Photos from Younghusband’s 1903 Expedition to Tibet

The Potala Palace in Lhasa, 1904. In 1903, Sir Francis Younghusband led an expedition into Tibet during the latter part of the famed Great Game era. It was not a gentle expedition, and while the ultimate goal of establishing British ties to Lhasa before the Russians was accomplished, it came at a high cost to Tibetans in many savage battles along the way. 

Co-leading the expedition with Younghusband was John Claude White, the Political Officer for Sikkim. Throughout the expedition, White snapped off many photographs

of still-forbidden Tibet, documenting the people and places of this far-off land. The images were later passed on to Lieut. William Pyt Bennett, who passed them on to his heirs; they remained in Bennett's family for over a century. 

Just a few weeks ago, they re-emerged on the auction block at Bonhams…and sold for an amazing £38,400, or $60,400! 

While I, nor presumably most of you, won't ever have a chance to see these images from a Tibet now long gone, you can fortunately see some of them online; I've put together what I could find in an album, below.

But, be sure to see the links below for more info on these amazing, rare images of Tibet over 100 years ago!

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If you want to read more about this collection, here are some related links:

Jake Norton is an Everest climber, guide, photographer, writer, and motivational speaker from Colorado.

  1. Pete Poston
    Pete PostonOctober 20,10

    Hi Jake,

    I love that classic shot of the Potala Palace – here’s my own shot taken almost 100 years later – complete with Budweiser truck! So much change, and I hear there have been even more changes since I was there in 2000.

    Best, Pete

  2. Philip Summers
    Philip SummersOctober 24,10

    Apparantly one of those very changes since 2000, is that the above lorry driver now wishes he didn’t swerve to miss some great clot standing on the road blithely taking photo’s…..heh heh.

  3. Pete Poston
    Pete PostonOctober 25,10

    Hi Jake,

    And Heinrich Harrer also took a photo from there!


  4. Mount Everest
    Mount EverestOctober 26,10

    Hi Jake

    Thank you for posting these great photographs of Tibet, fascinating to look at.

    Mount Everest The British Story

  5. Www
    WwwDecember 25,11

    I was in the film Gyantse 1904 which was filmed at the actual sites. At the fort in Gyantse is the typical Chinese propaganda museum. There are clips of the film on youtube; I’m in the post of uploading my own copy which should be of better quality.

  6. Nepal Expeditions
    Nepal ExpeditionsAugust 9,12

    Trekking and mountaineering at Tibet surly is a life time experience. Trekking through the panoramic view of mountains, learning tradition and culture of Tibet is a life time experience. There are many things that can be learned through Tibetian culture. Everest Expedition via Tibet is also very popular worldwide.
    Tibet Expediitons – Ramdung Expeditions P. Ltd(Nepal Trekking and tours Comapany)

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