Fabienne Jagou, " Manchu Officials’ Khams Travel Accounts: Mapping a Course Through a Qing Territory "
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Throughout the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), more and more travelers –officials, military and merchants- went to the Southwest border of China and dedicated some of their time to writing travel accounts, poetry, to drawing maps or to sketching what they saw. As such, frontier officials actively contributed to collecting geographical and anthropological data about the border areas. They then provided the Peking Court with first-hand information to help it draw up policies and secure administrative control of the border. Regarding the officials posted to Tibet, their personal writings took the form of travel diaries, notebooks, or poems, and testified mainly to the routes they would take before entering Central Tibet. Some anthropological or cultural observations are sometimes included. Their accounts were mostly about the southwestern border territory they had to cross to reach Central Tibet rather than Central Tibet itself. From their narratives, the three-to-six-month journey from Chengdu or Xining to Lhasa appears to be both a painful expedition full of hardships and an early-eighteenth-century exploratory experience. It then becomes obvious that the Qing took control of the area and that the roads and supplies for officials and their escort became better and better organized provided that the local chieftains agreed to provide Manchu officials with corvée labor. However, the Qing's national endeavor of mapping the southwestern border of China did not grant Manchu officials authority over the inhabitants of the southwestern territory as illustrated by a few examples dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
International conference “Territories, Communities, and Exchanges in the Sino-Tibetan Kham Borderlands,” Februray 18-20, 2016. This conference is an outcome of a collaborative ERC-funded research project (Starting grant no. 283870).
For more information, please visit the project's Website: http://kham.cnrs.fr
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