Sera Monastery


This photograph showing the principal shrines of the Sera monastery, seen from the east, 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. In The Buddhism of Tibet or Lamaism (1899), L.A. Waddell writes: “The temples and houses of Sera stand on a slope of the mountain-spur, planted with hollies and cypresses. At a distance these buildings, ranged in the form of an amphitheatre, one above the other, and standing out upon the green base of the hill, present an attractive and picturesque sight. [. . .] The monastery of Sera is remarkable for three large temples of several storeys in height, all the rooms of which are gilded throughout. Thence the name from ser, the Tibetan for ‘gold’.” 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