Himalayan Satori


(Sa+to+ri n. Zen Buddhism - a state of sudden indescribable intuitive enlightenment)

The Himalaya have been thought of as divine ever since mankind first set eyes on them. No range of mountains on earth have become so imbued with myths and legends or so charged with spiritual energy. From ancient beliefs about sacred geography and legends about Mount Kailas and her four rivers, through pantheons of Hindu gods and goddesses to modern notions of Shangri La, these beguiling ranges have touched a deep core in the human psyche.

Many artists and photographers have documented the physical beauty of the Himalaya, and scientists have unravelled the mysteries of their geography, geology and wildlife. Whilst no-one possessed of a beating heart can fail to be moved by the sublime beauty of the Himalaya, the people living amongst these mountains are often forgotten amid the commotion of ascent, discovery and revelation. For me, meeting the hill and mountain folk has surpassed all of the thrills of actually seeing and exploring the mountains. Here, in many isolated valleys and districts, life continues as it has for countless millennia, tightly woven into the rhythms of nature and the seasons and shaped by the physical hardships endured daily. Whether Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem or Jain, I have found the rural folk of the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush to be generous of spirit and genuinely hospitable in ways that have all but vanished from our material, high-tech world. In photographing them I always try to allow a person to compose themselves for a picture. Dignity, wit, vanity or cruelty are almost invariably captured thus, and I vastly prefer portraits that are a product of, and reflect the nature of, interaction between the photographer and subject to sneakily grabbed candids. 

STEVE RAZZETTI Between 1984 and 2003 Steve spent an average of nine months each year in the Himalaya, and during that time began guiding and writing for various outdoor, travel and geographical publications. He also made a lot of wonderful friends. www.razzetti.com