Friday, November 28, 2014

Tibet: Mysterious Himalayan Towers (video)

Dhr. Seven, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; Mitch Moxley (; Dexter Webster

The Himalayan Towers are a series of stone towers located mostly in Buddhist Tibet. Carbon dating shows they were built approximately 500 to 1,100 years ago. One theory says that since they are generally located in prosperous villages, their primary function -- as on Easter Island with its enormous totems -- was as a demonstration of a family's prestige within the community. For strength, many of the towers use a star pattern of walls as opposed to a strictly rectangular construction method. Heights can exceed 197 feet (60 meters). For more information on them see the work of Frederique Darragon.

Saving the Secret Towers
Mitch Moxley (, May 27, 2011)
Tower in Suopuo village, Danba County, Sichuan, China (James Wasserman/WSJ).
Not old Mexico but village life in Tibet now.
The ride from Chengdu to Danba Valley is one to be endured, not enjoyed. The journey is by a smoke-filled bus with tiny seats that barrels deep into the mountains of western Sichuan province, shaking and rattling on a single-lane road that is often strewn with fallen rocks. A hair-raising view out the window is of the Dadu River below.

[This sounds exactly like the two-day drive up from the Kashmir Valley to Ladakh, India, the "Rooftop of the World," in the Himalayas behind Mt. Everest along the highest highway in the world. It is a desert moonscape of dust, frozen peaks, and a jade colored river that does not seem to soak into the neighboring ground any better than the might Colorado does the banks of the Grand Canyon.]

This is the route to one of China's most enduring architectural mysteries. Ten hours and 400 kilometers into the journey, the valley opens to reveal green mountains topped with snowy peaks. On a ridge above stand a half-dozen rock towers, like ancient smokestacks.
Jiarong woman, Frederique Darragon (WSJ)
Across the remote, earthquake-prone regions of western Sichuan and Tibet, there are hundreds of these structures. They are built of cut stone, brick, and timber, date back as far as 1,700 years and stand up to 50 meters tall. No one is sure of their purpose, but theories abound: They were watchtowers, way stations, status symbols. Some say they have religious meaning.

Striving to save the towers from the forces of neglect, earthquake, and a planned hydropower dam are a small number of preservationists, including Frédérique Darragon, a 61-year-old global adventurer -- sailor, dancer, trekker, polo player -- turned amateur archaeologist by her love for these mysterious structures. More

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