A chance discovery of sixty-odd works of art in a filing cabinet in Kyoto Universityís Department of Geography in 2014 triggered an investigation which soon morphed into a multi-disciplinary research project seeking to understand their origins and significance. The works were reproductions of sketches, watercolors and maps produced by the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, who had visited Kyoto in 1908, immediately after completing his third expedition exploring Central Asia. Through these works Hedin had recorded the people, temples and landscapes of Tibet. But how they came to be reproduced, and what these reproductions were doing in Kyoto remains a mystery.
Section I presents the sixty reproductions of Hedinís work, alongside the originals where possible as well as contemporary photographs of the sites Hedin had depicted. Section II focuses on Hedinís visit to Kyoto with a view to understanding the exchanges of ideas and values between the esteemed guest and his Japanese hosts and interlocutors, as well as investigating the mysteries surrounding the story of the reproductions.