WHITE (JOHN CLAUDE) A collection of 85 lantern slides comprising 49 views of Tibet, 22 of Sikkim and 14 of Bhutan, [1903-1904] (2)
Lot 514
WHITE (JOHN CLAUDE) A collection of 85 lantern slides comprising 49 views of Tibet, 22 of Sikkim and 14 of Bhutan, [1903-1904] (2)
Sold for £3,375 (US$ 5,672) inc. premium
Lot Details
A collection of 85 lantern slides comprising 49 views of Tibet, 22 of Sikkim and 14 of Bhutan, standard glass slides in two pine boxes, printed and manuscript captions on paper pasted to top edges, 82 x 82mm., [1903-1904] (2)


  • John Claude White's lantern slides, quite possibly those which accompanied him on his 1907 trip to Bhutan where he organised a dinner and magic lantern show to which the Tongsa and Dzongpens (district governors) were invited. Given the delicate nature of lantern slides and the difficulty in transporting them, this lot is a remarkable survival, and "an integral part of [White's] story [and] an indication of his total absorption with photography and the skilled use he made of the medium as a tool of communication and education" (A Photographic Record by John Claude White 1883-1908, Meyer & Meyer, p.31). However, magic lantern shows were not without their dangers (due to the acetylene used to produce the limelight to illuminate the slides). As White's son-in-law, Captain Henry Hyslop, describes in his diary: "One evening we gave a magic lantern show in the big court yard of the dzong. It was not altogether successful. In putting together the ascetylene accumulator, someone came near with a lantern and nearly blew White up, as it was all one side of his face was scorched, and eyebrows, eyelashes and moustache badly singed; then the lantern refused to work properly and we had great difficulty in focusing at all".

    Views in Tibet include: Lamas on the terrace of Debung Monastery; view of Debung Monastery; group portrait of Lamas standing inside Sera Monastery; view of yak-drawn ekkas; the Potala; view of the entrance to Lhasa showing the Pargo Kaling (the sacred chorten, now long demolished); group portrait of Ugyen Wangchuk, Tongsa of Bhutan, flanked by Ugyen Kazi and Punakha Jongpen; portrait of the Shigatse Abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery in his tent at Khampa Dzong and a portrait of the Ti Rimpochi.

    Views in Sikkim include: bamboo bridge over the river Teesta at Sanklan Sampo; view of Mount Siniolchu on a rare clear day; the residency at Gangtok; view of Talung Monastery; two views of Mount Everest from Sandakphu.

    Views in Bhutan include: group portrait of Ugyen Wangchuk and his council of ministers seated against a wall decorated with Buddhist symbols (in the front row, seated from left to right are the Dzongpen of Punakha Dzong, the Dzongpen of Thimpu Dzong, Ugyen Wangchuk, the government guestmaster and the state treasurer;in the centre of the back row stands Ugyan Dorje, a close adviser to Wangchuk and the Raj's Bhutan liaison officer); The Chendebji chorten near Rokubi; Winter Quarters of the Government at Punakha Dzong (the seat of Bhutanese government for 300 years until the 1950s); group portrait of dancing lamas in costume inside Tongsa Dzong; group portrait of lamas inside Tasicho Dzong, Thimpu (the summer residence of the shabdrung and the state clergy).
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