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Melemchi Village, Nepal

Collection Creator:
Bishop, Naomi Hawes  Search this
Bishop, John Melville  Search this
10 Film reels (5 hours, color sound; 10,800 feet, 16mm)
Archival materials
Film reels
Scope and Contents:
Full film record documents the cultural ecology of a Sherpa village at the head of the Helembu Valley, Nepal.

Footage begins with shots of Rhesus monkeys at the Buddhist shrine of Swayambanath in Kathmandu valley as part of research project observing the behavior of temple monkeys. Footage in the Melemchi village focuses on both subsistence and religious aspects of Helembu Sherpa culture. Documentation of subsistence includes herding and domestic activities of the Sherpa patrilineal households; harvesting changa, the high altitude barley from which the staple food, thombu is made; women threshing wheat in fields; women dairying in family pastures; spinnig lambs wool; weaving jackets; grindng grain and flour on the grindstone; women making yoghurt, butter and cheese; weaving bamboo mats. Documentation of religious and ritual depicts the coexistence of Buddhist and local Bon animist practices; a Nyin Lo ceremony conducted by a bombo (shaman) to exorcise bad spirits; the the torma (a ritual object representing a temporary house for the gods); man in trance drumming and calling spirits; chicken sacrifice; beating a woman with steamed branches to expunge the evil spirits from her; a Mikha Kyurgen puja done to reverse the negative effects of gossiping; the TupuTsezchu Festival, one of four festivals held annually in Melemchi to commemorate the work of Guru Rempeche, the Bodhisattva who brought Buddhism to Tibet; the Nara festival which honors the founding of the gomba(local Buddhist temple); the decapitation ofa yak as an offering. Also documented is the funerary practice composed of the procession where the deceased is carried in a chair to the funeral ground for cremation. Sequences also depict men carving decorations for the woodwork adorning houses; an arranged marriage; Sherpa man teaching a class to young students; playing the "adorje," a trumpet made out of a human thigh bone; lama reading Tibetan texts.

Legacy Keywords: Language and culture ; Temples prayer wheels Nepal ; Harvests barley Nepal ; Barley method of harvest Nepal ; Animal husbandry milking cows Nepal ; Seances spirit mediums ritual Nepal ; Mediums ritual spirit communication Nepal ; Spirits mediums communication with Nepal ; Ritual spirit mediums seances Nepal ; Chanting as part of ritual Nepal ; Musical instruments drums cymbals horns bells Nepal ; Agriculture corn barley grains Nepal ; Food preparation churning butter cheese Nepal ; Altars seances Nepal ; Animal sacrifice as part of ritual Nepal ; Purification ritual Nepal ; Mills grinding flour water driven Nepal ; Weaving wool looms Nepal ; Pastoral activities herding miling grazing Nepal ; Bells for keeping birds from crops Nepal ; Quarrying boulders for building stones Nepal ; Mortuary practices pallequin procession cremation Nepal ; Funerals cremation Nepal ; Priest lama chanting Nepal ; Temple gompa ceremony Nepal ; Bread ceremonial Nara bread gompa Nepal ; Dancing ritual social Nepal ; Woodworking carving Nepal ; Altars gompa Nepal ; Flags prayer flags raising of Nepal ; Potatoes cultivation of Nepal ; Shrines gompa Nepal
Local Numbers:
HSFA 1987.7.1
Collection Restrictions:
The collection is open for research. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the Human Studies Film Archives may not be played.
Collection Rights:
Contact the repository for terms of use.
Collection Citation:
John and Naomi Bishop collection, Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution 
See more items in:
John and Naomi Bishop collection
Archival Repository:
Human Studies Film Archives

MS 4832 Notes on the Khumbu and Pharak Regions, Solukhumbu District, Nepal

Cool, John C., 1926-  Search this
Bista, Dor Bahadur  Search this
6 Pages
Sherpa -- Shamanism  Search this
Sherpa -- Religion  Search this
Sherpa -- Government  Search this
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
May 4, 1966
Scope and Contents:
Observations on economic development, government and politics and religion and shamanism among the Sherpa communities, made during an 8-day trip.
Local Numbers:
NAA MS 4832
Local Note:
xerox copy of typescript document
Government and politics -- Sherpa  Search this
Religion -- Sherpa  Search this
Shamanism -- Sherpa  Search this
Nepal  Search this
Manuscript 4832, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Archival Repository:
National Anthropological Archives

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