The Centre Of Asia
During the nineties journalist Ben Lange travelled for several months through the
South-Siberian republic of Tuva, together with photographer Jean-Pierre Jans. From the
footage he filmed there he composed two short viideos. They are shown during the
exhibitions Under the Spell of the Shaman in the Etnografisch Museum and Music
for the eyes in the Hessenhuis, both in Antwerp, Belgium.
Tuva, Centre of Asia is an overall impression of life in the republic of Tuva.
Images of nomad life with reindeer and camels, and the traditional slaughtering of a sheep
pass by, supported by the remarkable tones of throat singing. The setting is an
astonishing wide range of landscapes; from suffocating taiga and vast steppes up to
inaccessible chains of mountains. (Time: 7 minutes 15)
The winter ceremony by Ay Churek (Moon Heart) is an impression of a ceremony as
they are held by Tuvan shamans today. Ay Churek travels from village to village with her
assistant. A family in the central Tuvan village Ak Tal invited her to call upon the gods
and invoke a safe and sound winter. After a sheep has been slaughtered the best pieces of
meat are sacrificed. Moon Heart contacts the gods by chanting and drumming. The ceremony,
which went on for several hours, took place in November 1995. (Time: 7 minutes 30)
Tuva is a magical, remote and inaccessible country. The majority of the Tuvans are
still cattle-breeding nomads. Four times every year they relocate their small white felt
tents (yurts or g in Tuvan) in search for fresh pastures.
This autonomous republic within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), is
snuggled against the northern Mongolian border. Until 1991 foreigners had no access to
this country. The Chinese, controlling Tuva from the 17th until the 19th century, called
the Tuvans "The people from the far forest". The geographical centre of Asia
lies in the Tuvan capital, Kyzyl. Nowhere on earth one can be further away from the sea.
After the fall of the communist regime, responsible since the early forties for a large
scale oppression of the original culture and religion, a spiritual renaissance sweeps the
Direction, camera, off-line editing: Ben Lange; On-line editing: Theo van t Hert;
Production: Flip Nagler; Consultancy: Maurits Nibbering; Cover design: Fabienne van
Haelst; Lay-out: Baumann Production.
Thanks to: Jan van Alphen; Staf Deams; Fabienne van Haelst; Vica Irgit; Zoya Kyrgys;
Rada Chakar; Sasha Tyrtyi; Kostia Klynov.
The Tuva Ensemble: Nadjezhda Kuular; Aldyn-Ool Sevek; Boris Mongush; Vladimir Mongush.
Exhibition Etnografisch Museum, Hessenhuis, Antwerp November 1997.
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