Lhasa, Gadan Kansar Palace, the Old Palace


This view of the Gadan Kansar Palace in Lhasa (also seen as Gadan-Khangsar in other sources) 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 article “New light on Lhasa, the forbidden city” (1903), J. Deniker writes: “Among other curious buildings in Lhasa, Norzunof was able to photograph the ancient palace of the kings of Tibet. This is falling into ruin, but is still occupied by private persons. The eastern façade is lower than the western one. The latter is more remarkable from an architectural point of view, but it was impossible to get a photograph of it. This is the only building in Lhasa which is not whitewashed, and this commemorates one of the most important events in the history of Tibet. The building was the residence of Gyur-me-nam-gyal, the last king of Tibet. He waged war against the Dalai-Lama, who was then spiritual leader only, but who was already ambitious for civil power. The Chinese intervened in this civil war, and in 1706 the king was assassinated. Then the seventh Dalai-Lama, named Kal-zang-gyamtso (1708–58), was proclaimed by the Chinese both King of Tibet and spiritual leader of the orthodox Buddhists.” 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