Gesar - From Heroic Land to Tibetan Odyssey of Modernization - PhMuseum

Gesar - From Heroic Land to Tibetan Odyssey of Modernization

Hao Wu

2017 - Ongoing

“Epic of King Gesar” is the most well-known Tibetan ethnic epic in China and the longest one in human history, it tells the story of King Gesar, a half-human half deification character who was reincarnate from Guru Rinpoche and claim King of the tibetan area, he wins the war towards evil, saves many lives of its people, and finally bring the peace back to his homeland.

Narrated and inherited by charismatic minstrel and tibetan buddist Lama since A.D. 11th Century, the epic survived numerous social revolutions of modern China, it reflects history, politics, social structure and daily life of people who live in Tibetan plateau area.

From 2017, i traced the clue from the epic King Gesar, travel to many locations and archeologies in Qinghai and Sichuan province, which believed to be the birthplace of the epic, exploring the bundary both geographically and mentally between surreal myths and current reality.

The project Gesar is aim to document the spiritual and complex socio-political landscape of modern Tibetan ethnic group in west China, base on clues and metaphors from the ancient epic. To put questions on how people looks at the past of their ancestors and social heritages? In what way shapes their ethnic identity? If the epic was the old narrative of ancient tibetan world, what is the narrative now for the new era and generation? What changed were made from lifestyle and religious beliefs, to relationship within the local community under the fact of the tighten political space by the communism authority, on what remain or lost for people who live in this territory under intense social transition and modernization, in which i believe is a universal topic to the majority of our world.

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  • An elder tibetan man on his way to "Kora", which mean wandering through the holy mountains . Most of tibetan are devout buddist. Maduo county, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Golog, Qinghai province, China, 2018.

  • A monk stand beside an statue of Sleeping Buddha under construction. Yushu city, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai province, China, 2019.

  • A man enjoy a hot spring near Da'na temple. Nangqian, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai province, China, 2018.

  • From left to right, 10-year-old Dambe Tetsko, 18-year-old Khanun, 15-year-old Me Dorji and 12-year-old laktse. They are brothers and sisters of a eight member tibetan nomads family on prairie over 4300m of average altitude, the whole family lives in a shabby tent provided by local government, four of the children in the photo are albino and lack of treatment and basic protection as there is no formal hospital around the area, their father died of Hepatic echinococcosis at age of 42, the whole family is now rely on their mother and some cows, poverty and ineducation remind of most serious problem of tibetan area, where 80% of people living under poverty line. Sang-rima town, Qinghai province, China, 2018.

  • Portrait of a King Gesar epic singer.Yushu city, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai province, China, 2019.

  • Tibetan men play archery. Da’ri, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Golog, Qinghai province, China, 2018.

  • A little girl in the museum. Yushu city, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai province, China, 2019.

  • A newly married couple pose for a portrait after their wedding. Yushu city. Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai province, China, 2019.


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