Heinrich Harrer, noted Austrian explorer
and mountaineer, escaped over the Himalaya from a prisoner-of-war
camp in British India with Peter Aufschnaiter, and
then lived and worked as a fifth-ranked nobleman in the forbidden
city of Lhasa. As confidant and informal tutor to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Harrer was afforded access to ceremonies
and customs that had been rarely witnessed by Westerners.
In the company of the Tibetan
nobility, Harrer photographed a virtual family album of their
lives and, in so doing, captured the richness and heart of a
people: the moments with friends and family who had long accepted
the photographer's eye. The Tibetans' joy at play, the leisure
of the nobility, the splendor of the Buddhist rituals, the windswept
plains of the high plateau—Harrer's photographs document this with
a mountaineer's sense of scale and an explorer's sensitivity
Harrer left Lhasa in
advance of the Chinese army in December 1950. Harrer's memoir, Seven
Years in Tibet, has been translated into 53 languages, with more than four million copies sold. In October 1997, a motion
picture based on his book, starring Brad Pitt as young Heinrich
Harrer, was released by Tristar to major box-office success. Seven
Years in Tibet, the book, again soared on best-seller lists around the
Harrer’s body of work spanned more than six decades of exploration on six continents. Harrer received numerous honors, including the Eiger Gold Medal, Gold Humboldt Medal and the Explorers Club Medal, for his many expeditions and explorations, which number more than 600. He wrote 23 books and received credit on more than 40 film productions.
In October 2002, His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented Harrer with the International Campaign for Tibet's Light of Truth Award to honor Harrer’s humanitarian effort to bring the situation in Tibet to international attention.
Heinrich Harrer and the exiled Dalai Lama remained steadfast friends until Harrer’s death on January 7, 2006.
of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Heinrich Harrer, Liechtenstein,
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