Tibetan horns

(Ref: The Cycles of Heaven by Guy Playfair & Scott Hill, Avon Books, 1978)

“…noise can be put to good use, the most off-beat of which in our experience comes from Tibet, where apparently it is, or has been, used to raise blocks of stone. We would hesitate to mention this but for the remarkably detailed evidence provided by the late Henry Kjellson, one of the pioneers of Sweden’s aircraft industry, who has left a very precise description of how Tibetan monks build walls on high rocky ledges. It is based on first-hand evidence, and we have also been able to obtain his original drawings of the event, which is reproduced here . . .

“Blocks of stone measuring 1.5 metres square were hauled up to a plateau by yaks, and placed over a specially dug bowl-shaped hole one metre in diameter and 15 cm. deep. The hole was 100 metres from the sheer rock wall on top of which the building, presumably a hermitage of some sort, was to be built. Sixty-three metres back from the stone there stood nineteen musicians, spaced at five degree intervals to form a quarter-circle, in groups, as clearly shown on Kjellson’s drawing. Measurements were taken extremely carefully, using a knotted leather thong.

Behind the musicians, about 200 priests arranged themselves so that about ten stood behind each musician. The instruments involved were drums and trumpets of various sizes, (Kjellson gives the exact dimensions of the 13 drums and six trumpets that made up this unusual orchestra.)

“Then, at the command of the chief priest, the music began. The beat was set by a gigantic drum weighing 150 kilos and slung from a specially built frame so that it was off the ground… Two monks took turns at each trumpet, blowing a total of two blasts per minute. All six trumpets were pointed towards the stone on its launching pad, and after about four minutes of what must have been indescribable racket (since the meticulous Kjellson fails to describe it), the stone rose into the air, wobbled slightly, and then, as the noise from trumpets, drums and chanting priests increased, followed a precise parabolic course of some 400 metres up to the top of the cliff. In this way, we are told, five or six blocks were lifted in an hour…”

The diagram also states that the stone blocks sometimes broke upon landing.



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