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April 18, 2012

Mustang: Nepal's former Kingdom of Lo

Photographer Taylor Weidman was given special permission by the government of Nepal to travel in the restricted area of Mustang. He writes, "Mustang, or the former Kingdom of Lo, is hidden in the rain shadow of the Himalaya in one of the most remote corners of Nepal. Hemmed in by the world's highest mountain range to the south and an occupied and shuttered Tibet to the north, this tiny Tibetan kingdom has remained virtually unchanged since the 15th century. Today, Mustang is arguably the best-preserved example of traditional Tibetan life in the world. But it is poised for change. A new highway will connect the region to Kathmandu and China for the first time, ushering in a new age of modernity and altering Mustang's desert-mountain villages forever." Collected here is a selection of Weidman's work from his book "Mustang: Lives and Landscapes of the Lost Tibetan Kingdom," proceeds from which support Weidman's Vanishing Cultures Project. -- Lane Turner (22 photos total)

The village of Tangge stands on the edge of a Kali Gandaki tributary. Buildings are packed tightly together to help protect the residents from the strong winds that pick up each afternoon. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project)

A group of Loba men gather in the fields outside of Lo Manthang during the planting season. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

The winter monastery keeper stands for a portrait in the main hall of the monastery in Tetang. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

Tashi Dolkar Gurung, a Loba woman, removes gravel from rice near the light of a window in her earthen home in Lo Manthang. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

A monk walks through the alleyways of Lo Manthang. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

A young man rides his horse down the Kali Gandaki River valley. The valley is the main conduit into and out of the region, and historically was an important section of the Salt Route connecting Tibet and India. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

The King's old palace in Tsarang, viewed from the town's monastery. The palace has not been used in recent years and has begun to fall into disrepair. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

Dhakmar villagers return to the town after a day of working in the fields. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

The Tiji Festival, which occurs yearly in the main square of Lo Manthang, features dancers dressed elaborately as animals, demons, and divinities. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

During the three-day spectacle of the Tiji Festival, monks dress as different animals, demons and divinities to enact an epic fight between good and evil. In the town square of Lo Manthang, a monk dressed as a skeleton performs an ancient dance accompanied by ceremonial Tibetan Buddhist music. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

At the end of the Tiji festival, members of the king's court gather with their muskets as they prepare to help chase the demon from the city by shooting volley after volley. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

The former king of Lo, Jigme Palbar Bista, still plays an important part during the Tiji Festival. Here he sits with his royal court in the town square to watch the monks perform. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

A group of senior monks gather for a ceremony on a field outside of Lo Manthang. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

An elderly Loba man dresses in his finest for the annual Tiji festival. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

Elderly women sit in Lo Manthang to spin prayer wheels and pray together. This is a daily communal ritual for most retired Loba. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

Loba farmers gather outside of Lo Manthang before a prayer ceremony. It is increasingly common for locals to be seen in western clothing, due to the new road which is nearly completed. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

A young monk adjusts his robes. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

A Loba woman walks kora (clockwise circumambulations) around the city walls of Lo Manthang. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

Villagers of Phuwa load bags of fertilizer onto horses to be taken to the fields. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

In a staging area inside of the king's palace, a group of monks helps prepare dancers for an upcoming ceremony during the Tiji festival. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

Loba women wear traditional headdresses called perak for special occasions such as weddings and festivals. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #

A monk leads a horse between the towns of Ghemi and Dhakmar. (Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project) #


 
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