National Geographic : 1944 Jun
Exploring a Grass Wonderland of Wild West China NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Pictures of Great Barrier Reef Fascinate Tibet Hillmen Photographs of horses and cattle didn't interest them nearly so much as the color plates showing under sea wonders off the Australian coast (see "Fantastic Dwellers in a Coral Fairyland," NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, June, 1940). Many caravans of yak and pien-nu, "the mules of the high grasslands" (page 730), passed here. One morning six caravans were in sight at one time. This is the center of the trails between Yunnan, Kantse, Kangting, Paan, and Lhasa. On a short trip on horseback south and west of the town I counted 64 nomad tents. Buttered Tea on Tibetan's Menu I ate a morning lunch with the patriarch of one tent, sitting crosslegged on a green and red swastikaed Lhasa rug. The stand ard meal of tsamba and buttered tea was made a festive spread by adding clabbered milk, dry casein, and a joint of dry beef. Buttered tea is made up by emulsifying rancid yak and sheep butter in strong red tea by means of a long slim churn. Tsamba is made by mixing parched barley flour and but tered tea to a hard dough consistency. It is eaten in that form, without cooking. Caravan men eat nothing else unless a family encoun tered en route provides some clabber. Fresh meat is seldom at hand unless a saddle or pack animal dies. Tibetans eat all dead carcasses except those of animals which have died from anthrax. Experience has taught them that man contracts this disease unless the meat is thoroughly cooked, and at these elevations complete cooking is impossible. I never learned to relish buttered tea or tsamba. Our party carried rice as a staple food. We shot rabbits, pheasants, and deer, or slaughtered sheep for meat. Dried bread, tinned, was used for noon lunch with fresh butter and tinned jam as a spread. Vege tables were supplied by greens from native plants and from the young leaves and tendrils of field peas. Our pressure cooker cooked all items in a short time. For drink we had tea, boiled water, or boiled fresh milk purchased from a near-by tent. Our Tibetans had their own supply of tea, strong butter, and parched bar ley. flour. Slaughtering of cattle and yaks is done at Lihwa for the only meat export I learned of in this entire area. Bloodless slaughter is the practice in the few cases where animals are killed for meat. The animal is smothered by tying his mouth and nostrils with a cord. Although the Tibetan, because of religious beliefs, is averse to taking the life of animals, some sheep, goats, and cattle are slaughtered by the less devout.