Office of Strategic Services. Field Photographic Branch
“On the journey of a U.S. military and diplomatic mission from Gangtok, India, to Lhasa, Tibet during World War II. The party journeys through Natu La and Kechu La passes, stops at the British trail station, Gyantse, reviews troops of Tropji Regiment and is ferried across the Brahmaputra River. Scenes of Tibetan natives, terrain, travel facilities, housing,a New Year religious festival, the Dalai Lama’s palaces in Lhasa, monasteries and other religious buildings.” The Dalai Lama, still a child (they say 10, but from the date of the film he should be 7 or 8) is seen briefly at the end.
Reupload of a previously uploaded film, in one piece instead of multiple parts, and with improved sound.
Public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
The history of a unified Tibet begins with the rule of Songtsän Gampo (604–650 CE) who united parts of the Yarlung River Valley and founded the Tibetan Empire. He also brought in many reforms and Tibetan power spread rapidly creating a large and powerful empire. It is traditionally considered that his first wife was the Princess of Nepal, Bhrikuti, and that she played a great role in establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. In 640 he married Princess Wencheng, the niece of the powerful Chinese emperor Taizong of Tang China.
Under the next few Tibetan kings, Buddhism became established as the state religion and Tibetan power increased even further over large areas of Central Asia, while major inroads were made into Chinese territory, even reaching the Tang’s capital Chang’an (modern Xi’an) in late 763. However, the Tibetan occupation of Chang’an only lasted for fifteen days, after which they were defeated by Tang and its ally, the Turkic Uyghur Khaganate… Tibet continued as a Central Asian empire until the mid-9th century…
Between 1346 and 1354, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen toppled the Sakya and founded the Phagmodrupa dynasty. The following 80 years saw the founding of the Gelug school (also known as Yellow Hats) by the disciples of Je Tsongkhapa, and the founding of the important Ganden, Drepung, and Sera monasteries near Lhasa.
In 1578, Altan Khan of the Tümed Mongols gave Sonam Gyatso, a high lama of the Gelugpa school, the name Dalai Lama; Dalai being the Mongolian translation of the Tibetan name Gyatso, or “Ocean”.
The first Europeans to arrive in Tibet were the Portuguese missionaries António de Andrade and Manuel Marques in 1624. They were welcomed by the King and Queen of Guge, and were allowed to build a church and to introduce Christian belief. The king of Guge eagerly accepted Christianity as an offsetting religious influence to dilute the thriving Gelugpa and to counterbalance his potential rivals and consolidate his position. All missionaries were expelled in 1745…
Emerging with control over most of mainland China after the Chinese Civil War, the People’s Republic of China incorporated Tibet in 1950 and negotiated the Seventeen Point Agreement with the newly crowned 14th Dalai Lama’s government, affirming the People’s Republic of China’s sovereignty but granting the area autonomy. After the Dalai Lama government fled to Dharamsala, India during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, it established a rival government-in-exile. Afterwards, the Central People’s Government in Beijing renounced the agreement and began implementation of the halted social and political reforms.
During the Great Leap Forward between 200 thousand and 1 million Tibetans died, and approximately 6,000 monasteries were destroyed around the Cultural Revolution. In 1980, General Secretary and reformist Hu Yaobang visited Tibet, and ushered in a period of social, political, and economic liberalization. At the end of the decade, however analogously to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, monks in the Drepung and Sera monasteries started protesting for independence, and so the government halted reforms and started an anti-separatist campaign. Human rights organisations have been critical of the Beijing and Lhasa governments’ approach to human rights in the region when cracking down on separatist convulsions that have occurred around monasteries and cities, most recently in the 2008 Tibetan unrest.