This book presents a unique collection of 50 photographs taken by two Russian travelers, a Buryat, Gombozhab Tsybikov, and a Kalmuck, Ovshe Norzunov, in 1900-1901, at the request of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, St. Petersburg. These images are believed to be the earliest photographic re-presentations of Lhasa and other famous religious sites of Tibet, the then Forbidden Land. The images are introduced with the thrilling story of Tsybikov's and Norzunov's travels related by Alexander Andreyev. He also dwells on the history of the first use of field photography by Russian pioneer explorers of Central Asia. The introduction is followed by the narratives of the travelers themselves, which abound in many details of Tibet's traditional society and religious life in the last years of its hermit-like existence.
Alexandre Andreyev is a Russian historian; a senior research associate at the Institute for the History of Science and Technology, and concurrently director of the Petr Kozlov Memorial museum in St Petersburg. He is the author of Soviet Russia and Tibet: The debacle of secret diplomacy (2003) and other publications.