Photographer's Note

Barkhor Square in front of the holy Jokhang Temple is where the action is in Lhasa. That's where people of all kinds gather in the evenings to mingle with friends, maybe listen to a street musician, perhaps buy some snacks or just to enjoy being so close to the temple.

Or at least this is how things were in 1986, when I visited Lhasa. But Barkhor Square has also been the place where protests against the Chinese regime have started and been violently put down. Already one year after my visit things got quite bad here. So maybe it's different now. Maybe the authorities have made sure that public gatherings of the kind that used to be seen can no longer take place here. I really don't know, but anything could be expected of the Chinese government to quell any public outbursts of discontent.

But in 1986 Barkhor Square was still a very quiet and relaxed place. I spent several evenings there, watching people and now and then taking photos. Since all of China is in the same time zone, with Beijing in the far east having the "normal" time, the sun doesn't set until late in Tibet.

Today's main photo shows a boy smoking a cigarette after lighting it in one of several large ovens outside the temple, used for burning fragrant herbs and twigs of junipers. The nice smell of the smoke is supposed to cleanse people's mind for spiritual purposes.

Here is a larger version.

One WS shows a very poor boy I saw in the square, another a very, very poor boy. In spite of their obvious poverty they both smiled happily into my camera.

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: 11705 W: 564 N: 22496] (97572)
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