Regarded as the "crown jewel of the Himalayas," the Kingdom of Bhutan is the last remaining independent country to support Buddhism as the official state religion. Photographed over the course of three years, Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon transports us to colorful festivals and religious traditions, continuing to the remote communities along the roof of the world. This book encompasses a wide range of landscape, portrait, and editorial photographs sure to impress and please any reader interested in travel, photography, and/or Himalayan culture.
John Berthold specializes in documentary, travel, portrait, landscape, and stock photographic images. Completed and on-going projects include the book Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon published by Wisdom Publications in 2005 as well as short essays documenting rural life in the Americas, Africa and Asia.
"Some of the secrets that are hidden within the mysterious Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan are revealed in the writings and photography of John Berthold, an eight-time Bhutan visitor from Portland. Berthold uses the landscape of the mountainous nation to set a spectacular backdrop for the traditional way of life that is carried on by the Buddhist culture. But it's his photos of the faces of the people, from the decades-old monks to the youngsters who will replace them, that capture the spirit of the country. Few Westerners ever reach Bhutan, although the trickle is slowly increasing. Fortunately, through Berthold's work, we can learn a bit about a fascinating country where few are fortunate enough to go."
– The Oregonian
"The arrival of the 21st century has ushered in an era of tremendous change for Bhutan. Though many modern advances have greatly improved the lives of all Bhutanese, careful attention is being paid to ensure that this progress does not dilute our rich cultural and religious heritage. I am pleased with how this book documents some of the culture and lives of many Bhutanese."
– Lyonpo Thinley Gyamtsho, Minister of Education, the Royal Government of Bhutan
"A glorious large-format coffee-table book par excellence! Next best thing to actually going to Bhutan. Berthold has captured this vast and stunning land and its people with the piercing eye of an artist-photographer. His spare, coherent text tells a fascinating tale that adds to your pictorial journey."
"Striking color photographs of the people, villages, religious festivals, landscapes, and Buddhist traditions of Bhutan. This mesmerizing book by John Berthold captures the beauties of this remote kingdom. Readers are transported to ancient fortresses and temples, as well as to isolated communities along the roof of the world. This book is a result of special authorization from the Bhutanese government for Berthold to photograph areas normally off-limits to Western visitors, and thus it encompasses a wide range of photographs."
– Eastern Horizon
"Berthold's text and photography provides an introduction to a true rarity: a theocracy where religion is not used to foster hatred, war or animosity towards other faiths. Perhaps this can be attributed to Bhutan's remote location-- Berthold discovers monasteries perched on such lofty peaks that it is impossible to fathom how they could've been constructed so many centuries ago. Or perhaps it can be attributed to the Bhutanese personality-- when was the last time Bhutan declared war on anyone? Whatever the reasons, Bhutan's Buddhist heritage is still vibrant. Berthold received rare access to holy sites, schools, festivals, private homes and farms. What he discovered and shares is an extraordinary triumph of people who seem to be at peace with themselves and their world. It is impossible to recall any photographic collection which presents such an honest view of serenity and calm. This is not to pretend that the modern world has been shut out. Berthold acknowledges contemporary tools and equipment are part of the Bhutanese life, but it has not pre-empted traditions which link religious devotion to their predominantly agrarian way of life. Villagers are more apt to seek an end to a drought through prayer than meteorological software studies. The book predicts Bhutan is set to become 'the next big travel destination.' Hopefully, visitors to Bhutan (either in person or through this book) will not come looking with a skewered notion that the people of this kingdom are living in the past. If Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon proves anything, it would be that we're the ones who might be living in the wrong future."
– New York Resident
"Features a wide variety of stunning images... Bhutan's magical and mystical qualities are expressed in this collection."