filippo mutani

Mustang, the last Tibet
Location: milan
Nationality: italian
Biography: Worldwide contributor for Getty Images and Contour.
 Reportage and portrait clients: T-The New York Times, Financial Times, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Independent, Internazionale, Touring/National Geographic, Panorama, Elle, Grazia,... MORE
Public Story
Mustang, the last Tibet
Copyright Filippo Mutani 2023
Updated Jan 2014
Topics Borders, Buddhism, Community, Desert, Documentary, Editorial, Environmental, Landscape, Mustang, Photography, photojournalism, Religion, Spirituality, Tibet, Travel

Upper Mustang (in Tibetan: “fertile plain”) is the former Kingdom of Lo and today part of north-east Nepal bordering China on the Himalayas.

Upper Mustang is also known as a "Tibet outside the Tibetan Border". It resisted the Chinese invasion and it has been the base for the C.I.A. financed guerrilla against China during the sixties. The last King reigned until 2008, and he still lives in Lo Manthang. Being absolutely forbidden to foreigners until 1992 and still very difficult to enter nowdays, the Mustang is also one of the very last Tibet enclaves because it has managed to preserve original Tibetan culture and buddhism practically untouched since the middle age. Mustang is roughly 60x35 km wide and 2700 to 5100m high. The region is the easiest corridor through the Himalayas, and it has enjoyed a rich trade in the ancient times, being the south part of the Silk Road.

The influence of the outside world, especially China, is nowadays growing and contributing to a rapid change in the lives of Mustang's people. Because of its strategic importance Chinese have now started to build a new commercial road through the Mustang valley, which will become the lowest drivable corridor through the Himalayas, linking central Asia to the tropical Indian plains.The road will be finished within the next few years and it might represent an economic opportunity for the local community, as well as the last threath to the surviving of the original Tibetan culture and the untouched environment of Upper Mustang. Nepali government is politically weak, it gets easily influenced by China and it has so far shown no interest in protecting the small Tibetan community of Mustang.

The selected images you see here have been shot in april 2013.The aim of the future work is to complete this reportage, and start documenting the construction of the chinese road (already begun end of 2013) and the border with china, armed with military forces and the first influences on the people (local culture, shops, restaurants, markets..). The new reportage is already planned for spring 2014.

 The final aim of the work is to raise cultural global understanding and international sensibility upon the enormous value of this very small and far away strip of land, in order to drive the change for a more respectful evolution of the Mustang.

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Mustang, the last Tibet by Filippo Mutani
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