Dorji and the lha-chim (spirit house), Gasa, 2005

Dorji and the lha-chim (spirit house), Gasa, 2005

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When the great Indian master Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) introduced Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan, he had to overcome millennia of popular sentiment, tradition, and superstition invested in the ancient Bon religion.

Like the Roman Emperor Constantine, the early Christians missionaries in Europe, the Spanish and Portuguese priests in Central and South America, the Islamic mullah in India and in Indonesia, Guru Rimpoche had to incorporate aspects of local custom to make widespread conversion possible. In the Tantric tradition, this is referred to as “taming the local gods” by eliminating animal sacrifice and merging Buddhist concepts with shamanistic ritual and nature worship.

Bonpos worship a host of demigods considered the rightful owners of the natural elements: mountain peaks are the abodes of guardians, lakes are inhabited by water goddesses, the land belongs to subterranean deities, water sources are inhabited by spirits, and dark places are haunted by demons. These deities were not eradicated by Tantric Buddhism but incorporated, creating a spiritual relationship between people and their landscapes. The Buddhists of Bhutan engage with specific places in their landscape to nurture the habits of mind that recognize forests, soil, rivers, mountains, and wildlife as sources of life.

Respect for the sacred realms of local deities in Bhutan has shaped human settlement, land use patterns, local custom, and placement of religious as well as secular structures adding beauty and harmony to the landscape. Urban Bhutanese are obliged to return to their ancestral villages once a year to pay homage to their local deities. Modernization is subtly eroding this practice, threatening the cultural and ecological survival of sacred natural sites and spiritual landscapes and replacing them with ugly urban design.

Prints are on Hahnemuhle heavyweight (315 gsm) 100% archival cotton “Photo Rag Baryta” paper, using archival inks and archival spray coating. They have a 200-year life expectancy before any deterioration of the print will be observed when stored, handled, and displayed under archival conditions.

What is often called “Gallery Wrap Canvas” is a fine art inkjet (Giclee) print on canvas, with printed edges to wrap around a wooden stretcher frame, like a painting. With canvas prints, your print image is still the same size, but given a "wrap effect" around the edges to account for the thickness of the stretcher. Canvas can be rolled and shipped with no effect to the print. Your local framing shop should be able to mount the canvas to stretchers at a fraction of the cost of traditional framing, making for an overall more economical way to get fine art on your wall. The canvas is printed to wrap around a 1-inch stretcher (1.5 inches on larger sizes). Specifications will be provided with your order. Feel free to contact us if you need guidance with your canvas order.

John prints, titles, dates, and signs all of his photos.

CUSTOM ORDERS: For custom orders of prints shipped flat, framed, or as stretched canvas, contact