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Sherpas of Nepal

rai dws sherpas of nepalSeries Disappearing World Series
Director Leslie Woodhead, Sherry Ortner
Country/Production UK
Release 1977
Length 52 mins
Format Colour / DVD or VHS / PAL / All region
Location Nepal / Asia
Ethnic Group Nepalese

Order No RAI-200.74
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Thami is a village 12,000 feet up in the Himalayas in the Kingdom of Nepal. As the film's opening shots illustrate, in a type of filmic short-hand, Thami is composed of a patchwork of individual farms – indicative of the Sherpa emphasis on independence and family self-sufficiency. The main concern of the film is to examine what it means to be Sherpa today in both cultural and economic terms: to this end the film concentrates on the varied career choices of three brothers from Thami – peasant farmer, Buddhist monk and head guide. Interviews with the brothers, enabling them to express their own attitudes and expectations, deepen the analysis. The second half of the film deals with the preparations for the festivities of a Sherpa wedding, emphasising that negotiations about bridewealth are lengthy – often taking years – since marriage is viewed primarily as an economic transaction. Sequences showing peasant farming activities, in combination with scenes of Sherpa life in Katmandu, contrast the old way of life with the new and illustrate the changing socio-economic conditions encountered by Sherpas today. C. von Furer-Haimendorf, 1964. The Sherpas of Nepal. University of California Press, Berkeley. E. von Furer-Haimendorf, 1977. Review of the film. RAIN, 21, pp. 7–8. S.B. Ortner, 1978. Sherpas through their Rituals. Cambridge Studies in Cultural Systems, No.2. Cambridge University Press.

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