This National Library of Scotland exhibition explored Scotland's long involvement with India. The exhibition ran from 5 July to 5 September 2007.


Hindu child reading
A Hindu temple
Full school image

Over the past 400 years, many Scots have travelled to and lived in India. 'Tea and Tigers' is an exhibition examining this historical relationship through the stories of some of those who made their mark there.


Scots attitudes to India

Letters, journals, diaries and sketches from the National Library of Scotland's collections reveal a range of attitudes to India. Some Scots displayed an aloof superiority, while others formed a deep and loving attachment to the country.

Stories told in the exhibition come from:

Soldier on river bank
Detail from a watercolour in
a letter from India.
Full letter page image
  • Traders, including shipping tycoon Sir William McKinnon
  • Rulers, such as Lord Minto, Viceroy of India from 1905-1910
  • Civil servants
  • Engineers — Patrick Geddes, for example
  • Soldiers, including private soldiers at the time of the Indian Mutiny of 1857
  • Doctors and medical researchers
  • missionaries
  • Teachers
  • Scholars
  • Travellers and adventurers
  • Mountaineers and explorers
  • Politicians.


India Papers collection

Book cover
Full account


One extensive collection highlighted in the exhibition is the India Papers. These are official publications from around 1850-1950 with a high volume of significant medical and archaeological items.


Filmed flight over Everest

Audio-visual material includes a film of the first flight over Mount Everest, from the Scottish Screen Archive.

You can also hear recordings excerpts of interviews from Scots in India before and after independence, and from Asians who settled in Scotland.


Modern Scottish-Indian relations

As well as the historical view, the exhibition aims to contribute to the awareness of present-day Scottish-Indian relations.

One section focuses on Scotland's South Asian communities, using the word of official Edinburgh Mela photographer Douglas Robertson.


More information

Exhibition logo

Read about the Library's South Asian collections.


Past exhibitions page


Exhibitions page