DVD delves into Tibet's mystic past

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-06 07:17

Because of its remoteness, Tibet has always been considered something of "a land of myth".

And this myth has extended into the region's past, shrouding its history in mystery.

In a bid to clear up some of the mist surrounding old Tibet, the Central News and Documentary Film Studio recently released a 25-minute DVD on the region.

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The video was distilled from about 900 hours of footage shot in Tibet before 1960. The DVD, entitled Tibet in the Past, provides a glimpse into some of the events that took place in that mysterious land and how its people lived in the past.

The producers of the DVD interviewed former slaves, estate-holders, the people behind the original video and experts.

"Our method was to simply record the oral accounts of the land's history," said Wu Haiyue, chief producer of the DVD.

"It was a big job, and we were always discovering something," said Wu. "It took our team almost two months to track down the people who appeared in the original video footage."

Wu's efforts paid off. Two women who appeared in the original DVD as little girls make an appearance in Tibet in the Past, describing the changes that have taken place in their lives.

Kalzang Chodron, the daughter of a serf family when the original film was shot, helped her mother by milling snuff for their master. The family lived in a house without a roof.

"Being a serf meant days of hunger. But you could never get something to eat without the master's permission. I always imagined how comfortable it would be to live in a house with a roof," said Chodron.

Slaves were at the lowest level of society and were treated just like "livestock that could speak". As a member of a slave family, Nyima Drolma was among the fourth generation of her family to be born in a cowshed.

Half a century later, Chodron and Drolma both said they were living lives that their ancestors "had never dreamt of".

The 62-year-old Chodron has her own spacious house, equipped with modern home appliances, including a washing machine. And Drolma owns at least six cows.

Like the two girls, millions of other Tibetans have seen their lives change in recent decades. "The DVD powerfully refutes lies told by some people who made up a phantom Shangri-la out of old Tibet," said Lhaps Phuntsog, the center's head and the son of a former slave family.

(China Daily 02/06/2007 page3)

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