The Forgotten Tibetans

The Forgotten Tibetans


Publishing day has finally arrived! This book is the outcome of close to a decade of travelling to one of the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of China – the western provinces of China – Gansu, Sichuan, Qinghai, and Outer Mongolia. Frequent trips, particularly to Gansu, allowed me to make friends with some of the kindest, most welcoming people on earth. They welcomed me into their homes (or tents, depending on the season), gave me the opportunity to spend festivals, weddings, fun days and work days with them. I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer as an English teacher for nomad students during their winter school vacation, and enjoyed the enthusiasm and dedication they gave to learning during what should have been one of the most relaxing times of year for nomads.

During the years of visiting, I was able to see the changes in lifestyles and place that rapidly accelerated, partly as a result of increased tourism, partly as a result of government policies. Tourists changed the village from a quiet nomad town, focussed around the two monasteries, with a few cafes, two or three hostels and hotels and several shops selling nomad necessities to a small town, with numerous larger hotels, more cafes and souvenir shops. Government policies ensured nomads started to change their traditional way of life to become ‘sedentarised’, and needed to seek work in the restaurants and hotels.

This book is a collection of photographs and stories, giving glimpses into the daily lives, and the changing lives of the Tibetan nomads who live outside the map of Tibet, in lands that the Tibetan Empire once controlled, but now, through internal revolutions and war, have been incorporated into China.  It is intended to highlight the commonalities of our lives, as well as to present a brief history of a way of life that is rapidly disappearing.

I created this book for my nomad mates, hoping that their lives, culture and traditions would find a greater understanding in the wider society.  (And special thanks to Ray and Sabrina for editorial and design work!)




Signed hardback copies are available, please email me for details at:

Posted by DeborahH in Cultural dimensions, Photography book, Tibetan culture, Travel, Village life, 0 comments

The Edges

Denise visit 3 - trip 366


I was watching a youtube video of an interview with William Allard the other day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvQxVSPWc7g)  and was struck by his comment that “What’s around the performance is just as important as the performance”…and to ” look around the edges”.

Monastery dancing Monlam Festival Feb O8 172

I thought about this for a while – why are the edges important?  Surely the performance is what is the ‘main game’? This is what people pay for, what they come to see.  But after a while I realised that the edges are the reality, the edges are what gives the performance meaning.  The performance is not reality.  It is planned, practiced, perfected and polished.  Any semblance of reality has been removed.  Even sports events are highly choreographed, with years of practice behind each swing of the racquet, each kick of the ball, each long pass.

BUT.. the edges are the response, the impact of all of that planning and choreography.  The edges create the revolutions, show the passion, the delight, the disgust, the fear, the unity. The edges can provide us with insight into difference, into similarity, into what is important for people. The edges are the real elements that change that performance into something meaningful.

Monastery dancing Monlam Festival Feb O8 171

For the performers, the edges are what creates meaning in their     performance   With no ‘edges’ – no backstage, no audience, no response – the performance can lose intensity, strength and   external meaning for the performers.  No matter how glorious the performance is, with no audience and no response, then  the intent can only become technical or self-indulgent.


Look to the edges for meaning.




Posted by DeborahH in China, 0 comments

Peace and permanency

Langmusi mountains

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being” Ansel Adams. 

Langmusi is my favourite place in China.  A village surrounded by mountains and high grasslands.  The beauty is indescribable, and I return annually to nourish my soul, fill my eyes and heart with the beauty and spend time with my Tibetan mates.

Thinking so much about transience and change lately naturally took me in the opposite direction – thinking about permanence.  When I look at mountains, grasslands, wide plains and oceans I feel a deep comfort at what seems to be their permanence and taking it further, their endurance.  In a changing world, what looks permanent, looks safe.  The permanent seems to offer us a refuge from the restlessness around us and the constant need for us to be reacting, thinking, analysing and managing.

The mountains and oceans, these vast places do speak to the core of my being.  I can be with them in silence for many hours, letting the majesty and strength of them fill me with strength and courage.  Letting the vastness of them extend my soul a little wider and deeper.

I look at mountains and oceans and see endurance.  The mountain vegetation, nothing like the lush growth in the valleys, speak to me of endurance and strength.

But is this permanence an illusion?  Oceans are forever moving and changing, mountains rise and fall depending on seismic shifts and erosion.  The mountain vegetation or the ocean kelp beds die and renew.  Is there anything that we can call ‘permanent”?

For me their permanence lies in knowing that no matter what we as humans do, these mountains and oceans will be there for many eons after we disappear, as they were for many eons before we arrived.  The exteriors may change, but the core remains.

Having an enduring, eternal core for ourselves is necessary.  It is the basis of all else we do.  Knowing this core, strengthening it, deepening and broadening it, allows us to maintain our individuality in the face of the restless, impermanent world around us.

Posted by DeborahH, 0 comments