LHASA, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Sitar Doje has difficulty in memorizing texts in English or Mandarin, but he can recite large parts of the world's longest poem without faltering.
The 20-year-old Tibetan is the youngest known singer of "King Gesar," a ballad that tells how the half-human, half-god Tibetan king of the 11th Century conquered the devils of other tribes and sought to help ordinary people.
Like all other singers of the ballad, Sitar Doje claims his skills are "god taught."
Born in a poor herding family in Qamdo Prefecture, of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, in 1990, he never read or even heard the King Gesar epic in his younger days.
Legend has it that when he was 11, however, he had a strange dream. "I dreamed I was taken to the tent of King Gesar, on a grassland I'd never been to. Someone said, in Tibetan, 'Yes, he's the person we're looking for' and forced a huge pile of books into my mouth."
The next day, he felt his throat was choked and saw long lines of text scrolling in front of his eyes. "They were like subtitles on the film screen and I felt my head was about to burst."
The strange sensation drove Sitar Doje, then a third-grader at primary school, out of control and he began singing loudly for nearly two hours in class.
"My classmates were all stunned and said I was crazy," he said.
His teacher, Sonam Gyaltsen, who was proficient in Tibetan poetry, realized he was singing the King Gesar ballad, and recorded some of his singing.
Today, the recordings are played at many schools in Tibet to teach culture heritage.
Sitar Doje has since fought to balance school work and singing. The local culture bureau has published more than 30 tapes of Sitar Doje's performances.