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Die Arshe: Arbeitslieder aus dem traditionellen tibetischen Bauhandwerk (review)

Die Arshe: Arbeitslieder aus dem traditionellen tibetischen Bauhandwerk (review) 182 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.2,2011 CitizenshipisCulp'sabilitytodrawfromaplethoraofrichsourcesminedextensivelyfromarchivesandlibraries.Inhisbibliographicessay,henotestheuseof textbooks,governmentpolicystatements,schoolpublications,studentjournals, localperiodicals,memoirs,andinterviews.Culpalsoprovidesusefulcapsule biographiesofselectedRepublican-eratextbookauthorsinanappendix.His thoroughresearchhasunearthedawealthofinformationaboutsecondaryschool studentsandtheactiveroletheyplayedasmoderncitizensduringtheRepublican period.Itisamajorcontributiontoboththehistoryofeducationandthehistory ofRepublicanChina. JenniferLiu Jennifer Liu is an assistant professor of history at Central Michigan University, specializing in twentieth-century China and Taiwan. KerstinGrothmann.Die Arshe: Arbeitslieder aus dem traditionellen tibetischen Bauhandwerk.AlltagskulturenChinasundseinerNachbarn3. Wiesbaden:HarrassowitzVerlag,2011.165pp.Paperback38.00,isbn 978-3-447-06453-8. ThisisthethirdvolumetocomeoutoftheusefulseriesEverydayCulturesof ChinaandItsNeighbors,editedbytheanthropologistMareileFlitsch.Itstopicis thearshe (ar gzhas),worksongsperformedduringtheconstructionoftheflat roofsthatcovertraditionalhousesincentralTibet.Theseroofsconsistofa woodenceiling,coveredwithabottomlayerofearthandpebblesandatoplayer ofarka,crushedlimestone.Thearkaislaboriouslycompactedbyteamsofworkers (inthecasedescribedbyGrothmann,womenworkers)whostamptheground withtheirfeetandtampitwithalongrammingpole(bogto).Thisistypicallydone ingroups:workerslineupinrowsandmoveonestepforward,onestepback,at thesametimebeatingthegroundrhythmicallywiththebogto. Theserhythmic movementsareaccompaniedbysongs,sungantiphonallybygroupsofworkers thatoftenfaceeachotheracrosstheroof.Grothmann'sbookisbasedonresearch carriedoutwhilesheparticipatedintheLhasaOldTownConservationProjectof theTibetHeritageFund,aninternationalorganizationactiveinthemappingand preservationofoldbuildingsinTibetandinthetrainingofTibetanartisans.The bookconsistsofabriefdescriptionofTibetanroofingtechniques,ageneraldiscussionofworksongsandtheirfunctions,andadetaileddiscussionoftheformal © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 183 featuresofarsheandoftheirplaceinTibetanoralliterature.Thisisfollowedbya commentedtranslationoftwentyarshe,reproducedalsoinTibetanscript,which takesupabouttwo-thirdsofthetotallengthofthebook. Mostofthesongspresentedherearebasedonreligiousthemes,oftenadapted fromtheaterplaysorpopularlegends.NangsaÖbum--thefolkheroinewho sufferedbrutalpersecutionfromherhusbandandin-lawsbeforesheattainedthe spiritualsalvationthatshehadlongedforsinceherbirth--appearsinfivesongs; Padmasambhava,Milarepa,andRechungalsomakeseveralappearances.Suffering,tribulation,andperseveranceinthefaceofhardshiparefrequentthemes, perhapsappropriatelyforsongsthatweresungduringlonghoursofarduous, repetitivework.Somesongsseemtomapoutpilgrimageroutes,describingthe historyandtheaestheticattractionsofmonasteriesandholymountainsincentral Tibet--though,asGrothmannpointsout,thesequenceofplacenamesrarely coincideswiththeactualrouteapilgrimwoulduseonhisorhertour.Aswith worksongsallovertheworld,arshe tendtobequiterepetitive;afterall,theiraim istokeepworkersincontinuousmotionforacertainamountoftime,inthiscase foraunitofworklastingthirtytofortyminutes.Hereisatypicalexampleofa song:"[T]hewildyakwent,thewildyakdidnotgo.Thewildyakwenttowardthe east;ontherightmountainslopeitategrass,ontheleftmountainslopeitdrank water;ontheuppermeadowitsleptcomfortably."Thisisthenrepeated,withthe wildyakgoingtowardthesouth,west,andnorth.Anothertypicalfeatureofthese songsisthattheylistplacesorobjectstoevokesocialhierarchiesandcosmological structures:theupper,middle,andlowerreachesofthelandarelinkedtolamas, governors,andcommoners;likewise,differenttypesofhatsevokethenobility, lowerfunctionaries,andthecommonerpopulation,anddifferentbodypartsofa horse(perhapsKyanggöGyerba,thefamousmountofKingGesar)illustrate pointsofBuddhistdoctrine.Athreefolddivision(intomen,women,anddomestic animals;lamas,officials,andcommoners;outer,inner,andsecretteachings)isa commonfeaturethatservestoreproduceandreinforcecosmologicalassumptions. Referencestoarka work--or,indeed,anyothertypeofwork--arerare.Nordo mostsongsappeartofunctionasmnemonicaidsfortechnical,scientific,or religiousknowledge. Grothmannprovidesrichdetailonthesongs'content,discussingdeities, historicalpersonages,monasteries,andBuddhisttermsthatappearinthetext. However,sheprovideslittlesocialortechnicalcontext.Onemajoromissionisthat shedoesnotexplainwhyandhowsheselectedthesetwentysongs,outofapresumablymuchlargernumberofsongsknowntoherinformants.Isthereligious messageofthesesongstypicalofthegenreingeneral?Grothmannpointsoutthat thesongsinaTibetanlanguagecompilation(O-rgyanrdo-rje1999)contain almostnohistoricalandreligiousreferences--afactsheattributestothecensorshipofreligiouscontentintheTibetAutonomousRegion(TAR).However,she 184 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.2,2011 alsocharacterizesthesongsintheTibetancompilationas"almostbanal"incomparisontothemoreliteraryandreligiousonesthatsheselectedandtranslated. SinceshestatesthatherLhasainformantsalsoknewandsungtheselesselevated songs,itappearsthatsheengagedinherownformofcensorship,eliminating songsthatshefoundlessdeservingofinclusion.Thisisherright,ofcourse,butit wouldhavehelpedhadshegiventhecriteriaofherselection. Thisreviewerwouldalsohavelikedtolearnmoreaboutthecontextinwhich thesesongswereperformed.ThesongsselectedbyGrothmannbelongtothe repertoireofaspecializedworkteaminLhasa,consistingoftwenty-eightwomen betweensixteenandseventy-threeyearsofage,someofwhomhadbeenmaking arkaroofssincethe1940s(p.8).Theteamwasledbyaforewoman(shepön)who setthepaceofworkbyselectingappropriatesongsandadjustingtheirrhythm. Hadarkaroofingalwaysbeenwomen'swork,andwasitalwaysperformedby teamsofspecialistswhomadearkaroofsforaliving?Orwasspecializationa productofthesocialistperiod,withitsinsistencethatallurbanpeople,eventhose withoutschoolingandspecialskills,choseapermanentoccupation?Elsewhere (p. 28),Grothmannlinksworksongstocommunalwork(Gemeinschaftsarbeiten) andworkoninvitation(Bittarbeiten).Oneimaginesthatmuchconstructionwork inTibet--asinruralareaselsewhereintheworld--reliedonlaborexchange ratherthanwagedlabor;inotherwords,afamilywishingtobuildahousewould inviteallitsneighborsforafewdaysofworkaccompaniedbysongsandfollowed byafeast,withtheimplicitunderstandingthatlabordaysreceivedwouldeventuallybereturned.Apartfromhalfapageonthearka teamwhosesongsshetranslated,Grothmanntellsuslittleabouthowsuchteamswereassembledandhow theirstructure--permanentorimprovised,hierarchicaloregalitarian--shapedthe waysongswerelearnedandtransmitted.Wealsolearnverylittleabouttheroleof theshepön:Didonebecomeaforewomanbecauseofone'ssingingskill,thesizeof one'srepertoire,orone'stechnicalskillinproducinglevelandwatertightroofs? Didshepönimprovise,ordidtheyreproducereceivedtextsasfaithfullyas possible? Grothmann'sstudyprovidesaninterestingglimpseintoadistinctiveworld of workinwhichtechnicalandartisticperformance,materialproductionand symbolicself-expression,andlaboranddancearecloselyintertwined.Thestudy's focusisprimarilyonoralliteraturequaliterature:onthenarrativecontentof these songsandontheirdifferentgenres,topoi,andmetrics.Scholarsinterestedin performance--ethnomusicologistsoranthropologistsofworkandeverydaylife-- mayfindthatGrothmann'sstudyraisesmanymorequestionsthanitanswers.The scholarlyvalueoftheworkwouldhavebeenenhancedenormouslybytheinclusionofaDVDrecording,whichcanbedoneatrelativelylowcost,orbyuploading avideocliptoawebsiteandincludingtheURLinthebook,whichcouldhave beendoneatpracticallynocost.Audiovisualdocumentationwouldhavebeen Reviews 185 welcomealsobecause;asGrothmannpointsout,arkaroofsarerapidlybeing replacedbyconcrete,withtheresultthatarshesongslosetheirfunctionandeither disappearorareturnedintoaformoftouristentertainment. JacobEyferth Jacob Eyferth teaches modern Chinese history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of "Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots: The Social History of a Community of Handicraft Papermakers in Rural Sichuan" and is currently writing a book on the politics http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Die Arshe: Arbeitslieder aus dem traditionellen tibetischen Bauhandwerk (review)

China Review International , Volume 18 (2) – Sep 19, 2011

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Abstract

182 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.2,2011 CitizenshipisCulp'sabilitytodrawfromaplethoraofrichsourcesminedextensivelyfromarchivesandlibraries.Inhisbibliographicessay,henotestheuseof textbooks,governmentpolicystatements,schoolpublications,studentjournals, localperiodicals,memoirs,andinterviews.Culpalsoprovidesusefulcapsule biographiesofselectedRepublican-eratextbookauthorsinanappendix.His thoroughresearchhasunearthedawealthofinformationaboutsecondaryschool studentsandtheactiveroletheyplayedasmoderncitizensduringtheRepublican period.Itisamajorcontributiontoboththehistoryofeducationandthehistory ofRepublicanChina. JenniferLiu Jennifer Liu is an assistant professor of history at Central Michigan University, specializing in twentieth-century China and Taiwan. KerstinGrothmann.Die Arshe: Arbeitslieder aus dem traditionellen tibetischen Bauhandwerk.AlltagskulturenChinasundseinerNachbarn3. Wiesbaden:HarrassowitzVerlag,2011.165pp.Paperback38.00,isbn 978-3-447-06453-8. ThisisthethirdvolumetocomeoutoftheusefulseriesEverydayCulturesof ChinaandItsNeighbors,editedbytheanthropologistMareileFlitsch.Itstopicis thearshe (ar gzhas),worksongsperformedduringtheconstructionoftheflat roofsthatcovertraditionalhousesincentralTibet.Theseroofsconsistofa woodenceiling,coveredwithabottomlayerofearthandpebblesandatoplayer ofarka,crushedlimestone.Thearkaislaboriouslycompactedbyteamsofworkers (inthecasedescribedbyGrothmann,womenworkers)whostamptheground withtheirfeetandtampitwithalongrammingpole(bogto).Thisistypicallydone ingroups:workerslineupinrowsandmoveonestepforward,onestepback,at thesametimebeatingthegroundrhythmicallywiththebogto. Theserhythmic movementsareaccompaniedbysongs,sungantiphonallybygroupsofworkers thatoftenfaceeachotheracrosstheroof.Grothmann'sbookisbasedonresearch carriedoutwhilesheparticipatedintheLhasaOldTownConservationProjectof theTibetHeritageFund,aninternationalorganizationactiveinthemappingand preservationofoldbuildingsinTibetandinthetrainingofTibetanartisans.The bookconsistsofabriefdescriptionofTibetanroofingtechniques,ageneraldiscussionofworksongsandtheirfunctions,andadetaileddiscussionoftheformal © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Reviews 183 featuresofarsheandoftheirplaceinTibetanoralliterature.Thisisfollowedbya commentedtranslationoftwentyarshe,reproducedalsoinTibetanscript,which takesupabouttwo-thirdsofthetotallengthofthebook. Mostofthesongspresentedherearebasedonreligiousthemes,oftenadapted fromtheaterplaysorpopularlegends.NangsaÖbum--thefolkheroinewho sufferedbrutalpersecutionfromherhusbandandin-lawsbeforesheattainedthe spiritualsalvationthatshehadlongedforsinceherbirth--appearsinfivesongs; Padmasambhava,Milarepa,andRechungalsomakeseveralappearances.Suffering,tribulation,andperseveranceinthefaceofhardshiparefrequentthemes, perhapsappropriatelyforsongsthatweresungduringlonghoursofarduous, repetitivework.Somesongsseemtomapoutpilgrimageroutes,describingthe historyandtheaestheticattractionsofmonasteriesandholymountainsincentral Tibet--though,asGrothmannpointsout,thesequenceofplacenamesrarely coincideswiththeactualrouteapilgrimwoulduseonhisorhertour.Aswith worksongsallovertheworld,arshe tendtobequiterepetitive;afterall,theiraim istokeepworkersincontinuousmotionforacertainamountoftime,inthiscase foraunitofworklastingthirtytofortyminutes.Hereisatypicalexampleofa song:"[T]hewildyakwent,thewildyakdidnotgo.Thewildyakwenttowardthe east;ontherightmountainslopeitategrass,ontheleftmountainslopeitdrank water;ontheuppermeadowitsleptcomfortably."Thisisthenrepeated,withthe wildyakgoingtowardthesouth,west,andnorth.Anothertypicalfeatureofthese songsisthattheylistplacesorobjectstoevokesocialhierarchiesandcosmological structures:theupper,middle,andlowerreachesofthelandarelinkedtolamas, governors,andcommoners;likewise,differenttypesofhatsevokethenobility, lowerfunctionaries,andthecommonerpopulation,anddifferentbodypartsofa horse(perhapsKyanggöGyerba,thefamousmountofKingGesar)illustrate pointsofBuddhistdoctrine.Athreefolddivision(intomen,women,anddomestic animals;lamas,officials,andcommoners;outer,inner,andsecretteachings)isa commonfeaturethatservestoreproduceandreinforcecosmologicalassumptions. Referencestoarka work--or,indeed,anyothertypeofwork--arerare.Nordo mostsongsappeartofunctionasmnemonicaidsfortechnical,scientific,or religiousknowledge. Grothmannprovidesrichdetailonthesongs'content,discussingdeities, historicalpersonages,monasteries,andBuddhisttermsthatappearinthetext. However,sheprovideslittlesocialortechnicalcontext.Onemajoromissionisthat shedoesnotexplainwhyandhowsheselectedthesetwentysongs,outofapresumablymuchlargernumberofsongsknowntoherinformants.Isthereligious messageofthesesongstypicalofthegenreingeneral?Grothmannpointsoutthat thesongsinaTibetanlanguagecompilation(O-rgyanrdo-rje1999)contain almostnohistoricalandreligiousreferences--afactsheattributestothecensorshipofreligiouscontentintheTibetAutonomousRegion(TAR).However,she 184 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.2,2011 alsocharacterizesthesongsintheTibetancompilationas"almostbanal"incomparisontothemoreliteraryandreligiousonesthatsheselectedandtranslated. SinceshestatesthatherLhasainformantsalsoknewandsungtheselesselevated songs,itappearsthatsheengagedinherownformofcensorship,eliminating songsthatshefoundlessdeservingofinclusion.Thisisherright,ofcourse,butit wouldhavehelpedhadshegiventhecriteriaofherselection. Thisreviewerwouldalsohavelikedtolearnmoreaboutthecontextinwhich thesesongswereperformed.ThesongsselectedbyGrothmannbelongtothe repertoireofaspecializedworkteaminLhasa,consistingoftwenty-eightwomen betweensixteenandseventy-threeyearsofage,someofwhomhadbeenmaking arkaroofssincethe1940s(p.8).Theteamwasledbyaforewoman(shepön)who setthepaceofworkbyselectingappropriatesongsandadjustingtheirrhythm. Hadarkaroofingalwaysbeenwomen'swork,andwasitalwaysperformedby teamsofspecialistswhomadearkaroofsforaliving?Orwasspecializationa productofthesocialistperiod,withitsinsistencethatallurbanpeople,eventhose withoutschoolingandspecialskills,choseapermanentoccupation?Elsewhere (p. 28),Grothmannlinksworksongstocommunalwork(Gemeinschaftsarbeiten) andworkoninvitation(Bittarbeiten).Oneimaginesthatmuchconstructionwork inTibet--asinruralareaselsewhereintheworld--reliedonlaborexchange ratherthanwagedlabor;inotherwords,afamilywishingtobuildahousewould inviteallitsneighborsforafewdaysofworkaccompaniedbysongsandfollowed byafeast,withtheimplicitunderstandingthatlabordaysreceivedwouldeventuallybereturned.Apartfromhalfapageonthearka teamwhosesongsshetranslated,Grothmanntellsuslittleabouthowsuchteamswereassembledandhow theirstructure--permanentorimprovised,hierarchicaloregalitarian--shapedthe waysongswerelearnedandtransmitted.Wealsolearnverylittleabouttheroleof theshepön:Didonebecomeaforewomanbecauseofone'ssingingskill,thesizeof one'srepertoire,orone'stechnicalskillinproducinglevelandwatertightroofs? Didshepönimprovise,ordidtheyreproducereceivedtextsasfaithfullyas possible? Grothmann'sstudyprovidesaninterestingglimpseintoadistinctiveworld of workinwhichtechnicalandartisticperformance,materialproductionand symbolicself-expression,andlaboranddancearecloselyintertwined.Thestudy's focusisprimarilyonoralliteraturequaliterature:onthenarrativecontentof these songsandontheirdifferentgenres,topoi,andmetrics.Scholarsinterestedin performance--ethnomusicologistsoranthropologistsofworkandeverydaylife-- mayfindthatGrothmann'sstudyraisesmanymorequestionsthanitanswers.The scholarlyvalueoftheworkwouldhavebeenenhancedenormouslybytheinclusionofaDVDrecording,whichcanbedoneatrelativelylowcost,orbyuploading avideocliptoawebsiteandincludingtheURLinthebook,whichcouldhave beendoneatpracticallynocost.Audiovisualdocumentationwouldhavebeen Reviews 185 welcomealsobecause;asGrothmannpointsout,arkaroofsarerapidlybeing replacedbyconcrete,withtheresultthatarshesongslosetheirfunctionandeither disappearorareturnedintoaformoftouristentertainment. JacobEyferth Jacob Eyferth teaches modern Chinese history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of "Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots: The Social History of a Community of Handicraft Papermakers in Rural Sichuan" and is currently writing a book on the politics

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Sep 19, 2011

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