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Alexandra David-Néel, an extraordinary explorer
Alexandra David-Néel, an extraordinary explorer

We return to look at the work of the famous explorer Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969) and her long travels in the land of snows across Tibet.

Accompanied by the young lama Yongden, who became her adopted son, she led a life of exploration and adventure that took her to the roof of the world.

Crossing the landscapes of the Himalaya in often extreme conditions, from cities in deserts to monasteries in valleys, at the end of more than 3,000 km of clandestine trek, disguised as a Tibetan beggar, she became the first Westerner to reach Lhasa, a city then forbidden to foreigners. By then, she was “reduced to a skeleton”, as she wrote in a letter to her husband in 1924.

She managed to meet the thirteenth Dalai Lama, stayed in a hermitage where she led an ascetic life, and practised various forms of yoga under the direction of a great Tibetan master.

A character who had become almost legendary, she bequeathed a set of paintings, some ritual dance masks and, most importantly, the whole of her Tibetan library to the musée Guimet.

Through this selection of visuals, we invite you to set off on a journey and, in the footsteps of this pioneering and learned woman who was an adventurer too, fascinated by the journey that is synonymous with freedom, discover an adventure that was as physical as it was mystical.

Jacoulet Paul (1896-1960)
Paris, musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac
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