The Life of Tibetan Nomads: Summer Pasture on Independent Lens May 10
Filmmakers Lynn True, Nelson Walker, and Tsering Perlo offer audiences a rare glimpse into the life of a Tibetan family whose lives are not so different from their ancestors’ four thousand years ago in a remarkable film, Summer Pasture. Living in Zachukha in eastern Tibet, thirty-year-old Locho, his twenty-seven-year-old wife Yama, and their infant daughter are nomads in the most remote county in Sinchuan Province, China.
Largely dependent on their animals (yaks and horses), the couple moves each season to fresh pastures, living in a yurt in near-barren countryside. There are two other families in a compound that includes Locho’s brother and Yama’s two sisters. The men share herding duties and handle business matters, such as going into town to sell yak hair and caterpillar fungus and purchasing food and clothing. Yama tells us that housework is much more demanding than herding and that the women do most of the work, statements borne out by her nonstop activities while Locho plays dominoes, anoints his face with pimple medication, and has time to play with the baby. Besides childcare, cooking, and housekeeping, Yama milks yaks, makes cheese and butter, and gathers dung for the family fire.
As alien as this lifestyle may seem to Westerners, Locho and Yama share some of the same concerns that most of us have, such as their daughter’s future and education, the rising cost of living, and the weakening of their community as many nomads leave for the city. In addition to sharing their daily lives, Locho and Yama also discuss their past, their courtship, and their marriage. Despite the hardship they face, they appreciate their nomadic life and values
Summer Pasture is a fascinating look at a culture so different from ours that we can’t help but wonder what Locho and Yama would think if they were to see a documentary about a year in our lives with all the things we take for granted—running water, electricity, motor transport—and all the things we have and do that aren’t necessary to our existence. Summer Pasture premieres on Independent Lens (PBS) on Thursday, May 10, 2012, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern (check local listings).