Tibetan Summer Festivals In Kham

Summer is the season of Tibetan festivals when people throughout Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan- provinces of China- gather to celebrate old traditions during the long warm days on the high altitude plateau.  These events also have acquired a political sub-text: the continuing struggle between China and its Tibetan minority over cultural identity and religious freedom.

This is a  a quote from Freya Stark – a traveler, explorer, Arabist, woman of letters – on  Arrival ” There is a great moment ,when you see ,however distant, the goal of your wandering.The thing which has been living in your imagination, suddenly becomes a part of the tangible world.”

All my life , I have been drawn to this part of the world .I have been reading every book with Tibet in the tittle since I was a child. Pearl Buck and Rumer Godden were the beginning and now I have an extensive library of travel essays. I concentrate on the early explorers and photographers: Isabella Bird is one of my favorites and Alexandra David Neel and Peter Goullart too.

kham goddess

The Opening Ceremonies were so beautiful, filled with dancers, singers and riders in splendid costumes.

This is relaxation Tibetan style with family and friends – time to honor heroes and horses. The Khampa horsemen . . . and horsewomen . ..will race their horses and at night, the streets of the town

will come alive with more dancing and singing

There were not many tourists or westerners and  we were able to move around and shoot behind the scenes and were invited into tents to drink and eat with everyone. We were welcomed everywhere we went.kham opening ceremonies

Khampa horseman

In the villages nearby it was a time for socializing , playing pool and shopping.We went to the village jeweler after admiring this Tibetan womans earrings. She immediately took us to a small jewelry stall and we bought rings and hoops earrings.

kham town

kham playing pool

In another town we stopped by a school and the home of  the local weaver who was weaving yak fibers stretched across the yard  for a tent.

weaving yak fibers

School yard in Kham

Terri Gold World Imagery

“Some people say, “What does it matter if Tribal cultures fade away.” The answer is simple. When asked the meaning of being human, all the diverse cultures of the world respond with 10,000 different voices.” – Wade Davis

I  want to tell the stories of many diverse cultures.  My goal is to explore our cross-cultural truths; the importance of family, community and ritual and the amazing diversity of its expression.  I’m going to begin sharing some of my tribal adventures here with the Tibetan Festivals in Kham..  Making the journey and taking the picture, is only the first step for me. In the traditional darkroom, I was a lith printer which was like a dance in the darkroom… no two prints ever came out the same. I have studied and taught many alternative processes i.e.:  infrared digital and film, hand painting, Polaroid transfers and more. Now, I recreate these effects in the digital darkroom and find it equally creative and challenging.

So the summer festivals begin on the rooftop of the world in Kham which in southwest China and Tibet.

Racing with the Wind

Women Of Kham

For Slideshow of more Festival Imagery: click here