Honey Hunters of Nepal

Eric Valli, Author, Diane Summers, Author ABRAMS $29.95 (104p) ISBN 978-0-8109-2408-6
Twice a year, Gurung tribesmen of west-central Nepal enter the jungle in search of honey. Valli and Summers, freelance photojournalists, lived with the honey hunters for eight months and here document this ancient tradition. They tell of the band of nine honey hunters, led by the 63-year-old Mani Lal whose responsibility is unique: he alone descends a bamboo ladder hundreds of feet down sheer rock faces to find the hives of giant black bees nestled on the cliff walls. Once he discovers a nestwhich may be as large as four by six feethe drives the bees out with smoke, and then, still suspended by the ladder over the cliff face, dislodges the hive with bamboo poles. The hive is then lowered via pulleys to the other hunters waiting below, and Mani Lal climbs on to locate another nest. The oversize volume is replete with large color photographs that detail every aspect of the honey hunt; also included are portraits of the Gurung and, somewhat incongruously, pictures of hunters trapping more conventional preyantelope, deer and wolves. The photographs, though often beautiful, are more fascinating as anthropology than as individual works of art. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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