair to prevent lice infesting her head. The name of this tribe of people is the 'Jot'. Fathers of the young women who are in small supply make stiff bargains with prospective husbands who provide a dowry. One suitor is given a yak butter rub down by his potential mother-in-law. Good close up of Buddhist prayer well and worry beads. A man reads from an unidentified text, possibly religious. A postman arrives at the house of the trader priest who plays the role of post master. He opens and reads all letters. This trader priest feels necessary and finally passes the letter on to the rightful owner. On a house resting on a plinth of stones, products for barter are prepared for the market in the upper village. On hot sand, barley and wheat are pre-cooked for the long journey. A young girl sieves barley. Indian rice is hand inspected and other goods such as rice tea, sugar and grain is cooked, to be packed in goat saddle bags. These are later bartered for salt and wool with the northern traders, in the high mountain country. A Tibetan man sews up a saddle bag. In the background a mountain with snow capped peaks can be clearly seen. Melting snows. Goats leave villages in small caravans to meet the northern traders half-way at the upper village. Good shot of Buddhist priest accompanying the villagers on the ancestral journey conducted every year. Traditionally dressed Tibetans encourages goats along the path. The goats cross rivers, surrounded by rocky terrain. Camp is made before 12 noon every day where goats are unpacked and left to graze for the rest of the day. Average trader has about 200 goats. Each goat carries an eighteen pound saddle. At dawn the climb resumes. Medium shot of goats crossing bridge. It takes one month for the convoy to reach the upper village, built above the timber line. Long shot of village huts and building located in the bottom of a volcano. A herd of goats traverses a hillside. A wheat crop is planted to coincide with a four month wait for the completion of trade with the Northerners. The convoy continues on its way through the rocky terrain with an impressive mountain backdrop. A small boy pulls a yak through a field, pulling behind it a primitive plough. Various scenes showing work being undertaken on plots of land. A woman irrigates the dry land by stamping the earth allowing water to move freely over the entire field. A small boy crouches over a stream constructing a makeshift bridge. Carrying a large slate on his back, a teacher from India arrives to resume summer school lessons. A group of boys make their way to the school. The children start the day with prayers to the Hindu and Buddhist Gods. The students sit outside with large blocks of slate. Only boys attend classes where they learn reading, writing, and acquire knowledge of other people. Slates are made of wood, the soil acting as paper, spread out over the wood. A twig from the forest acts as a pencil. At examination time students with the correct answers are allowed to box the ears of academically poorer students. Panning shot showing mountain pass where northern traders traditionally make their way south. Traders en route from Lassa in Tibet start to arrive. Map showing the location of the Pamir knot, Tibet, Jots, India and the Gobi Desert. A man and a young boy holding a baby goat wait. Cut to torrential streams. Northern traders cross over a clumsy stone bridge. Traditionally dressed Tibetans have had a big impact on the culture and language of the Pamir Knot community of Jots (1257). Precarious man-made bridge covered with flat stones and twigs is used by the traders to cross the river. Northern Tibetan wool covers the sheep which also carry saddlebags full of salt or Yak and Ox tails. Arrival of northern traders at the market place, where the trading between the Jots and the Northerners begins. All arguments except family squabbles and taxes are settled by dice throwing. Instead of money being used traders barter with each other. Tribal chiefs decide which Jot trader will trade with which Northerner. When arguments are heated the dice are dramatically thrown down onto a leather pad. Salt is exchanged for rice. While goods are exchanged, officials keep a record of the transactions made. The northern sheep are sheared. Afterwards dice are cast for the largest pile. Women prepare the wool, cording and spinning the wool. The only spinning machine in the village is shown. Cut to a sewing machine. A coal iron used by the village tailor. A northern chief and a |Jot discuss taxes, while sharing a pipe. Taxes are based on the number of animals possessed. While carving a new mouth-piece for his Hocka. While denying he has ever heard of taxes. He eventually pays a sum equivalent to one days wages for the school teacher. Before the northern traders leave, the successful bartering is celebrated with the Indian harmonium and violin (doesn't really represent western notion of the violin, looks more like a traditional native instrument). A knife is sharpened for the annual feast, a fire is prepared and a goat killed. The goat is honored on a mountain shrine or altar. This is the only time when goat meat is eaten. The meal is prepared and eaten.


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