Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Encountering 'Tibetan Lamas' in Chengde" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on May 25, 2011 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on June 3, 2011.

In this blogpost Woeser recounts a trip to Chengde, a city in Hebei province that is a popular destination for tourists, especially on day trips from Beijing. As Woeser mentions in her post, Chengde has had a long association with Tibetan Buddhism and the main Putuo Zongcheng Temple was built to resemble Lhasa's Potala Palace.

A quick translation note, the Chinese word Woeser has used 
师傅 (shifu) is a general term to describe anyone skilled at a particular craft and in English is usually rendered as "Master". Seeing as the intention is to fool tourists into thinking these people are Buddhist Masters or somehow highly trained in Buddhist practices, even noting how they are dressed in Buddhist robes, High Peaks Pure Earth has opted for the phrase "Tibetan Lamas" in English, strictly speaking this is not an accurate translation.

Chengde's "Little Potala Palace", built in the Emperor Qianlong era, has become a commercialised place and moreover there is political propaganda everywhere.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tibetan "Red Songs" Series, Part 1: "Laundry Song"

1975 Performance of "Laundry Song" in Beijing
High Peaks Pure Earth has noticed a plethora of recent stories in the media focusing on the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1st. This year also marks another anniversary, 60 years since China "liberated" Tibet. China is gearing up for huge celebrations and, in the usual way, has deemed it sensitive enough a time to close Tibet to foreign travellers completely.

Many of the media articles have highlighted a revival of "Red Culture" in China, with a particular spotlight on the city of Chongqing where the Party Secretary Bo Xilai launched a "Red Songs" campaign earlier this year. This informative piece in the mainland newspaper Southern Weekend and translated by the China Media Project tells us that:
Red songs are “red” [popular] once again. As for existing red songs, a program called “90 Years of Red Songs” will be aired on China Central Television Channel One before and around the 90th anniversary of the Party; as for newly-created red songs, 36 “Singing China” songs gathered, selected and produced over the past year or more have been rolled out on major television and radio stations across the country since May.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Media Hype About "Lhasa’s Romance Wall” By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on May 9, 2011 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on May 27, 2011.

In this blogpost, Woeser criticises a TV programme shown on Tibet TV that glorifies a place that has come to be known as Lhasa's "Romance Wall". The "Romance Wall" may be an unfamiliar term to us but the spot is increasingly becoming a tourist attraction for Chinese tourists to Tibet. For readers who understand Chinese, the TV programme "Travel Tibet" that goes on the search for this "Romance Wall" can be viewed here on YouTube.

This is not the first time that Woeser has written about Chinese tourists and travellers in Tibet, there are similar themes in last years's blogpost "Who Is Really Safeguarding Lhasa"? For other Tibetan bloggers' views on Chinese tourists in Tibet, re-visit our two translations in the blogpost "Fish Speaking Back to Ichthyologists".

Finally, for those readers who feel compelled to rush to Lhasa to experience the "Romance Wall", there is bad news, Tibet is closed to foreign travellers until the end of July.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Documenting 10 Tibetan Writers and Teachers Arrested, Detained or Sentenced By Sichuan Local Authorities" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser that was posted on her blog on June 12, 2011. In the blogpost, Woeser lists and provides details about Tibetan writers and teachers targeted by the authorities in Sichuan province, who have been arrested or imprisoned since 2008 and appeals for international support.

For a comprehensive overview of the crackdown on intellectuals and cultural figures all over Tibet since 2008, see this report "A Raging Storm" published last year by International Campaign for Tibet.

The photo shows Tashi Rabten's Tibetan language publication "Written In Blood"
that documented the 2008 uprising in Tibet
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

"The Tears of Karma Samdrup’s Mother" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by Woeser written on May 31, 2011 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on June 5, 2011.

Woeser first started writing about the case of Tibetan businessman, philanthropist and environmentalist Karma Samdrup in July 2010, revisit her article "Remember the First Time I Met Karma Samdrup" here. On June 24, 2010, Karma Samdrup was sentenced to 15 years in prison and not long after, his brother, the environmentalist, Rinchen Samdrup was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

In the blogpost below, Woeser looks at the impact of the arrests on the rest of the family, particularly their mother, and also provides an update on the situation of Karma Samdrup's wife, Dolkar Tso, who played an important role in disseminating information on their cases through regular blogging.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Same Tears, Same Lives, Same People…" By Woeser

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated an older article by Woeser that was written on July 7, 2009 for the Tibetan service of Radio Free Asia and posted on her blog on July 20, 2009.

Although this article was written two years ago, many of the issues of ethnic tension and unrest within PRC still resonate today. Since 2008, protests have flared up in Tibet, Xinjiang and, most recently, in Inner Mongolia.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

"The Embarrasing State of Modern Tibetan Art" By Kaka21

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a blogpost by a Tibetan artist who calls himself Kaka21. The blogpost was uploaded onto his blog on November 13, 2010. Born in 1971 in Lhasa, Kaka21 had his work exhibited in last year's major modern Tibetan art exhibition in Beijing called "Scorching Sun of Tibet", see some photos of his works here on Woeser's blog.

Whilst modern Tibetan art may be becoming more visible on the international market, it is still fairly rare to find critical commentaries on modern Tibetan art written by Tibetans. Last year's commentary piece on "Scorching Sun of Tibet" by Woeser was a very popular post on High Peaks Pure Earth and below, Kaka21 offers a rather different perspective on modern Tibetan art. For readers interested in seeing more art, visit the Sweet Tea House website or Mechak Center for Contemporary Tibetan Art.

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