In 1903, Sir Francis Younghusband led an expedition into Tibet during the latter part of the famed Great Game era. It was not a gentle expedition, and while the ultimate goal of establishing British ties to Lhasa before the Russians was accomplished, it came at a high cost to Tibetans in many savage battles along the way.
Co-leading the expedition with Younghusband was John Claude White, the Political Officer for Sikkim. Throughout the expedition, White snapped off many photographs
of still-forbidden Tibet, documenting the people and places of this far-off land. The images were later passed on to Lieut. William Pyt Bennett, who passed them on to his heirs; they remained in Bennett's family for over a century.
Just a few weeks ago, they re-emerged on the auction block at Bonhams…and sold for an amazing £38,400, or $60,400!
While I, nor presumably most of you, won't ever have a chance to see these images from a Tibet now long gone, you can fortunately see some of them online; I've put together what I could find in an album, below.
But, be sure to see the links below for more info on these amazing, rare images of Tibet over 100 years ago!
If you want to read more about this collection, here are some related links:
- Amazing 1903 photos that showed the secret kingdom of Tibet for the very first time to be auctioned off – Daily Mail
- Tibet: first 1903 photographs of the secret kingdom to be auctioned off – Phayul.com
- John Claude White at ArtNet
- Bonhams Auction of John Claude White's images from 1903
- Rare Photos Reveal Tibet 100 Years Ago - NPR
I love that classic shot of the Potala Palace – here’s my own shot taken almost 100 years later – complete with Budweiser truck! So much change, and I hear there have been even more changes since I was there in 2000.
Apparantly one of those very changes since 2000, is that the above lorry driver now wishes he didn’t swerve to miss some great clot standing on the road blithely taking photo’s…..heh heh.
And Heinrich Harrer also took a photo from there!
Thank you for posting these great photographs of Tibet, fascinating to look at.
Mount Everest The British Story
I was in the film Gyantse 1904 which was filmed at the actual sites. At the fort in Gyantse is the typical Chinese propaganda museum. There are clips of the film on youtube; I’m in the post of uploading my own copy which should be of better quality.
Trekking and mountaineering at Tibet surly is a life time experience. Trekking through the panoramic view of mountains, learning tradition and culture of Tibet is a life time experience. There are many things that can be learned through Tibetian culture. Everest Expedition via Tibet is also very popular worldwide.
Tibet Expediitons – Ramdung Expeditions P. Ltd(Nepal Trekking and tours Comapany)