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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."

Picture This: a Lost Tibet

June 1, 2008

Catriona Bass
The Times
May 30, 2008

The Dalai Lama launches the Pitt Rivers Museum's Tibet Album in
Oxford today. As a virtual museum of Tibet's pre-communist existence,
it feeds a cultural revolution that has led to soaring prices for
Tibetan contemporary art and a purge of the country's cultural leaders.

The album, with 6,000 images taken by British photographers between
1920 and 1950, reveals a Tibet to which many Tibetans have never had
access. In Lhasa, downloaded pictures from the album (at
http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/) are already selling fast.

For the Dalai Lama, the images will bring back childhood memories: in
the Potala Palace; in his gold silk palanquin being carried through
the city. These are images that formed Western myths of Shangri-La.
But neither the Dalai Lama nor ordinary Tibetans subscribe to the
myths, any more than they do to the Chinese image of Tibet as a feudal hell.

The Dalai Lama calls the Chinese approach to the Tibetan issue
"simplistic." Contemporary Tibetan art also seeks to dispel Chinese
and Western stereotypes, showing the Buddhist and communist history
as part of a complex contemporary identity. But if the world has yet
to understand Tibet's contemporary political sophistication, it seems
suddenly to be understanding its art.

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