Goto calendar to view diary entries
In July 1936 Basil Gould set off with a team of British civil servants and military officers to visit Lhasa at the request of the Tibetan government. The Mission members were Basil Gould (Political Officer), Frederick Spencer Chapman (Private Secretary to Gould), Philip Neame (Brigadier in the British Army), Sidney Dagg and Evan Nepean (Telegraphists from the Royal Signals Corps of the British Army), William Morgan (Indian Medical Service) and Hugh Richardson (British Trade Agent stationed at Gyantse).
During the Mission a "Diary of Events" was compiled. The first entry was written at Karponang on 31 st July 1936 and the last describes the Mission's departure from Lhasa on 17 th February 1937. Three members of the Mission were the authors of the entries: Neame, Richardson and Spencer Chapman. Their remarks (entered in a document marked "Confidential") were then sent to the British government in India and in London. Importantly, the text entries were often accompanied by photographs.
The photographs of Tibet were developed and printed by Spencer Chapman from his own negatives and those of other members of the Mission team in his room at the British Mission house (the Dekyi Lingka) in Lhasa. Albums made from Tibetan paper were used to compile the pictures from which a selection could be made to send back to the Government with the Diary.
As one of the lengthiest and most congenial official visits to Lhasa ever made by a British team, the Gould Mission was deemed a success in a number of respects. Amongst these was the photographic record amassed by the collective activities of the Mission members. The use of photographs as a component of official reportage within the Mission Diary was unprecedented in the history of British representations of Tibet.
Use the calendars below to view extracts from the Mission Dairy and the photographs that accompanied them to the offices of the British government. This facility reconstructs the history of the 1936-1937 Mission by bringing the text and image components back together in ways that are not possible within the libraries and museums where the original materials are currently stored.
For further reading see: Clare Harris "Seeing Lhasa: British Photographic and Filmic Engagement with Tibet" in Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936-1947 Chicago, Serindia 2003