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September 16, 2020

Everyday Life of Tibet in 1987 Through Fascinating Photos

The 1980s, after the collapse of the Cultural Revolution, was a period of relative tolerance by the Chinese in Tibet in part to make amends for past wrongs. Tibetans were allowed to reopen Buddhist shrines and monasteries.

Tibet in 1987

Monasteries destroyed in the Cultural Revolution were rebuilt. The Tibetan language was reintroduced in schools. Rural communes were dismantled and land was returned to private farmers who were allowed to grow whatever they wanted and sell it on the open market.

The Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said all issues cold be discussed, except independence.

These fascinating Photos were taken by John Mawer during a journey through Tibet in 1987.

A celebration

Abandoned machinery from 'modernisation' era

Carrying fodder for storage


Churning yak milk to make butter

Commute to work

Desperate poverty in Tibet

Empty cart at harvest time

Family portrait

Fellow passenger on boat

Gathering straw after harvesting

Gathering straw

Girl gathering fodder

Group of young people

Hanging out around the prayer wheels


Industrial scale making tea

Kid outside monastery

Lhasa street scenes

Lhasa. Chanting prayers on the street

Lhasa. In the market

Lhasa. Juniper Hearth at the Jokhang

Lhasa. Juniper Hearth at the Jokhang

Lhasa. Meat market

Lhasa. One of a group of women who would daily sit in the Jokhan courtyard with prayer wheel and beads

Lhasa. Pilgrims, the Jokhang

Lhasa. Pilgrims

Lhasa. Reading prayers on the street

Lhasa. Selling meat

Lhasa. The Jokhang

Lhasa. Woman with prater wheel at Courtyard of the Jokhang


Monastery kitchen

Monks at Shigatse

Mountain pass

Nomad encampment

Paintings on the rocks

People of a small town

Renovation work

Returning from the fields at harvest

Selling meat on the street

Shigatse street scenes


Spinning wool

Street dentist


Town of Shigatse on way from Nepal border to Lhasa

Truck of straw

Turning the barley to dry

Village en route to Nepalese border

Village street after rain

Wedding celebration

Winnowing barley

Woman in village

Women chatting on the street

Yellow cap monks

Young girl

Young man and his decorated yaks

Young monks

Young nuns

(Photo © John Mawer)


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