A superb collection of 150 black-and-white photographs of 1930s Ladakh, capturing its final days as a hub of trade routes between Tibet and Kashmir, India and Yarkand. These portraits of people, landscapes and Buddhist ceremonies taken by amateur photographer Rupert Wilmot, are notable for their careful composition, fine detail and engaging informality. They have been meticulously researched and captioned by Nicky Harman and Roger Bates, respectively, niece and nephew of Rupert Wilmot, and include maps, an introduction and a bibliography. Of considerable historical and ethnographic interest.
Rupert Wilmot (1897-1961) was a British army officer stationed in India during the 1930s, and a talented amateur photographer. Nicky Harman translates Chinese literature, including The Book of Sins by Chen Xiwo. Roger Bates digitized the photographs.
With a Foreword by Khenpo K. Rangdol, President of Tserkarmo Monastery, Ladakh, India.
Praise For The Lost World of Ladakh
“A wonderfully elegaic set of photographs recording a lost world: an almost mediaeval Ladakh untouched by modernity and still living at the hub of the old trans-Himalayan trade routes, a timeless Central Asia where soot writing boards, itinerant monks, arcane astrologers, masked dancers and elaborate turquoise headdresses were still common. These skillfully restored photographs make me ache to cross again the snowy heights of the Zoji-la and to re-visit this most fascinating region to see what is left.”
William Dalrymple, author of Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42.
“Rupert Wilmot’s pictures are a delight. The monastery images include a spectacular set of the religious dance-drama at Hemis. There is also a visual record of the trades that lifted so many of Ladakh's villagers above the poverty level: the bustle in Leh Bazaar, the interior of a serai, and caravans of sheep, donkeys and ponies. Perhaps the book’s most outstanding feature is the series of portraits of Wilmot’s fellow-travellers and other Ladakhis, most of them in relaxed and cheerful mode, rather than posing stiffly.”
Dr Janet Rizvi, writer and historian of Ladakh, Kashmir and the western Himalaya.
“These illustrations, superb as photographs in their own right, capture in visual form the essence of Ladakhi life as it was in the 1930s. While the Ladakh pictured here is in many ways gone, its legacy lives on in the distinctive culture of present-day Ladakh, which cannot be fully appreciated without a knowledge of its history. In this book we have a unique and vital contribution to that history.”
Dr Philip Denwood, Emeritus Reader in Tibetan Studies, SOAS, University of London.
Buying the Book
Published by Asian Highlands Perspectives, and available in Asia by clicking here, priced in local currencies.
The Lost World of Ladakh is being published in Ladakh itself by Stawa Publications this July, at a price enabling local schools and libraries to stock it – it has been warmly received there.