National Geographic : 1952 Dec
The National Geographic Magazine A Ladle Full of Bark Pulp Becomes a Sheet of Parchment for a Sacred Book Paro's papermaker ladles watery pulp from the vat onto a bamboo screen. He smoothes the pulp, drains the water, and strips off a damp sheet of paper. Later some monk will pen holy writings on its surface. could have enjoyed those festival days in Paro Valley more than I. After all this, I postponed my return to Ha for several days to explore Paro Valley. "Climb up to Taktsang. It's one of our oldest and most interesting monasteries," the Governor suggested. My road to the monastery led past a most striking chorten at the base of a long range of mountains. Of whitewashed stone in the shape of a huge bell, it was surmounted by a gilt cupola. I stopped to investigate. What I found was a chorten inside a chorten-an unusual structure indeed. Later, I learned that the Earl of Ronaldshay, a quar ter of a century earlier, had puzzled over this same monument. In his noted book on this part of the world, he gives the following ex- planation told to him by the people of Paro: "The builder, a famous lama, on coming to Paro found the hand of death heavy upon the people of the valley. By virtue of his mirac ulous powers he divined the cause. A monster of the mountains, a ghoulish frog, which bat tened on human blood, had made its abode in the valley. The monster's mouth was de tected in a hole in the ground, and was effec tually stopped by the erection over it of a chorten. This was the core. In later days a rich man came along and protected the mon ument, whose preservation was of such vital importance to the people of Paro, by encasing it in an outer covering, and so . .. the people of Paro were saved." * * Lands of the Thunderbolt, Sikhinm, Chunmbi & Bhutan, Constable and Company, Ltd., London, 1923.