The secret waits for the insight
of eyes unclouded by longing;
Those who are bounded by desire
see only the outward container.
from The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
In 1900 Tibet was a 'waiting secret', an undefined region of exotic reputation and stark physical and climatic contrasts about which the British knew very little. In 1904 (the year that the Younghusband expedition finally entered the forbidden city of Lhasa), leading experts like Eric Teichman of the China Consular Service divided the country into three distinct zones, all subject to varying degrees of political control by the Dalai Lama's government in Lhasa and the Manchu government in Peking.
The first zone, where the Dalai Lama's spiritual and temporal power was uncontested and which Teichman called the kingdom of Tibet, extended north as far as Kokonor and east as far as the ancient Burmese frontier with China. Included in this zone were the states of Chamdo, Draya, and Nyarong, which had only recently reverted to direct Tibetan control after years of Chinese occupation. At Lhasa, the capital, the Manchu had installed a representative, or amban.
The second zone, known to the China Service as East Tibet and to the Tibetans themselves as Kham, included the states of Chala, Batang and Litang, which bordered China and which the Manchu claimed as part of their extensive empire. Within this zone lay the wealthy state of Derge which, like Chamdo, Draya and Nyarong, had also recently reverted to the political control of Lhasa. 1 The nature of Chinese political control in East Tibet was purely nominal since the Manchu took only a limited interest in what they regarded as the outer reaches of their Empire. The area had long ago been left to the provincial governments of Sichuan to administer and their interest in the region waxed and waned according to the whims of their successive viceroys. Except in Derge, the Dalai Lama could expect to exercise little political control in East Tibet and even here his spiritual