Published: April 11, 2022
young woman

Event and Exhibit

“Searching for Grass and Water: Nomads of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya” by Daniel Miller

In conjunction with the Tibet Himalaya Initiative, which is hosting a talk by Daniel Miller as well as a Tibetan Women Writers’ Conference at CU Boulder in April, Norlin Library will host an exhibit, Searching for Grass and Water: Nomads of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya featuring photographs by Daniel Miller. The exhibit will be on display from April 13 to May 27 in the Underground West Gallery.

With a talk by Daniel Miller on Wednesday April 13 in the Center for British and Irish Studies, Norlin Library, 5th floor at 5pm. There will be a reception with light refreshments to follow.

We encourage attendees go and see the photographs before the talk. 

About Searching for Grass and Water: Nomads of the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya 

Moving across the grasslands with their livestock, transhumant and nomadic herders evoke freedom. They cherish the ability to move in the search for optimal grass and water for their livestock.  This flexibility and mobility is crucial to thriving in patchy and heterogeneous rangeland ecosystems.  Constantly exposed to the elements of nature – rain, snowstorms and drought -- herders take these events for granted and face them with remarkable equanimity.  They also have an intimate knowledge of their environment and an amazing ability to handle animals – a skill rare among most people today. Despite these admirable traits, pastoral cultures are not well known and they face numerous threats to their ways of life.

An estimated two million people still practice nomadic or transhumant pastoralism on the Tibetan Plateau and in the Himalaya.  Throughout the Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China and in the northern parts of Bhutan, India and Nepal, herders are an important element in local economies and society.

This exhibition, based on photographs taken over four decades, reveal Tibetan pastoralists’ perspectives on life as they roll their homes up in bundles and lash them to the back of yaks as they move across vast landscapes.  Their world operates on a rhythm completely different from that of industrialized urban centers and their lives are finely tuned to the growth of grass, the births of animals and the seasonal movement of their herds. However, Tibetan nomads didn’t merely eke out a living; they created a unique culture and were part of a remarkable civilization that was the most powerful empire in Asia over 1,300 years ago.

Daniel Miller started taking photographs of Tibetan herders in Nepal as an American Peace Corps Volunteer over forty years ago. As a rangeland ecologist and livestock specialist, he has worked with pastoralists throughout the Himalaya, Tibetan Plateau and Mongolian Steppe. His photographs have been displayed in Kathmandu, Beijing and New Delhi. Searching for Grass and Water provides a visual record of Tibetan herders over four decades. As such, Miller’s images serve as a documentary on nomads  in the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau and their vanishing way of life, adding to our understanding of a remarkable landscape and an extraordinary culture.