Quietly They Toil~ Yunnan

The tug go venture into new territory~ YunnanTobacco road~ Yunnanthe strong backbone of the working man~ Yunnanthe loads we carry~ Yunnanspinning tales over gernerations~ Yunnanfield of dreams~ YunnanFarmer in the fog~ Yunnan

For some of us here on earth, the day begins and ends with physical work, and that brings a simple satisfaction of a hard-earned existence. Every working face I saw during my travels in Yunnan was always ready to break into an unapologizing smile; they possessed a contentment that can be forgotten to us in our boxed offices and multiple screens facing us every waking moment. They commune with nature, the wind, the elements, the land and that rewards them with a sense of belonging. They remember that they are earth dwellers and that simple truth is their fountain of wisdom.

reverence~ Yunnan

reverence

Golden dedication~ Yunnan

Golden Dedication

Every new journey gives me a renewed set of reasons to do what I love to do. I love the art of photography. Time stops when I am in the streets of a new place, meeting people, looking through their eyes, watching them from a distance as they do what they do, and feeling a rising sense of excitement at being part of it all. In my recent trip to the region of Yunnan around Dali, I had a lot of time to reflect and to ponder what it is about photography that keeps me traveling, venturing and adventuring in search of human connection. It came to me one early morning just before sunrise, it is the soul of the place, that is what meets me at those special moments and gives me permission to capture its magic. You may give it any other name you wish, for me, it’s the soul.

she bashfully ran in a swoosh of color~ Yi Minority~ Yunnan

She Bashfully Ran in a Swoosh of Color

 

The Soul of Yunnan~

The Ethnic Minority Culture of Yunnan~ China

state of surrender

state of surrender

the bending force of habit

the bending force of habit

Leader of the marching band

Leader of the marching band

I returned with a small group of photographers last week to this remote region of China’s Yunnan Province that haunted me since my last visit to the area a couple of years back.

It is the type of journey you would do if you were really in love with photography and different cultures that make up pieces of the puzzle of the human story on our planet.

The journey was a great challenge from the long drives, to the heat, the spare accommodations and the great element of unknown.

It was the opening of my series of documentary photography workshops that I am doing in Yunnan and despite all the challenges we faced, I can happily call this a great success.

I will be sharing here a series of images, stories, portraits and special stories about this journey into a unique and mysterious part of the world.

wearing her story ~ Yunnan

wearing her story ~ Yunnan

wearing her story ~ Yunnan

Every stitch on her costume, every threaded bead she decorates herself with, every wrinkle on her face plays a part in telling her story, a life so different to ours, a world so alien to 21st century culture, an existence rising out of old traditions, she belongs to a tribe that allows strangers no access. All I could capture was the sense of her presence and the few photographs that I always hope could link to the state of standing in front of these amazing people.

stories of times gone by~ Yi woman~ Yunnan

stories of times gone by~ Yunnan~ Yi woman

stories of times gone by~ Yunnan~ Yi woman

It is such a common sight in Yunnan to see these strong women from the Yi ethnic minority with pipes lit in their mouths puffing at tobacco smoke around the streets, markets and village homes. The pipes are hand crafted and each woman holds on to hers for life proudly. When I asked about the place where we can buy one, I constantly received puzzled looks, “you don’t buy these, you get one made for you when you come of age”!

Day 26~ December 26th~ Guilin

The long haired women of the yao minority

The long haired women of the yao minority

No one is allowed to see her hair until she marries, each Yao woman can carry around her head up 1.9 meters of hair wrapped around like a crown. If a young man happens to catch sight of a girl’s hair, then he must invite her to live with his parents as a bride for 3 whole years. Another of our wonderfully colorful human traditions and another chapter in the mystery of hair.