From Awake to Awake by Kottie Gaydos

Issue 59

In 2010 I traveled to the grasslands of the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, China. I wanted to hear the folk songs of Gesar, an 11th century enlightened warrior king, and to photograph the extended families of the Genong Village. The families that form Genong are Khampa Tibetan nomads and proud descendants of Gesar. For the next three years I spent the summer months photographing, living and working with this clan.

The families in Genong move three times a year. The cold winter months are spent in stone houses in Gerta, a valley near Lhagang, a small town whose residents mostly consist of former nomads, monks, and the elderly. The warmest months are spent in yak hair tents high up in the summer pasture, Dashika. This is considered the happiest time of the year. The grass is plentiful. The yaks are healthy and milk, cheese, and butter are fresh. In late July, a horse festival is held by each village. Lungta, a wind horse ceremony when new prayer flags are raised, begins the event, followed by trick horseback riding and races.

I came to the grasslands for Gesar, but fell in love with the mountain and pastures. Time moves slowly in the grasslands. Days blend together until the pattern of herding, milking, and drinking tea are broken with a visitor or the death of a yak. From Awake to Awake is as much a story of my time with the Genong clan as it is of them.
 

Kottie Gaydos lives and works in Detroit, MI, USA.
To view more of Kottie's work, please visit her website.

You can purchase a photograph by Kottie Gaydos from the Fraction Editions.

  Tashi Nora, Gerta 

Tashi Nora, Gerta 

  Curtain at Djarga’s 

Curtain at Djarga’s 

  Sola, Dashika 

Sola, Dashika 

  Somtso Sleeping, Lhagang 

Somtso Sleeping, Lhagang 

  Foothills Near Lhagang 

Foothills Near Lhagang 

  Gaumzen Rinzen, Gerta 

Gaumzen Rinzen, Gerta 

  Garum Nora and Cousins, Dashika 

Garum Nora and Cousins, Dashika 

  A Portrait of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Gerta 

A Portrait of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Gerta 

  Prayers for Tashi, Lhagang 

Prayers for Tashi, Lhagang 

  Somtso, Gerta 

Somtso, Gerta 

  Celebration Tents at Night, Lhagang 

Celebration Tents at Night, Lhagang 

  Guru, Gerta 

Guru, Gerta 

  Sola’s Tent with Smoke, Dashika 

Sola’s Tent with Smoke, Dashika 

  Somtso with Juney’s Kitten, Lhagang 

Somtso with Juney’s Kitten, Lhagang 

  Griffon Vultures, Lhagang 

Griffon Vultures, Lhagang 

  Smoke, Dashika 

Smoke, Dashika 

  Somtso Playing in the Altar Room, Lhagang 

Somtso Playing in the Altar Room, Lhagang 

  Ani Droma, Gerta 

Ani Droma, Gerta 

  The First Snow, Lhagang 

The First Snow, Lhagang