Marieke ten Wolde's blog

Documentary photography, and other things interesting enough to bother you with

Bed time story 2, King Gesar

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Not so very long ago, actually part of this story might still be unfolding, King Gesar was sitting on his huge horse and looked out over the main square in a very remote and high place. He was wearing his full ceremonial dress and that morning he saw how the people were waking up and started to leave their houses to take care of their daily business. The traffic was still slow, but soon all the streets would be filled with cars, motorcycles and people.

All of a sudden the ground began to tremble and to shake and the people started to run. The first cracks appeared in the mud brick houses, the windows broke and even the concrete buildings started to move heavily. Then the first buildings collapsed, not much more than some wooden beams and a pile of mud and sand remained, then the floors of concrete buildings came down, some chortens at the monasteries fell, a prayer hall collapsed. When it stopped there was just silence.

King Gesar was still standing and looked at the ruins of the city.

The people started to move again, started digging, finding man, women, children, some alive but sadly most were dead. The monks and all the lay people were helping, while it was very cold and heavy snowstorms blocked the road into the city.

Close to the city was a mani wall, a wall built of stones with holy inscriptions. It used to be the largest mani wall in the world, but even this sacred place was severely damaged, still impressive but more a large pile of mani rubble then a wall now.

Later on many of the people who had lived in the destroyed houses moved away and other people arrived. For a couple of years everybody lived in tents. In the summer the city was very dusty and when it rained the mud stood knee-high in the streets, the winters were very, very cold. A large road was built to connect this very remote place with the outside world. The road brought building materials, large machines and more people to the city.

King Gesar oversaw all the work that happened.

The new people removed the rubble, the street plan was changed and new buildings were erected. The city was build once more, but it looked quite different, and there were different people living now. They say the city even changed its name.

And King Gesar, the indestructible, still stands in the center of the square, one of the few survivors of the old city.

The main square in Yushu (Tibet)


Written by Marieke ten Wolde

October 19, 2011 at 17:36

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