Phil Borges | Available work
Lake Yihun Lhatso, 19.5 x 38.5 inches framed (12 x 32 inch image)
This is the beautiful sacred glacial lake of Yihun Lhatso. For those who have trained their minds and have the pure vision to perceive, the mountains and rocks surrounding the lake are said to assume the divine form of the Cakrasamvara mandala. Meditation on this mandala is an advanced Tibetan tantric Buddhist practice that achieves enlightenment through the union of compassion and wisdom. This young monk from the Derge Gochen Monastery came to the lake to spend a week in meditation.
Merda, 2, edition of 20, 27 x 23 inches framed (21 x 15 inch image)
Mount Kailash Kora, 15,500 feet, Ngari Province. My guide told me that Merda’s mother survived a dog massacre carried out by the local authorities. Three years ago the large vultures that are instrumental in Tibetan sky burials mysteriously disappeared from the Mount Kailash area. The monks who perform the sky burial began to rely on dogs to dispose of the deceased’s remains. Having developed a taste for human flesh the dogs became dangerous and actually attacked and killed a pilgrim. Not knowing which dogs were responsible, all dogs in the Kailash area were ordered to be killed. Merda’s mother was shot but survived. Merda faithfully followed us for three days as we walked the Kailash Kora.
Tsetsen Lhamo, edition of 20, 25, 27 x 23 inches framed (21 x 15 inch image)
Mato, 14,100 feet, Qinghai Province. Tsetsen Lhamo is a member of a very distinctively dressed and independently minded nomadic people called the Golok who inhabit the southern region of Qinghai Province. She said the grasslands have been getting worse every year, forcing her to reduce her herd down to twenty yaks. Fortunately, this year the grass was better than last because of the unusual rains that came in early summer. The weather can be brutal here.
Flooded Pasture land, Yamdrok-Tso, edition of 20, 19.5 x 38.5 inches framed (12 x 32 inch image)
Rudy, 7, 1996, Edition of 50, Digital archival print, 27 x 23 inches
Rudi’s small village is a day’s walk from the nearest road in the mountains of Sulawesi. He took me to his one-room house where many of the villagers were crowded around a small television watching Mike Tyson fight Evander Holyfield. After my arrival, all eyes were in constant motion between me and the television set. As Tyson bit his opponent, I couldn’t help but wonder what these people thought of me and my culture.
Tenzin Gyatso, 2003, uneditioned, selectively toned silver gelatin print, 16.5 x 13.5 inches
Born to a peasant family, he was discovered to be the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion at the age of two. At four he was installed as the fourteenth Dalai Lama and then as a teenager he faced the invasion of his country. Eight years later he was forced to flee to neighboring India, where he still lives. Our appointment for this portrait was set for the afternoon on the rooftop of his residence. As he approached, I nervously held out my hand to greet him. He avoided it, stuck his fingers in my ribs, let out his famous laugh, and tickled me.
Kalime (22) and Algo (3), 1995, uneditioned, selectively toned silver gelatin print, 16.5 x 13.5 inches
Kalime and her son had just spent the day working in their cornfield. This year’s drought has threatened both the growth of their crops and the survival of their entire tribe, the Karo. There are fewer than 500 Karo tribespeople remaining today. Kalime said they have had enough to eat this year, but no one knows what the tribe will do if the rains don’t come by next year.
Dechi (8) and Tsering (8), 1998, edition of 40, selectively toned silver gelatin print, 27 x 23 inches
Tsering and Dechi are good friends whose nomadic families reside in the Yanpachen Valley. I was told that in areas such as this, wildlife was plentiful and virtually unafraid of humans due to the sacred treatment of all life by Tibetan Buddhists. Today wildlife is hard to find and many exotic species have been hunted practically to extinction.
Ahidha (10 months) and Sonam (21 months), 1995, uneditioned, selectively toned silver gelatin print, 16.5 x 13.5 inches
Ahida and Sonam are Muslim children who live near their mosque in Lhasa , the capital city of Tibet. Sonam’s father indicated that the Muslims have peacefully lived alongside Tibetan Buddhists for centuries and that there are currently thousands of Muslims living in Tibet. He said their religious practices are strictly controlled by the Chinese Bureau of Religious Affairs.
Junelle, 17, 1999, sample print (last available edition: 6/50), selectively toned silver gelatin print, 27 x 23 inches
Junelle’s parents first started taking her to powwows 14 years ago. She quickly learned both traditional and fancy dance styles and was just named Miss Looking Glass at the annual Four Nations Powwow in Lewiston. She said that there were very few powwows when she started dancing, but now all that has changed. The powwow is like a giant family reunion; it’s very communal and sacred.
Nez Perce Tribe
Mimi, 8, 1995, uneditioned, selectively toned silver gelatin print, 16.5 x 13.5 inches
As one of five children, Mimi spends most of her day collecting firewood and water. Her parents will soon choose which one of their children will go to school. Mimi said she would love to go but doesn’t believe she will: Not only is her help crucial to the family’s survival, but parents also customarily choose boys over girls to receive an education.
Delgermaa, 8, 1998, edition of 35, selectively toned silver gelatin print, 27 x 23 inches
Delgermaa belongs to the Darkhad ethnic group which has a strong shamanic tradition. Her family lives in a small village in the northern Mongolian taiga where the temperatures in the winter routinely reach minus 24-30° C. All year long, she carries water to her house from a river one mile away. Even though this was her first year at school, she already has ambitions to become a teacher.
Kinesi, 6, 1996, 49/50, selectively toned silver gelatin print, 27 x 23 inches
age 6, Mt. Nyiru, Kenya, Samburu tribe.
Kinesi often helps his older brother take care of the family goats. He is the only one of seven children who was selected by his parents to attend school. Since his Samburu family is semi-nomadic, sometimes he must walk alone nearly four hours over terrain populated by baboons and leopards to get to the only school in his district. His mother says that Kenesi runs most of the way -- not from fear of predators, but from the excitement of school.
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