Buddhist Archive of Photography
Luang Prabang, Laos

For 120 years, Buddhist monks of Luang Prabang in Northern Laos have been photographing each other, documenting monastic ceremonies, meditation and pilgrimages. These photographs have survived agitated times thanks to a great abbot of Luang Prabang, who for 70 years collected and protected them, Phra Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera. In 2006, Phra Khamchan and Hans Berger, with the help of Khamvone Boulyaphonh, started systematic research and digitization of these photographs. Under the auspices of the British Librarys Endangered Archives Programme, and in collaboration with the National Library of Laos, a team of young Lao monks has been trained in digitization, collection of information and photography conservation at the Buddhist Archive of Photography, Luang Prabang. Until 2011, with two Major Research Grants from the British Library attributed to Hans Georg Berger, more than 35,000 photographs (prints and negatives) have been treated and put into safe storage. Digital copies will be available for research at the National Library of Laos, Vientiane, and the British Library, London.

From 2011 to 2015, a second major project directed by Prof. Volker Grabowsky, Asien-Afrika-Institut, University of Hamburg/Germany, will involve Hans Georg Berger and the Lao team in research at the Buddhist Archive, under the title: The Lao Sangha and Modernity, as part of the research network Dynamics of Religion in South-East Asia, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Federal Republic of Germany.

Research at the Archive is carried on in close collaboration with the Lao Buddhist Fellowship, Luang Prabang District, and the National Library of Laos, Ministry of Information and Culture of the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic.

Publications of the Buddhist Archive, Luang Prabang:

Calendar of the Buddhist Archive of Photography, Luang Prabang (2009)

Treasures of the Buddhist Archive
Hans Berger and Khamvone Boulyaphonh (2010)

Great Monks of Luang Prabang, 1840-2007
Phra One Keo Sitthivong and Khamvone Boulyaphonh (2011)

The Karmic Glance
Portfolio of Facsimiles from the Buddhist Archive of Photography (2011)