Guge: Ages of Gold—The West Tibetan Masterpieces

Guge was a great Buddhist kingdom in Western Tibet. Today, only ruins remain of the once-splendid civilization, but, over seven hundred years, its rulers were passionate patrons of the arts who commissioned vast temple complexes, richly ornamented and filled with art and furniture by Kashmiri master craftsmen. The grand, spacious temples of Guge are all the more captivating because of the kingdom’s sudden, mysterious disappearance.

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Among the sites photographed were the monasteries Tholing, Tsaparang, and Dungkar, in addition to Serkhang, the “Golden Temple,” which contains many beautiful murals completed in the sixteenth century during the second of Guge’s two golden ages, when the formal and stylistic direction of Guge’s art became characterized by a blend of Kashmiri traditions and Nepalese and Chinese influences. A concise text accompanies the images, bringing in the latest research on Guge and the art and culture of western Tibet.

Guge is a wonder of the world, yet few photographers have had the opportunity to capture it—and even fewer with Van Ham’s vision and technical skill. Guge—Ages of Gold seeks to preserve this rich artistic and cultural heritage.

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Excellent documentary on YouTube (52 minutes).

Visit Guge:

It’s not so easy to get to Guge. It's about 1,200 hundred miles from Lhasa or a ten-hour drive from the closest airport. It's not far from Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, so often it's part of a trip to Mt. Kailash. 

It is a great honor to bring visitors to Guge and experience the wonders of past civilizations together.