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China West (6) by Yo Nagaya

China West (06) by Yo Nagaya

青海湖畔を走行中に小さな村が見えて来た。細かい予定を組んだ旅でもないので、運転手の休息も兼ねて立ち寄る事に。バイクの修理工場、一般家庭用品販売の店やレストランなどが軒を並べる短い目抜き通りを過ぎると、塀に囲まれた大きなグラウンドが見えて来た。その周囲にはバイクが無秩序に置かれ、人々が続々とグラウンドに向かっていた。
私達も入口付近に車を停めてゲートに向かった。ぼこぼこの舗装路からは多少の埃が立っていたが、見渡す限りの草原に囲まれた村の空気は新鮮だった。標高は既に3000メートル近辺。乾燥した空気と日本の秋の終わりを連想させる気温が心地よい。しかし、空気の透明度は北京の重たい空気と違い、日光の強さを強烈に感じさせる。ここはチベット高地。チベット族の老若男女の皮膚は赤銅色に輝いていた。
グラウンドのゲートは施錠されていたが、お構い無しに人々はゲートをこじ開け、その隙間から身を滑り込ませて行く。私達も右へ習えと、グラウンドに侵入。そこはどうやら学校らしく、その日は運動会だった。校庭、と言っても塀で囲った草原だが、生徒や家族らが集まって徒競走の真っ最中だった。異国の地で運動会に遭遇するのは、そういつもあることでは無い。それに、自称オリンピック・フォトグラファーとしては、見逃す訳には行かない。
大きなカメラを振りかざし、トラック脇に陣取った当方を見る目は皆、好奇心に満ちていたが、決して拒絶したり警戒するような目つきでは無かった。子供達は当方が向けるレンズの先を先回りするかのように走り廻り、写真を撮ってくれ、というゼスチャーをくり返す。そしてシャッターを切ると、背面モニターに写し出された自分達の姿に歓喜した。
イスラム系の人々と違い、チベット系は写真に対しておおらかな反応だ。中には孫を連れて写真を撮影して欲しいと、自ら依頼しにくる老夫婦も。彼等は、その写真を後で送って欲しいとか、頼むでもなく、撮影してもらう事に満足感を得ているようだった。
それにしても、この高地の希薄な酸素環境にも関わらず、全力疾走している学生たちの姿には驚いた。当方は車から下りて、100メートル程の平たんな距離をちょっと足早に歩いただけで低酸素の影響をもろに感じているのだ。チベット族の若者をスポーツ選手にすれば素晴らしい結果が期待されると思うのだが、どうやら中国政府の方針がチベット人が国際的に活躍する事を禁止しているようだ。少数民族問題が複雑に絡み合う中国ならではの事情である。
子供達が徒競走で盛り上がっているその奥では、大人たちがアーチェリーを楽しんでいた。遊びでは無く、チベット式の弓道である事が判明したが、試合(?)をしているはずの男達、なぜか強烈に酒臭い。
2チームに分かれて、グランドに両端に設置された的を射るのだが、弓を放つ前後に周囲のサポーター達はかなり度数の高い(40〜50°)の蒸留酒を選手やその周囲の人々、あるいは的に振り掛け、ついでにラッパ飲みをしながら踊っているのだ。当然、当方もその振る舞い酒の餌食に。ウオッカで育ち、中国では白酒を常飲する当方も、嫌いではないのでグッと一気に頂いたが、なかなか、強烈な酒だった。
的に刺さった弓をたっぷりの儀式的な行程で抜く時も大騒ぎをしながらラッパ飲み、相手が的を外してもラッパ飲み、自分のチームが的を射れば、当然ながらラッパ飲み。男達にしてみれば、理由はどうでも良いのであろう。しかしながら、へべれけになってから射る矢の行く末には気を付けたい。
2〜3時間も居ただろうか、競技は突然終了し、徒競走をしていた子供達は先生の指示を受けながらグランドのゴミ拾いを始めた。スナック菓子の袋が散乱していたグランドはみるみる綺麗になっていった。散らかしはするが、ちゃんと片付ける行為は当り前にきちんととしている、と感じた。
チベット人の運動会撮影なんて、後にも先にも無いだろうなと思いながらグランドを後にした。のんだくれアーチェリーがオリンピック種目に成る日は来ないだろうが、このおおらかなスポーツ文化がちゃんと後世に引き継がれるかどうかを危惧するのは私だけだろうか。

Driving alongside the Lake Chinghai, we came across a small village. Since our trip was not based on detailed schedule, and our driver needed some rest, we decided to stop by and explore. After passing through a short main street franked by motorcycle repair shops, household good shops and restaurants, we found a huge field surrounded by brick walls. Near the gate of the filed, motorbikes were placed chaotically and many Tibetans were heading toward what seemed to be a main entrance to the field.
We parked our van near the gate and headed to the field also. Sandy dust were floating in the air from deteriorating pavements, but the air quality at the village surrounded by rush, endless grassland was refreshing. We were already at an altitude around 3000 meters. Dry air and cool temperature similar to autumn’s end in Japan felt really good. However, there was a huge difference between humid and pollution loaded heavy air of Beijing and here: intensity of the sunlight was merciless. We were indeed standing at the Tibetan Plateau. Men and women, young and old, faces of Tibetan were radiating in copper tan.
Although the gate to the field was pad-locked, people never seemed to pay attention to that. They just pry open the gate a bit and slipped themselves into property. Of course, we followed suits. Then we realized that it was a school we were entering, and we happened to hit the school sports festival. Kids were in the middle of running events and there were lots of joyous cheers. It was indeed quite rare for running into a school sports festival in totally unfamiliar place. I had no choice but to grab my gear and jump into where the actions were. As a self-proclaimed Olympic photographer, it was almost automatic.
With big cameras and lenses, I positioned myself by the track course. People around me were looking at me with full of curiosities but their eyes were not hostile or refusals at all. Wherever I point my camera, kids would move toward that direction and kept telling me to take their photos. Then after I made the shot, they would run up to me and enjoy themselves while looking at their images shown on the LCD monitor of my camera.
Unlike Muslims, Tibetans seemed to be more tolerant toward being photographed. An old Tibetan family, presumably a husband and wife even came up to me and gestured me to take their photos with grandkids. They did not ask me to send the photograph back to them or anything. They were just happy being photographed by this foreign photographer (or by the big camera they had never seen before).
Incidentally, those Tibetan kids could run really well, despite the fact that they were running full steam at this high altitude with thin oxygen level. I felt out of breath and dizzy from just walking at slow jogging pace for about a 100 meters on the flat land from our van to the track course. I would not be surprised to see if the Tibetan youth could excel in sports, however they were not allowed to earn international fame by the Chinese government, according to my friend’s explanation. It was an example of complications dealing with minorities that China must face.
While kids were having fun with running events, I noticed that there was an archery event by adult men going on at the other side of the field. They were in serious competitions indeed however, I noticed strong liquor smell among those men.
They were split in two teams for shooting each other’s target built upon the ground with their arrows. The unique thing was that, before and after the archer shooting his arrow, people surrounding the archer were sprinkling Tibetan hard liquor (80 to 100 proof) on the archer and everyone around while drinking from the bottle in between. I was no exception and got baptized with that stuff. I pride myself of my brought up as I were weaned by Russian vodka and can enter drinking battle with any Chinese with Bai-jyu (fire liquor of China), it did felt pretty heavy stuff, perhaps because of high altitude.
These men drunk from the bottle at any occasions; ceremoniously pulling out the arrow from the target, opposing team missing the target, and of course when their own team hit the target. For them, the reasons were never important. However, one should be aware of the trajectory of those arrows shot after so much liquor.
Perhaps we were there for about 2 to 3 hours, but the whole sports festival ended suddenly. Kids who were in running competitions started picking up rubbish from the ground with teachers’ instructions. The field strewn with empty bags of snacks got cleaned up in no time. They did make a mess, but they sure knew how to clean up after themselves. I was impressed.
Photographing a Tibetan school sports festival was something I would encounter perhaps once in a life time thing. I suppose that the drunken archery event would never make it to the Olympic Games, but I sure hope that this laid-back sports tradition are inherited to the generations of Tibetans to come.

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全力のリレー
Full steam running, I can't keep up with these kids...
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先生かな?
I think this guy is a teacher.
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良いな、こういう暖かいゴールの仕方。
Kind of nice to cross the finish line like this with lots of cheers.
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良く見ると、まだ若いかな?
Maybe they are not that old... Ooops.
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この子はきっと、すごい美人になる。
This kid has the potential.
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きりり、としてるけど、なんだか酒臭い。。。
Sharp looking and great angle, but I smell liquor...
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神妙な面持ちで矢を抜いて。。。
Pulling out the arrow with ceremonious process....
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さ〜〜〜飲め!
A~~~~nd, let's drink to that!
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どうか、奴の矢が当たりませんように!
Please god, make him miss this shot!
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当たったら、また飲めるぞ!
If you hit the target, you can take another swig!
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若い頃の俳優、ロバート・ミッチャムに似てない?時代が旧すぎてわかんね〜〜?歯の金がチャームポイント。
He reminded me of an actor Robert Mitchum in his youth. Many of you don't know him, right? This guy has a nice charm on one of his tooth.
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お掃除タイム。
Time for cleaning up the mess and go home, kids!
[PR]
by ipa_ibaraki | 2010-09-05 21:35 | 長屋 陽