Lhasa, Residence of the State Sorcerer


This photograph of Na-ch'un, the residence of the state sorcerer 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.  On the left side of the photograph is the Drepung monastery. In The Buddhism of Tibet or Lamaism (1899), L.A. Waddell writes: “Every orthodox monastery in Tibet, even of the most reformed sects, keeps or patronizes a sorcerer, and consults him and follows his dictates upon most matters; and there are some cloisters near Lhasa especially devoted to instruction in this art. Such are Moru, Ramo-c'he and Kar-mas'a. The chief wizards are called, 'Defenders of the faith', (ch'osskyon) and the highest of these, namely, Na-ch'un is the government oracle, and is consulted on all important state occasions and undertakings.” 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