Map of Tibet; Note on Tibetan Names; Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama; Introduction; Climate, Landscape and Agriculture; Trade, Travel and Communications; Craft, Art and Architecture; Tibetan Religion; Nobility and Government; Life in Lhasa and Other Towns; Further Reading.
Dr. John Clarke is Assistant Curator, Indian and South-East Asian Collection, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He is a specialist in the arts of the Himalayas and in particular Tibet, and is currently working on a catalogue of the museum's Himalayan Collection. He has travelled extensively in the region and published numerous articles and reviews on Tibet's artistic heritage.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet. At the age of two the child, who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a man of peace. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems. His Holiness has travelled to more than 62 countries spanning 6 continents. He has met with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major nations. He has held dialogues with the heads of different religions and many well-known scientists. Since 1959 His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. His Holiness has also authored more than 72 books. His Holiness describes himself as "a simple Buddhist monk."
For anyone interested in the Himalayas or Buddhism, this book is so interesting. It features the collection of photos made by two British diplomats to Tibet in the early 1900's, John Claude White and Sir Charles Bell. Bell lived in Sikkim for two decades and photographed there and the majestic top of the world mountains. He documented life among the Tibetan people as it had been almost unchanged for many centuries before the Chinese occupation. Bell, who came after White, also lived in region for decades and spoke fluent Tibetan. He became a close friend of the 13th Dalai Lama and his family and, as such, was privy to many private events before the Dalai Lama had to seek refuge in India and was able to photograph and describe these occasions. The historic commentaries comprise a special window in time and a place and way of life which are gone. Their photographs and diaries and notes are priceless collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum where Clarke is a curator.