Cover

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Contents

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p. vii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

The present study owes itself to the combined support of many teachers, friends, colleagues, and institutions; I am grateful to have the opportunity to thank them. In Nepal, Lopsang Bombo, K. B. Gurung, Latu Lama, Dawa Lama, Karma Gyaltsan Lama, N. R. Nepali, Mukta Tamang, Khrishna Pradhan, and Lal Bahadur Tamang all offered not only their ...

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Note on Transcription

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p. xiii

Yolmo wa, or "the Yolmo people," speak the national language of Nepali, as well as the distinct Tibetan-derived language of Kagate, a Bodic or TibetoBurman dialect that acquired this name by first having been recorded as spoken among a group of "paper-makers" in Eastern Nepal, this being the literal sense of the Nepali term ...

Part I. Loss

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1. Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads

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pp. 3-35

While conducting fieldwork in the late 1980s among Yolmo Sherpa, an ethnically Tibetan people who live in the Helambu region of northcentral Nepal, I participated in some twenty-odd healing ceremonies as the shamanic apprentice to a veteran "grandfather" healer called Meme (t. me me). Barefoot, illiterate, sporting ragged farm clothes and a scruffy beard ...

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2. Body, Speech, Mind

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pp. 36-62

One drizzly September morning, Meme and I walked a mile west of Gulphubanyang to a small hamlet populated by low-status Tamang and Yolmo families to pick up a shamanic drum I had ordered from Rinchen, a local craftsman. I found the descent along the mountain path to be a slow one, with Meme's bare feet stopping before each twig to brush it off the ...

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3. An Aesthetics of Experience

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pp. 63-89

In late June 1988, Mingma Lama, a tall, thin Yolmo elder in his late sixties, suffered from weakness and frailty due to the loss of several life-forces. Mingma was born into a family oflamas and lived in the hamlet of Todhang to the south of Gulphubanyang. His wife died several years earlier, and he now lived with his son's family in a house that he, the father, built many ...

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4. Pain Clings to the Body

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pp. 90-134

Padma Lama, a prestigious, heavyset "priest" from the village of Dhupchughyang, helped to perform the anniversary funeral rites for a Todhang woman who died the previous May. He danced and drank a bit at the dose of the ceremonies, walked at night with his wife and neighbors up to their homes, slept in his wood-framed bed, and died, for unknown reasons, ...

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5. Soul Loss

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pp. 135-156

The evening before this conversation (which occurred on the fourteenth of June, the start of the rainy season), Urgyen, an elderly man from the village of Todhang, died after several days of intense fever. Nyirna, who lived in Todhang before marrying Latu, had called Urgyen "uncle" since she was a child; they belonged to the same "family." Upon his death, the ...

Part 2. Healing

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6. The Art of Knowing

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pp. 159-184

Yeshi lay on the well-worn edge of a wood cot. While her infant daughter clung to her breast, another child nestled against the wall, his runny nose hidden within the fold of a green shawl. Newspapers yellowing with age lined the surface of the mudstone wall. In one advertisement, a plump Brahman grinned over an open refrigerator; in another, an article on ...

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7. Metamorphoses

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pp. 185-197

After the final deity left his body, Meme set the drum on the floor, took off his belt of bells, lit a cigarette from an ember, and relaxed his body against the central pillar. Tenzin handed him a cup of tea and a plate filled with steaming rice, lentils, and potatoes. "Please, Meme," Tenzin asked, with hands held low. He then scooped rice from the cooking pot and dished it onto other tin plates. He passed the ...

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8. A Calling of Souls

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pp. 198-222

By midnight, most neighbors had returned to their homes after eating a meal made with the sacrificed chicken, and took with them their newfound concerns over their families' welfare. Only Yeshi, household members, and close family members stayed up past midnight to help Meme. Meme had divined the causes of Yeshi's distress, appeased the gods, ...

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9. Departures

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pp. 223-243

With deities departing and diseases banished, the healing came to a close. Meme turned each of the gtor ma cakes on its side, and Serki and I returned the rice to the storage bin and the dagger and bells to Meme's bag. The drum hung again from the central pillar. Each person received one of the gtor ma cakes. Tenzin served a final meal of chicken stew, which we ate ...

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10. Afterwords

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pp. 244-254

It was the morning after Karma first arrived in Gulphubanyang. When I introduced him to Latu, Latu spoke of his friendship with Karma's father, who died three years before. Latu played a section of the tape, which sounded several male voices chorusing a Buddhist chant. "Listen," he cupped his ear. "The deeper voice is his father's." ...

Notes

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pp. 255-276

Glossary of Terms

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pp. 277-280

References

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pp. 281-296

Index

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pp. 297-300