Books to Read in Celebration of Newark Museum’s Tibet Collection Centennial

May 24, 2011 at 5:32 pm Leave a comment

Many years ago, John MacGregor wrote an excellent book on Westerners in Tibet. Entitled Tibet: A Chronicle of Exploration, it situates the various missionaries, trade representatives, military officers, and others in their very complicated religious, ethnic, social, economic, and political contexts. He begins with the Franciscans and the Jesuits of the 17th and 18th centuries, who fought one another for the honor of converting the Tibetans, but to no avail. The British in India in the late 18th century were intent upon opening up the Himalayas to trade, but they, too, were unsuccessful due to their misunderstanding of the relationships between the Tibetans, Nepalese, Mongolians, and Chinese.

Later, in the 19th century, they used military force to achieve their goals in the famous Younghusband Expedition of 1903. This expedition was conducted largely in response to the intrigues of the Russians and their Mongolian allies. Also in this century, the eccentric orientalist Thomas Manning and the charming priest Evariste-Regis Huc recorded their impressionistic observations of the Tibetans. In this book, MacGregor writes eloquently about all of these characters, and he does so with sophistication and understanding.

Another book  to read:
Martin Brauen from the University of Zurich has assembled a remarkable team of contributors to examine the visual history of the Dalai Lamas. Each Dalai Lama is described in detail, usually with a full chapter devoted to his live and thought by a leading scholar. Additional essays cover the tradition of Tibetan reincarnation, the iconography of the Dalai Lamas, their protective deities, and the relationship between the Panchen Lamas and the Dalai Lamas. It is introduced by an interview between the editor and the 14th Dalai Lama. Profusely illustrated, it is a stunning book entitled The Dalai Lamas: A Visual History published in 2005.

To learn more about the Tibet Collection Centennial, visit
William Peniston, Ph.D. is the Librarian at the Newark Museum.


Entry filed under: Asian Art, Education, Tibet Collection Centennial. Tags: , , , , .

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