East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

1 Comment

For all the Gold in Tibet – part 2

Picture 11

The Panchan Lama had decided to break all historic precedent by appointing a Foreign Devil to the Upper (smaller) House of the Tibetan National Assembly.
The Incarnation, it seemed, had ordered his cabinet ministers to seek a foreigner to serve as technical adviser. Such a foreigner, the man-god specified, must know flying and airplanes, he must be an American, and he must know something of Tibet, if possible.
Why an American? Because His Serenity was mindful of the Tibetan proverb, epitome of Asia’s bitter experience: wherever a white man goes, an army follows. The Panchan Lama felt that this would not be true of an American.

So… who was Gordon B. Enders? Continue reading

Leave a comment

For all the Gold in Tibet – part 1

Let’s leave on a tangent, for a while. A couple of posts, no more.

As we mentioned in the last post of the Challenge, in his plan to make Tibet a technological power, the 9th Panchen Lama had found an ally in an American called Gordon B. Enders.
Enders was to supply the Panchen Lama with plane-loads of modern gear – from radios to tractors – and to start up the industrial revolution in the Himalayas.
But what about footing the bill?
How would all those tonnes of stuff get paid?

“Unknown to most of the world, the monasteries of Tibet have been collecting gold dust for at least six or seven centuries. This gold belongs to the ruling power because the Church and the Government are the same in Tibet. How much gold has thus been accumulated, it is hard to say, but it has been estimated to be about $100,000,000.”
(Gordon B. Enders, interviewed in New York, 1936)

22372ik4vrmk9f_orig_GOLD DUST

But the story of Tibetan gold is much older tha the 9th Panchen Lama and Gordon B. Enders… Continue reading

1 Comment

The 9th Panchen Lama

At the moment of writing the Panchen Lama is still en route: it was from Kumbum that he dispatched to the British Ambassador in Peking a telegram of condolence on the death of King George V.

Having left Sining, Peter Fleming and Ella Maillart have reached Tangar and joined a camel caravan due west.

Soon they find hospitality in a monastery – and here the main topic of discussion is the imminent return to Tibet of the exiled Pancehn Lama – which Peter Fleming calls also the Tashi-Lama, from the name of the Panchen Lama’s traditional seat, Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse.


Now, who’s this exiled lama guy? Continue reading