Sitting on Top of the World

Lhasa, Tibet, 2016

I began looking yesterday through the photos from Tibet that I made during my trip to China in the summer of 2016.  I had visited Tibet previously for two weeks in 2007, and though this more recent trip only took us to Tibet’s capital city, Lhasa, for just three days, it was still nice to be back to the place known as “the roof of the world.”
As I saw when I was there the first time, Lhasa is in many ways just another big Chinese city.  Yet, the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism remains, though always under the watchful eye of the Communist authorities.
On my first full day in Lhasa on this recent trip, I could have gone with other people in my group to climb up the many steps to the Potala Palace – the home of the Dalai Lama before he fled to India in 1959 – but as I had not felt well the day before (which included spending eight hours on an airplane for a two hour flight), I decided to take it easy instead and went for a walk on my own in the vicinity of the Potala.
The first part of my walk took me down a more modern street which housed a lot of shops dedicated to repairing and selling motorcycles and motorbikes.  This particular scene, in the photo above, struck me as being interesting, with the woman on the left looking very modern, wearing earphones connected to a digital music device, and the older man on the right holding a Tibetan prayer wheel on his lap with his right hand resting upon it.  The photo shows a bit of the dichotomy that exists between traditional and modern Tibet.

I continued my walk by heading to a Buddhist temple that was not too far away.  On the way, I passed this man (in the second photo) who was sitting and chanting what I imagine were Buddhist prayers.  Behind him are paintings of Buddhist figures.
While I suppose that the coming of the modern world is inevitable, it’s nice to see that traditional scenes of devotion like this still exist.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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