Portfolio: Boris Joseph
If you think we live in an age of austerity, spare a thought for the 7,000 nuns living in the makeshift "city" of Yarchen. Lacking both running water and electricity, this tightly packed encampment made of wood and fabric nestles in a remote Tibetan valley 4,000m above sea level – and is not even listed on Chinese maps.
"I'd heard about the camp several years ago, but it was impossible to get there, as access by foreigners is forbidden by the authorities," says the French photographer Boris Joseph. But when a particularly savage snowstorm caused the Chinese guards to abandon their checkpoint controlling access to the camp, Joseph sneaked through and entered the shanty town, spending three days documenting the simple, pious lives of the nuns. "They come from all over Tibet to live near the Yarchen monastery [seen at the far right of the picture] and experience its austere regime of Nyingma Buddhist prayers and mediation."
The highlight of this settlement's calendar year is the 100 days of coldest winter, when each morning the nuns leave their ramshackle homes to ascend to the thousands of one-person huts scattered across the mountainside, where they pray, meditate and sing for the day. At night, as temperatures drop to -20C, they return home to the camp along the river. Why endure such hardships? "It's only by experiencing this level of material destitution that they feel they are able to reach the Buddhist ideal of detachment from the world," explains Joseph.
For more: borisjoseph.viewbook.com
TV Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 5 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Jurassic World trailer: Chris Pratt stars in full-length trailer with Bryce Dallas and Ty Simpkins
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel set to become overnight bestseller
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services