Tashi-lhunpo Monastery


This photograph shows the Tashi-lhunpo monastery (also seen as Tashi-lhumpo in other sources). Specifically, the photograph shows a rear view of the (gilded) roof over the tomb of the fourth Pan-ch'en (or Panchen) Lama. 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. In Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet (1902), Sarat Chandra Das writes: “We entered the monastery of Tashilhunpo by the little western gate, in front of which stand two chortens—one very large with a gilt spire, the other smaller but neatly constructed. [. . .] The rays of the setting sun shone on the gilded spires of the houses and tombs in the monastery, and made a most enchanting picture.” Das also reports the words of Captain Samuel Turner, who had viewed the monastery in its infancy: “If the magnificence of the place was to be increased by any external cause, none would more superbly have adorned its numerous gilded canopies and turrets than the sun rising in full splendour directly opposite. It presented a view wonderfully beautiful and brilliant; the effect was little short of magic, and it made an impression which no time will ever efface from my mind.” 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