October 05, 2010

Beautiful rare photos show Tibet 100 years ago

London's Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers is currently auctioning rare photographs taken over 100 years ago in Tibet. The pictures were photographed by British officer John Claude White during a military mission to Tibet in 1903-1904. From NPR:

Contemporary Tibet conjures a mysterious mental image. Situated at the highest elevation on Earth, it is historically hotly contested territory with a large nomadic and religious population. So imagine how much more mysterious it was 100 years ago — when travel was difficult and few foreigners were granted entry.

Now part of Tibet's unseen history is coming into light, with an auction in London on Tuesday of photographs taken more than a century ago, during the 1903 British mission to Tibet. The photographs, taken by British political officer John Claude White, are the first known images to have left the country.

To learn more about the photographs you can listen to today's Morning Edition program on NPR during which David Park, director of books, maps and manuscripts at Bonhams, discusses White's photographs with host Renee Montagne.

Images: npr.org

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shannon's picture

Maybe those are hats made out of yak hide. I have a hat that makes me look something like that. My sister bought it in asia. Mine is white, though, so you can tel it's fleece rather than human hair.

Mumon's picture

The pictures were photographed by British officer John Claude White during a military mission to Tibet in 1903-1904.

That sounds so anodyne and antiseptic. Didn't you mean during a British invasion of Tibet?

Janet's picture

They are wigs as the heads of those shown were probably shaved since I believe they are nuns.

Carleene's picture

Is that their hair? I believe, and I'm no expert, this is the first photo I've seen of the people with their hair like that. Very interesting...would love to know the story, tradition, etc. behind that.