Melemchi Village, Nepal 1986

Supplementary materials: audio tapes, 35mm slides, b&w stills
title supplied by Archives staff (unpublished work)--archival collection
Annotated by John Bishop, documentary filmmaker, Naomi Bishop, anthropologist, John Homiak, Human Studies Film Archives and Nogabu, cultural informant from Melemchi. Footage complements [Melemchi Village, 1989]
Cataloging supported by Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee
John and Naomi Bishop, filmmaker and ethnographer, respectively.
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.
Repository Loc.
Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD
Language and culture
Temples--prayer wheels
Barley--method of harvest
Animal husbandry--milking--cows
Seances--spirit mediums--ritual
Mediums--ritual--spirit communication
Spirits--mediums--communication with
Ritual--spirit mediums--seances
Chanting--as part of ritual
Musical instruments--drums--cymbals--horns--bells
Food preparation--churning butter--cheese
Animal sacrifice--as part of ritual
Mills--grinding flour--water driven
Pastoral activities--herding--miling--grazing
Bells--for keeping birds from crops
Quarrying--boulders--for building stones
Mortuary practices--pallequin--procession--cremation
Bread--ceremonial Nara bread--gompa
Flags--prayer flags--raising of
Potatoes--cultivation of
Human Studies Film Archives
Restrictions & Rights
Information on reproduction and fees available from Human Studies Film Archives
filmmaker, anthropologist
Bishop, John and Naomi
Bishop, Naomi
Physical description
reference 10 video cassettes (5 hours) sound color 3/4 inch
master 10 video reels (5 hours) sound color one inch
archival original 10 film reels (10,800 feet ) sound color 16mm
Nepal, Helambu Valley
Motion pictures (visual works)
Collection descriptions
Local number
HSFA 1987.7.1
Helambu Valley