Antiques Roadshow guest leaves expert stunned over Dalai Lama connection

During Sunday night’s latest episode of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, host Fiona Bruce took viewers to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Guests brought the eager experts an array of unique items, which included a signed set of Harry Potter books, a family heirloom and car mascots. However, it was one guest’s link to the Dalai Lama which blew expert Adam Schoon away and ended with an amazing valuation.

Welcoming the guest to the show and taking a look at the three items which had been laid on the table, Adam asked: “A man of the mountains, who is and where is he?”

She explained: “This is George Cave, he is my great grandfather, and he is somewhere in the upper Himalayas.”

Intrigued, Adam pressed: “What took him there?”. The guest added: “He was curator of the botanic guards at Darjeeling.

“He used to go on collecting trips every year collecting seeds and that sort of thing to send back to other parts of the world.”

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The guest revealed the rhododendron tree was one of the plants he had sent back.

Talk soon turned to how George was connected to the objects on the table, where the guest revealed: “Well, according to family law, he did some work for the 13th Dalai Lama.

“He provided him with some trees for his garden, and these were a gift of thanks from the Dalai Lama to him.”

Stunned at the revelation, Adam exclaimed: “Wow, what an incredible provenance, the 13th Dalai Lama known as Thubten Gyatso must have been in exile in Darjeeling.”

Agreeing, the guest continued: “I would imagine so, I understand he had a house in Darjeeling, and it would make sense that he would visit the botanic gardens.”

Pointing at the items on the table, Adam asked: “Absolutely, and have you ever wondered what these are actually for?”

“There is a prayer wheel, a teapot and a lotus cup, but….” the guest began before Adam interrupted: “They are all Buddhist items.

“What most of us would call a Lama set because everybody drank tea out there, and they would make it through things like this.


“The Tibetan copper and brass teapot, they took Chinese black tea, it came in blocks, and they would churn in yak’s butter and salt and end up with a real potent soup-like tea, and they were served through vessels like this.

“The prayer wheels are synonymous with Tibet, and if you spin this led weight, it will help this revolve, and I know you have peeked in this, there are rolled up prayers.

“This dates to about 1900, same as this teacup, this must have been the receiving end of the tea.”

It was soon time for Adam to estimate what he thought the items would be valued at and, at first, had some disappointing news for the guest.

“I will be honest, these three items, if they hadn’t got the story you have told me behind them, you would be looking at around £600, £700.”

However, the guest was left shocked that it would have any value at all: “Really? I thought they weren’t worth anything.”

Adam added: “But, they are worth more because of the story and who he was, these things fit right into history, and you have the wonderful romance and gift from the Dalai Lama, and I think they could be £2,000, £3,000.”

The guest was blown away by the end valuation and exclaimed: “Goodness, good gracious, I really didn’t think the would be worth anything other than sentimental value.

“So that’s lovely, thank you.”

Antiques Roadshow airs Sunday from 8pm on BBC One.

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