Himalayan Herders is an intimate portrait of a temple-village in the Yolmo valley of Central Nepal where Tibetan Buddhists consult shamans, married life begins by kidnapping the bride, and the nearest road is a two-day walk away. The community drama of marriage, death, and rituals is juxtaposed with the rich texture of daily life, both in the village and the surrounding mountains and forest where these pastoralists herd zomo, a cross between a cow and a yak, which thrives in middle altitude pastures between 8,000 and 14,000 feet. Cultural change, in the form of a government primary school, incorporation into a national park, and circular migration for wage labor outside Nepal, is discussed by residents in interviews. A twenty-five-year-long collaboration between an ethnographer and a documentary filmmaker, the film provides rich material for examining gender, cultural change, religion, pastoralism, South Asia, and the cultural ecology and economics of mountain populations.
An ethnography, Himalayan Herders, published by Harcourt Brace in fall 1997 as part of the Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology Series, provides a companion volume to the film. Filmmaker: John Bishop, Naomi Bishop
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