Folk artist spreads anti-virus knowledge in Tibetan dialect

Updated: Feb 27, 2020 Xinhua Print
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XINING -- For years, stories of King Gesar, a legendary 11th-century hero who fought evil and helped the weak, were a staple in the repertoire of Tibetan folklore artist Gurnyi.

This year, as the coronavirus outbreak spreads across China, Gurnyi tried something new by incorporating anti-virus knowledge into his popular audio podcast usually dedicated to the stories of the ancient hero.

In late January, Gurnyi posted on his WeChat account the first anti-virus audio program in Khams Tibetan, a Tibetan dialect, with the aim of informing local Tibetans who understand no other language and lack knowledge about the virus and protective measures.

"At first I just wanted to give it a try. I never thought it would go viral, with the first program drawing more than 30,000 listeners," said the 47-year-old artist from Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture in northwest China's Qinghai province.

"Listening to and chanting the epic of King Gesar is an essential part of the Tibetans' daily life, just like rolling the prayer wheels and drinking butter tea," said Gurnyi. "By incorporating knowledge about the virus into the stories of the king, the show would be much more accessible to ordinary Tibetans."

Building on the success, Gurnyi invited nine other folklore artists on board, making nine episodes of anti-virus programs that all use the same rhythm as in the epic of King Gesar.

To add more professional knowledge into the programs, Gurnyi also had dial-ins with experts on Tibetan traditional medicine in his show.

Gurnyi's family members also pitched in. "My younger brother works on the illustrations and my son does the audio editing, while my wife is in charge of catering," said Gurnyi.

Now, Gurnyi's anti-virus programs are not only accessible from his WeChat account, but also being broadcast in villages across Yushu, and even in faraway places in Tibet Autonomous Region and Sichuan Province.

"Besides sharing information on the virus, the audio programs are also aimed at passing on our confidence in victory over the epidemic," he said.

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