Object Lessons in Tibetan: The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Charles Bell, and Connoisseurial Networks in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, 1910–12
Abstract On 18 June 1912, Charles Bell, Political Officer of Sikkim, paid his final visit to the thirteenth Dalai Lama at Bhutan House in Kalimpong. The significant gifts presented that day were the culmination of a series of object exchanges between the two men during the lama’s exile in British India. These gifting moments were not only characterized by the mobility of the objects in question, but by the connoisseurial and empirical knowledge regularly offered with them. Using the concept of “object lessons,” this paper traces out how Bell was taught things with Tibetan objects. Furthermore, these exchanges are not only placed within the context of the Dalai Lama’s exile in Darjeeling and Kalimpong between 1910 and 1912, but they highlight the potential to make alternate readings of histories and encounters if one closely follows things.