Sera Monastery


This general view of Sera monastery from the south is from a collection of 50 photographs of central Tibet acquired in 1904 from the Imperial Russian Geographical Society in Saint Petersburg by the American Geographical Society. The monastery consists of very high buildings, with three gilded temples. The 1899 edition of The Buddhism of Tibet or Lamaism by L.A. Waddell states that it is called "Ser-ra, or the 'Merciful Hail.' It is said to have been so named out of rivalry to its neighbour, 'The rice-heap' (De-pung), as hail is destructive of rice, and the two monasteries have frequent feuds. [. . .] It is romantically situated about a mile and a half to the north of Lhasa, on the lower slopes of a range of barren hills named Ta-ti-pu, famous for silver ore, and which surround the monastery like an amphitheatre." The photographs in this collection were taken by two Mongolian Buddhist lamas, G.Ts. Tsybikov and Ovshe (O.M.) Norzunov, who visited Tibet in 1900 and 1901. Accompanying the photos is a set of notes written in Russian for the Imperial Russian Geographical Society by Tsybikov, Norzunov, and other Mongolians familiar with central Tibet. Alexander Grigoriev, corresponding member of the American Geographical Society, translated the notes from Russian into English in April 1904.

Last updated: March 22, 2016