Tibetan Studies Introductory Research Guide: Maps and Images

A basic research guide for the study of Tibetan societies and cultures across the Himalayan region, with a focus on western-language sources. For a more advanced guide that also includes Chinese and Tibetan resources, see bottom-left links below.

Photographic and Archival Images

The Tibet Album: British Photography in Central Tibet (1920-1950)
Searchable by photographers, dates, people, places. Includes a “Who Was Who” project for early 20th c. Tibet, also the day-to-day diary of Gould Mission in Tibet (1936-37).  Primarily photos by Charles Bell (1870-1945), Frederick Spencer Chapman (1907-1971), Arthur Hopkinson (1894-1953), Rabden Lepcha, Evan Nepean (1909-2002), Hugh Richardson (1905-2000), and Harry Staunton (1908-1945). Project of the Pitt Rivers Museum, British Museum.

Digital Himalaya
Ethnographic materials from Himalayan Mountain communities, including slides, videos, audio tapes, etc. Includes materials from the Williamson Collection (1930-1935, Bhutan, Sikkim and Tibet), the Fürer-Haimendorf Film Collection (1930s, North Eastern India and Nepal), the Naga videodisk created in the 1980s, the ThakVillage of central Nepal collected since 1969, and the Thangmi Archive of northeastern Nepal. Features sample images and video clips (.qt) from the collections.

Tibet, from the Collections of the American Geographical Society (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
This digital collection presents historical maps and images of Tibet from the holdings of the American Geographical Society (AGS) Library. It includes includes a set of early photographs of central Tibet and Lhasa as well as images from Harrison Forman's expeditions to northern Tibet between 1932 and 1937.

A Glimpse of Another World: A Journey through Western Tibet (1938)
Photographs taken by F. Bailey Vanderhoef, Jr.


China Data Online
Columbia University Libraries have purchased GIS Maps and Statistical Data packages through China Data Online for all regions with concentrated Tibetan populations in the PRC; namely, the Tibetan Autonomous Region (Xizang), Qinghai Province, Gansu Province, Sichuan Province and Yunnan Province. The maps and database are a project of the University of Michigan. The data is detailed at the township level and includes thousands of variables regarding education, economy, demography, etc. The maps can be accessed remotely via the Databases portal in CLIO or onsite at the Data Service, located on the lower level of Lehman Library. Computer stations and expert assistance are available 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. The workstations can also be accessed on the weekends. A Columbia UNI (University Network ID) is required to log in. Qualified off-campus users can obtain a reader's card at the Butler Library.

See Andrew Fisher (State Growth and Social Exclusion in Tibet: Challenges of Recent Economic Growth, NIAS Report no. 47, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2005) for a critical discussion and illustration of  how Chinese state statistics can be used for meaningful research. For further assistance, contact Jeremiah Trinidad-Christensen (jt2118@columbia.edu) at the Data Service, Lehman Library.

China Historical Geographic Information System
The China Historical Geographic Information System, CHGIS, project was launched in January 2001 to establish a database of populated places and historical administrative units for the period of Chinese history between 222 BCE and 1911 CE. CHGIS provides a base GIS platform for researchers to use in spatial analysis, temporal statistical modeling, and representation of selected historical units as digital maps.

The Columbia Gazetteer of the World [electronic resource] / Saul B. Cohen, editor. [New York] : Columbia University Press, c2001- This resource lists all county seats (mostly using Chinese names) as well as population and local products.

Plateau Perspectives: Environmental protection & community development in the Tibetan Plateau region of China
Political maps of Qinghai down to the xian/county (Chinese only)

THL Tibetan & Himalayan Place Dictionary (formerly Gazetteer)   
Only Central Tibet.

Tibet Map Institute  
Tibet Administrative Maps

Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (place search)  

Tibet Outside the TAR
CD-ROM available for purchase from the International Campaign for Tibet. Features scans with clear borders of Chinese maps of Tibetan prefectures. List of Tibetan administrative seats outside the TAR giving Tibetan and Chinese spellings (and characters), pp. 2433-2450.