breadcrumb

In the Footsteps of Pilgrims

In the Footsteps of Pilgrims

One of my favorite pictures collected in the book Shangri-La: Along the Tea Road to Lhasa is of six pilgrims coming down an empty stretch of the Chamagudao, the Tea Horse Road. They are going to Lhasa, performing the chak tsal, the Tibetan Buddhist act of prostration. At the time this photo was taken, they already had been walking for three months.

As a devotee performs the chak tsal, he takes a couple of steps forward while clasping his palms together, then he brings his hands to his heart and moves forward again while bringing his hands to his face and then overhead. Finally, he drops to his knees, then down to his stomach, flat out with his feet together and hands stretched out front, his forehead pressed to the ground. Pilgrims travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles this way over days, even years.

For this image, I was trying to capture each pilgrim in a different position, so I would have every gesture of the chak tsal in one photograph.

I had to walk backwards for thirty minutes to get this one frame.

Source

Photographer Michael Yamashita has been shooting for the National Geographic magazine for more than thirty years, combining his dual passions of photography and travel.  After graduating from...

Share

Share/Save

Postcard

02.04.15

The Bro Code

JAMES PALMER

Turning down an after-dinner invite to a brothel is always a social minefield. But the city’s Party Secretary, a 50-something man with baby-soft hands, had been gently fondling my thigh underneath the banquet table for the past 45 minutes, making me even more eager than usual...

Postcard

09.25.13

The Strangers

JAMES PALMER

In the winter of 2009, I was spending my weekends in the northeast Chinese city of Tangshan, and eating most of my food from the far-western province of Xinjiang. Like many minorities, the Uighur, the native people of Xinjiang, have made their chief impact on mainstream culture...

Postcard

08.08.13

Portraits of the Faceless

KATHARINA HESSE & DAVID M. BARREDA

Nine years ago, photographer Katharina Hesse began to make portraits of North Korean defectors. To protect their identities she asked only that they “give something” of themselves to the photographs. Her subjects bury their faces in their hands, or slip them beneath the...

Postcard

10.30.12

Wenzhou’s Italian Uncles

ILARIA MARIA SALA

0039 Ristorante Italia sits in the middle of West Jiangbin Street, one of many long and large stretches of concrete that cross Wenzhou east to west, parallel to the Oujiang River, running next to some of the city’s visible wealth—in the form of glitzy malls—and its...

Postcard

10.19.12

Desperately Seeking City

MICHAEL MEYER

At the world’s only International Sister City Museum, located in far northeast China, a guide leads a group of Harbin middle school students past displays for each of their hometown’s twenty-seven “twins.” “Our government’s friendship with these cities promotes peace...

Postcard

06.06.12

The Lesser Wall

MICHAEL MEYER

There is no such place as Manchuria, but the word still resonates like a bell struck a century before. The region is now more prosaically called dongbei—the northeast—yet its contemporary toponyms sing of its imperial past, when it was the homeland of the Manchu, China’s...