About the Book
It is the distilled product of three years of diligent detailed research and carefully cultivated relationships with local experts, and three month-long photo-expeditions to Luang Prabang. My research and relationships, combined with patience and perseverance, enabled me to uniquely photograph both the readily seen and rarely seen daily lives of the monks there.
Luang Prabang is centred on a peninsula at the confluence of the famous Nam Kong (Mekong) River and its tributary, the Nam Khan River. It was a former royal capital and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It is also the historical centre and spiritual heart of Laotian Buddhism. Indeed, the Heritage Site alone is home to over twenty active temples.
Luang Prabang - The Monks goes beyond and behind the visual feast of the stunning temples there. It depicts the strength and synergy of the spiritual and secular lives of the monks who live, work, study, and pray in these temples. Their spiritual life, enshrined in their serene religious ceremonies and silent alms taking, is readily seen. However, their secular life, centred around their strenuous chores, demanding school studies, and well-earned recreation, is rarely seen.
Immerse all your five senses in both the readily seen and rarely seen daily lives of the monks. See their self-discipline at worship and their self-reliance at work. Hear their rhythmic chants at prayer and raucous laughter at play. Smell the fragrant candles inside the temples and the acrid open-air kitchen fires outside. Taste the fresh coconuts they harvest and the spicy meals they prepare. Above all, feel their humility when the monks receive alms from their lay communities, and their humanity when they reciprocate with spiritual guidance.
Features & Details
Ju Shen Lee takes photographs that comprehensively capture the vigour and vitality of daily life in exotic locations. She also weaves these photographs into beautiful tapestries that combine creative composition, compelling content, and cultural context. Ju Shen’s photography captures the synergy and symbiosis of nature, life, culture, and religion. It is a visual, cultural, and historical bridge that connects different people in different worlds across different times. During recent photo-expeditions to Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, Ju Shen combined her detailed research, local relationships, patience, and perseverance to photograph both the readily seen and rarely seen daily life there. From amongst 50 Asian and European countries, Ju Shen won the Asia-Europe Foundation’s prestigious Asia Jury Prize in 2016. She published two books on Luang Prabang (Laos): Life & Prayer in 2018 and The Monks in 2019. Her next book, on Inle Lake (Myanmar), will be published in 2020.