“What Does Babu Say?”, a Pinch of Artistic Approach to News Reporting in The Tibet Mirror (1949-1963)

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Abstract

The Tibet Mirror, as one of the earliest Tibetan periodicals
and, as a matter of fact, the first one to be issued by an editor
of Tibetan origin, used to play a noteworthy role in the dissemination
of news and various practical information in the Tibetan
language all the way from its beginning in 1925 up to the early 1960s.
Born in the Himalayan mountainous region of India, but belonging to
the Tibetan descent and maintaining his lifelong interest in Tibet,
Dorje Tharchin Babu, the chief editor of The Tibet Mirror, grew up
into a rather peculiar and ambitious person of the time who among
other things managed to launch his own newspaper. Although The
Tibet Mirror was issued in Kalimpong, India, the significance of
Tharchin’s work as a pioneer of Tibetan journalism and a key mastermind
of his newspaper could be estimated through a question
“What does Babu say?” (bha bug ga re zer gyi/) common in Tibet in the
first half of the 20th century.
A brief browsing through The Tibet Mirror issues gives an impression
that the newspaper editor most certainly was not trying to keep
silent about his political opinion, which was a markedly anti-communist stance. At first glance, Dorje Tharchin’s intolerance towards
Chinese communists can strike an eye in the form of numerous
political cartoons. While a thorough examination of The Tibet
Mirror materials introduces a reader to the whole world of Tharchin’s
artistic images and allusions all fit through his anti-communist or, at
times, rather pro-Tibetan perception sieve. Ever since the late 1940s,
Dorje Tharchin used The Tibet Mirror to warn his readers against “the
imminent danger of Chinese invasion” approaching Tibet and to
conduct information attacks against his Chinese communist adversaries.
The Tibet Mirror articles on China and Tibet of that period are
abundant with artistic expressions, hyperboles, harsh metaphors and
similes.
Present paper aims to discuss Dorje Tharchin’s elaborate ways of
expressing news on Tibet and China and his personal political views
in The Tibet Mirror in a form of specific political discourse. The research
is based on the analysis of a selection of discourse-charged,
figurative examples from The Tibet Mirror issues dated 1949-1963.
This particular time period was chosen owing to the official establishment
of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949
and 1963 being the year, when the last issue of The Tibet Mirror was
published.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-148
Number of pages51
JournalREVUE D'ETUDES TIBÉTAINES
Issue number46
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Tibetan mass media
  • The Tibet Mirror
  • Tibetan history
  • anti-communist discourse

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