The Discovery of the Hunza River Valley.
Hunza River Valley.A British General and a garrison of solders on horseback investigated the Hunza River Valley in the 1870s. Hunza was a tiny kingdom located in a remote valley 100 miles (160 km) long and only one mile (1.6 km) wide, situated at an elevation of 8,500 feet (2590 m) and completely enclosed by mountain peaks. These peaks soar to a height of 25,550 feet (7788 m) and belong to the Karakoram Range, broadly known in the West as "the Himalayas." Hunza is now part of Pakistan in the northern section bordering on Afghanistan, Russia, China, Kashmir and India. The Kilik Pass leads to Russia and the Mintaka Pass to China.
The pass to reach Hunza from Gilgit, Pakistan was 13,700 feet (4176 m) high, a difficult and treacherous trail. Upon entering the valley the British found the steep, rocky sides of the valley lined with terraced garden plots, fruit trees and animals being raised for meat and milk.
The gardens were watered with mineral rich glacier water carried by an aqueduct system running a distance of 50 miles (80 km) from the Ultar Glacier on the 25,550 foot (7788 m) high Mount Rakaposhi. The wooden aqueduct trough was hung from the sheer cliffs by steel nails hammered into the rock walls. Silt from the river below was carried up the side of the valley to form and replenish the terraced gardens. The average annual precipitation in Hunza is less than two inches.
The difficult trail into Hunza kept the people isolated. As late as 1950 most of the children of Hunza had never seen a wheel or a Jeep even though airplanes were landing at the airport in Gilgit, Pakistan only 70 miles (112 km) away. John Clark reported in his book, Hunza - Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas, that he could see three peaks above 25,000 feet and eleven glaciers all at once from Shishpar Glacier Nullah (canyon) overlooking the Hunza valley. See John Clark's book listed below on page 92.
The Hunzakuts, as they are called, had signed a peace treaty with their neighboring communities about 10 years prior to the arrival of the British. They had been a warrior community preying upon the Chinese trading caravans as they traveled the high mountain passes between Sin kiang and Kashmir. The Hunzakuts profited for a time by their thievery, plunder and murder, but they were hated by their neighbors. According to Hunzakut folklore, a peace treaty was signed because the Mir's son convinced his father to end their murderous ways.
Burushaski, the language of the Hunzakuts, is much different from other languages of the region and appears to be a mixture of the languages of Ancient Macedonian and the Hellenistic Persian Empire. However, the people also learned to speak the written Urdu language of Pakistan and other languages of the region.
Hunza Terraced Gardens.The terraced gardens were extensive with up to 50 cascading levels. The people lived in communities below. It was a considerable distance to walk for working in the fields. They had no roads or wheeled carts. All the grain and other produce was transported to the homes on the backs of men and animals. Click the picture to see an enlargement.
Everything in Hunza valley was always in short supply except crumbling rocks. Fuel for heating and cooking was severely limited, and fodder for feeding the animals was precious. Animal dung was used for garden fertilizer rather than fuel for fires as was done elsewhere. Supplies from outside of the valley were limited by the difficulty in bring goods over the high mountain pass. Highly prized goods brought in from the outside included guns, knifes, tools, metal pots, stoves, lamps, cotton cloth, silk cloth, thread, needles, matches, mirrors, glassware and some construction metals such as bolts, rods, sheet and plate. As late as 1951 these items had to be carried on the backs of men or animals. In past centuries traditional dress and bedding were made from sheepskins and other animal hides.
The original valley was mostly bare rock with a very limited amount of indigenous plant life. The sudden appearance of the vegetation in contrast to the surrounding barren rock earned the valley the description of being Shangri-La or the Garden of Eden. Given the hard work required to tend the gardens and animals, the description of Garden of Eden certainly did not apply to the Hunza River Valley.
Mir Safdar Ali Khan in Hunza.Mir Muhammed Ghazan Khan I ruled from 1864 to 1886. Folklore stories say he sent his brother a gift of a cloak impregnated with smallpox and murdered his uncle and other brothers, but the facts are rather unknown. He was murdered in 1886 by Safdar Ali Khan who became the new ruler of Hunza. Mir Safdar Ali Khan is shown in the picture at the left. Click the picture to see an enlargement. In 1891 an expedition of 5,000 men lead by British Colonel Algernon Durand was attacked by the Hunzakut leader, Mir Safdar Ali Khan. The Mir fled to China and was replaced by his half-brother, Muhammed Nazim Klan. Mir Nazim Klan died in 1938 of mysterious causes, and it is highly suspect that his son, Muhammed Ghazan Khan II, was involved in his death. He died in 1946 and was replaced by his son, Muhammed Jamal Khan. Mir Muhammed Jamal Khan was deposed in 1974 by Pakistan although he maintained his property in Hunza. He died in Gilgit, Pakistan in 1976 were he also had a residence. Mir Muhammed Jamal Khan could also speak perfect English because he had been educated by the British as a boy. His descendents maintain their royal titles but have no ruling authority in Hunza.
Ancestry of Hunza Rulers Since the 16th Century.
The Original Hunza People.
The story of Hunza is thought to have begun with Alexander III or Alexander the Great (July 356 BC to June 10, 323 BC), son of King Philip of Macedon (Ancient Macedonia west of Greece). Alexander was a brilliant warrior, more capable than his father. After his father's murder, Alexander set out toward the east to conquer neighboring kingdoms. He conquered Greece in short fashion and continued toward Persia where he eventually burned the capital and the national library in a great defeat of the Persians.
Three generals in Alexander's army are said to have married Persian women. The generals betrayed Alexander by giving the Persians his plans. When Alexander heard of the betrayal he sought to take revenge, but the generals, wives and a band of many soldiers fled. The valley of Hunza is thought to have been their valley of refuge because of its remote and secure location.
It is likely that the Hunza valley was already sparsely inhabited when the Macedon generals arrived. Certainly these tough fighting warriors made quick work of slaughtering the ancient inhabitants of Hunza. Though this is purely speculation, it is highly probable. The desolate rocky valley could not have supported the Macedonians unless some farms had been slowly built by others over the preceding centuries.
Hunza became an independent kingdom with a monarchy. The King used the title of Mir. The British disrupted the ruling organization of the Hunza people.
"The Mir, or ruler, of Hunza believed his tiny kingdom to be the equal of China, and likened himself to Alexander the Great from whom he claimed descent. When the British turned up in the 1870s he took them for petitioners seeking to make Queen Victoria his vassal. Not wishing to waste time arguing, the colonial officials had him deposed, replacing him with an amenable brother whom the Mir had carelessly neglected to murder on his way to the throne."
A Kind of Kingdom in Paradise.
Hunza Rajah and Tribesmen in 1981.The British reported a population of about 8,000 people who were in good health and lived long lives, although their ages could not be verified since the Hunza people had no written records. The people were relatively healthy, especially when compared to the citizens in England where obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease ravaged the British due of their high carbohydrate diet of grains, bread, sugar, honey, fruit and potatoes. The Hunza people were slender, healthy and athletic in comparison to relatives of the British solders at home in England who were fat and sickly.
The Hunza tribesmen are shown in the picture. Click the picture to see an enlargement.
The Hunzakuts had lighter skin than the neighboring tribes and appeared to be of Caucasian origin. John Clark reported in 1950 seeing children with black, brown and blond hair and an occasional redhead. They probably chose the Hunza River Valley because of its sheer isolation, but the men took wives from neighboring peoples. Hunza women were said to have been beautiful. This is highly probably since the Persian women taken as captives were likely the best looking. See John Clark's book page 69.
The Hunza people were land poor since there was never enough space to provide plenty. Shortage was always present and people lived in fear of the springtime starvation when food ran desperately low.
Hunza had no soil as such. The river and glacial silt that formed the terraced gardens was simply ground rock. All of the animal manure was spread on the gardens to fertilize the crops and trees. The people defecated directly on the garden, and the soil was deficient in lime and phosphates causing the trees and plants to suffer. The garden yield was considerably less than in the United States and elsewhere where good soil is available. The nitrate fertilizer from animal and human excrement was quickly flushed from the silt by the weekly flooding with glacial water.
The Hunzakuts called this "the land of just enough." The truth is Hunza was always a land of never enough, and everything was in short supply including the usable land which was limited to five acres (20,000 sq. m) per family. Animals were limited because of the lack of grazing pastures in the lower valley. The goats, sheep and Yaks were moved to the higher mountains in summer in search of the sparse vegetation. The herdsmen had an excess of milk while the people in the valley suffered a shortage. This is the reason summer visitors to Hunza see a people eating a low-fat, near-vegetarian diet. The winter diet was vastly different.
The Primary Books Written About Hunza.
John Clark (1909 - 1994) earned his doctorate in geology at Princeton University in 1935. As an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Clark explored nine thousand miles of roads and trails in Kansu and Sinkiang, China. Clark decided to help the people of Hunza because of his wide geological experience and some medical expertise. He went to Hunza in 1950 and 1951 and wrote the book, Hunza - Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas, in 1957. University in 1935. He traveled by horseback over the rugged and dangerous trail for 70 miles from Gilgit and found the people to be strong, intelligent and proud of their independence. In his 20 month stay, he got to know the Hunza people on a personal level, and with his 20 years experience in first aid as a field geologist, he ran a free dispensary where he treated 5,684 patients with sulphas, penicillin, paludrines, atabrine, undecylenic acid and other drugs. His reference medical books were Cutting's Manual of Therapeutics, the Merck Manual, Gardiner's Handbook of Skin Diseases and Medical Council practice papers. See page 75 in the 1957 first edition of the book. The pages in the pdf file below do not match the pages in the book.
Download book text in pdf format. Hunza - Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas.pdf
Download book pictures in pdf format: Hunza - Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas Pictures.pdf
Clark traveled to investigate the geology of the entire region searching for natural resources such as minerals or metals. He brought in new vegetable seeds and taught basic carpentry and crafts to a school of boys. Clark's book is exciting reading and describes the Hunza people in great detail. It is an excellent resource.
This picture shows the Hunza River in winter near Aliabad with Mountain Rakaposhi in the background. The stream and canyon entering the valley from the left is Hasanabad Nullah. This is one of the many ravines that Clark explored. The valley does not get much snow in winter even though temperature falls below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-10 C). Click on the picture to see an enlargement.
On his first trip through Hunza Clark reported he acquired almost all of the same misconceptions as others: "the healthy Hunza, the Democratic Court and the land where there are no poor." He soon found the actual situation to be much different.
Dr. Allen E. Banik and Renee Taylor wrote the book, Hunza Land, in 1960. They describe Hunza on the front inside of the dust jacket. "They have no money, no poverty, no disease, no police and no jails." All of these claims are false. Their money was the Pakistan rupee as they were a part of Pakistan. They had poverty. Those who could not grow their own food simply starved to death. Family groups were staunhly independent and did not help others as Dr. Banik claims. They had considerable disease and often flooded into John Clark's dispensary for treatment. They had a ruling organization in each village with men serving in security positions. The Mir had armed body guards that kept out of sight of the visitors. They had a penal colony at Shimshal Valley in the north end of the valley where inmates attended to flocks of sheep owned by the Mir. It was a dreadful sentence to be banished to Shimshal. The winters were icy cold and the high winds blew continuously. The claims in this book about the diet, health, longevity, and honesty of the Hunza people are false.
Renee Taylor, a lecturer, linguist and world traveler, wrote the book, Hunza Health Secrets For Long Life and Happiness, in 1964. She traveled to Hunza during the summer of 1960 over a Jeep road that had just been built a few years previously. Taylor lived a couple of months as a guest of the Mir at his palace in the Hunza capital of Baltit. She traveled very little and did not get the opportunity to develop any close personal relationships with the common Hunzakut. Taylor heard only filtered information presented by the Mir, his staff and selected individuals. Unfortunately Taylor did not learn the truth while in Hunza. She never ventured out alone to live with the people and learn the truth behind this facade. Her movements were strictly controlled by the Mir, and she was presented an orchestrated view of Hunza that the Mir wanted her to pass on to the world.
Scarcely two consecutive sentences in Taylor's book can be read without finding errors, distortions and blatant untruth. The Hunza people certainly did a good job of deceiving her. Renee Taylor appears to have ventured to Hunza with an agenda to proclaim the Hunzakuts to be the most healthy and long-lived people on the earth while subsisting on a low-fat, mostly vegetarian diet. These claims are false.
The Original Hunza Summer Diet.
The British General and soldiers arrived in the summer during the 1870s as did everyone who traveling to Hunza. This was the harvest season for the grains, fruits and vegetables from the gardens, and much of the food was consumed raw. Because fuel for cooking was saved to be used in winter for boiling meat and providing some heat for the stone dwellings, very little meat was consumed in summer and vegetable were eaten raw.
Curious visitors who followed the British soldiers to Hunza Valley years later naturally arrived in summer also, and the summer diet of the people led visitors to assume they were mainly vegetarian and ate very little meat. This was typical of the summer harvest season. Many primitive cultures including cavemen lived in a similar manner, gorging themselves on available fruit during the short season and eating mostly meat for the rest of the year. The people of Hunza differed in that they never had an abundance of anything except rocks. They did not have enough animals to provide abundant meat during the winter because of the lack of fodder. They did not want to kill female animals that were milk producers unless the animal was old or lame.
Hunza Apricots.The Hunzakuts are said to have cultivated plants included barley, millet, wheat, buckwheat, turnips, carrots, dried beans, peas, pumpkins, melons, onions, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, apricots, mulberries, walnuts, almonds, apples, plums, peaches, cherries, pears and pomegranates. John Clark did not find green beans, wax beans, beets, endive, lettuce, radishes, turnips, spinach, yellow pear tomatoes, Brussel sprouts or parsley. Cherry tomatoes and potatoes are thought to have been brought in by the British. The long list of currently grown plant varieties should not be a consideration when discussing the longevity of the Hunzakuts and their past diet.
Apricot trees were very popular, and the fruit was eaten raw in season and sun dried for winter. The pits were cracked to obtain the kernel that was crushed to obtain the oil for cooking and lamps. The hard shell was kept for a fire fuel. The kernel and oil could be eaten from the variety of apricots with a sweet kernel, but the bitter kernel variety had an oil containing poisonous prussic acid. Click the picture to see an enlargement.
The apricot trees were allowed to grow very large in order to obtain the maximum yield. Picking the maximum amount of fruit was more important than the difficulty in picking. The children would scamper to the higher branches to pick or shake off the fruit. Planting new trees required several years of growth before any fruit was produced. The special garden silt or glacial milk did not contribute to the age or size of the trees as is commonly claimed. Our modern orchards are not managed that way because we have abundant space and picking is expensive. Our trees are cut when the size makes them difficult to harvest, not because they fail to live as long as those in Hunza.
Mulberries, which resemble blackberries in size and shape, are a favorite fruit. When fully ripe, their flavor is sweet-sour but somewhat bland. The variety grown in Hunza was most likely a golden color.
YakA large variety of indigenous wildlife including markhors sheep, Marco Polo sheep, geese, ducks, pheasants and partridge provided the early Hunza hunters with meat in addition to their sheep, goats and domesticated Yaks. Chickens were also raised for meat and eggs until sometime in the 1950s when they were banned by the Mir.
The Queen and her children traveled on Yaks while the King and other men rode horses. The Yak is a strong wild animal which they domesticated for for traveling in the mountains as a beast of burden pack animal. In addition to Yaks, which provided milk and meat, the Hunzakuts also had goats, sheep, cows and horses. However, there were very few cows or horses in Hunza in 1950 because they consumed a lot of fodder compared to goats and sheep. The Yaks, goats and sheep were herded in the summer to areas just below the snow line for feeding on sparse grasses and plants. They were milked by the herders who made butter that was delivered back to the people in the villages below. The herders had plenty of milk to drink that valley people lacked. The Yaks were also milked. Cows and horses could not be herded to the higher elevation because the vegetation there was simply to sparse.
Cathedral Peak near Aliabad, Hunza.The picture is of the Cathedral Peaks as viewed from the village of Ghulmit 23 miles (37 km) upriver from Baltit near the northern end of Hunza. Summer grains are seen growing in the foreground. The Mir's main Palace was in Baltit, but since firewood was more abundant in Ghulmit, he chose this location for his winter residence. Click the picture to see an enlargement.
A great celebration was held to commemorate the barley harvest, the first harvest of the early summer to break the spring starvation period. The barley was ground, mixed with water and fried to make a pancake style bread called chapatis, and hot stones were used for cooking the bread prior to the availability of steel plate or cast iron griddles. The bread recipe would change to whatever grain was available. Wheat was harvested later in the summer. The Hunza bread recipe found in books and on websites is nothing whatsoever like the various breads of the Hunzakuts. The primitive Hunzakuts ground grains between two rocks much like the North American Indians. They had constructed a water wheel powered stone grinder by the time John Clark had arrived, but many people still ground the grain by hand.
To their credit, the Hunzakuts did developed a double-crop farming method. Barley was the first crop harvested, then replaced by millet. Wheat was harvested later in the summer followed by winter buckwheat. The double-crop planting method was done to make the maximum use of the valuable land, not because grains matured faster in Hunza as often claimed.
In summer meat was conserved for very special occasions and festivals. Livestock were much too valuable to be killed indiscriminately, so animals became a major source of food only during the cold winter when other foods ran out.
The Original Hunza Winter Diet.
The Hunza people sun dried fruit in the summer and stored grain for winter consumption. They also had some meat. They consumed all parts of the animals, not just the flesh. They ate the animal's brain, lungs, heart, liver, tripe, flesh and everything else except the hide, wind-pipe and genitalia. They cleaned bones to a polish and broke them to eat the marrow. The fat was highly favored for cooking, and a stew was made by boiling meat and grains.
Mount Karadoram near Aliabad, Hunza.Mountain Karakoram as seen from Aliabad village. Click on the picture to see an enlargement.
The Yaks, goats and sheep were bred each year for the meat and to keep the milk production flowing. The females were kept for breeding and milk production until reaching a non productive age when they were also slaughtered for food. Any lame animal was slaughtered to prevent the loss of meat. The food supply was critical and springtime starvation was always a concern for hungry children.
The Hunzakuts had a major flaw in their method of raising animals. They kept equal numbers of male and female, which reduced the productivity. If a Hunza farmer had six sheep he would have three ewes and three rams. The ewes would have three lambs each spring. The production could have been increased to five lambs each spring if they had kept five ewes and one ram. The rams also ate more fodder but produced no milk. The same was true for goats. This faulty farming practice reduced the amount milk, meat and number of offspring each year.
During the winter a major part of the diet consisted of milk, buttermilk, yogurt, butter and cheese. The diet was a high-fat diet throughout the year contrary to false claims that their diet was low-fat. The milk was more than 50 percent fat on a calorie basis and nothing was wasted.
The spring starvation was a difficult period for the Hunzakuts. The children were extremely thin and malnourished. Diseases abound and many died. The "healthy Hunza" claim made in many books and websites is strictly false.
The Hunza Longevity Myth.
John Clark did not make any mention whatsoever about the Hunza people living to an especially old age. The British general who first visited Hunza in the 1870s said there were old people but gave no indication as to the ages. At that time in history a person beyond 50 years of age was considered to be well beyond the average life expectancy.
Old Men of Hunza.This picture shows old Hunza men who proclaim to a visitor that they are more than 100 years of age. They appear to be 70 to 80 years of age which would be more accurate. Because this is a recent picture taken by tourists, these gentlemen were probably never born or raised in Hunza. They most likely arrived from other areas of Pakistan, drawn to the opportunity of collecting a gratuity from the unsuspecting traveler for the privilege of taking their picture.
Hunzakuts are known for their folklore and story telling as are most primitive people. After switching from being a warrior people to a peaceful people the Hunzakuts developed a highly over-inflated opinion of themselves. They thought the British soldiers had come to surrender to their leadership. They viewed themselves as living in the land of perfect, and they claimed theirs was the perfect society. They were and continue to be very much in denial of their true situation. This attitude is not uncommon among primitive peoples. Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson reported a very similar attitude among the primitive Eskimos who had never seen a white man. The Eskimos bragged that their Shaman (religious leader) could kill a bear on the other side of the mountain with a bow and arrow, and that he could travel to the Moon, converse with the people living there and return. The Eskimo considered themselves to be far superior to the white man who admitted to having never been to the moon. This was in 1910 before white man did travel to the Moon, walk on the surface and return, although not finding the people whom the Eskimo claimed lived there.
Stefansson 1 - Eskimos Prove An All Meat Diet Provides Excellent Health.
Exaggerations of the longevity of the Hunza people have exploded because the British General reported that the Hunza people lived to a healthy old age. Some claims are now being made that the Hunzakuts lived 150 to 200 years of age. These claims are pure nonsense. The claim that the people lived to 110 years of age is also false. The thought of a Garden of Eden has many imaginations running wild. The following is a typical example of the myths being propagated wildly.
"The Hunza of the title is a valley in the Himalayan foothills of northern Pakistan. The Hunza people are best known for their healthy diet and lifestyle that supposedly result in people living to the age of 150 and having an active sex life until the age of 200 — or something like that."
The health of the present day Hunza is known for certain. The following is a present day observation.
"As someone who has lived and worked in the Hunza and Baltistan region of northern Pakistan for a decade, it is important to first debunk the myth that the Burushushki, Wakhi and Shina people of the Hunza region are blessed with the lives of Methusula. This was actually a myth which gained momentum when it was written up by Dr. Alexander Leaf, in the January 1973 issue of National Geographic magazine. There is absolutely no scientific validity to his claim. People of the Hunza suffer from malnutrition and nutrition deficiencies just as much as any other remote mountain region in SE Asia. Although the predominantly Ismaeli faith (branch of Shi-ite muslims) are progressive and relatively better off than most of their neighbours in nearby regions, they will all tell any visitor, that their life expectancy is around 50 - 60 years, just like any other region of northern Pakistan."
The lack of resources left the Hunza people in a constant struggle to obtain their food, and the mountain farming on the sides of the steep rocky valley required a lot of hard work. The caloric intake was naturally low and never in abundance. This combination of factors prevented the Hunza people from becoming obese and lead to the avoidance of diseases caused by a diet with an abundance of carbohydrates.
Absolute Scientific Proof Carbohydrates Are Pathogenic.
The Mir gave Renee Taylor the secret to the longevity claim of the Hunzakuts, but she totally missed the implication. He said,
"Age has nothing to do with the calendar." See page 51.
Taylor confirmed that the people did not look to be as old as they claimed.
"He looked about fifty, but he told me that he was about eighty." See page 60.
The Hunzakuts had developed the practice of equating age with wisdom, experience and achievement. A wise farmer of 50 years of age who had accumulated much more than the average farmer could rightly claim to be 120 years of age instead of his truly 50 calendar years. Taylor said she saw a man playing and jumping at a game of volleyball who said he was 145 years old but looked to be only 50 or maybe 60. See page 63. Taylor ties to lead the reader into believing these men were very old. In fact they were not. It is doubtful that they were even 50 or 60. The dry, dusty air of Hunza and the nutritional deficiencies more likely made the people look much older than they really were. This man was probably between 40 and 50 years of age but claimed to be 145 years old.
Renee Taylor made no attempt assemble the descendants of any of the older people in order to gain some confirmation as to age. It certainly would have made a point if she had taken a picture, but it was impossible to take a picture of eight living generations because the man's age was a big lie. She could have easily taken such a picture if "nobody ever gets sick in Hunza." The picture would have been interesting and looked something like this.
Man claiming to be 145 years of age jumping and playing volley ball.
Son of 125 years of age.
Grandson of 105 years of age.
Great grandson of 85 years of age.
Great great grandson of 65 years of age.
Great great great grandson of 45 years of age.
Great great great great grandson of 25 years of age.
Great great great great great grandson of 5 years of age.
Many pictures have been taken in Hunza of family groups by visitors showing babies with their father and grandfather. These grandfathers are unlikely to be any older than they appear. They are perhaps 50 years of age as is common for a grandfather, not 120 years of age as some books falsely claim.
The Hunza Vegetarian Myth.
The Hunza people were never vegetarians or even close to it. They refrained from eating many of their animals in summer because animals were the main source of food in the remaining 10 months of the year. They ate a high-fat diet all year long, especially in winter when the consumption of animal fats increased. The butter, yogurt and cheese made from the goat, sheep and Yak milk was very high in fat, especially saturated fats. The Hunza people were somewhat vegetarian for two or three months during the summer.
The diet that vegetarian authors claim was eaten by the Hunza people can be found in other modern and primitive societies. The present people in Southern India are strict vegetarians by religious conviction, but they have the shortest life span on earth as scientifically proven. They are ravaged by disease, diet deficiencies and suffer from frail body structures. The children exhibit a failure to thrive, and the childhood mortality is very high.
The ancient people of Egypt in the days of the Pharaohs ate a diet almost identical to that claimed for the Hunza people by present day vegetarian authors, but the health of the Egyptians was a disaster. The Egyptians had a written language that described diseases such as tooth decay, obesity and heart disease. They lived on the fertile flood plain of the Nile River delta. Life was easy, and grains, fruits and vegetables were grown in an overwhelming abundance. The Bible tells of the abundance in Egypt while surrounding peoples were suffering drought and famine. The Egyptians mummified hundreds of thousands of people whose preserved remains are available for study today. The bodies can be examined today to identify diseases and diet deficiencies. Even though they had a abundance of food they suffered terribly from rotten teeth, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. Soft tissue diseases such as cancer are more difficult to trace in the mummies. Heart disease would have not been identified had it not been for the Egyptian writings. The cause for the poor health of the Egyptians was the abundance of carbohydrate foods not unlike the abundance found in supermarkets today.
Absolute Scientific Proof Carbohydrates Are Pathogenic.
The Hunza Apricot Pit, Vitamin B-17 and the Cancer Cure Myth.
The Hunza people did grow apricots and eat the apricot kernel of the apricot pit. The apricot kernel does indeed contain vitamin B-17, and the people may have had a low incidence of cancer, but the apricot had nothing to do with the cancer rate in the Hunza people. Vitamin B-17 has never been shown to prevent or cure cancer. The dead Hunzakuts were never examined by anyone to verify the cause of death. It was never proven that they had a low incidence of cancer.
The Hunza Glacial Milk and the Cesium Cancer Cure Myth.
Many people jump to the conclusion that the water diverted from glacial runoff was the source of special healing and life extending properties. The gardens were watered with mineral rich glacier water carried by an aqueduct system for a distance of 50 miles (80 m) from the Ultar Glacier on the 25,550 foot (7789 m) high Mount Rakaposhi.
Mount Rakaposhi elevation 7789 m. or 25,556 feet. The wooden aqueduct trough was hung from the sheer cliffs by steel nails hammered into the rock walls. Rocks beneath the glacier were ground into a fine powder or silt by the pressure and weight to give the water a slight milky color, thus it was described as "Glacial Milk." Click on the picture to see an enlargement.
There are those who claim the Hunza water is rich in cesium and potassium thereby making it rich with caustically (alkaline) active metals that prevent and cure cancer. Some modern doctors are giving cesium therapy treatments to cure cancer, but cesium does not cure cancer.
The glacier water used to flood the garden plots did provide many minerals or trace metals. The minerals were in the ground rock and not in the colloidal form as many claim. The following link gives a chemical composition of the glacial milk of Hunza. It may or may not be correct. Most of the other information on the following link is false.
Death Rides a Slow Bus in Hunza by Jane Kinderlehrer
The Hunza Bread Recipe and the Hunza Pie Myths.
The Hunza people made a hard flat bread from the grains grown in the terraced gardens that was not unlike the bread made by some North American Indians. However, it was undoubtedly nothing like the fancy concoction used to make modern day "Hunza bread." The Hunzakuts never made a pie and would not recognize the modern day pie that many claim originated with them.
The Hunzakuts would crush the grain between two rocks to make a very coarse flour, mix it with water and roll it into a flat pancake shape. The dough was cooked slightly on top of a heated rock in the days before metal pans were obtained. The bread was stacked for serving during the meal.
Some of the modern Hunza bread recipes contain canola oil, sugar, honey, molasses, soya milk, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice, lemon juice, pineapple, mayonnaise, olives, shrimp, curry powder, parsley, avocado, coconut, ginger, papaya, bananas, molasses and baking powder, none of which were used by the Hunzakuts.
The True Health of the Hunza People.
The Hunzakuts were not extremely healthy as many claim. The Mir told Renee Taylor that the people were free of all diseases. This was not true. The Hunzakuts were always disease ridden and the death rate was very high as observed by John Clark 10 years before the arrival of Renee Taylor. Clark was met by hordes of sick people who were seeking medical attention in every village (oasis) he visited. He diagnosed many diseases and treated those whom he could help. The diseases he listed are:
Chapped and bleeding hands
Rheumatic knees of sub-clinical rickets
John Clark made a survey of the Hunza boys in his school to ascertain how many of the students had lost family members. This shows the terribly high mortality rate of the Hunza people. They were not healthy and free of disease as falsely claimed. The results are shocking for these boys between the ages of 12 and 16.
Gohor Hayat Mother, 3 brothers, 2 sisters
Sherin Beg 1 Brother, 1 sister
Nur-ud-Din Mother, 2 brothers, 2 sisters
Muhammed Hamid Mother, 1 sister
Burhan Shah 1 Brother, 1 sister
Nasar Muhammed Mother, 2 brothers, 1 sisters
Mullah Madut 2 Brothers
Suleiman 1 Brother
Ghulan Rasul Father
The design of the stone huts was a health hazard. The stone dwelling had two levels with holes in the second floor and the roof to serve as a smoke vent for the fire pit in the middle of the ground level. The Hunzakuts never invented the fireplace or chimney, and those who ventured outside of Hunza never bothered to bring back a better design. The rooms in the winter were continually smoky and eye irritation was a chronic problem. Additional ventilation was available in summer and fires were not used as much. The houses had no window openings. The huts were not designed as well as those of the North American Plaines Indians and the Eskimos of the Northern Canada and Alaska.
One boy commented that only the strong survive and the weak die. The death rate among babies and infants was at least 30 percent contrary to the Mir's claim that babies rarely died. John Clark called the "healthy Hunza" label a myth. See page 212.
The True About Organic Farming in Hunza.
Many claims are made in articles, books and websites that the awesome health of the Hunzakuts was at least partly due to organic farming. This is certainly a silly claim. At the time the British arrived in Hunza during the 1870s everyone on earth used organic farming. There were no chemical fertilizers, no herbicides, no pesticides and no pasteurization of milk anyplace on earth and life expectancy was about 40 years of age or less.
Organic farming is actually a very unhealthy practice that greatly harmed the Hunzakuts. The Hunzakuts fertilized their gardens at least four times during the growing season because the glacial silt was devoid of organic matter or nitrogen. It was sand, not soil. The crops would not grow without a continual supply of fertilizer because the water quick flushed the nitrogen out of the silt. The women and girls performed the chore of spreading animal manure on the fields. They also traveled the paths gathering manure because it was considered to be a valuable commodity.
The Hunzakuts also defecated in the fields or carried the human excrement from the latrine near the stone dwelling to the fields. This practice was done on a continuing basis during the growing season. John Clark passed through the oasis of Maiun where the people came running to him seeking medical treatment. Seven children and one younger man had just died from dysentery during the previous 10 days. It was probably caused by the E-coli or some other bacteria from the organic vegetables.
The unhealthy practice of spreading fresh manure on growing vegetables was made worse because the people paid no attention to washing or cleaning the food. The fruit and vegetables were also eaten raw in summer when the manure was being spread.
Spreading manure on growing vegetables is a very dangerous practice, and the Hunzakuts suffered greatly because of it. Manure should only be spread on the field before plowing in the spring and never after planting. Dysentery was a common disease, and John Clark suffered from it himself. He also observed sand from the glacial water, cow and donkey hair and animal manure in the chapatis bread flour. Contamination of the wheat, barley and millet grains was caused by animals threshing the grains with their feet. He often bit upon "other unpleasant surprises" in the bread. See page 65.
Organic fruit and vegetables sold in today's supermarkets are a serious health hazard, and thousands of people die yearly in the United States from E-coli and other bacterial contamination of organic fruits and vegetables. This health hazard cannot be spoken of by the major media because of retaliation from supporters of organic foods. In contrast, there has never been a single death caused by chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides being used to grow non organic fruit and vegetables.
Exposing the Myths, Dangers and Lies About Organic Food.
Hunzakuts did not compost leaves and chaff as commonly claimed. For some unknown reason they did not develop the manger concept for feeding animals. They threw the animal fodder into the pens where much of it would get trampled into the manure. This did not go to waste because everything was eventually spread on the gardens, but the suggestion that they used a compost pile is false. They simply stacked the manure prior to being carried to the gardens.
The Honesty, Court System and the Social System in Hunza.
The Mir told Renee Taylor that Hunza had no police and no crime. He described Hunza as Perfect Land. This story was also false. The "Durbar" was an open court of ministers lead by the Mir. Each village also had a Durbar led by three judges for the trial of less serious offenses. Hunza had a penal colony at Shimshal Valley where inmates attended to flocks of sheep owned by the Mir. It was a dreadful sentence to be banished to Shimshal. The winters were icy cold and the high winds blew continuously.
To the credit of the Hunza people, the social system made premarital sex a serious taboo. The couple would quickly get married if a girl became pregnant, otherwise couples got married at the same time in December in a great community ceremony. Murder, adultery and homosexuality were much more serious with the death penalty as punishment upon conviction. Therefore, there were no homosexuals or cheating spouses in Hunza and very few murders of fellow Hunzakuts.
A winter feast called the Tumushuling was held following the December Wedding Day. The meal consisted of chapatis (bread), meat, rice and plates of butter. Animals were killed for the winter festival as a special treat and because of the shortage of grain and dried fruit. Only the village chiefs, other prominent men, new bridegrooms and the Mir attended, and a song of the history of Hunza was sung. It lasted for several hours and ended in a food fight with flying pieces of chapatis and gobs of butter.
Hunzakuts were not above murder and theft in past centuries when they continually raided trade caravans traveling through the nearby mountain passes, but that practice was discontinued in the late 1800s.
Old Palace of Baltit, Hunza.Honesty was another problem since the social system made dishonesty the best policy. Life in Hunza was highly competitive and unorganized. The people cared only for those in their immediate family. One man could not be trusted to take his neighbor's farm produce to the market in Gilgit. Each farmer had to take his own produce. Since cheating, lying and stealing were the norm, a Hunzakut would lie or tell any fable that would give him an advantage. It is no surprise that many of the people falsely claimed to be over 100 years of age. The crime rate was so bad that John Clark had the shoes stolen off his horse in Mount Ultar Nullah (canyon) by the Mir's own sheepherders, and his personal items were stolen from a locked room in the old palace by one of the Mir's servants who had a key. The village chief stole some of Clark's medicines that were critical for his treating the people. The Mir would do nothing about these incidences. See page 98. The picture is of the Old Palace where John Clark lived and had his school. It was also known as the Fort. Click the picture to see an enlargement.
A Hunzakut could not be trusted to pay an agreed amount for a service or material goods to be delivered. Neither could a Hunzakut be trusted to deliver a service or goods if the payment were made in advance. For these reasons the people did not deal much with each other. Most of the dealings were only within family groups where the people were more hesitant to cheat a relative. John Clark assigned one of his students the task of purchasing food from the villagers. The student would only contact his family members and reported that the food item was not available if his family did not have it. He would not seek the food any other place in the village. John Clark gained the trust of the people by his fair and honest dealings. He paid the agreed amount upon completion of the work or delivery of the goods. He also paid well and frequently gave a bonus for good performance.
The unusual practices in the Hunza court or Durbar promoted dishonesty as well. Guilt was not decided by the one who started an incident but by the one throwing the worst insults. The guilty party was fined for minor offenses with half of the fine going to the judges and the other half to the Mir. The innocent party was also expected to pay an equal amount as a gift to the judges. Therefore the guilty and the innocent suffered equally. As a result, few complaints were brought before the authorities.
The Hunza villagers paid taxes to the Mir on their farm produce. They were also required to work part time on the Mir's personal property and projects without pay. Two boys the same age as the Mir's son were assigned as companions to the Crown Prince and were to be servants for life. See Clark's book page 216.
Modern Hunza, Pakistan.
Karakorum Highway in Ganesh, Hunza.The dangerously rugged trail from Gilgit, Pakistan into the Hunza River Valley was improved in the mid-1950s to accommodate Mir Jamal Khan's newly acquired used Jeep. John Clark traveled on foot and horseback during his visit in 1950 and 1951. Dr. Allen E. Banik travel via Jeep during his visit in 1958 as did others thereafter.
The dangerous road was improved over the years to become the Karakorum Highway. This picture is overlooking the village of Ganesh near the capitol of Baltit. The road winds down the side of the valley as it traverses the terraced fields. Rock slides in other areas continue to require constant attention in order to keep the road open.
Hunza is a common destination for tourists traveling to Pakistan because of all of the past hype about the longevity and exceeding good health of the residents. The contrast between the spectacular Himalayan mountain peaks and the lush terraced gardens makes Hunza the photographers' paradise.
A fruit tree in the foreground can be seen in full bloom with a glimpse of the Hunza river in the top left. The tall and narrow Lombard poplar trees have been grown here for centuries because they are fast growing, provide good firewood and don't shade the vegetable gardens.
Hunza exports people. The valley will not support the growing population. Many young adults leave Hunza to other areas of Pakistan for employment. They send money and goods back to their families in Hunza. The farm can be passed to a son but is to small to divide between more than one son.
Tourism provides another source of income. Exports and natural resources are severely limited. Without an export a country or area does not have the money to purchase imports. This economic truth has kept Hunza from progressing.
Mir Muhammed Jamal Khan enjoyed a good show of deception. His visit with Dr. Allen E. Banik in 1958 was a good example. The Mir invited Dr. Banik to witness a mock trial in the Old Palace (Fort) that had been built centuries before high on the side of the valley in Baltit. As they left the Mir's new Palace the Mir said "to start without him, as he wanted a little time to dress for the occasion." Dr. Banik and his photographer struggled up the long, steep climb to the Old Palace and rested for a couple of minutes before entering. They were shocked to find the Mir of Hunza seated on his throne beautifully attired in his ceremonial robes, plumed cap and ancient sword. Dr. Banik had a 15 minute head start, but the Mir sat cool and comfortable, with no sign of fatigue. Dr. Banik ask if the Mir had come by horseback. He replied laughingly, "Why, of course not! I walked - it was just a short jaunt." Naturally, the Mir has ridden a horse. This was a show of deception attempting to trick Dr. Banik into believing the people of Hunza were super-human. Dr. Banik believed the trick by convincing himself and the readers that it was possible because the Mir had a longer stride. See Dr. Banik's book page 107. The scientific fact is that having a longer stride does not reduce the work required to hike the hill. Short-legged people do very well climbing mountains. Dr. Banik must have failed his college physics class.
We really shouldn't fault the Mir for deceiving people about Hunza. It is always a strong temptation to play with the minds of the gullible. He did a first-class act on them. The Mir also said there were Abominable Snowmen in the mountains around Hunza, and Dr. Banik apparently believed that as well.
Top Ten Media Myths about UFOs, Aliens, Big Foot, Loch Ness, Roswell, Area 51 and the Abominable Snowman.
The Scientific American Mind magazine in the July 25, 2005 issue ran a front page story titled, The Joy of Telling Lies - Everybody Does It - Because It Works. Deception runs like a red thread throughout all of human history. The Hunzakuts were no different. The Hunzakuts excelled in falsehoods about their ages, state of health and happiness because they benefited. The Mir encouraged the deception because he thought the people would be happier. The Mir prevented John Clark from taking two students to the United States for further education because the Mir feared the boys would be dissatisfied in Hunza after their return. He was shielding his people from the world.
Hunza was not a democracy as falsely reported. The Mir (King) was a strong dictator. His meetings with the ministers from each village was called a Durbar where the ministers brought up concerns and problems. The Mir ask for their opinion but in the end they were simply "yes" men. The Mir had such control over the subjects of Hunza that a farmer refrained from correcting the river channel when the river had begun eroding his farm land. The farmer had to get permission from the Mir before trying to save his farm. See John Clark page 105.
Left Queen Rani and third from left Mir Muhammed Samal Khan in 1961. The Hunza people did not enjoy exceptionally long life as falsely claimed. It is doubtful that anyone in Hunza ever lived to be 100 year of age. The ages claimed by the Hunzakuts were simply lies. They considered age to be a matter of wisdom and achievement, not calendar years. They kept no written records and did not know their calendar age.
This picture was taken in 1961. Queen Rani is on the left. Mir Jamal Khan is third from the left. His age was accurately known because he was royalty. He was born on September 23, 1912 and died in Gilgit, Pakistan on March 18, 1976. He was only 49 when this picture was taken but looks much older. He only lived to age 64. He certainly was not a symbol of longevity.
The Hunza people were not healthy or free from disease. They suffered greatly from a multitude of disease. They had poor dental health and infections. They lived in a very unsanitary environment. The one benefit was the extreme isolation that reduced the number of contagious diseases. Cancer and heart disease may have been rare, but it is unknown for certain because the dead were never examined by a professional.
The Hunza diet was not the perfect diet as claimed. Diet deficiencies abound. The diet was seriously deficient in iodine, omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids from proteins. Many of the diseases treated by John Clark were the result of the a nutritional deficiency.
Tuberculosis is a good example of a disease that causes death for those with a protein deficiency. The Hunzakuts suffered and died from tuberculosis as reported by John Clark. The immune system is made entirely from amino acids derived from eating protein. Meat is the best source for amino acids. The Hunzakuts developed tuberculosis and died as a result of protein deficiency. Dr. Weston E. Price in the 1920s and Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson in the 1910s discovered that Eskimos who developed tuberculosis while living in the white mans' settlements and eating carbohydrates were cured after being transferred to live with the natives on their traditional all-meat diet. Moving the sick Eskimos out of the settlements to return to the native way was a proven cure for diseases.
The Hunzakuts were not a wonderfully happy people as claimed. The women in Hunza were treated harshly. They were not allowed an education and were highly restricted in public. The women endured hard labor in smoky dwellings and suicide was not uncommon. They would either eat the poison pits from the bitter apricot or jump from a convenient cliff.
The grains did not mature faster in Hunza than other places as false reported by Dr. Allen E. Banik. The vegetation and trees in Hunza showed signs of nutritional deficiency as reported by John Clark. Hunza is an artificial environment that depends on hard manual labor to keep the terraced gardens watered and fertilized. The silt used to make the gardens is not organic soil. It is ground rock that originates from the grinding of the glacier as it moves down the high mountain valley above. The silt contains many minerals but lacks phosphates and organic matter. Fertilization with animal dung and human excrement is required several times during the growing season to keep the plants and trees healthy. Even so, the growing conditions are not ideal. Luckily the glacial milk does not contain harmful minerals or metals in sufficient quantities to cause health problems for the vegetation, animals or humans. No two glacial milks are the same. Glacial water from other areas of the earth are each different from one another. The content depend completely on the composition of the rock over which they flow.
The Hunza people were no different from other people who lived in isolated high mountain communities. Most of the books written about the Hunzakuts are simply fiction and myths flamed on by the imagination into believing the Hunza River Valley was a magical Garden of Eden where people never got sick. The people of Hunza recognized a century ago that pretending to be centenarians brought visitors bearing money and gifts. They certainly must have been laughing after retreating to the privacy of their homes. Primitive people the world over have been known to tell tall tales about themselves to strangers visiting their land. Lying about one's age is as old as mankind. The people of Hunza are known for their consistent exaggerations of age in order to gain respect and social status. The social structure of Hunza encouraged lying and cheating as a profitable way to better one's self.
Scientific facts about Hunza have been impossible to obtain. Since the British first entered Hunza the ruling Mir has placed a severe restriction on visitors to the valley. Permission was required from both Pakistan and the State of Hunza. Scientific studies or independent investigations were strictly forbidden. An invitation from the Mir of Hunza was essential to obtain a special-entry permit. As late as 1960 there were no hotels, no restaurants, and no stores to buy food. Chosen visitors were generally guests of the Mir in the capital of Baltit where they were a make-believe story instead of the truth about Hunza.
The Mir of Hunza never provided verification of the longevity of the Hunzakuts and never allowed others to investigate. The Hunzakuts of the past were no older than they appeared and may have actually been younger than they appeared. The longevity was a hoax from the beginning, and the diet did not produce a super-human race. Hunza could best be described as an isolated high mountain kingdom founded on betrayal and struggling for existence by deceiving the world.
Hunza has been mostly ignored by the surrounding nations because it has no strategic importance whatsoever. The valley is simply inconsequential except for the myth that the people had record longevity on a near vegetarian diet. However, the Hunza River Valley did provide many health benefits. The Hunza people of the past were forced to adopt a lifestyle that has been shown to have many healthy features.
Babies were nursed at the breast for several years. The weak and those that could not nurse simply died.
Obesity caused by excessive calorie consumption was unknown, although malnutrition was a serious problem.
Work and physical activity aided in overall well-being.
Isolation prevented many communicable diseases.
Dry air at a high elevation reduced the incidence of many communicable diseases.
Rodents and insects that transmit disease were rare in the isolated high mountain valley.
Processed and refined foods were non existent.
Sugar was a very rare commodity in 1950 because of the extremely high cost and unknown earlier.
Honey was not available.
Imports were unavailable because of the isolation and the lack of any exportable commodity.
Everyone struggled equally. There was not an overworked slave class or lazy ruling class in the social structure, both of which tend to reduce life span.
Many people have tried to capitalize on the Hunza myth by writing books and selling diet programs. Many of these people actually believed the Hunza myth themselves and tried to duplicate the diet in their own lives. The result was always failure. Good health was never achieved. A typical fraudulent diet program called the "BioCalendar Health System" was advertised in The Kansas City Times on May 18, 1978, on page 18D by a group calling themselves The American Health Institute, 125 American Health Institute Boulevard, Canton, Ohio, 44767.
Primitive People Who Were Truly Healthy.
Weston A. Price, DDS, traveled worldwide in the 1930's to investigate the health of primitive peoples who could not obtain foods of the western world. He and his wife found that all of these primitive groups ate a diet very high in fat. Some ate primarily animal meat and fat while others ate primarily seafood. Their diets did not make a difference in their health. They were all extremely healthy, strong, robust and had almost no dental cavities. They all had a broad dental arch (jaw shapes) and the women had very easy childbirths because of the broad pelvic structure. Children of these people who moved to a modern society area developed crowded teeth with many cavities, and the women suffered difficulties in childbirth similar to our present western society. The "civilized" Indians of northern Canada also suffered greatly from tuberculosis and were sent back to live with the primitives where they were cured of their disease by the primitive diet which was nearly 100% meat with the fat.
Weston A. Price was different from most visitors to Hunza. He performed a scientific investigation and told the truth about the people he visited. John Clark present a clear picture of the Hunza people in his book, but other visitors to Hunza were merely propaganda tools for the Mir.
A recent TV documentary was produced in the country of Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, by a Professor from the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Georgian people who were visited live on the high Caucasus mountain slopes at about 8,000 feet elevation on small farm plots surrounded by high peaks. The terrain was similar to that of people living on small farmers high in the Swiss Alps as reported by Dr. Weston A. Price. Their diet is identical to that of the Swiss people. Reaching the area was very difficult, even using a four-wheel drive Jeep. The amazing characteristic of these people is their longevity, where members living 100 years of age are common. The people raise farm animals and grow hay, vegetables and some grain. They had no fruit because of the high elevation, and they had no imports because of their remote location. The animals were protected from the harsh winters on the ground floor of the house which served as a barn. The people lived on the second and third floors. The commentator said they ate meat, butter and high-fat yogurt with every meal. The commentator described it as "very un-Boulder" in reference to the liberal college community of Boulder, Colorado, where a low-fat, vegetarian diet philosophy is rampant. They made good use of the farm animal products. They ate lots of meat, saturated fats, butter and lard. The remaining food was a small amount of bread made from whole grain and a few seasonal vegetables. They did not import high-carbohydrate foods such as sugar, honey, white flour, orange juice, or fruit. They did not have Omega-6 vegetable oils, trans-fats or hydrogenated oil. They are lucky people. Their food supply is a perfect example of the Atkins' low-carbohydrate diet. The long-term health benefits of the low-carbohydrate diet are clearly demonstrated by the these mountain people of Georgia. A study of Georgian people found the people who ate the most meat and fat lived the longest.
The Long-Living of Soviet Georgia by G.Z. Pitskhelauri.
French women have the lowest rate of heart disease in the Western world. They eat high levels of butter, cheese and animal fats. France is reported to have 265 brands of cheese typically containing 45% to 50% saturated fats. They are more healthy because of their high level of saturated fat and low level of sugar and refined carbohydrates in the diet. This high level of saturated fat with a low heart disease rate has become known as the "French paradox" by the confused low-fat dietitians. Unfortunately, the French are turning away from their natural foods to manufactured high-carbohydrate foods.
The peoples of Thailand are another paradox. They have a very low level of heart disease and diabetes but consume exceedingly high levels of saturated fat in coconut oil and pork lard.
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