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Saving the legends of Tibet

In the Tibetan regions of China, ancient legends are kept alive by traditional folk singers. This oral art form dates back centuries and is widely celebrated. And the greatest example is the “Legend of King Gesar”. It’s been called the oriental Homer’s epic. Our reporter He Bei Bei, has been to meet one of the region’s greatest singers, who strives to protect this thousand-year-old tradition.

The wandering melody brings us back to the 11th Century. The people of the Tibetan plateau lived a life dominated by natural disasters and calamities. The son of the God of Heaven, King Gesar, descended to the earth and became the king of the Tibetan people. He defeated the demons, helped the poor and benefited the common people.

Since that time, the Tibetan people singing songs to show their respect and love for him. Dege county in Sichuan Province is the birth place of King Gesar. It is also the birthplace of Arnie – one of the most outstanding Tibetan folk artists.

Like the epic itself, the story that how Arnie knew King Gesar was also mystical.

Arnie, King Gesar Singer, said, “At that time I was 12. I fell asleep when I was pasturing cattle and I dreamed about King Gesar dressed in white on a white horse. He gave me three tasks: the first is to take care of my health; second, protect my throat and the third one is keeping on singing his legendary stories. I bowed three times and promised him. ”

After then, Arnie treated singing King Gesar as a mission of his whole life. Relying on his beautiful voice and the sacred significance of King Gesar, Arnie’s singing has been widely acclaimed and has won several awards. Of course, Arnie’s singing is well loved by Tibetan people.

Neighbour of Arnie, said, “King Gesar is our hero. He is as precious as our hearts and eyes for we Tibetan people. All of us enjoy his legend very much. When we hear some emotional parts we will cry.”

Arnie, King Gesar Singer, said, “I have sung the legend of King Gesar for over 40 years, but it’s not enough to pass it down orally. My biggest wish is to have the stories translated into many languages so that the legend of King Gesar will be heard and understood over the world.”

Arnie and the historic Dege Sutra-Printing House have signed an agreement that three most classic stories of King Gesar will be carved on printing blocks and stored at the Tibetan cultural library forever.

Whenever someone asks Arnie to sing, he sings with passion and energy, linking the generations from ancient times to today.

He Beibei, Dege, Sichuan, said, Arnie told me that 30 years ago, he could sing all 80 singing styles of King Gesar, but now he’s almost 64 years old, and he has to recover some of his memories with the help of audio-tapes. Arnie will keep on singing the epic, but what he hopes for most is that more young artists will join him, so that the legend of King Gesar will always be remembered.

source: CCTV-News, 06 OCT 2012

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