National Geographic : 1955 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine that gave before pressure. I was asked to erect a strong new barrier to withstand the summer floods. With Aufschnaiter's help, I began surveying in the spring of 1948 and shoveled the last spade of earth before the summer monsoon. The gently sloping dike, 1,800 feet long, diverted the river from its course alongside the summer palace to an uninhabited lowland. Dike Holds Back Flood When the first floodwaters spilled down the Kyi, the dike held like stone. We set out a grove of willows on land formerly in undated each year. Some 500 coolies and 1,000 soldiers were assigned to the project, the largest construc tion force ever assembled in Tibet. They were good fellows, noisy and happy-go-lucky, but it took three of them to man one shovel. There also were many slowdowns. Work ers constantly brewed butter tea. Diggers took excruciating pains not to destroy a single living creature. There was a shriek of alarm every time a worker spied a worm or bug in newly turned earth. Work stopped while the tiny being was borne to safety. The Tibetans' religion teaches them that no life may be destroyed if death can be averted. The most devout went so far as to collect fish from ponds before winter's deep freeze and summer's drought. The fish were carried in pails to refuge in the Kyi. Life was full and busy. Aufschnaiter and I mapped Lhasa, making the first accurate survey with a theodolite and measuring tape (page 7). Friendly crowds gathered when we appeared with the equipment. Poor Auf schnaiter often found himself peering through the theodolite's telescope into a blurred Ti betan eye. We found it necessary to rise before dawn to get our work done. We started the survey with an antiquated theodolite belonging to Tsarong, but com pleted it with a fine new instrument sent to us by the National Geographic Society. Intent Nobles Study a Player's Move in Sho, an Exhausting Game of Chance "Lhasans love to gamble," the author says. "At one time mah-jongg became such a craze that people forgot to go to work. The Government banned the game, but one could still hear the click of tiles!" Crying "Tsack!" these high-ranking dignitaries slap the dice cup on the leather pad (center) with great vehemence; their enthusiastic play often leaves them limp. Dice scores govern the moves of small stones in the race around pad and cup. Nobles' jewel-studded topknots denote their official status.