Lhasa, Potala Palace from South-Southwest


This southwestern view of Potala (the palace of the Dalai Lama) in Lhasa 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. This image was taken by G.Ts. Tsybikov during the festival he calls Ts'og Ch'od (also seen as Tsog Chod in other sources and called Sung ch'o in Tibetan) celebrated on the 29th day of the second moon of the Tibetan year. Two huge pictures hang on the palace wall beneath the Nam-gyal Ch'oide (also seen as Namgyal Ch-oide), the monastery of the palace. The picture on the right represents the Buddhist sage Jakya Muhi (or Sakya-Muni), and the picture on the left, the Buddhist goddess known as Tara or Doma. W.W. Rockhill writes in his Tibet (1890): “In the first moon of the year the lamas of Potala, as well as all those from the various temples and convents of Lhasa, and those from Anterior and Ulterior Tibet, amounting in all several myriads, assemble at the Jok'ang [temple] to read the sacred books for twenty days. In the second moon of the year there is another gathering for the same purpose at the Jok'ang, lasting eight days.” The photographs in this collection were taken by two Mongolian Buddhist lamas, 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