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Rare Images Of Tibet

For some time, I have been a true aficionado of old photographs from Central Asia, as well as India, Tibet and SE Asia. Having lived and traveled extensively in these areas for a long time, whenever I stumbled across books with photographs from the past, I usually bought them. Fortunately, I chose to ship all my books back to the States at some considerable expense. These old photographs of Tibet are scanned from three books.

Tibet – The Sacred Realm
This one of the more interesting ones, with photographs spanning a period from the late 19th century to the1940’s. The images are diverse and the printing, for the most part, is quite good. But what makes it interesting is the inclusion of short biographies of each of the photographers. Many were in the British Foreign Service, stationed initially in India and later Sikkim, who were often sent on perilous journeys to reconnoiter and/or spy upon the Tibetans. Their personal histories shed light on the political climate of the region at the time when truly the cream of the British military were chosen to defend the ‘empire’ in the Great Game in Central Asia.

Lost Tibet
The work of Brooke Dolan and Ilya Tolstoy has proven to be invaluable. Sent into Tibet in the early 1940’s by President Roosevelt on a mission to obtain information about the area so that informed decisions could be made regarding the feasibility of using Tibet as a staging ground against the Japanese
during WWII. Their photos are revealing, portraying graphic images of the Monlam Festival during the New Year holiday. Their observations are also recorded in the book with reference numbers to specific photographs interspersed in the text. The photographs of the Oracle at Nechung are unbelievable, and are the only images I know of depicting this aspect of Tibetan culture about which little has ever been recorded.


Tibet in Turmoil– A Pictorial History (1950-1959).
Aside from the inclusion of some interesting old photographs (including two of the three images depicting the Oracle of Nechung), some rare photographs portraying the flight of H.H the 14th Dalai Lama from Tibet are shown. Also there are some early photographs of the Dalai Lama greeting Chou En Lai and Mao TseTung . Little solace can be had from observing a young Dalai Lama beaming as he greets the Communist leaders of mainland China except that he has outlived these men and enjoys a seemingly more content and happier existence. I chose the one photo I did from this book as the Dalai Lama seems so very relaxed, hands behind his back as he appears to be enjoying a casual stroll through the mountains, rather than embarking upon a path that would forever change his life and that of millions of Tibetans, both left behind in Tibet and those who followed him into exile.