Gurung

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© Eric Valli, 1970s, Himalaya, Honey Hunters a.o.

Twice a year for nearly 12,000 years, men of Gurung tribe of central Nepal have braved the Himalayan foothills to harvest the honey of the world’s largest species of honeybees. The knowledge of extracting honey from hives that were precariously parched on the hillsides was passed from father to son for these millennia, and in 1987, the 63-year old villagehead Mani Lal was the last of his village to have mastery of the technique.

But that year, he was aided not just by an experienced team of his fellow villagers; he was accompanied by the French photographer Eric Valli and his Australian wife Diane Summers who was acting as a filmmaker (Summers was a lawyer when she met Valli on a Nepali bus). The couple had spent the two previously years tracking and searching a thousand Himalayan cliffs for the rumored master honey hunters of the Himalayas.

They finally found Mani Lal, who was planning to retire the very next season, and agreed to take Valli on the dangerous mission. The photographer dangled from a nylon rope down a 395-foot cliff to make what is perhaps one of the most breathtaking nature photoessays of a generation. They appeared in National Geographic, and handily won that year’s World Press Photo Award for Nature Stories, and the accompanying well-narrated book was a hit. (See other photos from the series here).

The book also was an illustrated lesson, showing how Mani Lal descends down the rock cliff, how he dislodges beehives with bamboo poles, and how the hive is lowered using pulleys, and was responsible for kickstarting an anthropological interest in these arcane honey hunting skills of the Gurungs. Ironically, soon their way of life was threatened not by obscurity but by over-exposure as anthropologists and tourists hiked up there. (+)

New York Fashion Week : Prabal Gurung Dominates

It’s been a few days since New York Fashion Week ended so I know I’m way behind, but it’s taken me this long to go through all the shows! The amount of blog posts and tweets about NYFW was intense, but it didn’t take me long to pick my favorite collection.

I knew as soon as I saw Prabal Gurung’s Spring 2012 collection that it would be my favorite. Gurung was inspired by the fetishistic work of Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki and wanted to take traditionally fetish-oriented materials and treat them in a more delicate manner.

I was instantly drawn to the color palette of this collection. The deep violet, electric aqua and blushing ivory beautifully capture the elegance of Gurung’s designs. The feminine colors and lacy accents combine with the rougher leather and PVC to form a gorgeous yin and yang.

Design Details:

Images courtesy of NY Mag

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High in the Himalayan foothills of central Nepal Gurung honey hunters gather twice a year, risking their lives to harvest the honey from the world’s largest honeybee. For hundreds of years, the skills required to practise this ancient and sacred tradition have been passed down through the generations, but now both the number of bees and traditional honey hunters are in rapid decline as a result of increased commercial interests and climate change.