As a photographer and lover of Nepal – its history, its legacy, and its future – I jump anytime I find historic imagery of the country, its places, and its people.
Obviously, these days many of these images are troubling to see, as they reflect in single frames many of the people, places, and scenes that were forever changed or completely erased in the massive earthquakes of April 25 and May 12, 2015.
But, as always, Nepalis are not giving up, and many innovative, entrepreneurial projects have popped up to rally funds and support for Nepal and efforts to rebuild the nation’s history and future.
Photo Kathmandu is one such project.
Dedicated to sharing historic imagery of Nepal, and raising funds for the rebuilding of the historic sites of Patan (one of four main, ancient principalities that form the Kathmandu Valley), Photo Kathmandu has curated a collection of great and unique images from the Nepal Picture Library and the private collections of some of the first Peace Corps volunteers working in Nepal in the 1960s.
While not always “professionally” shot, these images are nonetheless stunning, and bring out elements of Nepal that are at once achingly familiar and poignantly historic. The images are all available in limited editions of 100 archival prints, and all proceeds go to rebuilding the historic sites of Patan.
Take a look at a few of the shots below, and then head on over to Photo Kathmandu’s fundraiser print sale to see more and order your print today!
RAI WOMAN PLAYING MOUTH HARP, bhojpur, 1964, by Larry Daloz Rai woman plays a local version of a mouth harp made from bamboo. Earlier, while she was planting rice, her sisters had “accidentally” splashed her with mud. As she plays the mouth harp, the mud on her blouse slowly dries into a crispy layer of earth. Photo by Larry Daloz, Bhojpur, 1964.
A YOUNG THARU MAN: AN “OUTSIDER”, Palpa, by Ravi Mohan Shrestha Shyam Mohan Shrestha remembers a lot of “outsiders” such as this Chaudhary man coming to his father to be photographed. The landowners of Tansen would call the Tharus up from the plains of Bhairahawa and Dang for Dasain and Tihar. The Tharus journeyed on foot, bringing ducks, chicken and grain for the festivities.
Here, this young Tharu man is clearly dressed to impress with a blazer over his linens and his hair combed to the side. His stance in this portrait evokes careful power.
MOUNTAIN CHILDREN, Helambu, 1970, by Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha became the first official photographer of the Nepal Tourism Department and spent the 70s and 80s traveling across Nepal, photographing landscapes, cultures and people presenting Nepal to the rest of the world through postcards, brochures, posters and travel magazines. This is one of Shrestha’s favourite photos. Here, three young children pose for the camera in Tarkeghyang village, in the Helambu region northeast of Kathmandu. The wave-like peaks and dips of the Himalayas in the background is mimicked in the way the children stand and sit on an uneven wall, their eyes wide with curiosity and disbelief.
SWING FEVER, Gorkha, 1964, by Stephen Joseph
In addition to wearing new clothes and eating delicious food, a famous children’s song anticipating the arrival of the festival of Dashain also includes a verse about swinging on tall bamboo swings. In this photo, two women fly high on a Dashain swing.