The Hidden Himalayas
PHOTOGRAPHY BY THOMAS L. KELLY
TEXT BY CARROLL DUNHAM,
Thomas Kelly and Carroll Dunham, two young Americas, a photographer and a writer-anthropologist, take you the strangest place in the world. Beautiful, bitter, joyous, and holy, it is Humla, an ancient territory at the edge of Nepal. Bordering Tibet, hidden in the Himalayas
The vistas captures in Kelly’s photographs are both limitless and intimate, here is a land of eternally snow-capped mountains and sweeping valleys, eerie, forbidding as the landscape of some distant moon, its people all but forgotten by the rest of the world. Their lives are struggle—the alpine soil metes out sustenance grudgingly; trade with distant neighbors means days of driving stubborn yaks over perilous mountain trails; disease is a constant companion (the average woman bears eight children, of whom six may live to adulthood); and the long winter threatens to banish the warmth of life forever.
Yet these lives yield untold riches. As if the splendid isolation and sheer altitude of the hidden Himalayas bring their inhabitants closer to the gods, the Hindu Chhetri and Thakuri and Buddhist Bhotia people of this land are possessed of spirituality few Westerners will ever know. In Humla, the gods are everywhere—in the clouds, in the mountains, in the very dung with which the soil is fertilized. Here is Lobsang Lama, who lives with wife, Eppi, in a rock-carved mountainside hermitage. His life of meditation and good works has been a preparation for the moment of death. Old, sick, he declares that he will die in five days and, on the fifth day, passes away in utter peace. And then there is Takha Bahadur, no less holy, but seeing herself slighted in worship, takes demonic possession of his wife. Indeed, a spiritual life of Humla is never entirely peaceful. Its many festivals of religious celebrations are marked by a joyous, raucous carnality: from the fantastic masked Mani carnival to the operatic wedding ceremony of the Bhotia, who practice a rare form of polyandrous marriage in which one wife is shared by any number of brothers.
Kelly’s extraordinary photographs are accompanied by Dunham’s evocative and lyrical account of life through four seasons in Humla: Fall, winter, spring and summer. In a world made easy, accessible, and all too familiar by supersonic travel, television and communication, and intimate, moving adventure in one of the last truly exotic places on earth.
This book is available at Thomas Kelly’s office @ Kathmandu, Nepal, at USD 60
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Moblie # 977-98510-26738