Windhorse Warrior

The synopsis for a manuscript I have completed is below:

Windhorse Warrior

by Richard Friedericks

wangdu_horse1 film

One sweltering summer morning in Shanghai, China in 1947,  a young student named Chuang Wei Ming discovers his girlfriend taking part in a communist protest march against the Nationalists.  He watches horrified as she is murdered by a squad of Nationalist soldiers.  Her martyrdom nudges him to find out about her passion for communism.

Three years later Chuang volunteers to take communism to Tibet.  Coincidentally assigned to Lithang on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau, he finds the Tibetan relatives of his Shanghai girlfriend.  He persuades the family to turn over their ancestral land to the farmers working on their land.  Together they form a successful cooperative that captures the imagination of several surrounding communities.  The Chinese Communist Party is not appreciative of Chuang’s methods which honors the will of the local people and upholds their traditional culture and religion.  Management of the cooperative is, instead, given to Tenzin, a young Tibetan eager to do the will of the Party.

Chuang turns his attention to another community and meets a lama with a dream of reviving the ‘enlightened society’ of the legendary King Gesar.  Chuang jumps at the chance to use the lama’s clout with the people to further his own mission.  But Chuang’s ideals are challenged by the lama’s apprentice Dechen, the twin sister of his Shanghai girlfriend.  As their relationship develops, Dechen’s ideas, rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, enrich Chuang’s understanding of a truly enlightened society and help him to recognize the spiritual purpose of life.

Tenzin, who wants to marry Dechen, is jealous of Chuang and has him arrested for kidnapping Dechen.  Chuang’s rescue leads to injuries that nearly kill him.  During his convalescence he enters the world of King Gesar through a shamanic trance.  When he recovers, Chuang is able to recite the story of Gesar which marks him as a fully integrated member of Tibetan culture.  Chuang, Dechen and the lama now implement a plan to promote an enlightened society through spiritual renewal, social reforms and non-violent resistance to the Party’s dictatorial control of the people.

Deng, the local Commander of the People’s Liberation Army and Communist Party representative, issues an ultimatum: the people must voluntarily choose the ‘Red Road’ of Communism or the ‘Black Road’ will result.  Chuang suggests another road; the Golden Way of an enlightened society.  In keeping with the legend of King Gesar, a horse race is proposed to which Commander Deng agrees.  The winner will choose which road the people will follow and marry Dechen.  Deng believes he can rig the race in Tenzin’s favor and impose the Red Road.  But Chuang enters the race in disguise and wins.  His mission and dreams fulfilled, Chuang takes Dechen’s hand and together they invite the people to unite and walk the Golden Way to an enlightened society that honors spiritual as well as material abundance.

Tenzin, recovering from defeat and pressured to please Commander Deng, takes aim at Chuang with a pistol.  Dechen is shot instead and dies in Chuang’s arms just as her sister died in Shanghai.


I am currently seeking a publisher.  The manuscript is 120,000 words with maps, character list and translations of Tibetan words.


Journey to Kham

At the end of September, 2007 my wife, Suzanne, and I, along with two colleagues from our school, Wendy and Bruce, traveled to the eastern Tibetan plateau. This is the area historically known as Kham and is still populated mostly by people of Tibetan culture.Wayao VillageThe reason for our journey to Kham was three-fold. I had offered to make a short promotional video for Kham Aid Foundation, a non-profit serving the people of Kham in a wide variety of ways. The video I will be doing is about the restoration of wall paintings in buildings that are up to 700 years old in the village of Wayao. Another reason for the journey was to visit another colleague of ours, Susan, who was spending three weeks in the town of Bamei teaching English to, Dolma, the owner of the Golden Sun Hotel. But the main reason was to share this area with my wife and our friends. I had been here four times previously but Suzanne had never been here.Susan and DolmaWe flew from Hong Kong to Chengdu where we were met by our guide, Du, from Tibetan Trekking. He had a van and driver, Mr. Tsang, waiting to take us to our hotel for the night. It was already after 10:00 pm. Next morning we began our drive to Ya’an, the tea capital of China, and on to Kangding (formerly known as Dartsedo). We arrived early enough in Kangding to take a hike up to Horse Racing Mountain above the crowded mountain city and ride a sky lift back down again.Google Earth map of journeyThe next day we drove over a high pass above Kangding. It is 4,200 meters (13,800 feet) above sea level. You finally climb above the 10,000 ft. thick layer of pollution that blankets China and the sky is blue, the clouds distinct and white, the view spectacular!The pass above KangdingNow we stood at the threshold of the Tibetan plateau, at the eastern most edge of ancient Tibet. Through this area caravans used to take horses, wool and other valuable resources down to China and bring tea, silk and other distinctly Chinese goods up here, where some of it went all the way to India and Persia. The Tibetans were masterful traders and as a people enjoyed three major economies – the nomadic lifestyle of the open grasslands, farming in the lush river valleys, and traveling great distance all over Asia to trade. They grew wealthy and supported a huge monastic community that explored and preserved its knowledge of spiritual realities.Minyak Towers, some 700 years oldThe drive was along a river with villages, small towns and an evergreen forest. This is Minyak, a subgroup of Tibetan culture. Some of the village houses had impressive towers standing next to them. These were also around 700 years old and were used as fortresses for the clan in times of war.Road to Wayao across river at ShadeWe drove on to Shade and crossed the river to drive on a narrow dirt road to Wayao. When we arrive we meet Pam and some of the volunteers who are about to start a few days of wall painting recovery work.Our group and the volunteers at WayaoTemple in Wayao with wall paintingsWe arrived about 2:00 pm and spent the next three hours videotaping and exploring this fascinating village. Some Nepali restoration artists were just beginning their work for the fall session. Several local young people were eager to help and learn the art of lifting years/decades of soot and grim off the walls and reveal the original colors on the clay walls. Volunteers from several countries had also just arrived with Pam, the director of Kham Aid Foundation and were put to work by the Nepali artists.Interviewing PamI got several interviews as people worked as well as an interview with Pam and her national counterpart in Chinese. I’ll use the images and interviews to put together a few short videos for Kham Aid Foundation to use for promotional and volunteer recruitment purposes.recoverdwallpainting.jpgLayers of soot and grime, as well as cultural revolution era slogans were removed from this wall to reveal this painting.

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