Thursday, June 27, 2013

Relaunch of Sponsor a Sutra

Detail from Avalokitesvara as Saviour from Perils, 1919,0101,0.2
© The British Museum

Sponsor a Sutra, your opportunity to enable the copying of a Buddhist sutra just like the original patrons of the manuscripts, has been relaunched. We have a simpler pricing scheme, starting from just £35, and a new secure online payment system. You can add your own dedication or sponsor a sutra as a gift for a friend. All funds go directly to the digitisation work of IDP and enable us to make more material freely available online.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

IDP News 41 now available online

Issue 41 of IDP News is now available to read online and download. Articles include a report of the IDP Conference held in November 2012 on the archaeology of the southern Taklamakan and an analysis of the paper, pigments and dyes found in Turfan and Dunhuang Materials.

Photograph courtesy of Adrian Nordenborg.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Photographs from the Younghusband Expedition to Tibet

In the city bazaar, Lhasa, September 1904.
Neg 1083/14(428), (c) The British Library.

In 1904, the British government in India sent an army into Tibet to force the Dalai Lama to open trade relations with British India. This military incursion was also grew out of British fears of the influence of Russia in Central Asia. The army was headed by Francis Younghusband, and was euphemistically known as the 'Younghusband expedition'. One of several British officers on the expedition was Frederick Marshman Bailey, a young lieutenant. Bailey was also a keen photographer, and documented the progress of the expedition from Sikkim into Tibet, all the way to its final destination in Lhasa.

The nitrate negatives of Bailey's photographs are now held at the British Library, where they are currently being digitized by IDP. Several hundreds are already online, and can be found by searching on the IDP website for the pressmark Neg 1083. The subjects of the photographs include landscapes, buildings and people, including many portraits of Tibetans as well as Bailey himself. Bailey liked to photograph animals, including the elephants that were part of the expedition, Tibetan dogs, goats and antelopes -- the latter often after they had become hunting trophies. The photographs of Lhasa show the city as it was in 1904, ranging from panoramic views of the Potala Palace to busy street scenes like the photograph above.

After the Younghusband expedition, Bailey was appointed Trade Agent to Tibet, and was stationed at Gyantse. He also travelled extensively in Central Asia, China and India, and the photographs from these travels will be digitized along with those from Tibet.