Tibet 1986 and Beyond

Tibetan travel & study

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More Portraits Eastern Tibet ཁམས་

I liked so many of of these pictures that I wanted to post more. Thus another set of portraits from East Tibet.

Nomads East Tibet 1986

We were in a very remote area coming off a very high pass (~17,500 feet). We had no horses or pack animals so we must be poor. He first asked us to keep walking as there were bandits in the area casting suspicion on any stranger. Then, we were invited in the tent for yak butter tea. The family had never seen a gringo. Frank’s Chinese was not that of a native speaker (but pretty good) and my Tibetan was not fooling anyone. We were clearly neither Chinese or Tibetan. By process of elimination, they deduced we were Indian.

In Gatar (?) 1986

Frank and I went to the same place to eat every day we were in Gatar (I believe that is where this was taken). Actually, we went to the only place to eat in town. The residents would come to visit all the time. Mostly they would just stare as I could not speak the local dialect; I learned a bit of Lhasa language in India which is very different. We managed to get some great portraits here because Frank and I had regular contact with the residents.

In Gatar (?) 2 1986

In Gatar (?) 3 1986

We figured if they could stare at us, we could take pictures. Actually, most folks were interactive.

Derge circumblation 1986

Sisters in Kanze 1986

Woman in Kanze 1986

Unknown location 1986

Frank Clearing the table 1986

You learn a great deal about someone when you travel together. My guess is that Frank had a misspent youth hanging out at pool hall dives in the Western part of Switzerland. He won just about every game I saw him play. Note the tables are outside, full of flaws, usually not level, and not regulation size.

Unknown location East Tibet 1986

Frank attracts a crowd everywhere we went, particularly the pretty girls.

Kids in East Tibet 1986

Resting on the trail north of Derge 1986

The trail here looks pretty good. We are just a couple days out; we had not run out of cigarettes.


Monasteries around Kanze དཀར་མཛེས་

I found a few hand drawn maps made contemporaneously on the visit to Kanze དཀར་མཛེས་. This part of Kham/East Tibet was annexed on to Sichuan. Below is a (rather messy) hand drawn map of the monasteries near Kanze.

Monasteries surrounding Kanze. 1986

Frank and I managed to visit most of these locations. The transliteration is Wylie. In parenthesis is the sect. Sorry for the south to top orientation.

Below is a very approximate map of the town itself which may be quite different now. However, the monastery map should remain the same.

Kanze town 1986

And finally, below are a few notes.

Kanze notes 1986

These are probably only of interest to the academically inclined.

Rather than ending this post on a rather dull note, below is a picture taken in Kanze of a couple guys out on the town.

Out on the town Kanze 1986.

The beverage of choice for these occasions is usually chang, kind of a barley beer/brew. It looks like muddy water but tastes much better.

I am almost done with the non-pictorial posts so there will be more interesting items following.

Ganden Monastery 1985 (དགའ་ལྡན་)

Ganden was one of the largest Tibetan centers of learning before the Chinese took over Tibet. Drepung and Sera were larger; Ganden had about 6,000 monks. Much of it has been restored (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganden_monastery ).

Ganden before the Chinese invasion. Date unknown.

I purchased this 5X7 photo in 1985 and scanned it recently. I do not recall if bought in India or Lhasa.

Below are some pictures of what the place looked like in 1985. I believe most of the buildings were rebuilt. Now, a significant portion has been restored but it is nothing like the original.

Ganden mountaing top. 1985

Destroying this much real estate must have been a huge undertaking. I am not sure if it was bombed or explosives set on the ground or both. I believe that Tibetan fighters were lodged here so the monastery became a target.

Closer look at destruction. 1985

The monastery buildings covered a very large area.

Ganden, a closer look. 1985

The buildings were stone. Some of the walls were four feet thick. The magnitude and power of the destruction is saddening. All the gringos on the bus were moved by the sight.

Ganden walls. 1985

OK, enough of the tragedy of war. Future posts will try not to dwell on this topic.

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