chepté "a nepalese village"

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Patrice Olivier wants to share his time spent with a Sherpafamily in Chepté.His photographs invite you to live their daily life. You willdiscover their games, village life, school, daily householdduties, traditions and their environment.After meeting Ngima, Deeku, Temba and Nurry, thesechildren will remain with you when you close the book.


  • Chept A Nepalese Village

    Patrice Olivier


    Terra Incognita

  • 3The aim of the association is to contribute to childrens cultural awareness and the ideas that children can have about themselves and others. We believe that understanding each others

    cultures helps to prevent fear and discourages prejudice which is often linked to ignorance. We hope this book will contribute to exploring intercultural relationships, emphasizing

    the complementary nature of the cultures instead of their differences. We consider that culture is a constantly evolving system which is enhanced by meeting others.

    This book was written in October 2008. It is about daily village life for the children of Chept. On reading this book, the reader will discover the childrens lifestyle and culture.

    I feel it necessary to add that the cultural activities presented in this book are in no way representative of everywhere in Nepalese.


    Terra Incognita

    27, rue Roederer61500 Essay - France+ 33 2 33 81 96 22

  • 4Chept A Nepalese Village

    Patrice Olivier

    Translated by :Kathryn Pascal/Olivia Izzard


    Terra Incognita

  • Summary 5


    The Himalayan Range

    Page 10

    The Sherpa community

    Page 12

    Chept village

    Page 14

    The Sherpa family

    Page 16

    Life and the rhythm of the seasons

    Page 18

    Terrace cultivation

    Page 20


    Page 22

    Feeding the animals

    Page 24

    On mens backs

    Page 26

    Bhalthumkas shops

    Page 28

  • Summary


    Bhalthumkas market

    Page 30

    Hindu portraits

    Page 32


    Page 34

    The Houses

    Page 36


    Page 38


    Page 40

    Childrens games

    Page 42

    Chept school

    Page 44

    In the classroom

    Page 46


    Page 48

  • Summary 7


    The playground

    Page 50

    Childrens games (2)

    Page 52


    Page 54

    Tibetan roots

    Page 56


    Page 58

    The temple

    Page 60


    Page 62

    Nepalese hospitality

    Page 64


    Page 66


    Page 68

  • Summary 8



    Page 70


    Page 72


    Page 74


    Page 76

    Scenes from the road to Chept

    Page 78

    Dusk over the Himalayan Range

    Page 79


    Page 80


    Page 81

    The Democratic Federal Republic of Nepal

    Page 82

  • 9To get to Chept from Katmandu, you need to go to Jiri which is only 200 kms away but it takes a whole days bus ride to get there. Then you need to walk for 3 days from Jiri to Chept. This area is at the gateway to the

    Himalayan range of mountains. Above is GauriSankar which is 7 181 meters high.In Sanskrit* it translates as the goddess Gauri and her husband Sankar (a Hindu god).

  • Summary 10

    The Himalayan Range

    The Himalayan Range is one of the five natural areas in Nepal. It has nine peaks over 8 000 m, one of which is Everest (8 846 m) and a dozen peaks higher than 7 000 m. This region forms a gigantic wall between Nepal and China. Chept is situated in the foothills *(a sub-range) of the Himalayas, 60 kms south-west of Everest in the Okhadhunga district.In Nepalese mythology*, these mountains are sacred. They are considered to be the home of the gods. In Nepalese Everest is called Sagarmatha, the name of the goddess who is mother of the sky.

  • 15

  • Summary

    The Sherpa family


    Dawa and Dolma have Sherpa ethnic origins. In the village families from this ethnic group are often large: Dawa and Dolma are related to other members of the community. Their children Tsoty, Ngima, Deeku, Temba and Nurry are aged 18, 11, 7, 4 and 2 years old.It is October, Dawa is not here. Like many of the Sherpas, he must leave the village to find work. During the tourist season in Nepal, Dawa is a porter or kitchen hand for Himalayan trekking* exhibitions. This seasonal work represents four or five months work per year (October/ November and March / April). The rest of the time he works on his farm. During his absence, Dolma and the children look after the house, the crops and the livestock.

    Deeku and Nurry.

  • 23

    Dawa and Dolma own terraces next to the river. It takes 20 minutes for Tsoty to carry this load home.

  • Summary 24

    Feeding the animals

    After the harvest, the animals graze on the weeds left on the terraces. The herd needs to be moved regularly. This allows the terraces to be cleaned and fertilized before ploughing. Also, before going to school each morning, the children pick grass to feed the herd and every afternoon they lead the animals to the non-cultivated smaller valleys.

    The sweetcorn stalks are left to dry. In the dry season, there is no grass so some fodder must be kept in order to feed the animals.

  • 43

    Lessons start at 10 am. Some pupils wear school uniform. Before going into the classroom the pupils do some stretching exercises. Then they sing the national anthem whist the national flag is raised. Lessons end with

    a prayer to Saraswati the goddess of art, letters and education.

  • Summary 44

    Chept school

    In Nepal the illiteracy* rate is relatively low, it is only 49 %. There is a big difference between men (65 %) and women (35 %). There are 240 pupils enrolled at the school. There are 6 classes of different levels. On the whole about 100 pupils are regularly absent. Families tend to keep their children off school, usually the girls, to look after the animals or to work in the fields. Some parents send their children to school on a rota basis, one at a time. In a class of 40 pupils, 14 will not reach year 6 (last year of primary school) because high school students have to travel to Bhalthuma.

    Deeku is 7. She is in year 3.

  • 63

    Every morning Ngima drinks tea with buffalo milk.

  • Summary 64

    Nepalese hospitality

    Hospitality is a very important tradition for the Sherpas. It is impossible to welcome a friend, a neighbour or a stranger into their home without offering black tea with buffalo milk. There is always tea ready on the fire or in a flask. Traditionally it is served with salt and only exceptionally is it served with sugar. It is considered an honor to be given tea mixed with a couple of spoonfuls of buffalo butter.

    Dolma makes the milky tea.She mixes the tea leaves with a stick with shoots.

  • 75

    Dolmas family eat sweetcorn puree for lunch.

  • Summary 76


    Most meals have only one course and are eaten with the right hand. At 6am, before looking after the animals or working in the fields, the family drinks a milky tea. Breakfast is eaten between 9.30 am and 10 am. This rhythm allows the children to eat before they go to school. It depends on the daily jobs to be done, as to what time the meals are eaten, usually early afternoon and the evening.

    Nurry eats a Tsampa pancake.

  • Summary 79

    Dusk over the Himalayan Range

    When the spirit is free it is naturally calm, just as calm water is naturally limpid and clear

    This Tibetan proverb reflects the serenity, availability and open mindedness of the Sherpa community in Chept. It also highlights the ideals of the Sherpa population : to be unselfish, to have a pure and peaceful heart,

    to be wise and to be able to control oneself.

  • 80


    Many thanks to Dolma and her children who welcomed me with open arms.I was able to discover and share their daily life. Thank you to Rinzi Sherpa, a villager

    and member of the Lumire dEspoir association who advised and guided me and successfully integrated me into the village.

    Everyone who participated with enthusiasm be they near or far, in making this book.I also thank Nadine Jardin who is the president of the Terra Incognita association,

    the members of the reading committee and Marielle Vitry president of the association Lumire dEspoir for their support and their help in making this book.

    Lumire dEspoir738 avenue de lEurope

    34190 Laroque+ 33 4 67 73 69 57 association helps Chept with schooling, health and environmental issues).

    This work was published with help from the human rights department of the Basse-Normandie county council.


  • 81


    Buckwheat : A plant cultivated for its triangular seeds, which are used as a feed for animals or made into flour

    for human consumption, as in pancakes or cereal.

    Cremate : To reduce (a dead body) to ashes by fire, as a funeral rite.

    Deceased : The particular dead person or persons referred to or dead persons collectively.

    Dialect : A provincial, rural, or socially distinct variety of a language that differs from the standard language.

    Ethnicity : Characteristic of a people, esp. a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture,

    religion, language, or the like.

    Foothills : Hilly land on the lower slopes of mountains.

    Goddess : A female god or deity.

    Identity : Exact likeness in nature, values, morals* or qualities.

    Ideal : The idea of something that is perfect ; something that one hopes to attain a standard of perfection or

    excellence; an ultimate object or aim of endeavor.

    Illiteracy : A la