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Geoffrey Hiller Burma Book Project Update September 22, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Burma, Myanmar.
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Novice Monks, Bagan, Burma, 1987

About the Project

We are almost halfway into the Kickstarter campaign to publish “Burma in Transition”. The outpouring of support on social media has been wonderful! Great to see momentum building from the international photo community, especially in Europe.  It’s a great feeling to see over100 backers supporting the project. Each time someone new pledges, whatever the amount, it’s a huge pat on the back. But the fact is, it will take more than good wishes to pay the printer in Croatia. If you have been waiting on the sidelines, now is the time to contribute. Thank you.


Bagan, Burma 1987

About the Photographs

I made these photographs during my first trip to Burma in 1987. Back then foreigners were only issued a visa for seven days. It was a marathon trip covering the Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan triangle on night trains and buses. The day we arrived in Pagan there were large processions for young boys who were entering the monastery as novice monks. The boys were led into the temple by horse or carried by their families so their feet wouldn’t touch the ground. Inside the boys were blessed by the monks. In Burma it is common for Buddhist men, and many women, to spend part of their childhood as monks or nuns in order to receive a religious education, study Pali, and gain merit. In the mural behind the novices, the white elephants are revered symbols of power and good fortune.

The second photograph is of a snack food vendor outside of the same temple, waiting for customers as the crowd mills around. Bagan is a magnificent site with thousands of Buddhist pagodas built by the kings between 1100 and 1400, spread out on the arid plains. When I was there, the tourist town was a rustic village with dirt streets and thatched huts that served as guesthouses and food stalls. In 1990, the military generals forcibly moved the whole town to another site miles away where they built luxury hotels. Now for a few hundred dollars, visitors can fly above the ancient ruins in hot air balloons.

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