Yaoji is a group of villages in the district of Baoxin, home to the Jiarong Tibetans. About a decade ago, the villagers of Yaoji were moved high up the mountain and scattered over several hamlets. A dam was constructed and the valley is now a deep large lake. The Jiarong are a very hospitable and cheerful branch of Tibetan who mostly live from agriculture and a few cows, sheep and pigs at an elevation of 2500 m., surrounded by mountains over 5000 meters high.
Upon turning 69, each Jiarong is to prepare his/her own grave and coffin. It is an event that involves the whole village, helping to carry stones and bricks and whatever else is needed up the mountain and build the tomb. The event ends with a large feast where all relatives (half of the village) and friends (the other half) join for a large diner, much dancing and even more drinking. Warm baijiu
pored from teapots with melted Yak butter! Although the younger generation is invited and somewhat present, they do seem estranged from the old traditions. The fields are worked on mostly by the elder people that stay behind.
- 2nd last picture: Catholic Cathedral and monastery at the end of the Dengchigou (valley). It was build by the French missionary David, who, as the legend goes, was the first lawai to see (and kill!) a Giant Panda.
- last picture: low levels in the water reservoir reveal the remains of what once was a beautiful and fruitful valley.