Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Tibetian Buddhism & Imperialism

Teaching Buddhism or imperialism? 

Here is an excellent Twitter thread by the art-crime professor, Erin Tompson, at John Jay College.

Thompson notes that in 1903 the British led a force into Tibet and killed over 600 Tibetian soldiers with Maxim machine guns. The forces looted monasteries and then burned them to the ground.

Examining primary sources about the looting, Thompson notes that one soldier wrote his mother that in one monastery "I got rather a nice gong which no doubt you will find useful when I am able to get it home."

Another soldier, a captain, wrote that 'his wife had secured a few trifles' from the monastery, including paintings that fetched high prices when auctioned at Christie's later in 1904.

The British force that killed the Tibetian soldiers and looted several monasteries was known as the Younghusband Expedition.

You can read more about this expedition and the looting here and at Jstor here and at History Extra here.

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