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Tibetans weave faith into music

By Source:Xinhua 2015-11-06

Soinan Omtse dedicated his first album to his grandmother Tashi.

"You are a bright full moon and I'm bathed in your love no matter where I am," the 28-year-old Tibetan sings as he strums his mandolin at a Tibetan-style bar in Xining, capital of northwest China's Qinghai Province.

Tashi was Soinan Omtse's sole caregiver after his parents divorced 20 years ago.

One of four children born into a poor family, by seven years old he had learned to carve mantras on Mani stones, as his village in Qinghai's Yushu Prefecture is close to the world's largest pile of Mani stones, which are a holy Buddhists artifact.

For 14 years he chipped away at stone, until one day on the radio he heard the unique sound created by a mandolin.

"It moistened my heart like a stream of thawing snow water," he recalled. "I could never concentrate on my work again."

One of his uncles bought him his first mandolin and Soinan Omtse threw himself into learning the instrument. He was soon good enough that he secured a regular gig at a restaurant for about a year. When an earthquake shook Yushu in 2010, he left for the neighboring Gansu Province, and made a living by singing in bars and cafeterias.

His songs moved Jamyang Lodro, a Tibetan song writer from Qinghai's Golog, who wrote lyrics for several songs that were later included on Soinan Omtse's first album, released in 2013. Soinan Omtse composed the music.

"Most of the songs are nostalgic and convey love and prayers for my family," he said.

"When I'm home, I always join the pilgrims to pray for my grandmother's health and long life," he said. "She is 88 and in perfect health."

Soinan Omtse has a tattoo on his forehead in the shape of a flame. "It symbolizes a Tibetan ghee lamp. I hope it will light up my path as I pursue my music dream, and keep Tibetan culture alive."

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