‘In Mustang, leave nothing but footprints..’
Mustang; a source of awe, a place of solace, with a history of myths and legends.
Mustang is the former Kingdom of Lo, an ancient Tibetan kingdom that is now part of Nepal. Until 1991, no outsiders were allowed to enter Mustang. The Nepalese government tenaciously kept this slice of mythical, spiritual land closed to all foreigners – save the odd inquisitive scholar.
Hidden in the Himalayas, it is protected by its remoteness – for centuries the only way in and out was on horseback. Explorers in the early 1900s described Mustang as a ‘hidden kingdom’ – the practice of Tibetan Buddhism has remained unchanged since the 14th century.
It remains wild and isolated, one of the world’s last few existing and genuine indigenous tribes. For a considerable and challenging permit fee, foreigners can now wander the dirt roads, crumbling monasteries and isolated villages. The Champa Lakhang Temple, standing close to the palace of the Raja of Mustang, houses the largest collection of 15th century Buddhist murals in the world. (Most Tibetan art was largely destroyed by the Chinese in the 1950s). Walled settlements are guarded by fierce Tibetan Mastiffs, and the Mustang people live in flat-roofed, mud brick houses. Rooftops are often stacked with piles of firewood , and with fuel being scarce in the barren lands such displays can be seen as demonstrations of wealth.
Mustang has been described as the last true Shangri-La of today’s cultural landscape – Shangri-La, the fictional utopian Tibetan lamasery described by English novelist James Hilton in ‘Lost Horizon’, a place of inner peace, love and sense of purpose. The PRABAL GURUNG collections have often referenced Nepalese culture, but this season is directly inspired by Nepal, and the richly mythical and legendary culture it celebrates.
PRABAL GURUNG Fall 2014. Saturday 8th, at 12 Noon. Live streaming at prabalgurung.com