Photographer's Note

I am nearing the end of my series of photos from Tibet in 1986. I have a few more to show you and I can't stop without posting another one of the mighty Potala Palace, largely built during the 17th century, which up to 1959 was the residence of the religious leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama, and also the headquarters of the free Tibetan government.

Here is a larger version.

The Potala is one of those few buildings that totally dominates a city, seen from almost wherever you are standing, not just because it is built on a hill and is very large, but for its impressive design. It is perhaps the most fascinating building I have ever seen, both from outside and inside.

I am sorry I can't show you any photos of the dark and mysterious interiors of this palace. I didn't take any inside, not just because photography was not allowed (the monks didn't mind, only objecting when Chinese officials were close), but it was really too dark. But in my diary I described the fantastic, very detailed wall paintings decorating most of the rooms, "hardly less impressive than the Florentine Renaissance frescos, but contrary to Giotto, Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi and the rest of them, these Tibetan masters of the 17th and 18th centuries are largely anonymous to us".

What struck me was the dark gloominess of the private quarters of the Dalai Lama. I noted that the present, 14th Dalai Lama, couldn't have had a very happy childhood growing up in this environment where he was in reality kept a prisoner, treated like a kind of god while in fact being just an ordinary boy.

I took this photo from a very small monastery built on a hillside opposite the Potala. You can see that monastery in one WS photo taken from where I got out of the palace, just at the far left side seen here. In the other additional photo is a woman I met near the entrance to the palace, which must have been somewhere on the right side of the brown section of the building.

All photos were scanned from Kodachrome slides.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11536 W: 562 N: 22227] (96656)
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