The Khampas

The Khampas are the inhabitants of the Kham region, in what was formerly the eastern third of Tibet. Known as fearsome warriors, Marco Polo described them as « thieves and caravan raiders practicing all sorts of magic ». Much romanticized, the explorer Alexandra David-Neel called them « The Gentlemen Brigands ». In the 1950’s they formed the sole resistance forces against the Chinese army and, as personal bodyguards of his holiness the Dalai Lama, organized his safe passage to India.

Despite the encroaching influences of modernity, many Khampas still embrace their religious and cultural traditions. Thousands meet each year in the grasslands outside of Litang - the world highest city at 12,300 feet – for the spectacular Yagi Summer Festival, renewing their legendary status as the « Horsemen of the Wind ».