Historical Reprints History Tibet: The Forbidden Land

Tibet: The Forbidden Land

Tibet: The Forbidden Land
Catalog # SKU1890
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name A. Henry Savage Landor


The Forbidden Land

An Account Of A Journey In Tibet
Capture By The Tibetan Authorities
Imprisonment, Torture, And
Ultimate Release

100 Chapters

A. Henry Savage Landor

Follow Landor into the Forbidden Land of Tibet, where the environment and weather is hostile to outsiders, along with it's rulers. Yet the lure and appeal of this Sacred Land continues to entice outsiders to venture there.

Landor has contrived, even in circumstances of cruel disadvantage, to present a wonderfully minute and impressive series of pictures of the life, manners, and customs of the Tibetans. No less powerful and vivid are his descriptions of the scenery and natural phenomena of the Forbidden Land, which are reinforced by an ample series of illustrations that attain a high standard of artistic excellence. Mr. Landor's bitter experiences have had at least the advantage of providing him with material for the most absorbing travel book produced within recent times.

Excerpt from Preface

It was my first visit to India, and my first impression was certainly not a good one. The heat was intense, and signs of the plague were discernible everywhere. The streets were deserted and the hotels bad and dirty for want of servants, who had abandoned the town in fear of the scourge.

Accompanied by a Parsee friend, I went to several of the districts of Bombay chiefly affected by the disease, but I noticed, wherever I went, little else than a strong odour of disinfectants. It is true there were few houses in those parts which had not ten, twenty, and even more circular red marks, denoting as many deaths, and on one door, which I photographed, I counted no less than forty-nine circles. But I was unable to gauge personally with any sort of accuracy the nature or extent of the disease, beyond seeing in the hospitals a few violent cases of bubonic attacks.

On the day following my arrival in Bombay, I proceeded by rail to Bareilly, which was reached in three days, and from there one more night brought me to Kathgodam, the terminus of the railway line. Travelling partly by Tonga (a two-wheeled vehicle drawn by two horses) and partly on horseback, I found myself at last at Naini Tal, a hill station in the lower Himahlyas and the summer seat of the Government of the North-West Provinces and Oudh, from whence I wrote to the Lieutenant-Governor, informing him of my intention to proceed to Tibet. I also called on the Deputy-Commissioner and made him fully acquainted with my plans.

Neither one nor the other of these gentlemen raised the slightest objection to my intended journey into the sacred Land of the Lamas.


Just below Garbyang in the Kali River were, among a mass of others, two large rocks in the centre of the stream. These two rocks were constantly watched by the Shokas. The Kali, though named after a small spring below its real source, is, like most of its tributaries, mainly fed by melting snows. The greater quantity of water descends from the Jolinkan, the Lumpiya, the Mangshan, the Lippu, and the Tinker passes. The first four are in Kumaon, the last in Nepal. It stands to reason that the warmer the weather the greater is the quantity of snow melting on the passes, and therefore the higher the level of the river. When the two rocks are altogether under water all the passes are known to be open.

During the time I was in Garbyang I never had the luck to see this, but the level of the river was daily rising, and the time of tiresome expectation was certainly relieved by many amusing, and a few awkward incidents.

Having once been informed of my plans, the Jong Pen of Taklakot in Tibet was kept fully acquainted with my movements. His spies went daily backwards and forwards with details about me.

This my friends confided to me regularly. One of these emissaries, a stalwart Tibetan, more daring than the rest, actually had the impudence to enter my room, and to address me in a boisterous tone of voice. At first I treated him kindly, but he became more and more arrogant, and informed me, before several frightened Shokas to whom he was showing off, that the British soil I was standing on was Tibetan property. The British, he said, were usurpers and only there on sufferance. He declared that the English were cowards and afraid of the Tibetans, even if they oppressed the Shokas.

This remark was too much for me, and it might anyhow have been unwise to allow it to pass unchallenged. Throwing myself on him, I grabbed him by his pigtail and landed in his face a number of blows straight from the shoulder. When I let him go, he threw himself down crying, and implored my pardon. Once and for all to disillusion the Tibetan on one or two points, I made him lick my shoes clean with his tongue, in the presence of the assembled Shokas. This done, he tried to scamper away, but I caught him once more by his pigtail, and kicked him down the front steps which he had dared to come up unasked.

Chanden Sing happened to be basking in the sun at the foot, and seeing the hated foreigner make so contemptible an exit, leapt on him like a cat. He had heard me say, "Ye admi bura crab!" ("That man is very bad.") That was enough for him, and before the Tibetan had regained his feet, my bearer covered his angular features with a perfect shower of blows. In the excitement of the moment, Chanden Sing, thinking himself quite the hero, began even to shy huge stones at his terror-stricken victim, and at last, getting hold of his pigtail, to drag him round the yard-until I interfered and stopped the sport.


ONE Shoka institution, surprising in a primitive people, but nevertheless, to my way of thinking, eminently sensible and advantageous, is the Rambang, a meeting-place or club where girls and young men come together at night, for the sake of better acquaintance, prior to entering into matrimony. Each village possesses one or more institutions of this kind, and they are indiscriminately patronised by all well-to-do people, who recognise the institution as a sound basis on which marriage can be arranged.

The Rambang houses are either in the village itself, or half way between one village and the next, the young women of one village thus entering into amicable relations with the young men of the other and vice versâ. I visited many of these in company with Shokas, and found them very interesting. Round a big fire in the centre of the room men and women sat in couples, spinning wool and chatting merrily, for everything appeared decorous and cheerful. With the small hours of the morning, they seemed to become more sentimental, and began singing songs without instrumental accompaniment, the rise and fall of the voices sounding weird and haunting to a degree.

The Shoka men and women possess soft, musical voices, and the sounds which they utter are not simply a series of notes emitted through the throat, but, as it were, the vibration of impressions coming from the heart, and transmitted by means of their voices to others. Eastern in its character, the Shoka music is pleasing to the Western ear, not because it possesses quick progressions, flourishes, or any elaborate technicalities, but because it conveys the impression of reality and feeling. The responsive duets, sung by a young man and answered by a girl, pleased me most.

Softcover, 8¼" x 6¾, 535+ pages
Perfect-Bound - Illustrated

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