Going back through images from a past trip to Yunnan’s Honghe area. I am planning a return visit to the region very soon. This is the first of a series on images of smoking inside the traditional life of the ethnic minorities residing in Yunnan.
Men puffing out tobacco smoke has become such a common daily sight for us living in China, people smoke in the rain, on bikes, while working, in classrooms, and sometimes even while eating! Yunnan was no different. The ladies smoked their pipes leisurely while the men smoked cigarettes and water pipes. The tobacco fields can be seen spread out for miles around the valleys and mountainous regions of Yunnan and the smoking traditions thrives.
This man was sitting in a small one room restaurant in a marketplace and he enjoyed his tobacco while I photographed him feeling almost proud and theatrically demonstrating his skill at exhaling the clouds above his head.
A woman from the Yi ethnic minority with her traditional square hat laughing with all her heart at the market after my friend showed her her image on the camera screen.
We struggle to protect ourselves from what we perceive as threats only to balance those threats with what gives us pleasure. We tend to somehow negotiate a deal with ourselves that makes it all ok.
Every moment is an act, every action a drama, when passion leads the way…
I was walking in an old street in Shanghai with my camera taking in all the sights, smells and noises of the crowded narrow lanes when an unusual sight drew me in. I looked inside a smoky large room packed with rickety tables, chairs, tea pots, and men in hats, so many men in hats. I walked in and after I stopped being looked at as the stranger in the village, I began to be approached by the curious of the gathered men. Each wanted to tell me stories, because this is what we humans do, we carry our his-story with us, in our minds, our hearts, etched on our faces and we long to tell them and to pass them on before we leave, so that parts of us can stay behind and make an indelible mark. I listened and tried my best to comprehend, but the best story this man can tell is written all over his face and I present it to you here in this frozen moment…
It is the biggest question of all! Are we here only for this lifetime? Do we go on afterwards? Why can’t we remember where we came from? Does it make any sense for it to end here? What kind of a bad investment would that be?
The questions that haunt us all and the answers that we think we are so sure of, but are we? No one has been there and back yet, have they?
So much power can travel from and between human eyes, intensity, excitement, alarm, fear, inspiration, hesitation, suggestion, avoidance, guilt, pride, strength, wisdom, glow, inner beauty, and so many other emotions and radiations, too many to list here. Gateways to the soul? Portals of higher communication? However we see them, once the mouth is masked as it often is in Asia, I find that the eyes intensify as it does in other places around the world where only the eyes are shown.
The Yao, one of the 54 recognized ethnic minorities in China, number over 2 million and retain today many of their original traditions. Bright colors and silver adorn them and mountains are their preferred settling places. They form part of the colorful mosaic that China is.
… so is our soul to our body, that would otherwise roam the world aimlessly…