It was intended to be a short visit to India. I arrived at Bodh Gaya in North India, where Buddha achieved enlightenment and where I expected to encounter the last vestiges of Tibetan culture. Instead, I found a vibrant culture in exile. I have no photos of India from that difficult, optimistic time, but the strength and good humour of the refugee Tibetan culture captivated me. I put off my return to London to visit a friend who was working with a Tibetan leader in Mussoorie in the Himalayan foothills, just 200 miles north of Delhi. I was invited to stay and help handle the correspondence that raised funds for the rehabilitation of refugees from Sakya, western Tibet. I drafted fund-raising proposals, taught English, and learnt all I could about the history and culture of Tibet.
Tibetan culture was beginning to attract wide interest. Scholars discovered translations of long-lost Sanskrit works in Tibetan. The US Library of Congress established an extensive programme to reprint all Tibetan books, and visitors arrived from all over the world. Books were translated, and theses written. I often photographed the refugees and their living conditions, but the pictures were made for the Tibetans, usually for inclusion in fund-raising proposals, and I have few photos of India from those early years.
After 1979 I always had a camera with me and I traveled more extensively in north and central India. This site is a sample of an extensive archive of photos of India between 1979 and 1985. All material Copyright John Tate 1992. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org My art website is at www.johntateart.co.uk
Site updated: 21/12/04