Through vivid photographs and personal narrative, Michael Yamashita captures the rarefied, enchanting and rapidly changing world of Tibet — the earthly paradise that inspired author James Hilton’s fictional Shangri-La. In his book, Shangri-La [along the Tea Horse Road], Yamashita follows the Chamagudao — the legendary Tea Horse Road– to explore the precipitous mountain passes, mist-shrouded valleys, and monasteries perched on towering peaks above pristine lakes and meadows of this elusive land. The Chamagudao’s circuitous route through Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in western China led Yamashita to the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s capital city of Lhasa, traveling the network of dirt roads, trails and highways that now make up this once vital trade route that stretched for almost 1,400 miles (2350 km). A thousand years ago it linked the mighty Chinese Empire with remote Tibetan villages and nomadic tribes, whose legendary horses were needed by the Chinese military for their wars against Mongol invaders. In return, traders carried prized Chinese tea to the ardently religious Tibetans who depended upon it for both their sacred Buddhist rituals and sustenance. Today, the remnants of this route provide a conduit for Yamashita’s exploration of a land that is at once ethereally peaceful and politically turbulent, and fast disappearing. This book is a close-up view of a land, its people, and a way of life that is becoming increasingly difficult to find and experience.
Hard Cover, 11×12, 272 pages
White Star Publishers, Fall 2012