Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Patterns

This spring, I visited Bhutan, and met so many fantastic people and a landscape so different from ours in Scandinavia. Harmony – this is the word describing it best.

I eagerly noticed all the patterns in people’s lives – in clothes, buildings, decorations, religious paintings and habits…as well as patterns in Nature herself. Like the pattern in the header – the mules and horses trotting in a row – while the lines of the landscape, the roads, paths and fences, create natural frames.

I often try to find and capture the less obvious patterns, noticing that colours are not that important to make you see the pattern or structure itself.

But in most cases colours make an obvious difference, natural colours as well as man made ones.

Either you can find patterns in a sweeping landscape or cityscape or you can look at the little details. Any way, you will find that almost everything consists of just – patterns. Moreover, in our human society, they often have a ritual or symbolic meaning.

Among the most interesting patterns must be languages. When a language is written in beautiful pictures or letters – their special patterns will give them yet another meaning. Magical, isn’t it?


Life is beautiful in so many ways – and patterns are a big part of it. So, for this week’s challenge, share your interpretation of patterns— open your eyes and find new ones! In you own home, outdoors, man made or natural… Use your curiosity and creativity!

  • In your post, include a link to this challenge.
  • Use the tag “Lens-Artists” in your post.  If you use a different tag, other bloggers won’t find your post in the Reader!  Also keep in mind that you should use fewer than 15 tags for your post to appear in the Reader.  For more information on how to tag, click here.
  • Amy will post the next challenge on Saturday, August 18th.
  • Missed our initial Lens-Artists challenge announcement? Click here for details.


Have you seen these?

Great diversity, from Abrie Joubert of Abrie Dink Hardop

Henry Lee of Fotoeins Fotografie

Storm coming in from the sea, from Suzanne of Being in Nature


Thank you for joining the challenge and have an inspiring week!

Vadstena – Castle and Abbey – A One Day/Night Stay

Vadstena Castle was originally built by King Gustav I in 1545 as a fortress to protect Stockholm from enemies approaching from the south. Indeed it looks massive and strong today as well.

By 1620, when the castle was completed, all the kings of the House of Vasa had contributed to its construction. Since 1620, the castle has been very well preserved, and is one of Sweden’s best examples of Renaissance architecture.

In the fog and greyness, it looks stern and almost hostile – but in the evening sun, I could almost imagine a Cinderella somewhere…


Vadstena Abbey, close by, was the motherhouse of the Bridgettine Order. The abbey started on one of the farms donated to it by the king, but the town of Vadstena grew up around it. It was active from 1346 until 1595, but there are still a handful of nuns here.

The castle on the left hand side and the abbey on the upper right hand (The red dot: Här är du!)

The Abbey is now turned into a hotel – and a beautiful one. The different houses decorated in different styles, and we stayed at ”The Castle Villa” in Jugend style.

We had breakfast under the old vaults,  and I had some difficulties in resisting the pots for sale. Swedish design inspired by China.




Thursday Thoughts – Beyond Beauty

In the fertile Punakha Valley, where the Mo Chhu (Mother river) and the Pho Chhu (Father river) meet, lies Punakha Dzong – Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). It was constructed in 1637 and maybe the most impressive building in Bhutan – also considered the most beautiful dzong in the country.

Bhutan 2018 663

The very size of Punakha Dzong is impressive, 180m long and 72m wide, but the elaborately painted gold, red and black carved woods, the brass roof and the location adds to the light perfection.

Punakha served as Bhutan’s capital for over 300 years and the first king was crowned here in 1907. Since the mid 1950’s, Thimpu is the capital, but Punakha is still the center for official meetings, the kings’ weddings and other important ceremonies.

The dzong, like all the other dzongs in Bhutan, has suffered fires several times, but is always restored. Due to its location by the two rivers, it is also vulnerable to the floods following climate change. In 1994 a glacial lake burst and destroyed parts of the building, and before that, in 1897, there was also a severe earthquake.

The temple is grand and holds thrones for the King as well as for the high Lama.

There are 300 monks in the dzong, and our guide told us that today the monastery schools are almost like ordinary schools – you take different subjects like science and mathematics along with languages and the scriptures.

The young monks are very curious and good at English.

The junction of the two rivers, seen from inside the dzong.

And so we left this magnificent fortress – without using the middle, golden steps, made for the King only. A breathtaking visit – only there was so much more we wanted to see, hear and learn – but maybe next time…


Thursday Thoughts – 108 Chortens and A Himalayan Panorama

Between Paro and the Capital of Bhutan, Thimpu, the road takes you over the Dochula Pass (3140 m) with its 108 chortens. A chorten is a kind of stupa, often built at crossroads and passes to ward off evil. And all chortens contain religious relics.

The Druk Wangyal Khang Zhang Chortens are red-band or khangzang chortens, built in a central hillock at the pass, under the patronage of the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. In local language they are called ”chortens of victory”, because they were built as a memorial in honour of the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in the December 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India. It also marks the victory of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who dislodged the rebels from their camps in Bhutanese territory.

This is a peaceful place for slow walks – contemplating life, feeling the fresh air and nature’s beauty.

Circumambulating clockwise.

When the sun comes shining through – my heart shines too.

The rhododendrons and magnolias touch the sky.

After the completion of the chortens, the temple known as the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang was built in June 2008 – as a memorial to celebrate 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan.

From the Dochula Pass you will, on a clear day, have a panoramic view of the Himalayan  range. The best time is in October/November, but we were still quite lucky this day.

On the far right you will find the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, Gangkar Puensum, 7564 meters. It is also the highest mountain in Bhutan.

Since 1994, climbing of mountains in Bhutan higher than 6,000 meters has been prohibited out of respect for local spiritual beliefs, and since 2003 mountaineering has been completely forbidden.

But somewhere, far away behind the treetops, these enigmatic giants are waiting…


Paro Tsechu

We arrived in Bhutan during Paro Tsechu – one of the many colourful dance festivals in honour of Guru Rinpoche, one of Bhutan’s most important historical and religious figures. He visited Bumthang in AD 746, and is said to then have introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. Read more about Tsechus here.

Rinpung Dzong is beautifully situated in the valley. It was built in 1644 to defend the Paro valley from invasions by Tibet. Like most dzongs, it houses the monastic body, district government offices and the local courts.

During the Tsechu festivals, people come from near and far, all wearing their most beautiful kira (women) and gho (men). It is compulsory for all Bhutanese to wear national dress in schools, government offices and on formal occasions.

The cloth is made from cotton or silk and the patterns are very colourful. The only patterns forbidden are flowered ones, but solid reds and yellow colours are also avoided, because these are colours worn by monks.

When we arrived, there was not much room for sitting close to the dancers…but some shots are acceptable. I spent most of the time helping little old ladies and children to a better view. And taking in the atmosphere!

There are many kinds of mask dances, but I remember clearest the one preparing you for the meeting with fearful creatures the first 49 days after you die. This dance will help you facing them without fear.

There are many pieces included in the dress code, but a very significant part is the scarf: Ordinary male citizens wear a kabney of unbleached white silk, but there are different colours for different ranks. The king, for example, wears saffron. The women wear a cloth sash called a rachu over their left shoulder.

If you look closely, you will see that it is very often the men who are taking care of the little children, carrying them or holding them. Bhutan is very particular about equality.

The Buthanese believe they will create merit by attending the tsechus and watching the ritualized dances. They share their food, exchange news and are surrounded by Buddhist teachings. The highlight is the unfurling of the thondrol, a giant thangka, before sunrise the last day. It is believed that your sins are washed away upon viewing this.

The monks have their own seats, close to the dancers.

Unfortunately we were not at the festival on its last day – so my sins are still with me…



Happy Easter Holidays!

Wishing you all the best for Easter and Spring

I will take a break for a week or two – may the snow melt and the sun shine on you!


Gammlia – Umeå

A beautiful place for showing Västerbottens cultural history – Gammlia. The word means ”the old hill”, or ”the old mountain hill”.

We spent a lovely hour here, walking through the area, enjoying the old houses and  snowy surroundings. My favorite kind of fences everywhere.

Who would not fall in love with Helena Elisabeth?

The church has got an interesting story as well.

– 20 degrees C – gives you the opportunity to preserve things just as they are…

…but only as long as the cold stays.