IN THE ARMS OF BUDDHA AND THE DRUM

Jouko Aaltonen
Finland 1997 | 50 Min. | 16 mm, OmeU
Q&A with:
Jouko Aaltonen

It is the story of nomads, shaman­ism and Bud­dhism, stones and spir­its as told through the Kagai-ool family. The par­ents live alone in a yurt, moving between the steppe and forest areas of Tuva sev­er­al times a year. They have one horse, a herd of sheep, goats and cattle. The entire Kagai-ool family is depen­dent upon them for the coming winter. Their son Alexei, a tra­di­tion­al stone carver, lives in Kyzyl, the cap­i­tal of Tuva. Alexei’s jour­ney for stone leads him from Kyzyl to the golden taiga and back again. In the stone which Alexei finds and carves lives a spirit. Its voice is heard by him alone. He is tied to the city but needs the coun­try­side for many rea­sons. Alexei is a modern nomad between the tra­di­tion of his par­ents and the con­tem­po­rary world. The Kagai-ools are »in the arms of Buddha and the drum«. Tra­di­tions and old beliefs have an essen­tial role in their lives. Shaman­ism is the belief-system of Tuva. Bud­dhism only arrived in the 17th cen­tu­ry. Despite com­mu­nism, both have sur­vived in very unique ways.