This view of an obo 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. According to W.W. Rockhill in The Land of Lamas (1891): “Obo is a Mongolized Tibetan word, do bong, 'pile of stones' or do bum, 'ten myriad stones'. They are found all over Mongolia and Tibet. In many countries shepherds put up small ones as guides to take their flocks to water, or to go to camp.” The photographer, Ovshe (O.M.) Norzunov, noted that this obo measured some six meters in height, and was located on the road from Lhasa to Depung monastery (also seen as De-Pung, De-p’ung, Debang, Drabung, Dabung, Brebung, or Brasbung in other sources), and was nearer to Depung than to Lhasa. The photographs in this collection were taken by two Mongolian Buddhist lamas, G.Ts. Tsybikov and 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