An intangible cultural heritage inheritor at the foot of Dagu Glacier

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Photo by You Zixuan/ 
It was at a teahouse at the foot of the Dagu Glacier, Sichuan Province, that I met Gen Deng Zha Xi, an 82-year-old inheritor of Si Bo le, a local intangible cultural heritage. He was sitting by the window, with his left hand fingering a string of Buddhist prayer beads and his right hand revolving a prayer wheel. Wearing a quiet expression and gazing outside the window, the old man seemed to be thinking about something.
The old man told me that the origin of Si Bo Le has a beautiful legend behind it. As told by him, the legendary Tibetan King Gesar, when stopped by a river on his way to marry his wife, played Si Bo Le to express his feelings towards his would-be wife who was across the river and then his would-be wife played a jew’s harp in response. The two were finally married.
Gen Deng Zha Xi then carefully took a bamboo tube, from which he pulled out his Si Bo Le.
Playing Si Bo Le is very difficult as it requires big lung capacity. Gen Deng Zha Xi has two brothers but he is the only one who has become an inheritor of the intangible cultural heritage. He once taught his son to play it, but his son, engaging in something else, discontinued.
In order to pass down the heritage, the 82-year-old man came to a local boarding school on weekends to teach the students there.
(Chinese text by You Zixuan)
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