Friday, December 12, 2008

Ryan Pyle Blog: Mountain Culture Award: Honorable Mention


I just wanted to write to make you aware of a photo essay I recently completed on Gongga Shan or Gongga Mountain. It was included as an Honorable Mention in the awards at the Banff Mountain Culture Awards earlier this year.

The photo essay was a journey through China's remote Sichuan province; departing from the Chinese town of Kangding my writing partner and I walked 4 days (at an average altitude of 4000m) to reach the remote Tibetan Gongga Mountain Monastery. It was very much a journey from Han China to Tibetan China at a time when relations between the two have been severely strained.

Over the years I've dedicated a lot of time to the documentation of various parts of the Tibetan community and this essay was one of the most rewarding, walking an average of 30km per day we passed through one of the most remote and isolated parts of Sichuan's ethnic Tibetan regions. The monastery was a full days walk from the nearest village, a two days walk form the nearest road and perched on the side of a mountain near the Gongga Mountain (7556m) base camp.

The monastery was visited by Dr. Joseph Rock in the 1920s when he documented and explored much of south west China for National Geographic. It was very much Dr. Rock's footsteps in which we walked and planned our journey.

A tight edit of the photo essay can be found at the Following Link

The Rocky Mountain Culture awards can be found at the Following Link

My Interview with the Mountain Culture center regarding the picture is below:

"I had first learned about Minya Konka, or Gongga Shan, from naturalist Joseph Rock. His work in eastern Tibet, now western Sichuan, was pioneering and when he first laid eyes on Minya Konka he believed he had found the largest mountain in the world. He wasn't far off. Minya Konka stands an impressive 7556m and towers above the rest of the range. It's a sight beyond words. The Minya Konka Tibetan Monastery rests at the base of the mountain. My journey to the monastery began on foot in the town of Laoyulin, just outside of Kangding. From there the four-day, 120-km trek to the monastery had taken its toll, walking at an average altitude of about 4000 m. But this is the way many of the pilgrims make the journey to this remote monastery, and it was important to follow in their footsteps to understand the significance of the temple and its role in the community. Each morning at the monastery one monk prays alone in the main prayer hall. It was a damp and cold morning and there was a lovely light coming in from the single window; my only concern was to do justice to the moment."


Ryan Pyle

1 comment:

  1. he monastery life is rigorous. Monks are involved in all kinds of religious services and administrative tasks, on behalf of individual study and the monastery community. Daily life starts in the early morning and ends in the late night. The whole day is occupied with communal or individual religious services and the management of the monastery. Older monks, learned lamas, hold greater responsibilities such as maintaining discipline and leading the group prayers. Younger monks help by running the kitchen, shopping and serving food and tea.



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