2019 AAS Photo Competition

We are excited to announce the following winning photos. These photos were selected from 170 submissions showcasing not only the beauty and culture of Asia but the hard work of our members. We sincerely appreciate the support and contribution received for our first annual photo competition.

Captions were written by the entrant.


Drying Apricots for a Living, Baltistan
Photographer: Carmen Brandt
Location of Photo: Skardu, Baltistan
Country: Pakistan
Year: 2017
Dried fruits, especially apricots, are one of the main agricultural products of the otherwise economically underdeveloped region of Gilgit-Baltistan. Girls and young women put them on the grass or on walls and roofs to dry them in the sun.

Namahage in Anzenji, New Year’s Eve
Photographer: Michael Foster
Location of Photo: Anzenji, Oga City, Akita Prefecture
Country: Japan
Year: 2017
Namahage demon-deities in the hamlet of Anzenji, Oga City, Akita Prefecture. The Namahage ritual takes place on New Year’s Eve; in 2018 it was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Demilitarized Ribbons of Reunification
Photographer: Joowon Park
Location of Photo: Korean Demilitarized Zone
Country: South Korea
Year: 2019
Ribbons expressing desire and hope for reunification and peace on the Korean Peninsula decorate a portion of the border that separates North and South Korea.

Roses of Nagaland
Photographer: Myat The Thitsar
Location of Photo: Layshi Town, Naga Self Administrative Zone
Country: Myanmar (Burma)
Year: 2019
It was taken at the Naga new year festival held in Layshi town of Naga SAZ in January 2019. While traditional societal norms are still strong, the role and right of women are now reconsidered. Photo shows a Naga women group is waiting their turn for the new year dance.

Scholars of Faith

Photographer: Usha Sanyal
Location of Photo: Shahjahanpur
Country: India
Year: 2012
These are madrasa students in a girls’ madrasa in the Indian town of Shahjahanpur. They use the classroom space as a dormitory at night. Their stacked bed may be seen behind the students, against the back wall.
Painting Faces: A Chinese and Operatic Artistry
Photographer: Carol Stepanchuk
Location of Photo: Stern Auditorium, University of Michigan Museum of Art
Country: United States
Year: 2019
As part of an artist residency to appreciate the art form of the painted face role in Chinese opera, Li Yang, a member of the National Peking Opera Troupe, demonstrated the practice of hand painting operatic face patterns on himself and U-M Professor Joseph Lam, here as the character CaoCao.
Hui Muslims
Photographer: Tom Cliff
Location of Photo: Zhongwei City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
Country: China (PRC)
Year: 2000
Chinese Hui Muslim men gather to play and watch music on their Friday afternoon off work. Ningxia has a high concentration of Chinese Muslims. Beside the empty ground on which they gather is a temple that serves three of the major Chinese faiths – Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism (Taoism). 
Intha Fisherman on Inle Lake at Sunset
Photographer: Kevin McGahan
Location of Photo: Inle Lake
Country: Burma / Myanmar
Year: 2018
I teach and conduct research on Southeast Asian politics at the National University of Singapore. I bring NUS students to Inle Lake to learn about sustainable development practices. The photo reveals the traditional fishing practices of those who reside on Inle Lake for their livelihoods.
Away All Diving Boats
Photographer: David W. Plath
Location of Photo: Fuseda district, Mie prefecture
Country: Japan
Year: 1985
AMA—Japanese female divers—on the Shima Peninsula launch boats that carry them over reefs where they hunt for abalone, their main commercial catch. NOT pearls. They dive 6 months a year, twice a day. Some continue to dive in old age. From field research (beachwork?) in the 1980s.
Indonesian Qasidah Group “Nasida Riya”
Photographer: Anne Rasmussen
Location of Photo: Semarang, Java
Country: Indonesia
Year: 2017
The music group, Nasida Riya, now in their 4th generation, has been performing Islamic popular music since the 1980s. Still growing strong, this is the line up of veteran members, all of them instrumentalists, singers, and composers, at the Festival Dugderan in Semarang, Java in Spring 2017.
Photographer: Brooke Schedneck
Location of Photo: Analaya Bhikkhuni Aaram, Chiang Rai
Country: Thailand
Year: 2019
This is a photo of female monks, who are part of the Analaya Bhikkhuni Aaram, in Chiang Rai province. I attended a ceremony there, where they consecrated a newly offered Buddha statue. In this picture, they are beginning the chanting for this ceremony. 

The Shape of a Year
Photographer: Charles Zuckerman
Location of Photo: Nam Noy Watershed, Khammouane Province
Country: Laos
Year: 2018
Scrutinizing feet from a sacrificial chicken, two Saek men search for signs of the coming year. Teng Village, Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area, Khammouane Province, Laos.

Members’ Choice Winner

Pilgrim Geographies 
Photographer: Hardeep Dhillon
Location: Amritsar, Punjab, India
Year: 2018
Photo Description: This photo is an evening scene at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab (India). It was taken as I was working on an article related to a massacre that had taken place in a nearby area of the city in 1919 under British rule.

AAS Secretariat staff are working remotely due to CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19. Please contact staff by email rather than phone. Staff directory