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A Tibetan Serf's True Story:
When Dalai Lama Ruled

11 November 2009

The actor who played the leading role in the film (showing in the videos) was honoured as “the artist with outstanding contribution to the nation” in 2007, while the film The Serf (《农奴》) has received numerous awards at home and abroad since produced in 1963.

“Because I was telling my personal story,” (“因为我在演我自己。”) said the actor when asked in a recent interview that how he created such a credible character on the big screen.

It is, sadly, true. Like the serf he played in the movie, the actor was born into a serf’s family when Tibet was under the local rule of Dalai Lama. His childhood memory is all about “debt”, and he recalled how by the end of each year his parents were forced to repay what they owned to their lord and lama monasteries with everything they had, left nothing for their new year festival. But the debt, like snowballs in Tibetan’s long and chilly winter season, never diminished but kept growing, no matter how hard they tried to redeem.

When the actor turned 13, he was ordered to herd the sheep by the lord and often survived at the food thrown at the field during voodoo rites that attempted to drive away evil spirits, which seemed to be so abundant in Tibet when Dalai Lama was there.

Eventually, at the age of 20, he ran away. But his life was at the risk: if he was caught, he could be punished, according to Dalai Lama's Tibetan Law, by having his eyes scoped out and feet cut off.

So he became a lama as lamas in the old Tibet were beyond the laws. However, the life in the monastery was just like another hell to him: He was frequently slapped and beaten whenever the leading lamas please, which is in fact a tradition in Tibetan Lamaist rank. So he had to flee once again, this time to a farm run by the PLA. But since the farm was so close to the areas by then were still under the cruel and oppressive lama rule, he was living in a constant fear, until the PLA sent him to a college in the inland China.

He eventually returned to his homeland in Tibet at the age of 29 after the Tibet liberation in 1959, and became one of the best performing artists in China.


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