My Translation of “Garpon La’s Offerings” by Woeser Published in MANOA

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Following on from my first translation of a Woeser short story for MANOA, I’m pleased that a second piece titled “Garpon La’s Offerings” has now been published in Manoa, vol. 24, no. 2 (2012): “On Freedom: Spirit, Art, and State”, edited by Frank Stewart and Fiona Sze-Lorrain. The original title of the short story by Woeser la in Chinese is 《卡尔本啦的供养》.

The editor’s note says:

Woeser’s essay in On Freedom, “€œGarpon La’€™s Offerings”,€ tells the story of a Tibetan master’€™s loss and recovery of freedom. On one level, the narrator speaks in the voice of a slightly distracted reporter attempting to describe the “€œrehabilitation”€ of the political criminal Garpon La, €”the last acknowledged master of the Tibetan performance ritual known as Gar. On another level, Woeser uses irony to describe the government’s restrictions on physical, spiritual, and cultural freedoms.

I didn’t know much about Gar music and performance before translating this essay but I found Garpon La fascinating. When I told a few Tibetans about what I was translating, the older ones immediately recognised Garpon La and some even remembered him from Dharamsala!

One day last year I was on Facebook and came across a photo supposedly of Garpon La in Dharamsala in 1997, I am posting it below. I am sorry I don’t know who to credit for this photo.

1997 Garpon Passang Dhondup engaged in teaching Gar

The essay as published in MANOA is available on Project MUSE and for those without access, an excerpt is online: