Review of "Portraits of Tibet"

tibetan photographer

Book Review by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee,
Sufi teacher, author and editor of "Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth"

Smiling faces, an empty untouched land. Here are portraits of a nomadic people who have milked their yaks in the high mountain grasslands of Tibet for thousands of years. Diane Barker was invited into their world, into their black felt tents and deeply spiritual connection to the land, from which she shares these images of a culture which may soon vanish, as motorbikes replace horses, and North Face jackets replace the chuba, the heavy sheepskin robe. The intimacy of these photographs reflects the way she was accepted into their community, where the land is still alive with spirits and ancient magic.

Diane photographs the daily rituals of the nomads, or drokpa, making yak butter, cutting yak meat, milking, collecting dung, a way of life beautiful in its traditional simplicity. A mother braids her daughter's hair, a woman spins yak wool, drinking tea, a family eating tsampa (the traditional Tibetan food of roasted barley flour), images of a way of life still vibrant, together with images of monks and nuns who often come from local nomad families. Ecological stewards of this numinous high mountain land, these nomads speak to a vital connection to the more-than-human world that surrounds us all, but has sadly been lost in our contemporary way of life. These photographs are a valuable insight into a world where a land and its people are still bonded together, holding what is sacred, as well as expressing a deep kindness and joy.