Photographs from the Archive

The photographs shown below are from a 1935-1936 expedition to a remote area of eastern Tibet, record the adventures of 25 year old John Hanbury-Tracy and 26 year old Ronald Kaulback. With the backing of the British Royal Geographical Society, they went in search of the source of the Salween, one of the great rivers of Asia that originates in Tibet.

At the time, on maps, the upper course of the Salween was an immense blank space. Among the first Europeans to enter this area, for two years they had no contact with the outside world as they traveled across a rough and unforgiving terrain. Although they did not succeed in reaching the Salween’s origin due to impending war, they mapped 25,000 square miles and brought back specimens of plant and insect life for the British Museum of Natural History.

Their photographs bring to life impressions of local villages, the river’s rope bridges, sturdy yaks, and the people of the upper Salween valley. Hanbury-Tracy, who died in 1971, published the story of his journey in his Black River of Tibet in 1938. Kaulback also published his tale, a 1938 book, Salween. Their accounts and photographs record aspects of Tibetan culture now lost through political and cultural transformation of the region. Many of these photographs, donated to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art by Sir Bryan Frasi were included in the Museum’s 2005 exhibit, Exploring Tibet: In Search of the Salween.

Group of Pobas Cho Dzong Chorten at Cho Dzong
Group of Pobas
Group of Pobas with expedition baggage at Migme Ngagong Chu Valley, Poju
Cho Dzong
Cho Dzong in Poyu
Chorten at Cho Dzong
Chorten at Cho Dzong, Poyu
Bridge at Dashing The Yarku Tso Khampa Dancers
Bridge at Dashing
Bridge at Dashing, Poyu
The Yarku Tso
The Yarku Tso, near Ducho Somdo
Khampa Dancers
Khampa Dancers at Chumdo, Poyu
Tibetan Troops Shopando Courtyard at Shopando
Tibetan Troops
Tibetan troops on parade at Chumdo in Poto
Shopando, on the Gya Lam
Courtyard at Shopando
Courtyard of the Dzong at Shopando
Bootmaker Yaks Crossing the Gyamo Ngo Chu
Bootmaker at Shopando
Yaks on the Gya Lam, near Shopando
Crossing the Gyamo Ngo Chu
Crossing the Gyamo Ngo Chu at Shopathang, near Shopando
Gorge of the Gyamo Ngo Chu Threshing Barley Rope Brdige, Gyamo Ngo Chu
Gorge of the Gyamo Ngo Chu
The Gorge of the Gyamo Ngo Chu, near Limda
Threshing Barley
Threshing Barley at Dere, near Kham
Rope Bridge, Gyamo Ngo Chu
Rope bridge across the Gyamo Ngo Chu at Dege, near Chamda Gompa

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