February 18, 2010 (REVISED February 22, 2010) The Lost Kingdom of Sikkim is Subject of Illustrated Presentation At the Library of Congress on March 13

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022, afis@loc.gov
Public Contact: Anchi Hoh, (202) 707-5673, adia@loc.gov

Sikkim was an independent kingdom in the Himalayas ruled by a hereditary line of kings (Chogyal) from the 17th century until it became a British protectorate, then an Indian protectorate in 1950. Roughly the same size as the state of Delaware, Sikkim was formally annexed by India in 1975. In culture and religion, it has been linked closely with Tibet, from which its first king migrated, and Bhutan, with which it shares borders.

The Library’s Asian Division and Prints and Photographs Division will present “A Tour of the Lost Kingdom: Sikkim” at the Library of Congress at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, in Room LJ-119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public, but preregistration is required due to limited space; Contact Anchi Hoh, at ADevents@loc.gov or (202)-707-5673.

This 90-minute program will feature a photographic presentation with comments by two special speakers: Her Majesty Hope Cooke, former Queen of Sikkim, and photographer Alice Kandell. Behind these photographs is a fascinating story to be told by the two speakers whose lives have been forever tied to this kingdom.

In 1963, the last Chogyal married Hope Cooke, an American student at Sarah Lawrence College. Cooke then became the Queen of Sikkim and lived with the king and their children during the final years of the kingdom. Due to this fairy-tale romance, Sikkim became well known in America through major magazines and newspapers.

Cooke’s college friend, Alice Kandell, became a frequent visitor to the small, mountainous kingdom and, at the Chogyal’s request, embarked on a project to document the Sikkimese folklife through photography.

Many of Kandell’s photographs have been published in her two books, “Mountaintop Kingdom: Sikkim” and “Sikkim: the Hidden Kingdom,” both published in 1971. In 2009, Kandell, who served on the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities during the Clinton administration, published a book of her extensive collection of Tibetan sacred art, which is on view at the Smithsonian Sackler Museum starting March 13, 2010.

The Library’s Prints and Photographs collections today number more than 14 million items, including photographs, fine art and popular prints and drawings, posters and architectural and engineering drawings. Many of these are accessible on the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog at www.loc.gov/rr/print/catalog.html.

From an 1869 presentation of 933 volumes to the U.S. by the Emperor of China, the collections of the Library’s Asian Division have grown to more than 3 million items, representing one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian-language materials in the world. The collections comprise items from the South Asian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea. The collections also encompass publications and historical archives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. For more information about the Asian Division, visit www.loc.gov/rr/asian/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.


PR 10-031
ISSN 0731-3527