Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Horse Hair Temple Musical Riot: Qinghai, Day 8

Arou Ba Temple, Quilian, Qinghai Province, China:

The crisp staccato of finger cymbals cut through the musical riot emanating from the monk’s instruments, two high pitched reed horns, a seashell and the long low blasts from a six foot long bass horn. The chanting weaved under, over and around the music, the two dozen monks filling the horse hair tent temple with worshipful sound.

Listen for horns and cymbals in this 36 second audio clip, then brass teacups and chanting.

Today we stopped by a dusty little temple complex situated in the treeless highlands in far northern Qinghai Province, in China’s northwest corner, and way in the back the chocolate colored tent was set up to let warm summer breezes enter through open sides.

While chanting each monk, of the Tibetan Buddhist yellow hat sect, filled several dozen brass teacups on a small table, then emptied them, wiped them dry, and poured tea again.

While kneeling on the ground, one young monk rolled his bass horn toward my microphone and blasted me, to the amusement of all. Another pulled a point-n-shoot camera from his robes to snap my photo. I enjoy the personal touch such small monasteries provide and feel close to a culture very different from mine.

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