Born in New York City, John Vincent Bellezza has been exploring Tibet and the Great Western Himalaya since 1983. He has made numerous pilgrimages and mounted a series of expeditions which have taken him to many corners of the Highest mountains and plateau in the world. An inveterate explorer, John to date has trekked more than 20,000 kilometers and he has clocked a huge number of miles in motor vehicles. From his first journeys in the region, he was struck by the great environmental and cultural changes which are taking place and he realized that it was imperative to document as much as possible before vital aspects of our human heritage were lost forever. John observes that vanishing cultures are not unlike endangered species in that they both represent unique pieces of existence with tremendous survival and spiritual value which immeasurably enrich the world in which we live.
In the 1980s, John collected ethnographic data on various tribes of the Himalaya filling 20 volumes of journals. In the 1990s, building on his excellent cultural and linguistic base, he decided to specialize in pre-Buddhist Tibetan culture, a field of which little was still known. By traveling to northern Tibet, John was able to befriend nomads who were pleased to show him what remained of their ancient cultural traditions. The harshness of the climate and prevailing social realities however, proved a formidable challenge and John was forced to endure many hardships including a lack of food, ferocious dogs and torrential rivers.
As a pioneer in unlocking the secrets of ancient Tibet, John pursued an interdisciplinary approach undertaking the archaeological, ethnographic and textual studies pertinent to his chosen field. The fruits of his intensive endeavor resulted in the publication of numerous articles and two scholarly books (the second of which is soon to be published; see his bibliography). His ground breaking work has resulted in the documentation of over 150 pre-Buddhist archaeological sites (including ruins, rock art, tombs and megaliths), and the collection of a wide range of anthropological and literary sources of information concerning archaic traditions in Tibet. John holds the view that there is still much to explore and discover on our planet and vociferously refutes those who believe that there is nothing new under the sun. He says that inspired by a salutary vision harnessed to determination and hard work, there are no limits to what we can achieve individually or collectively.
Now that we have entered the 21st century, John is intent on extending the scope of his research and drawing in new expertise from a variety of fields. He thus welcomes the comments and advise of interested readers. He believes that by making the exploration of pre-Buddhist Tibet an international effort this endeavor will in its own modest way foster global links of friendship and understanding, the keys to our very survival. It is with this lofty vision that John sustains his difficult and demanding work.
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