Archive for Lhasa

Fun and Games

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2011 by stevemccurry
Tibetan Refugee Settlement, Bylakuppe, India
If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed
himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become
unstable without knowing it.
– Herodotus


TIBET-10799 Lhasa, Tibet


The true object of all human life is play.
Earth is a task garden.
Heaven is a playground.

G . K. Chesterton

Gubbio, Italy




You can discover more about a person in an
hour of play than in a year of conversation.
– Plato

JAPAN-10027Tokyo, Japan


 ITALY-10288NF8Spoleto, Italy


Mumbai, India


 INDIA-10005NF4Rajasthan, India


Play is a uniquely adaptive act,
not subordinate to some other adaptive
act, but with a special function of its own
in human experience.
– Johan Huizinga

Pul i Khumri, Afghanistan

AFGHN-12126NF3  Wrestling Match, Kahan, Afghanistan


USA-10214 Los Angeles, California

Games lubricate the body and the mind.
-Benjamin Franklin


CANADA-10001Nova Scotia, Canada


Play is the exultation of the possible.
– Martin Buber

AFGHN-10100Kabul, Afghanistan




Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the
seriousness of a child at play.
– Heraclitus

INDIA-10490NFMumbai, India


CHINA-10038NF3 China

It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use,
from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.
– Thomas Aquinas

  AFGHN-12262Bamiyan, Afghanistan






INDIA-10836Rajasthan, India

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Language of Looking

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2011 by stevemccurry

Please scroll to the bottom for the unseen portrait of the week. 

 There are many ways to describe the ways that people look at each other and the world.  We peek, stare, glance, gaze, gape, glare, and peer.  We also examine, contemplate, squint, and observe.


 INDIA-10216Jodhpur, India

BURMA-10151Yangon, Myanmar/Burma

GERMANY-10061 Berlin, Germany

The question is not what you look at, but what you see. 
 – Henry David Thoreau 


AFGHN-13002Kabul, Afghanistan


AFGHN-12691NFnsKabul, Afghanistan

INDIA-10731Thirumullaivayil, India

One of the most wonderful things in nature is a glance of the eye; it transcends speech; it is the bodily
symbol of identity. 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson 

INDIA-10757Train to Peshawar, Pakistan



TIBET-10303NFBarkhor Quarter, Lhasa, Tibet

It’s the way to educate your eyes.  Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop.  Die knowing something.  You are not here long.
– Walker Evans  

SPAIN-10020Reina Sofia, National Museum of Art, Madrid, Spain

If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the 1000th time,
you are in danger of seeing it for the first time.
–  G. K. Chesterton 

INDIA-11085Jaipur, India

I used to try to figure out precisely what I was seeing all the time, until I discovered I didn’t need to.
If the thing is there, why, there it is.
– Walker Evans

CAMBODIA-10311A man examines photographs of victims of the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 prison camp, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 Unseen Portrait of the WeekPAKISTAN-10011Baluchistan, Pakistan

Children at Work

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2011 by stevemccurry

AFRICA-10237The Sahel, Africa

In developing countries one in six children from 5 to 14 years old is involved in child labor.

INDIA-10207Ship-breaking yard, Mumbai, India

Shoepolisher, Tibetans, 12/2000, final book_iconicLhasa, Tibet

In the least developed countries, 30 percent of all children are engaged in child labor.

Marpha, Nepal, 1998Marpha, Nepal

Worldwide, 126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers.

AFGHN-13034NFKabul, Afghanistan

The highest proportion of child laborers is in sub-Saharan Africa, where 26 percent of children (49 million) are involved in work.

Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-13002Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-12258-(1)Kandahar, Afghanistan

An estimated 1.2 million children — both boys and girls — are trafficked each year into exploitative work in agriculture, mining, factories, armed conflict or commercial sex work.

_SM13419, Myanmar, Burma, 02/2011, BURMA-10283Mandalay, Myanmar/ Burma

AFGHN-10025Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-12925Bamiyan, Afghanistan 

“Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together,  and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.” –  Grace Abbott


AFGHN-12209Pul i Khumri, Afghanistan

Cigarette Vendor, Kabul Survey Trip, 05/2002 Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-12243Pul i Khumri, Afghanistan

Charikar, Afghanistan, 2002

 ImagineAsia’s Storybook Project for Afghan Children

The mission of ImagineAsia, a 501c3 non-profit organization, is to work in partnership with local community leaders and regional NGO’s to help students in Afghan communities receive fundamental educational materials and resources. 

IA  has started to translate Aesop’s fables into Dari for the children of Afghanistan who have never had a book of their own.  Translated and illustrated by volunteers, these stories will reach families in remote areas of the country.

For thousands of years the fables have revealed universal truths through simple allegories.  The stories often use animals to  teach lessons that are easily understood by people of all ages.

Here are some sample pages:

The Lion and the Mouse –  illustrated by Jason Melcher

 The Boy Who Cried Wolf – illustrated by Kate Raines

Pitcher and the Crow –  illustrated by Lois Andersen

An Afghan Folktale – The Silver on the Hearth – illustrated by Kate Harrold

Tortoise and Hare –  illustrated by Kate Harrold

The Donkey and its Purchaser – illustrated by Kate Harrold

The Sun and the Wind – illustrated by Annie Zimmerman

 The Fox and the Goat – illustrated by Jason Melcher


The Eye of the Beholder

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by stevemccurry


 The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, are two of the world’s most iconic buildings.   They both evoke passionate emotions, even love, despite being  on opposite ends of the historical and architectural spectrum.



Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Built with translucent white marble and inlaid with gems from China, Tibet, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and the Arabian peninsula


 In both buildings shape, size, scale, proportion, texture, color, and light  work together to spectacular effect, but very simple structures can also be designed to bring aesthetic pleasure.



Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
Constructed with a steel frame covered with titanium sheathing

What makes things pleasing to our eyes, and how can the design of everything from majestic buildings to simple utilitarian structures bring delight?



Kyoto, Japan

For centuries, there has been documented evidence that people have preferences for structures in the built environment and in the natural environment that have certain geometric  proportions known as the golden ratio or golden proportion.


Red Fort, New Delhi, India

  The ratio of length to width of approximately 1.618  appears not only in art and architecture, but also in natural structures.


Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet



Junagarh Fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India


Step Well, India


Kimberly Elam’s book,  Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition, points out that things in nature as different as
the human body, the pine cone, and the trout all share natural proportioning systems that provide the foundation for all art, architecture, and design.


Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is
recognition of the pattern.
 – Alfred North Whitehead, Mathemetician


INDIA-10997, Jodhpur, India, 2005

Jodhpur, India



Gujarat, India


INDIA-10966,  Jaipur, India, April, 2008, Final print_Novartis

Jaipur, India, 2008

 On photography and geometry:

“For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson



“Let no one destitute of geometry enter my doors.”  –  Plato 


The Path to Buddha

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2009 by stevemccurry

I am often asked about which countries I enjoy photographing the most.  That’s very hard to answer, but I do enjoy going back again and again to Buddhist countries, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Bhutan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Burma.


Buddha statue in Mandalay, Burma, 2008


Monk at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet, 2000

The ethics and the aesthetics of Buddhism are melded in a unique way. The vivid color of robes and sacred places contrast with the monochromatic tradition I grew up with.


Young monks play with computer games in Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, India, 2001

Every time I have visited a Buddhist monastery, I have seen a playfulness among the monks, a joy in the way they conduct themselves and the way they interact with each other.

Young nun, Rangoon, BURMA-10013NF2, Burma/Myanmar, 1994

Young nun, Rangoon, Burma, 1994


Monks in the Rain, Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1999


A monk studies Buddhist scripture in the late afternoon at a monastery in Aranyaprathet, Thailand, 1996

As I photographed the picture of the monk and the cat in a monastery in Thailand, it occured to me that all the qualities that I observed – contemplation, serenity, meditation – are ones that are antithetical to the hard-charging, ladder-climbing Western culture.


Young monks study Buddhist scripture at a monastery in Litang, Kham, Tibet, 1999


Pilgrim praying at the Buddhist academy of Larung Gar, near Serthar, Kham, Tibet, 2001

The Monks have a way of taking something we could consider mundane, and transform it into something sacred.


Candles are a form of offering at the Tibetan Prayer Festival, during which thousands are lit under the Bodi tree. Bodh Gaya, India, 2000

Monasteries have always been places of refuge for people and animals who have no other place to go.  Monks will share whatever they have, no matter how small.


Woman meditates in Bagan monastery, Burma, 2008

Even though they get merits for helping people in need, one never has the impression that they do it for any other reason other than their good nature, dedication, and hospitality.

Quotations from the Buddha:

“Teach this triple truth to all:  A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”

“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”



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