Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tibet Before the Invasion: Photos from British Museum Collection

 

When outsiders first started to take photographs inside Tibet, the results were often not exactly what you might expect.

Instead of amazing pictures of the hidden, mysterious kingdoms of Shangrila and Shambhala, or incredible panoramic shots of Tibet's gloriously vast expanse, what the early photographers were most moved by were the faces of the Tibetan people themselves.



So distinct from their distant neighbours the Han Chinese and the Mongols, to have discovered and photographed the Tibetans at that particular moment in time was so important because it documented and recorded not only the ordinary people, but some of the greatest spiritual masters on the planet - and all just before the Red Army invaded in the 1950s and almost totally destroyed everything, forever.

The earlier, occasional arrival of foreign trekkers and their strange equipment was always viewed with distrust and fear.



Small wonder then that these pale-skinned proto-tourists and their awkward cameras were greeted by the ordinary Tibetans with the customary contorted grimaces and threatening display of tongues which is usually reserved to frighten away only the most unwanted of blood-curdling ghouls.

Many thanks to Muriel Sanchez for posting this unbelievably moving collection of photographs from the British Museum on facebook.

Please enjoy them HERE 

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