Nicholas Vreeland

Hometown Geneva, Switzerland

Nicholas Vreeland is the Abbot of Rato Dratsang, a Tibetan Government monastery under the patronage of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is also the Director of The Tibet Center, New York’s oldest Tibetan Buddhist Center. Vreeland holds a Geshe degree, the highest Tibetan Bhuddist academic degree for monks and nuns.


Vreeland was born in Geneva, Switzerland and educated in Europe, North Africa, and the United States. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, he worked as a photographer’s assistant to Irving Penn and Richard Avedon while studying film at New York University. He became a monk in 1985.


Vreeland has edited two volumes of writing by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is the founder of the "Photos for Rato" series of fundraisers in Europe and the U.S., which has featured his own photographic work, documenting the landscapes and people Vreeland has encountered on his travels. In 2012, the Dalai Lama appointed Vreeland the Abbot of Rato Monastery in India—the first instance of a Westerner being appointed to such a position in a Tibetan Bhuddist monastery. Vreeland now divides his time between New York and Rato Dratsang in India. Photographs he took during a horseback voyage through eastern Tibet were recently exhibited at Leica Gallery in New York. 

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