Thursday, 20 November 2014

Michael Švec | The Kingdom of Mustang

Photo © Michael Švec-All Rights Reserved
Mustang (derived from the Tibetan word Möntang) is the former Kingdom of Lo where Tibetic languages are still widely spoken and traditional Tibetan culture remains. It was once an independent kingdom, although closely tied by language and culture to Tibet. From the 15th century to the 17th century, its strategic location granted Mustang control over the trade between the Himalayas and India. At the end of the 18th century the kingdom was annexed by Nepal. Its monarchy ceased to exist on October 7, 2008, by order of the Nepalese government.

It's a weeklong hike from the nearest airport (usually Jomsom or Pokhara) to the capital city of Lo Manthang, which is is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world, and which was  recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

The remoteness of Mustang hasn't discouraged Michael Švec from traveling to photograph its landscapes and people, and produce a wonderful audio-slideshow titled The Last Forbidden Tibetan Kingdom.

While Michael Švec is a digital art director in Prague, he is also a documentary and fine art travel photographer, who works on assignments in Asia, Middle East and Europe. He traveled the world for more than ten years, focusing his lens on documenting traditions of changing cultures around the world, human rights issues and spirituality within people and places.

He tells us that he likes to stay with the people of the regions he travels to, he lives with them, eats with them and shares their lives as much as they allow him to. He needs to be accepted by the community before taking the pictures. Nice sentiment, and a difficult to achieve sometimes.

Michael's portfolio includes an audio-slideshow of the Indian Kushti wrestling, as well as slideshows of the Kalash people of Chitral in northern Pakistan, of the Pushkar camel fair and of the tribes of the Kutch.

Delve a little deeper, and you'll find photographs of Rio de Janeiro, Rajasthan, Ethiopia, Nepal, Kashmir, Iran, Morocco and Kashmir amongst others.