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Breaking the Stone - radio documentary commissioned for Masterpiece Arts on the BBC World Service.

Sutherland, Patrick (2006) Breaking the Stone - radio documentary commissioned for Masterpiece Arts on the BBC World Service. [Art/Design Item]

Type of Research: Art/Design Item
Creators: Sutherland, Patrick

CD of World Service programme, and presentation text with CDs of master tracks
“Breaking the Stone” is a 30 minute radio documentary on the Buchen, travelling
religious actors from the Pin Valley in Spiti, commissioned and broadcast by BBC World Service.

Spiti is a culturally Tibetan valley in Himachal Pradesh, North India. The Buchen have been described as “the last of Tibet’s travelling religious actors” by the Tibetan filmmaker Tenzing Sonam. Groups of these wandering actors were once widely distributed across Western Tibet but they are now confined to the Pin Valley in Spiti.

The Buchen are most famous for performing a long, complex and exotic ritual, a form of exorcism, that culminates in a large slab of stone, decorated with images of demons, being smashed on a man’s stomach. This ritual first performed in 14th century Tibet by the engineer, wizard and mystic Thang-Thong Gyalpo has been described in detail by Tibetologists such as George de Roerich, Prince Peter and Pascale Dollfus.

The research work that culminated in the documentary was, on the one hand orientated towards situating the Buchen in their historical and social context and locating their ancient and elaborate rituals in the wider context of twenty first century Spiti. On the other, significant research had to be undertaken to devise aesthetic strategies that would enable the contextualising research and the ethnographic portrait to be communicated through sound. The researcher conceived of a compositional approach that enabled the incorporation of audio field-recordings that had both an environmental and human focus, interviews in situ, and a voice over.

The research was assisted by funding from the Frederick Williamson Memorial Fund at Cambridge University, Commission East (Arts Council) and the University of the Arts London. The documentary was transmitted on 21 July 2006.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: RAE2008 UoA63
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: 21 July 2006
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2009 23:56
Last Modified: 03 May 2011 10:19
Item ID: 1412
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1412

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