Friday, March 04, 2011

Ryan Pyle Blog: New Work: The Butter Lamp Festival


I've recently completed some work that I thought be of interest to my blog followers.

I traveled to the Ganden Monastery, located in Central Tibet, during winter to photograph the Butter Lamp festival. The reason for visiting was that years ago, on a previous assignment, a local once told me that she had always wished to celebrate the Butter Lamp festival at the Ganden Monastery because of the special Thanka (large carpet with painted Buddha) that is unveiled during that celebration. I marked it down on a my list as something that I was keen to photograph. And so I was finally able to make the trip, and it was an amazing visual experience at over 16,000 feet; I spent most of the next two days in bed with altitude sickness after shooting the festival. Details are below.

What is the Butter Lamp Festival?

The Tibet Butter Lamp Festival is celebrated on the final day of the Great Prayer Festival The event was also established way back in 1409 by Tsong Khapa to celebrate the victory of Sakyamuni against heretics in a religious debate. At that time he commissioned monks to make flowers and trees with colored butter. This tradition has been maintained to this day. In the past, various giant butter and butter sculptures, in forms of auspicious symbols and figures, were displayed on Barkhor Street in Lhasa. But today things are toned down an the festival is centered around the display of thousands of small hand held butter lamps.

What is the Ganden Monastery?

The Ganden Monastery was the original monastery in the Geluk order, founded by Je Tsongkhapa himself in 1409, and traditionally considered to be the seat of Geluk administrative and political power. Being the farthest from Lhasa of the three university monasteries, Ganden traditionally had a smaller population with some 6,000 monks in the early 20th century. Ganden Monastery consisted of two principal original colleges, Jangtse and Shartse, meaning North Peak and East Peak respectively. Ganden Monastery contained more than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues. The largest chapel was capable of seating 3,500 monks.

Below is an edit of the photography completed at the Ganden Monastery, part of the Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

My Favorite Images: LINK#1 & LINK #2

For anyone interested, the work was shot on two Lecia M6's. One had a 50mm f/1.4 and the other had a 28mm f/2.0. The work was shot on Kodak Color 100 VS film.

Ryan Pyle

No comments:

Post a Comment


This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle