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Collection Sikkim Photos (Kandell Collection)

About this Collection

This selection of 300 images portrays the people and landscape of a kingdom high in the Himalaya Mountains. Sikkim, now part of India, borders on Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. Dr. Kandell captured these vivid scenes in order to document a vanishing culture. During visits between 1965 and 1979 (primarily 1965-1971), Dr. Kandell received special permission to photograph Buddhist monks and lamas, ceremonial dances, and monasteries; people working on farms, in canning factories, and at special crafts; and the royal palace and chapel at Gangtok, including the last king, Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, his American wife Queen Hope Cooke (Dr. Kandell's college friend), and their family.

Also depicted are the villages and people of Singhik and Lachung, the mountains of Kānchenjunga, the Ralang Hot Springs, and the Gangtok bazaar as well as different ethnic groups including the Kirati (Kiranti), Lepcha, Nepalese, and Bhutia people. Other photographs show the material culture, including religious paintings, ceremonial masks, jewelry and carpets. Special events feature the coronation in 1965 and the wedding of Princess Yanchen Dolma and Simon Abraham in 1979.

Dr. Alice S. Kandell dedicated her rights to the public domain when making this generous gift to the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, in 2010. The entire collection includes approximately 15,000 photographs available for research use at the Library.

"A Tour of the Lost Kingdom: Sikkim," a lecture by Hope Cooke and Dr. Kandell is online as a Webcast,

Items in this collection comprise only a selection from the Dr. Alice S. Kandell Collection of Sikkim Photographs

Arrangement and Access

The Kandell Collection of Sikkim Photographs is organized into groups (called LOTs) according to format--color slides, b&w contact sheets, enlarged photographic prints, and textual documents. Similar subjects appear in each LOT.

Ancient art of weaving with self-supported back-strap loom.
Ancient art of weaving with self-supported back-strap loom . . .

A selection of 250 digitized slides and 50 digitized b&w prints is available online to represent the collection through images chosen for books, lectures, and exhibits, as well as some unpublished staff favorites. View online images.

Most of the 15,000 photographs in this collection are available for on-site research at the Library of Congress. (Items that have not been digitized may be viewed by requesting the LOT in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room.) Detailed descriptions of the contents of each LOT are online. The brief listing below highlights the key topics and their arrangement.

Example of a contact sheet
Example of a b&w contact sheet

LOT 14032 (H) - Single prints

Photographs of people, activities and places in Sikkim, 1965-1979.
More than 500 b&w and color prints, most 11 x 14 inches or smaller; arranged into seven subdivisions:

  • - 1: images (with editorial marks) published in Mountaintop Kingdom book
  • - 2: images (without editorial marks) published in Mountaintop Kingdom
  • - 3: Camera Club of New York exhibition (1971)
  • - 4: International Center for Photography exhibition (1975)
  • - 5: Library of Congress display (2010)
  • - 6: images not published in Mountaintop Kingdom
  • - 7: color images; some taken by Tse Ten Tashi

LOT 14033 (F) - Contact sheets

Photographs from 35mm black-and-white film negatives depicting people, activities, and places in Sikkim, 1965-1971.
Approx. 6,000 images printed on 150 contact sheets, 10 x 8 inches.
- The Library has the corresponding negatives for 87 contact sheets. (The original negatives are filed in series LC-KAN15).
The Library did not receive negatives for 58 of the contact sheets. - Contact sheets are arranged in numerical sequence by the roll numbers assigned by Dr. Kandell.

LOT 14034 (F) - Color slide reference sheets

Digital prints of more than 5,000 color slides of people, activities and places in Sikkim, 1965-1979.
253 pages, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, showing approx. 20 slides each, with photocopies of the caption information from the slide mounts. Organized in three subdivisions:

Example of a contact sheet
Example of a color slide reference sheet
  • - 1 has the slides used in Alice Kandell's lecture "A Tour of a Lost Kingdom: Sikkim," Library of Congress, March 13, 2010, page numbers 001 to 007.
  • - 2 has slides selected by Alice Kandell and formerly housed in a blue binder, page numbers 001 to 027.
  • - 3 has the majority of the slides, page numbers 001 to 219. These slides are organized into the following major categories, with more specific subjects noted in a checklist kept with the slides:
    • Ceremonial Dances
    • Cottage Industries
    • Education
    • Lachung
    • Landscape
    • Places / People
    • Religion
    • Royal Family

LOT 14035 (G) - Documents

Supplementary documents and publications, 1963-1979.
Ca. 50 items
Arranged chronologically; primarily articles about Sikkim from American magazines, including stories written and illustrated by Alice Kandell.

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