In November 2014, the acclaimed French photographer, Olivier Adam, set up a special Etsy shop, an online store called “Daughters of Buddha” dedicated to supporting the Tibetan Nuns Project.
The Daughters of Buddha online store sells fine art prints and postcards with 50% of the sales of all the articles sold going to Tibetan Nuns Project.
Olivier Adam has made available a large collection of stunning color photographs of the Tibetan Buddhist nuns, photographs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other inspiring spiritual images.
In this blog he shares some photos and answers some questions about his new campaign to support the nuns.
Q: Why did you start this Etsy campaign ?
A: On August 2014, an exhibition of my photographs “Tibetan Nuns – Resistance and Compassion” opened at the Museum für Völkerkunde in Hamburg, Germany. During the exhibition the museum has been selling postcards and fine art prints of my images. I had the idea to expand this opportunity in an online store to get a bigger audience for these wonderful nuns and to bring wider support to Tibetan Nuns Project.
The exhibition was visited and blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his teachings in Hamburg in August and has now been extended until February 2015. It was such a precious moment in my life to have a few minutes with His Holiness Dalai Lama to explain this long-term project.
Immediately His Holiness put the accent on the education of the nuns and the place of the women in our societies in general, insisting with these words: “Women must be much more involved in our societies and take part in the building of a more peaceful, less violent world.”
These blessed words were in total harmony with those of Rinchen Khando Choegyal, director of the Tibetan Nuns Project, during our last meeting in Dolma Ling Nunnery in 2012.
In resonance with this, His Holiness chose during his teachings in Hamburg to invite Venerable Kelsang Wangmo, a German nun, the first woman to be granted a Geshema degree, to assist his German translator. This was such a wonderful symbol for the nuns who are preparing for the Geshema examinations in the nunneries supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project around Dharamsala.
Q: Why did you choose Etsy ?
A: I chose Etsy because the shop is translated into different languages, the navigation is very smooth and clients are able to buy postcards and prints easily with Paypal or with credit cards. It’s also very easy to add new products, such as greeting cards.
Q: How long will your campaign continue and how is it going?
A: The campaign will continue until the end of the exhibition in Hamburg, so at least up to February 2015 and hopefully until March 2015. I’m trying to post a new picture every day on social networks and am sharing some stories behind the photos and even some recordings, such as the nuns praying.
It’s very important for me to tell the background of the photographs. The exhibition in Hamburg was conceived this way, mixing images and stories of the nuns. There will be a special day on January 18 2015 at the Museum during which I will make a guided tour of the exhibition and sign some prints.
I feel such warm support for this campaign that this morning I launched a new Facebook page dedicated to this campaign, “Daughters of Buddha” to reach a larger audience. After ten days, I have already made a first donation to the Tibetan Nuns Project of $400.
We have also some support in French magazines for the campaign, such as a full page free ad in Regard Bouddhiste, the first French-speaking Buddhist print magazine. Another magazine will also support the campaign next January.
With Christmas coming, this shop is a wonderful way to find something gorgeous for a loved one while supporting an amazing cause.
I also decided to present some affordable objects, for example you can get a nice pack of ten postcards for 18 €.
This picture which shows a senior nun taking care of her community by teaching a young one the mudra (hand gesture) used in a mandala offering was taken during the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Zanskar. So far it is the most popular photograph on the “Daughters of Buddha” Etsy website.
I have chosen to print the images myself using museum-quality pigments on Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl paper, guaranteeing the best conservation of the image. Other options are also available, like aluminum-framed prints, shadow-box frames and prints with acrylic mounting. Shadow box frames are luxury frames that are widely used by art galleries and major museums. Acrylic-mounted photo prints are widely used in galleries, museums and interior design settings. This technique gives your image a high-quality finish.
It’s also a special occasion to treat yourself or your friends to a special print of His Holiness Dalai Lama. I have been travelling this year in Europe and India to attend His Holiness’s teachings in various countries in Europe and at the Kalachakra Empowerment in Ladakh in August 2014. I have chose to include the most precious and auspicious pictures from this work in the Etsy shop.
Among the various images, you can buy this print shown above of His Holiness the Dalai Lama conducting some ritual prayers in preparation for the 33rd Kalachakra Empowerment in Leh, Ladakh in July 2014. A limited edition of 10 prints of this picture was given in December to The Dalai Lama Foundation and sold out in less than 24 hours to help fund their Living History of the Dalai Lama project.
These days the picture above is also one of my favorites. It was such a special moment after ten days of Kalachakra for World Peace in Mahabodhi Temple, in Bodhgaya India, the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment. This is such a blessed picture! It’s a pleasure for me and a kind of dedication to be able to help Tibetan Nuns Project with this inspiring moment of light!
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I still have to edit the pictures I took in the summer of 2014 at the remote nunnery of Dorje Dzong in Zanskar. It was an occasion for me to meet Tsering Drolkar again (see below), who is now 83 years old and to help the nuns for a few days repairing the nunnery for the coming winter.
Next summer we plan to document Sherab Choeling Nunnery in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Typically, women who live in remote areas like Spiti and who are interested in studying or practicing their religion, have very few options.
I will try also to find some new places for exhibit this long-term project, maybe outside Europe, in the USA for example.
Looking forward, my ultimate project will be a book, mixing photography and text about these Buddhist Himalayan nuns, these Daughters of Buddha.
The Tibetan Nuns Project was founded in 1987 to provide education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India. The Tibetan Nuns Project provides facilities and programs to educate, empower, and improve the status of ordained Tibetan women.
Through the sponsorship program, funded by sponsors from around the world, the Tibetan Nuns Project supports over 700 Tibetan nuns living in northern India.
The Tibetan Nuns Project is dedicated to:
- Improving standards of food, sanitation, medical care, and education in Tibetan nunneries
- Working towards future self-sufficiency through educational and training opportunities
- Training nuns to take leadership and service roles within their communities
- Improving the level and status of ordained Buddhist women
- Assisting recently arrived refugee nuns from Tibet
- Continuing to establish further facilities for Buddhist nuns.
On August 7 2014 the Tibetan Nuns Project published this interview with Olivier Adam about his work and his support of the nuns.
Biography of Olivier Adam
Olivier Adam was born in Laval, France in 1969. He is a physicist, and graduated from the “Ecole Normale Supérieure” in Paris, but through the years he has turned to being a photographer. He is now a freelance photographer and a teacher at the photography school Auguste Renoir in Paris. For several years now he has been studying the Tibetan culture and Buddhism, specially attending the Kalachakra classes, taught by His Holiness the Dalai Lama all over the world.
Since 2008, Olivier has been interested in the lives of the Tibetan nuns in exile. He started this work in five nunneries near Dharamsala and has continued to expand this work by meeting nuns who were former political prisoners and who have been granted shelter in the West. Dakinis, this series on the Buddhist female universe, supplemented by sounds and interviews collected by Dominique Butet, Oliviers’s wife, now extends to nuns from across the Himalayas.
Olivier Adam is a regular photographer for the French magazine Regard Bouddiste and is one of the active members of Dharma Eye, a collective of practicing Buddhist photographers and visual artists who use their art in support of beneficial Dharma causes.