In search of susurrus #3 Lhasa

Steep steps led higher into the Potala Palace in the already heart-poundingly punishing altitude of Lhasa.

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Potala Palace, Lhasa

This Tibetan woman wasn’t stopping for breath as she stepped confidently up ahead, her red shoes revealed briefly as she climbed. The colours and symbols of Buddhism had been cleverly woven from plastic on the path beside her, turning a no-entry barrier into a celebration. Inside the Potala, the quiet susurration of chants and prayer wheels created calm.

Prayer wheel reflection, Lhasa
Prayer wheel shadows

But travelling to such places inevitably brings dilemmas…the tensions in the region are well documented and visible on the streets.  Police checkpoints surrounded the traditional circular worship routes that hug the ancient Jokhang Temple. Soldiers with guns watched the procession of prostrating Buddhists from the roofs.

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Lhasa

We got there by train…three nights and four days from the south of China – the route itself a controversial development across the pristine Himalayan Plateau. The stars were crisper and brighter than I’d ever seen. But they lit up the mass movement of Chinese trucks leaving Tibet, laden, a fellow passenger said, with quarried minerals.

It was winter-time, so many Tibetans had come in from the countryside to the city.  It was vibrant and lively and intensely colourful. Even teenagers were in full Tibetan dress, although with jeans on underneath against the sharp, dry cold. The air was ripe with the smell of yaks. Huge slabs of yak butter and cheese were being carved from cloth-wrapped blocks in the market. The smoke from butter lamps and incense seeped into our clothing.

Modern life was evident too. Today’s Tibetans have added mobile phones to their traditional dress and many have replaced old-style stiff leather boots with soft, Ugg-like synthetic replicas.  photo 5 (51)Local crafts are being kept alive, however, with the support of some fair trade artisan organisations and new markets. We took home several thick, Tibetan rugs. Made for the harsh Himalayan climate, they seem quite at home in Shetland.

K. Warner, Shetland

 

 

 

 

 

Worn again weddings

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Forget spending silly money on a dress destined to be worn once – sensible Chinese couples borrow their dream outfits for the day and get that perfect wedding album to share with friends and family.

The Western-style dresses may look a little pre-loved close up, but clever lighting and a bit of digital help and not even the jeans and trainers will show up on the finished picture. Best of all, you don’t have to find room in a wardrobe for a (hopefully) never to be worn again outfit.

Wander in any fine-looking Chinese park on a sunny day and you’ll spot these new brides and grooms, posing in often odd and contorted positions, smiling against a backdrop of old stone bridges, branches of blossom and sparkling lakes.  The allure of the west has seen couples in recent years choose to include glamorous white frocks in their wedding album, often alongside the traditional red Chinese cheongsams.

The idea of dressing up and looking every bit the beautiful bride without having to invest in a new dress is fabulously green. The fabric of choice every time is silk, of course. Exciting, strong and long-lasting. Like a great marriage.

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Sharing the frills

 

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Beautifully packaged

And the perfect environmentally-friendly wedding gift? A set of Susurrus organic silk pillowcases, beautifully boxed, and made to last. A gorgeous present for those who are newly married. 

Or what better way to celebrate a 12th anniversary – traditionally marked with a silk gift. GOTS-certified organic, our pillowcases promise wedding-day glamour, night after night. Take me to the silk shop