About patrickdwilson

American Artist working in Shanghai. I am a professor at the Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University and a resident at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai.

Hike Over Hei Ma He, Qinghai Lake


My guide, Namhla studied classical Tibetan literature and now works leading tours and acting as a research assistant to researchers from all over.

The grasslands are dotted by tents of the nomads. The white tent is fairly universal now among Amdo nomadic herders. Its been in use for decades replacing the yak wool tents, as a more portable and waterproof option, though I doubt any of them can boast a hundred years of use like their woolen predecessors.

We met this woman who was gathering wood on her motorbike. Basically you’ve got to be a little bit badass to ride on this terrain. Some of the slopes we saw with tread marks in the dirt made me wonder how they got up or down in one piece. I was even more amazed when, after the bike failed to start and I volunteered to try to give it a rolling jump start, I discovered it had no functioning front breaks. 

Yaks..being yaks.


This Is Not Real

As far as I can tell this was just an awkward photo op, placed here in case the field of youhuacai set against Qinghai Lake wasn’t doing it for you alone. It should NOT be added as a type to the compendium of nomadic dwellings that encircle the lake.



Tibetan breakdancers, AZ Crew, were very gracious hosts, dragging me to see traditional tents and a middle school performance, and teaching me how to say those things you should never say in any language. Pictured here waiting for burgers.

Yak Wool Tents in Zeku, Qinghai Province

This is a thirty year old yak wool tent currently being used as a small restaurant. Apparently that is not old by black tent standards. The poles are wooden and the ropes are also woven yak wool. Apparently these change shape considerably depending on the weather, tightening in the cold and loosening in the heat or rain. But they are also easily adjusted withe the tensioning lines. 

A detail shows the various colors of yak wool. Tents are mended and maintained and apparently take a considerable time to make. They may increase in size over time as new strips are added.

 The owner shows me how the strips are hand stitched at the seams.