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Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China, and Mongolia 1921-1925
     

Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China, and Mongolia 1921-1925

by Frederick Wulsin (Photographer), Janet Wulsin (Photographer), Rubie Watson (Contribution by), Mabel Cabot (Text by)
 
In the early 1920s, the last great age of world explorers, a remarkable young woman named Janet Elliott Wulsin, set out with her husband, Frederick Wulsin, for the far reaches of China, Tibet and Outer Mongolia to study the people, flora and fauna of the region. Wulsin's strenuous, eventful exploration is detailed by a text enriched with excerpts from her candid

Overview

In the early 1920s, the last great age of world explorers, a remarkable young woman named Janet Elliott Wulsin, set out with her husband, Frederick Wulsin, for the far reaches of China, Tibet and Outer Mongolia to study the people, flora and fauna of the region. Wulsin's strenuous, eventful exploration is detailed by a text enriched with excerpts from her candid personal letters. The journey proved to be a test of the Wulsins' endurance and of their relationship. While in Asia, the Wulsins took many extraordinary photographs, which form the heart of this richly-produced publication. They documented tribes people and sublime desert landscapes, and, most remarkably, were allowed to photograph the interior of several of the great Tibetan Buddhist lamaseries, including Choni, Kumbum and Labrang. Several dozen rare, hand-painted lantern slides survived and are reproduced here in splendid color.
The photographs from the Wulsin Expedition, now in the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, in collaboration with whom this volume is being produced, are a testament to the great spirit and success of a remarkable woman explorer.
“[the] pictures are thrilling and romantic: Janet in various native costumes, the insides of temples never before photographed... (sun-glasses, boots, rustic camps, also make this a costume designer's fantasy of a book).”
--Los Angeles Times
“Janet Wulsin covered thousands of miles in remote China on foot, mule, camel and raft, developing and cataloguing astonishingly beautiful, otherworldly photographs... Wulsin's diaries and letters are as illustrative and vivid as the photos themselves.”
--Washington Post

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Janet Wulsin covered thousands of miles in remote China on foot, mule, camel and raft, developing and cataloguing astonishingly beautiful, otherworldly photographs. — Kate Hensler Fogarty
Publishers Weekly
Part photographic catalogue and part historical travelogue, this book presents the life of Janet Elliott Wulsin (1894-1963), who went where very few women of her society had ever gone before. In 1923, she and her husband, Frederick, set out, under the auspices of the National Geographic Society, to explore China, Mongolia and Tibet with 28 camels, six horses, four Mongolian camel drivers and 10 Chinese "specimen collectors." Together, they collected 1,400 botanical and zoological specimens and documented Buddhist rituals. Cabot, director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology of Ethnology at Harvard, showcases 144 illustrations (34 in color) and provides a wealth of details, down to the provisions the Wulsins carried on their travel through the Chinese desert: "marmalade from Fortnum and Mason, syrup, hardtack, dehydrated vegetables, malted milk, and even canned baked beans." She uses letters from Janet and Frederick to supplement her storytelling; one from Janet to her mother-in-law notes, "I feel as if we might be going to Mars-with just as much probability of return." While the subtitle implies no men were involved, Wulsin's travels are compellingly reconstructed from her perspective. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
This remarkable book tells the story of an intrepid female explorer, Janet Elliot Wulsin, and her scientist husband Fredrick Wulsin, who traveled to the far reaches of China, Mongolia, and Tibet to study the people and record the unique natural and cultural history of the region. Their expedition took place from 1921 to 1925, during the chaotic and dangerous warlord period, but this book was not conceived until 1975 when the Wulsins' daughter, Mabel Cabot, discovered documents of the journey in Harvard University's Peabody Museum. From this treasure trove of personal letters, diaries, and rare photographs, Cabot has skillfully woven an exciting, beautifully written, and richly produced travelogue of considerable historical significance. She not only provides matchless insight into a little-known period of Chinese history but also draws her mother from the shadows as a great female explorer in her own right, worthy to join the ranks of Alexandra David-Kneel, Isabella Bird Bishop, and Arlene Blum.
Library Journal
Drawing from numerous personal and academic collections, Cabot captures the zeitgeist of Central Asia in the early 20th century as she explores the life of her mother, Janet Wulsin, shortly after her marriage in l9l9. With an unrelenting enthusiasm, Wulsin accompanied her husband on scientific pursuits abroad and helped collect, catalog, preserve, and prepare specimens. Little did she know that in the years to come, her diaries and letters would enable her daughter to compile this insightful glimpse of such intriguing lands. Cabot seamlessly weaves her mother's quotes into her own narration. Readers will realize the challenges of travel, visualize the beauty of the temples, and relish the personal anecdotes. The most outstanding feature of the book is the expedition's photographic collection, which makes the work not only an informative study but also a visual joy. Highly recommended for any library.-Jo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781931788083
Publisher:
Aperture Foundation
Publication date:
06/15/2005
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
9.93(w) x 11.42(h) x 0.87(d)

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