The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 12, 1976 · Page 195
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 195

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 12, 1976
Page 195
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Page 195 article text (OCR)

WW ni I K f T "1 LI I 1 Pft irJ IEU Q ii when lerrold Schecfer of Time magazine took Polaroid pictures and handed them their snapshots. Men and women also worked side bv side in the )u!v 1st Farm Machinery Plant. Their main output was small gasoline-powered threshers, winnowers, seeders and water turbines, which thev manufactured in a series of whitewashed sheds. We were told that it is the people's aim to have all China' agriculture mechanized bv 1980. The climax of the afternoon was a visit to the )okang Temple, the oldest ;652 A.D.i and most sacred among the thousands of religious centers in Tibet. For centuries it was the spiritual goal of every Tibetan pilgrim because it contains the great "Jo" Buddha that Princess Wen-cheng brought from China. Todav its significance lies in its beauty, age and remarkable state of preserva tion. A colorful street scene A toothe5S monk greets .Vfarva Snearer at Drepung. Tibet's largest monastery. Its hillside buildings once housed 10.000 monks. His second lesson emphasized the cruelty and repression by the Dalai Lamas, the monks and the ruling nobles toward the serfs. To make these lessons indelibly clear, we were escorted into a dimly lit hall and walked by a series of life-size tableaux depicting such scenes as a peasant carrying his master oer a mountain pass too difficult for a horse: a woman forced to work in the fields with her infant on the ground beside her; a boy being traded for a donkev and. last, a sort of Tibetan Joan of Arc who had led a peasant uprising, having her heart removed at the stake. The final section of the exhibition pointed up the confasts between the old and new society. A case full of luxurious clothes and a display of cosmetics were labeled "Remnants of Nobility." Beside it were photographs of a new hydroelectric plant, clinics and schools, plus an impressive display of agricultural products. Smiles and applause As we left the exhibition hall we were surrounded by a crowd of men. women and children eager for a closer look at the strange visitors. We smiled. They smiled. As we drove awav thev broke into applause, the Chinese ges- We drove carefully through the "old citv" between the stately, three-storied stone buildings with their elaborately painted window frames. We passed close to sidewalk vegetable stands, a cobbler repairing shoes under a tree, stray cows, goats and pigs, children eating ice cream on a stick and one little boy with a pet dragonfly held bv a thread. At the bend in the narrowest of the streets our motorcade stopped. We stepped from a street busy with sidewalk vendors into a quiet courtyard. On all four sides a double row of red lacquered columns formed a portico decorated with animals, bird;, dragons and flowers. As our eves traveled upward for three levels, we could see latticed balconies, carved and painted beams and at the very top a golden-roofed pav ilion. It was dazzling. At this point, our guide from the Office of Cultural Monuments commented that the 14th Dalai Lama, now-living in exile in India, had slandered the People's Republic of China by saving that it placed no value on cultural heritage. Wasn't the condition of the Jokang proof to the contrary? Awesome shrines True, this temple, the Potala and many of the monasteries have been repainted, refurbished and kept open as historical monuments. Although there are fewer and fewer Buddhist believers and no new monks in Tibet, the people are not prohibited from coming to the shrines. But. primarily, thev are used to point up the excesses of the old order and its heavy burden on the people. Today, the people are taught to marvel at them as examples of their own artistic creativity. And they are awesome. We were guided through a labyrinth of narrow corridors, past brilliantly restored murals, thankas and silk hangings, until we entered a darkened room and came face to face with the priceless "Jo." He was seated on a throne, flanked bv pillars of silver, beneath a continued ture of greeting and farewell. Back at the guest house, our hosts recommended bed-rest before the next tour. Lying and looking around the room, I found that many of its features began to make sense in Tibetan terms. The fluorescent desk lamp, the shortwave radio, the oxvgen tank and iron bedsteads were utilitarian signs of progress. The plate of fresh fruit, thermos of green tea and arrav of cosmetics in my bathroom could be considered "remnants of nobility." Similarly, the Friendship Store in the lobbv of the guest house sold a mix of fountain pens, chewing gum and cigarettes along with exquisite silver-lined votive dishes, appliqued felt boots, brass-encrusted knives, silver bracelets, flint stones in leather and brass cases and handwoven carpets. Our afternoon-around-Lhasa tour included a visit to one of the carpet factories and to a farm machinery plant. Neither automated nor cottage industry, they were somewhere between. In the carpet factory looms of various sizes stretched from floor to ceiling in tight rows. Male and female weavers, some as young as 13, wearing traditional Tibetan outfits, sat on backless benches and worked as Tibetan weavers alwavs have. We were told it took two months to make a rug 5' x 7'; but instead of making them for the nobility, they were made for export. Wages ranged from $50 to $140 a month. These handsome, bright-eyed people smiled shyly and appeared pleased and proud to demonstrate their skills. Thev were especially amused and amazed aA C? -yS. MONGOLIA f yi-1 1 r .j - j ,. . , ......e, ... . . ....... . -f - - V! - -.--....--i ..-.aa.. f , -f fcgyn .it tf Called "The Roof of the World," Tibet sits atop the mighty Himalayas and is rarely-visited by Americans. The author was the only woman in a privileged party of nine.

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