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Story of digging cordyceps sinensis in Tibet's Nagqu

2015-06-08
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In Tibet, there is a long nomadic history of being without a permanent residence, but rather pitching a tent upon reaching a water source and grassy area. Because of this, there aren’t regular village names. Until recently, Tibetan families would move around frequently, and villages were relatively safe. In order to easily remember and manage an area, a number would be used as a village name.

Dasa Township’s “Twelve Villages”

In “Twelve Villages” in Dasa Township in Nagqu County even more fascinating than the 10 regular mud houses are the sporadic tents set up at the foot of the mountain. This is the harvesting area for the people of the village. Originally, since the Tibetan region is so vast, often a village’s area would be around a hundred square kilometers.

Therefore the cordyceps sinensis harvesting area is far away from many families in the village, and the road to get there is bumpy. Coming and going from the harvesting area is inconvenient, which is why people set up tents to live in near the entrance of the cordyceps sinensis harvesting area. Once they are finished harvesting the cordyceps sinensis, they will move back home.

Soon after this author arrived at “Twelve Villages”, it unexpectedly began to rain, falling heavier and heavier. As a result, the author took shelter inside a nomad’s home. The head of the family warmly and sincerely served their best yak meat and butter tea to the guests, and he also brought out some cordyceps sinensis for them to view.

There are four people in the family, and they rely mostly on two children for digging cordyceps sinensis. One of the children is 10 years old, and the other is 12. They dug fifty-five strands of caterpillar fungi over two days, which, according to prices at the time, could earn around 5,000 yuan.

A nomad family leader takes the best yak meat to serve guests inside his home

After the rain stopped, the Tibetan family once again went out to dig for cordyceps sinensis with small hoes.