Moorcroft and Hearsay on the road to Lake Mansarowar (Tibet). The travellers, wearing Indian dress, and riding on yaks, are shown meeting two Tibetans on horseback with a loaded yak. c.July 1812
Watercolour by Hyder Young Hearsey (1782-1840) of Moorcroft and Hearsey on the road to Lake Manasarowar in Tibet, now in China, dated c. July 1812. This view shows the travellers, wearing Indian dress and riding on yaks, meeting two Tibetans on horseback with a loaded yak. The drawing is inscribed on the back in pencil: 'Kylass Mt. Road to Mansarowar Lake. Mr Moorcroft and Capt. H. and Chinese Horsemen.' This image was taken while Hearsey accompanied William Moorcroft on an expedition to discover the source of the Ganges. He had formerly accompanied Lieutenant Webb and Captain Raper on an earlier expedition in 1808. Moorcroft and Hearsey wanted to visit the sacred lake of Manasarowar as it had formerly been considered the source of all the sacred rivers of India. This was a difficult enterprise as Europeans were forbidden to travel to this area and so the two travellers disguised themselves as Gosains or Hindu pilgrims. They also wanted to seek out prospective trade routes and study the Cashmere or shawl-wool goat and bring back some examples of the woollen cloth. They reached the sacred lake on August 6th and spent two days exploring the area. On the return journey Moorcroft and Hearsey threw off their disguise and were arrested in October by the Gurkha rulers of Kumaon who released them at the beginning of November. Moorcroft's account of the expedition was published in volume xii of Asiatick Researches, 1818.