Lhasa, Bar Chorten, the Western Gate or Pargo Kaling Gateway


This photograph shows the Bar Chorten, or Western Gate, located between the Ch'agpori and Marpori mountains. The photograph was taken on the way from Lhasa. It 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. Bar Chorten is also seen in other sources as Barkokani, Bakokani, and the Gateway of Pargo-Kaling. In The Land of Lamas (1891), W.W. Rockhill writes that the word “chorten” means “offering holder.” Rockhill adds: “Great numbers are built in the vicinity of lamaseries, and serve to point out the roads leading to them. They are also something like the stations in the Catholic 'Path to the Cross', as pilgrims, when journeying to a shrine, perform prostrations before each churten [chorten] met on the way.” In Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet (1902), Sarat Chandra Das describes the Bar Chorten seen in this photograph: “The larger two-storied house to the right is a private one. From the top of the chorten, wires are stretched to the top of two smaller chortens standing on both sides of the passage; the wires are furnished with small bells. One of the smaller chortens is seen to the left through the branches of a tree.” 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