This is a sketch of Bettina’s friend, Uli, both of whom visited me in Tibet in 1987. Uli Zimmermann is a photographer and environmentalist from Vienna and she took some beautiful photos of Tibetan people and landscapes, one of which I used for the cover of 9 Months in Tibet.
Monk Writes Letter
This young Tibetan monk (novice) was writing a letter for Bettina, as she did a sketch of him. The boy had probably only just learned to write as the letter is really simple. Before the Chinese Communist’s destroyed Tibet’s vast network of monasteries, thousands of young people would learn to read and write under the guidance of the Buddhist monks every year.
Monks with Clay
When I first saw this sketch I assumed it was a wooden bowl with a big lump of yak butter in it, but the artists (Bettina) told me that it was actually clay. I imagine what we’re looking at here is the inside of a workshop in a monastery with a young apprentice monk on the left working with a tradesman (a potter?) on the right.
There are two ancient monasteries just outside Lhasa, the capital of Tibet – Drepung and Sera. We’re not sure which one this is but the characteristics of both are similar: an ancient sprawl of monastic buildings that lie nestled under a high ridge. These monasteries could host tens of thousands of people before the Chinese invasion.