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Among the Tibetans

Isabella L. Bird

Book Overview: 

Isabella L. Bird was an English traveller, writer and natural historian. She was traveling in the Far East alone at a time when such endeavors were risky and dangerous even for men and large, better equipped parties.

In "Among the Tibetans", Bird describes her tour through Tibet with her usual keen eye: From descriptions of the landscape and flora to the manners, customs and religion of the local people we get a fascinating account of a world long past.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .to the heavenly blue sky fields of unsullied snow alone. The descent on the Tibetan side is slight and gradual. The character of the scenery undergoes an abrupt change. There are no more trees, and the large shrubs which for a time take their place degenerate into thorny bushes, and then disappear. There were mountains thinly clothed with grass here and there, mountains of bare gravel and red rock, grey crags, stretches of green turf, sunlit peaks with their snows, a deep, snow-filled ravine, eastwards and beyond a long valley filled with a snowfield fringed with pink primulas; and that was Central Asia.

We halted for breakfast, iced our cold tea in the snow, Mr. M. gave a final charge to the Afghan, who swore by his Prophet to be faithful, and I parted from my kind escorts with much reluctance, and started on my Tibetan journey, with but a slender stock of Hindustani, and two men who spoke not a word of English. On that day's march of fourteen miles there . . . Read More

Community Reviews

There is a certain amount of Victorian dryness which can be off-putting, but when it is employed to make light of near-death experiences from which a little old lady emerges with busted ribs and her composure unruffled, it really works. This is a beautifully written account of a Tibet that no lon...more

Imagine travelling back in time, to 1890 or thereabouts, and accompanying a 60-year-old Victorian lady on her travels in Tibet. A lady famous for travelling on her own and riding 'frontwards' instead of using a lady saddle, and who seems utterly fearless when it comes to traversing mountain passe...more

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Opening: The Vale of Kashmir is too well known to require description. It is the 'happy hunting-ground' of the Anglo-Indian sportsman and tourist, the resort of artists and invalids, the home of pashm shawls and exquisitely embroidered fabrics, and the land of Lalla Rookh. Its inhabitants, chiefly...more

I have read a few of Isabella Bird's books and this did not disappointment me. She can have you riding the camel with her, the way she describes the people, their culture, the weather, the land and all the dangers, along with the celebrations that she experienced. Isabella at the time was probabl...more

A great view of Tibetan culture such that we'll not see it now. Add to that an explorer who gives great descriptions of the people, places and culture as seen through the eyes of a woman. I'll be reading her adventures in the west next.

“Among the Tibetians” is a Victorian traveller diary on landscapes, culture, religion, people and circumstances of isolation of Tibet. Unfortunately much has been lost, but Lucy has greatly revealed the characteristics and culture the Land holds that is true through times. Kind, compassionate, wi...more

Intrepid. That's the word that best fits this amazing, independent Victorian traveller. She explored the world, solo, with a keen eye for observation, and a warm sense of compassion for fellow humans.

This felt shorter and less interesting than most of Bird's books, but it was still a very quick and interesting-enough read about the Tibetan area of what is now mostly Jammu & Kashmir at the end of the 19th century.

"The Vale of Kashmir is too well known to require description. It is the 'happy hunting-ground of the Anglo-Indian sportsman and tourist, the resort of artists and invalids, the home of pashm shawls and exquisitely embroidered fabrics, and the land of Lalla Rookh." Thus begins Ms. Bird her accoun...more

This is an interesting recounting of an unusual solo woman traveler who in the late nineteenth century braved the wilds of Kashmir, Ladakh, and southern Tibet. Her observations and descriptions of travel and people are colorful and astute, even if they are embedded in assumptions of another centu...more

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