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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama Given Map Showing an Independent Tibet before USA Visit

October 20, 2010

Reigniting the debate on the historical
relationship between Tibet and China, the Dalai
Lama recently accepted a gift of an antique map
from 1869 that clearly defines Tibet and China as separate count
October 18, 2010

An antique map challenging the relationship
between Tibet and China was recently given to the
Dalai Lama. It clearly defines the two regions as
separate countries, a historical counterpoint to
China’s claim over the highest region on earth.
The gift -- drawn almost a hundred years before
China’s invasion of Tibet - was presented at a
ceremony at the Dalai Lama’s residence in Dharamsala, India.

The Dalai Lama received the map as a joint gift
from Emory University and Miklian Antiquarian
Maps. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and
political leader of the Tibetan population, many
of whom have lived in exile in India since the 1950s.

The map itself is an original chart of Asia,
Tibet and China drawn by Augustus Mitchell in the
year 1869. Mitchell was one of the most famous
and respected mapmakers of the 19th century, and
his maps were prized for their accuracy as well
as their striking attention to geographic and artistic detail.

The Mitchell map also bestows additional
documentation and credence to the Free Tibet
movement, which asserts that the 1950 invasion of
Tibet by China was illegal and a breach of state
sovereignty. Official statements from China often
state that Tibet is, and has always been, a part
of China. This map casts doubt on that claim.

While all major governments now consider Tibet to
be the domain of China, during many periods of
history the relationship between the two regions
was not as it is today. Both Tibet and China have
cultures stretching back thousands of years, and
interactions between the two have undergone
tremendous flux as the powers have risen and fallen in supremacy and influence.

Miklian Antiquarian Maps owner Jason Miklian
considers the map itself as a significant piece
of world history, one that is often more complex
and impermanent than we assume. "Almost every
land in the world has been ruled by an outside
force at least one point in history," Miklian
explained. “This map of an independent Tibet
illustrates the always fluctuating geopolitics of
nation-states since the 1600s, and a glimpse into
how people understood the world almost 150 years
ago. This is just one of hundreds of fascinating
antique maps that provide proof that today’s
borders, boundaries and countries were not always so.”

The Dalai Lama has also been awarded the position
of Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory,
and will be arriving to the United States for a
series of lectures from 17-19 October 2010, to be
attended by actor Richard Gere, author Matthieu
Ricard, and other distinguished luminaries.

More information on the Emory -- Tibet
partnership can be found at, and Miklian
Antiquarian Maps is located at
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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