Buddhist Nuns at Tsarong, 1903

This photo was taken at a monastery in Tsarong in 1903, an early date for such clear photographs of Tibet. Taken by J. Claude White, an Englishman who served second in command under Younghusband during the initial incursion onto the plateau by the British.

Tensions ran high at this time, as the British suspected the Dalai Lama had fallen under the influence of a Russian tutor and confidante, Dordjieff, a Buddhist as well as a Buryat Mongol, who was assumed to be representing the interests of Czar Nicholas II in Tibet. As the British were convinced of the Russian desire to, at the very least, influence decisions made by the Tibetan government, the importance of the Younghusband invasion became paramount.

Curiously, these days nuns are seen with shaved heads. Apparently customs have changed in the last century.