Material Sediments

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Here is a list of little things one can find in every house in the village of Walung – material sediments of a specific history and a particular way of life.

  1. A thick woollen saddle pad with white shags. Put beneath the wooden saddle, it helps distribute the weight of the yak’s burden.

  2. Dyed wool, firewood. Most households dye wool and weave carpets; a few make a living from collecting and selling firewood.

  3. Dried yak meat for the winter.

  4. Iron rods as prayer flag poles. The Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Project campaigned for them, arguing that iron poles would save 120 young trees per year.

  5. A clay pot to burn juniper. Each house has one. Every day begins with burning incense.

  6. Yak tails for sale on the international market. Some found their way to Europe already in the 19th century where they were used as Santa Claus beards. The white ones catch a much higher price than the black ones.

  7. A map of Nepal.

  8. Chinese army biscuits in green tin boxes. These boxes are virtually indestructible and continue to be used for a variety of purposes. Army biscuits were among the first industrial products that reached the village from the People’s Republic of China in the early 1960s.

  9. A family altar with ritual objects and other possessions: portraits of high lamas, butter lamps, offerings, family photographs, thermos bottles, and a television set.

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