Sacred Texts  Buddhism  Index  Previous  Next 




Ceremonies preceding the erection.

THE erection of every new religious building is preceded by a benediction of the ground and by various other ceremonies. The Lamas of the neighbourhood come together, and the highest in rank presents offerings to the deity selected as tutelary god, it being the custom to dedicate every building to a particular god, who is supposed then to protect it against mischievous spirits as well as malignant men, and to bestow every kind of happiness upon its frequenters. A god very often chosen as patron, is King Bihar (Bihar gyalpo) one of the five

{p. 178}

great kings.[1] An image which my brother Adolphe obtained in Gnári Khórsum represents Bihar in an upright attitude, standing upon the "seat of diamond," Tib. Dorjedan, Sanskrit Vajrasâna, formed of Lotus leaves. He is trampling upon four human beings of black, red, white and yellow colour; the skulls also of which his necklace is composed are of these colours. His gown is of blue silk (Tib. Darzab), with various ornaments; his cap, of the form I have described (p. 171) as Nathongzha, and his shawl are red. His-right hand wields the Dorje, in his left is the Phurbu. The picture is meant to represent a statue placed in a box the four sides of which form a frame separating it from the surrounding figures, which are: the fabulous kings Dalha, Luvang, and Tokchoi gyalpo, and three highly revered Lamas.

The prayers accompaning the inaugurative ceremonies are read for the prosperity of the edifice. At the ceremony of laying the first stone prayers are recited for the prosperity of the new temple or place of worship; these are then written down and deposited with other prayers and certain forms of benediction (Tib. Tashi tsig jod, "blessing speeches"), together with relics and other sacred objects, in a hollow in the foundation stone. When the building is finished, the Lamas again assemble to perform the rites of consecration.[2]

The restoration of a ruined building is also preceded

[1. See p. 157.

2. A volume treating of these ceremonies, in which Vajrasattva (p. 53) is addressed, is mentioned by Csoma in his Analysis of the Kanjur, As. Res., Vol. XX., p. 503. Concerning the objects usually enclosed in the Chortens, see Cunningham, "Ladak," p. 309.]

{p. 179}

by religious ceremonies, which bear the name of Argai choga, "ceremony of presenting offerings."


The monasteries, in Tibetan Gonpa,[1] "a solitary place," are mostly at some little distance from the villages, and very frequently even on the summit of hills, in a commanding position. Each monastery receives a religious name, in allusion to its being a centre of Buddhist faith: thus the monastery at Hímis, near Leh, in Ladák, is called in the historical document relating to its foundation, Sangye chi ku sung thug chi ten, "the support of the meaning of the Buddha's precepts." Other instances are Darjíling, in Síkkim, "the far-diffused island (of meditation);"[2] Tholing, in Gnári Khórsum, "the high-floating (monastery);" Mindoling,[3] "the place of perfection and emancipation." Occasionally the monastery is more ancient than the village, which has sprung up afterwards in its immediate vicinity; in this case, the name of the monastery is transferred to the village, as in Darjíling; whilst in the opposite case, the monastery takes the name of the village, as at Hímis.

The architecture of the monasteries is that employed

[1. It is written dgon-pa. The descriptive designations for monasteries which occur in religious books, such as "house of science" (gtsug-lag-khang), and similar ones, are not in use in ordinary every-day language; and the word chhos-sne, which Cunningham, "Ladak," p. 376, mentions as being given to monasteries was scarcely ever heard by my brothers.

2. Dar-rgyas-gling. In its complete form the name is preceded by bsam, meaning "thought, meditation."

3. Quoted in Csoma's and Schmidt's Dictionaries, voce smin-pa. Tholing is spelled mtho-lding.--For further details of these names see my brother Hermann's Glossary, in R. As. Soc., 1859.]

{p. 180}

for the houses of the wealthier population of the country; but they are loftier, and are adorned with a greater number of flags and prayer-cylinders on the roof The approach to a monastery is also distinguished by a number of religious monuments, as Chortens, Manis, &c.[1]

The materials used in the construction of monasteries vary in different districts. Thus, in the Himálaya, where wood is plentiful, they are built almost entirely of timber; and in Síkkim and Bhután, where the bamboo abounds, they are often constructed of this material, which is occasionally interlaced so as to form a latticework. It is a very general custom in these latter countries to build the monasteries upon piles, in order to prevent the lower floor from getting wet or damp in the rainy season; while the roofs are constructed in the Chinese style, being mostly of the pyramidal or prismatic form, not flat, and projecting considerably over the sides of the building. In Tibet, where trees are very scarce, the walls are made either of stone--which for larger buildings are regularly shaped--or of unburnt, sun-dried bricks, which are cemented with most imperfectly made lime, or even with clay only. In Ladák and Gnári Khórsum, the roofs of the monasteries are flat, and they are constructed like the ceiling of the

[1. Concerning the houses of the Tibetans in general, see: for Bhután, Turner, "Embassy," pp. 50, 61, 93, 142, 117, 180; Pemberton, "Report," p. 154; for Síkkim, Gleanings in science, Vol. II., p. 179; Hooker, "Himalayan Journals," in many passages; for Lhássa, Huc, "Souvenirs," Vol. II., Chapt. II.; for Gnári Khórsum, Moorcroft, "Lake Mansaraur," As. Res., Vol. XII., pp. 426, 442, 456, 479; for Ladák, Moorcroft, "Travels," Vol. I., p. 315; Cunningham, "Ladak," p. 312. See also various representations in the "Panoramas and Views" accompanying the "Results of a Scientific Mission," by my brothers.]

{p. 181}

different stories, of small beams of willow or poplar. They are then covered with sprigs of willow, straw, and leaves, and plastered together with clay to render the whole a somewhat compact mass. The roofs of the houses of the head Lamas are, besides, surmounted by the form of a regular cube, terminating in a cone covered with gilt tiles.

Numerous prayer-flags are set up round the roof, as also cylinders about five feet high and two feet in diameter, supporting a crescent surmounted by a pinnacle similar to the pointed end of a spear. Some cylinders are covered with black cloth, round which are sewn horizontally and vertically white ribbons, so as to form the figure of a cross; in other cases the colours are respectively red and yellow.

The entrance to the monasteries looks towards either the east or the south, the latter position being probably chosen as affording protection against the north winds. The entrance-door is six feet, or sometimes even more, above the ground, with steps leading up to it.

The monasteries sometimes consist of one large house several stories high, with occasionally a covered gallery running round outside and used as a promenade. Sometimes they are composed of several buildings, containing respectively the temple, house of assembly (also used as refectory), the dwelling of the Lamas, storehouses for provisions, and the like. These various establishments extend in larger monasteries, such as Thóling, in Gnári Khórsum, over a large surface, and are enclosed by a common wall, which, as Cunningham, was told, it; intended to serve as a means of defence; but my brothers

{p. 182}

observed, that at present it is, in most instances, too weak to lay claim to the name of a fortification, particularly if the establishment is an old one, as Thóling for instance, which is mentioned in Ssanang Ssetsen's "History of the Eastern Mongolians" to have been built 1014 A.D.[1]

The ground-floor is without windows, and is used as a receptacle for provisions; it is generally a little broader than the upper stories. These latter have large windows and balconies. The windows have no panes of glass, but are closed by black curtains, upon which are sewn figures of a Latin cross, formed of white stripes of stuff.[2] The cross denotes quietness or peace, and is well known in this quality to the Europeans who visit Japan, where the loop-holes of the forts are covered with such curtains in time of peace; when a war breaks out they are all removed.[3] The upper stories are reached either by a staircase. or by a broad, sloping beam, in which incisions are made to serve in lieu of steps. Each story is divided off into large compartments, in which several Lamas live together; small cells, each appropriated to a single person (as is the custom in Roman Catholic monasteries), are not known in Buddhist establishments. The furniture is most plain; the chief articles are low tables and benches (in the dining room); bed-steads of rough-hewn planks, with blankets and cushions, and different vessels. All these articles are generally of very inferior workmanship, Stoves

[1. Ssanang Ssetsen, ed. by Schmidt, p. 53,

2. See the plates in Turner, and the View of Hímis by Hermann de Schlagintweit, 1. c.

3. From an oral communication from Captain Fairholme, R. N.]

{p. 183}

or chimneys are unknown in Tibet, and fire is made on the ground where the form of the house allows of it. The smoke, like in the châlets of the Alps, escapes through an opening in the roof.

There is no monastery without a temple, and this latter occupies the centre of the building; in large monasteries, where more temples than one exist, the. central one is the principal.

Each monastery is surrounded by a well-cultivated garden, in which flourish, owing to the care bestowed upon it by the Lamas, groups of poplar and willow trees, as well as apricots. The Lamas have succeeded in growing trees in localities far beyond the ordinary limit of such kind of vegetation. Thus it happens that at Mángnang, in Gnári Khórsum, at a height of 13,457 feet, fine poplars are found.

Historical Document relating to the Foundation of the Monastery of Hímis, in Ladák.

The following summary of a curious document of foundation is now published for the first time. The original, which is carved on a broad stone slab, 24 ft. high, was seen by my brother Hermann on the occasion of his visit to the monastery of Hímis, in September 1856, and he got an exact copy of it made, of which the following is an approximate translation. The occurrence of terms not explained in the dictionaries, and a spelling different from that employed in the sacred writings, made

{p. 184}

it impossible to give here a literal translation, as has been done with the address to the Buddhas of confession (Chapter XI.); yet all the importants {sic} facts could be deciphered which had reference to the time 6f the erection of the monastery, to the persons who ordered the building, and to those who constructed the edifice.[1] The document is divided into two paragraphs, which are distinguished in the original, printed on Plate IX., by a blank space between them.

First paragraph. This begins with a hymn to the Buddhist triad, viz. the Buddha (the author of the doctrine), the Dharma (his law), and the Sangha (the congregation of the faithful).[1]

"Hail! praise be and benediction! Salutation to the teachers! To the most perfect, eminent Buddha, who has the characteristic signs and proportions; to the excellent law, which reveals the entire truth; to the congregation of the faithful, who endeavour to become delivered: all honour be to these three Supremacies after a prosternation at the feet of the superiors" (here called bla-ma, comp. p. 156).

The remainder of this paragraph relates, in the usual

[1. In specimens of modern Tibetan, as e. g. in the treaty between Adolphe and the authorities of Dába (see Chapter XVI., 2), and in geographical names, we find words need which are not met with in literary language; and, more frequently still, terms presenting a most unexpected orthography. Perhaps we must account for this by phonetic corruption and the gradual formation of dialects; but we must not lose sight of the fact that but few people in Tibet know how to write correctly--an art which, for that matter, was not very general in Europe either but a short time ago, when schools were limited to monasteries.

2. "The protection derived from these three gems is said to destroy the fear of reproduction, or successive existence, and to take away the fear of the mind, the pain to which the body is subject, and the misery of the four bells." Hardy, "Eastern Monachism," p. 209.]

{p. 185}

bombastic style, the faithful adherence to Buddhism of Dharmarâja Senge Nampar Gyalva, and his father,[1] and the universal reverence paid by the Ladakis to the holy triad. It is stated that Senge Nampar ordered to be built on a magnificent style, and in his residences,[2] the "Vihâra of the three gems," the Sangye chi ku sung thug chi ton, i. e. the support of the meaning of Buddha's precepts, "whence the sun of the doctrine arose in this country brilliant as the dawn of the day." This monastery is said to be "the place where originated the entirely victorious (translators) of the three secrets," in Tibetan gsang gsum, which latter is probably to be referred to the book Gyaoki sangsum, which Jamya Namgyal ordered to be copied in letters of gold, silver, and copper (red).

It is further reported, that in the reign of this monarch many most learned and powerful Lamas had come to Ladák and taught the doctrine; we find the following names:

"dPal-mnyam-med-'brug-pa = the master of incomparable happiness, the thunderer, who has spread Buddhist

[1. Dharmarâja, in Tibetan Choichi gyalpo, or by contraction Choigyal, "king of the law," is a title applied to the rulers and mythological persons who have furthered the cause of Buddhism.--This king is called by Cunningham, "Ladak," Chapter XII., Sengge Namgyal; his father is named Jamya Namgyal. Jamya had been dethroned and emprisoned by Ali Mir, a fanatic Mussalmán ruler of Skárdo, who had invaded Ladák and destroyed both the temples and the sacred images and books of the Buddhists. But later, when Jamya was re-established in his kingdom, he sent a mission to Lhássa with precious presents, and showed himself in many other ways a very faithful believer in Buddhism.

2. The word here translated "residences," in Tibetan pho-brang-rnams, seems, on account of the plural particle rnams, to mean "territories, lands."]

{p. 186}

doctrine with the greatest energy throughout 'Dzam-bu-gling,' but more particularly in this country.

"rGod-ts'hang-pa,[2] whose titles are the victorious holding the Dorje, the beloved son of the patron of creatures.[3]

"sTag-ts'hang-ras-pa-chhen, the great Bhikshu of the tiger nest, the greatly venerated, who disposes of magical power, and before whom many Lamas have prostrated themselves.[4]"

Second paragraph. The erection of the convent was entrusted to "dPal-ldan-rtsa-va'i bla-ma = the illustrious Foundation Lama--who had dwelt in numerous monasteries, and had become firm and strong in the ten commandments.[5]

The edifice was begun in the month Voda, in Sanskrit Uttaraphalgunî (the second month), in the male water-horse year, and finished in the male water-tiger year, when the Lama performed the ceremony of consecration, the sign of completion. In the male iron-dog year the

[1. In Sanskrit Jambudvîpa; it is the name given to that quarter of the globe in which India lies.--Concerning the Brugpa sect see p. 74.

2. The construction of the name makes it very probable that this Lama came to Ladák from the monastery God-tsang in Eastern Tibet, to the name of which would then be added the particle pa.

3. In Tibetan 'gro-vai-mgon-po, from 'gro-va "a creature," and mgon-po "a patron;" a title indicating, that the person so styled is "a Saint, a god." Perhaps we ought to take rGod-ts'hang-pa as an incarnation of Chenresi (see p. 88), as well as grovai gonpo as one of his surnames; he is also styled Jigten gonpo, in Sanskrit Lokanâtha, "the patron of the world."

4. Cunningham, 1. c., heard that this Lama had travelled through India, China, Kafiristan and Kashmir, and had made, and then consecrated an image of Maitreya in Tamosgang, in Ladák.

5. With respect to the meaning of the term rtsa-va'i bla-ma see p. 141.--Concerning the ten commandments see Burnouf, "Le Lotus de la Bonne Loi," p. 446; Csoma, "Dictionary," p. 69.]

{p. 187}

monastery was encircled with "a hedge of the 'spen' shrub, and outside the Lion entrance were put up along the walls and the enclosure 300,000 Manis (or prayer-cylinders)." The document concludes by alluding to the merits which the king, the workmen (i. e. the masons, carpenters, porters), and in fact all engaged in the construction of this monastery, had derived from their assistance, and mentions in particular the salutary influence which the monastery will exorcise in future upon the welfare and salvation of the inhabitants of Ladák.

When endeavouring to refer the years which I have given in the preceding part with, their Tibetan denomination, to the corresponding years of the Christian era, it must be kept in mind that Senge Nampar Gyalva reigned, according to Cunningham, from 1620-70. Now, calculating by a cycle of 60 years, we obtain the following years for the dates occurring in this document:--

The erection was commenced in 1644;

The monastery was finished in 1664;

The 300,000 Manis were put up in 1672.

Calculating by a cycle of 252 years, we find the respective dates to be 1620, 1640, 1648. Also the latter years would not be excluded, as they would admit the supposition that the Hímis monastery was amongst those which his predecessor Jamya Namgyal had left unfinished at his decease; but in the present case we must adopt the years 1644-72, since for history it is the cycle of 60 years and not the cycle of 252 years which is used in Tibetan literature. As an instance confirming this I quote Csoma, who, in his Chronological Table, applied the

{p. 188}

cycle of 60 years to Tisri's designations, and obtained results sufficiently in accordance with those derived by Schmidt and Klaproth from Mongolian and Chinese works.[1]


The exterior of the Buddhist temples in Tibet differs in generally widely from that met with in other countries where Buddhism prevails. Whoever has had occasion to see the magnificent temples of Bérma, with their curious architecture, will be greatly disappointed on beholding a temple in Tibet; for, with the exception of Lhássa, Tashilúnpo and Tassisúdon, Scarcely any Tibetan temple presents extraordinary dimensions or a particularly imposing appearance.

The temples are called in Tibetan Lhakhang, and are most generally in immediate connexion. with the buildings of the monasteries. There are, however, villages which have a temple only, without a monastery, and in this case the temple stands beside the houses; in hamlets without a temple, where nevertheless a solitary Lama resides, there is a room fitted up in his dwelling-house for the performance of the different rites and ceremonies. The architecture of the temples is simple. The roofs are now flat, now sloping, with square holes serving as windows and skylights, which are shut by a curtain being drawn across them.

The walls of the temples look towards the four

[1. Concerning the various systems of' reckoning time see Chapter XVI.]

{p. 188a}


Copied from a large stone fixed in the wall.


{p. 189}

quarters of heaven, and each side should be painted with a particular colour, viz. the north side with green, the south side with yellow, the east side with white, and the west side with red; but this rule seems not to be strictly adhered to, as my brother saw many temples with all sides either of the same colour, or simply whitewashed.

The interior of the temples which my brothers had occasion to see[1] consisted of one large square room, with an entrance-hall in the front; occasionally also entrance-halls--but then smaller ones--are found along the other three sides of the temple. The inside surface of the walls is whitewashed or covered with a kind of plaster. They are then generally decorated with paintings representing episodes taken from the life of the Buddhas, or images of gods of dreadful countenance. My brothers, were told, that the art of fresco painting[2] is practised by a particular class of Lamas, called Pon, who reside in Lhássa, when their services are not required for country temples.

In the side halls of the temple is generally situated the library, the volumes being regularly arranged on shelves, and wrapped in silk. In the corners are placed tables bearing numerous statues of deities; and the religious dresses, the musical instruments, and other things required for the daily service, are hung up on wooden pegs along the walls. Benches are also placed

[1. As an example of their construction see the interior of the monastery of Mángnang, in Gnári Khórsum, by Adolphe in the "Atlas of Panoramas and Views." The interior of the Singhalese temples is very similar to that of the Tibetan temples. See Hardy, "Eastern Monachism," p. 200.]

{p. 190}

in the temple, upon which the Lamas take their seat, when assembled for prayer.

The roof of the temples is supported by two rows of unornamented wooden pillars painted red, and dividing it into three parallelograms; large silken fans, called Phan, striped white and blue and with unravelled fringed edges,[1] together with musical and other instruments, are suspended to these pillars; while from the crossbeams hang numerous Zhaltang, or pictures of deities, each fastened to two red sticks, and generally covered with a veil of white silken cloth. The altar stands in the central gallery, and consists of differently sized wooden benches, beautifully carved and richly ornamented; the smaller ones are set upon the larger before a partition of planks on which hang fans of the five sacred colours (viz. yellow, white, red, blue and green) held together by a crescent, the convex side of which was turned upwards. Upon these benches are ranged the offering vessels, statues of Buddhas and gods, and some instruments and utensils used in religious worship; amongst the latter is always seen the mirror Melong which is used in the ceremony Tuisol; then some bells and Dorjes, together with a Chorten containing relics and having occasionally a niche with the statue of some deity; also a vase with peacock feathers and a sacred book is never wanting. The offering vessels are of brass, and similar

[1. These fans are to be understood as tokens of reverence paid too the gods, and answer to the silken scarfs inscribed with sentences which Tibetan politeness requires should be offered by visitors or enclosed in letters. These scarfs are called in Tibetan Khatak, or Tashi Khatak, "scarf of benediction."]

{p. 191}

in shape to the Chinese tea-cups; they are filled with barley, butter, and perfumes, in summer with flowers. Beside the altar is a small bench upon which the officiating Lama ranges the offerings to be consumed in the burnt-offering, and the ritual instruments he requires in particular ceremonies.--At the end of the gallery stands, in a recess, the statue of the genius loci to whom the temple is consecrated; in Some temples his head is shaded by a canopy of cloth, the form of which may be seen from Plate X.; from its central part called Dug (literally umbrella) extend some horizontal ribands, Labri, at the ends of which hang vertical flags, Badang, Sanskrit Patâka.

In the entrance-hall, at both sides of the door, and also in the interior of the temple, are several large prayer-cylinders, which are perpetually kept revolving by the attending Lama. The walls are not unfrequently decorated with views of sacred cities and monasteries,[1] executed in colours upon paper; these are much ruder than their drawings of gods; they have no perspective, and the houses are traced in front view, but very incorrectly. A vertical plan of Lhássa, which the Tibetan Lamas honour with the name of a landscape, is almost always amongst these representations of sacred spots; it resembles somewhat the older plans of European cities, drawn from a bird's-eye view.

[1. Also Turner, "Embassy," p. 158, mentions having seen some in the temple of Wandeechy, in Bhután.]

{p. 192}

Religious monuments.

Buddhism has erected various religious monuments, amongst which are particularly to be mentioned the Chortens, the Manis, and the Derchoks and Lapchas.

1. Chortens.

The motive for the erection of these monuments is identical to that which gave rise to the frequent erection of the Stûpas, or Châityas of ancient Buddhism in India, of which so great a number have been recently discovered in India and Afghanistán and carefully examined.[1] But a peculiarity of the Chortens is the use which the Tibetans make of them: The name of Chorten denotes at once their nature and object, for its component words mchhod, and rten signify "an offering" and "to keep, a receptacle." The Tibetan mode of spelling this word would imply that its pronunciation was Chodten, but the "d" before "t" is suppressed, and the "r" is heard, although, according to grammatical rules it should be mute. The Tibetans of Gnári Khórsum, however, pronounce Chogdan; Gerard[2] writes Chosten or Chokten, a designation which appears

[1. Concerning the ideas connected with Stûpas, and the reports about their construction and the objects which have been digged out, see the works of Ritter, "Die Stûpas," Berlin 1834. Wilson, "Ariana antiqua," London, 1841. Cunningham, "The Bhilsa Topes," London, 1854. Sykes, "On the miniature Chaityas," R. A. S., 1856; and "Account of Golden Relies," R. A. S., 1857. Compare also Burnouf, "Introduction," p. 346. Respecting their age Wilson, "Buddha and Buddhism," R. A. Soc., p. 249, is of opinion that the custom of erecting Stûpas is somewhat posterior to that of excavating temples and constructing Vihâras, or monasteries; the Stûpas in the North-west of India were most probably erected in a period commencing with the first years of the Christian era and terminating in the sixth century.

2. "Kanawur," p. 124.]

{p. 193}

to be a dialectical modification. Both he and Cunningham[1] also mention the name Donkten or Dungten for those Chortens in which relies are deposited--a name which seems not frequently used.

The ancient Stûpas were originally meant as receptacles for relies of either the Buddhas or the Bôdhisattvas and the kings who encouraged the propagation of the Buddhist faith. But already in the early periods of Buddhism Stûpas were constructed ex voto as symbolical substitutes for a tomb with a sacred relic, either for marking the spot where remarkable incidents in the sacred history had taken place, or for decorating the Vihâras and temples. Their erection is considered as an act of devotion and reverence paid to the Buddhas, and was recommended already in the ancient legends as a most meritorious work.

The Tibetan Chortens also serve as relic repositories, as they enclose remains of revered Lamas, sacred writings, consecrated objects, &c., deposited therein already at their erection. Chortens containing bones or ashes in a box are erected in the burial grounds; Chortens with writings are of smaller size, and are ranged upon the altars; they typify the Buddha's mercy.[2] But the predominant idea connected with the Chortens is that of their being offering receptacles,[3] for no Tibetan passes them without depositing some sort of oblation, either on the

[1. "Ladak," P. 377.

2. See p. 137.

3. Also the Singhalese believe the protection of Buddha not to be obtained by simply going near a Dagopa (= Stûpa) or other sacred place, if the passer-by performs no particular act of worship. Hardy, "Eastern Monachism," p. 210, compare also p. 223.]

{p. 194}

steps, or in the interior by a small opening leading to a shrine. The objects deposited are chiefly the Satsas, or Tsatsas, which are very generally made on the road by kneading a portion of clay between the fingers; they are conical, in imitation of the form of a Chorten. Other Satsas represent Buddhas, or have a sacred sentence pressed upon by means of moulds; the latter are bought from the Lamas.[1] The quantity of Satsas is really astonishing; it not unfrequently happens that the steps are nearly hidden by the heaps of Satsas.

The form of the Chortens varies much more than that of their prototypes, the Stûpas. The base of the Stûpa is a cylinder or cube, upon which a body shaped like a cupola is set up. Stûpas which have been broken down have been found to be solid buildings, with a little shrine in the centre only, in which had been deposited the burnt bones of a human being, together with coins, jewels and inscribed slabs. The bones are sometimes enclosed in small cases made of the precious metals.

In the Tibetan Chortens this form has in general undergone considerable modifications; the unaltered ancient type has remained limited to the smaller Chortens put up in the temples. The principal difference between a Stûpa, and a Chorten is that in the latter the cupola is either surmounted by a cone, or that it is inverted. The most general style is the following: The base is a cube, upon which rests the inverted cupola; this cupola is the principal part; it encloses the objects enshrined, and in it is

[1. In Mongolia, the name Satsa, by Pallas called Zaga, is applied to the cones of clay only: see his "Mongol. Völker," Vol. II., pp. 108, 211.]

{p. 195}

the hole leading to the space for the offerings. A graduated pinnacle rises above it, and this is either a cone of stones or a wooden spire; it is surmounted by a disk placed horizontally and a pear-shaped point, or, instead of it, by a crescent supporting a globe and the pear upon that. Chortens of this form occur in every Tibetan district. They are exclusively used in Bhután and Síkkim, and are also met with in the plans of sacred temples; but in other parts of Tibet several other forms are seen. Of these I mention the following: In Ladák a moderately high cone, Similar to the roof of a building, and projecting over the border of the inverted cupola, forms its top; it either rests immediately upon the cupola, or a cube of smaller dimensions is interposed between them. This cone ends in a wooden point similar in shape to the point of a spear, or there is a slender pole the size of which diminishes with the scarcity of wood. Originally a flag with prayers printed upon it was fastened to every pole; but in most cases only rags are left, or the flags have been blown away entirely. In Gnári Khórsum. some Chortens are more like a tower; upon a cube as base is placed a body square at the base and slightly pyramidal in form, which, after diminishing a little and again increasing in width, is surmounted by a bell-shaped projecting top, or a bell resting upon a little tower. When new or in good condition it is surmounted by a pole embellished with a flag. The Chortens in the environs of Thóling are plainly pyramidal, consisting of five to six steps; the upper end is a small cube covered by a conical roof Others can be described in reference to their principal parts as a cube

{p. 196}

notched into several steps, supporting an angular bell-shaped body: these Chortens are very similar to the ancient Stûpas.

The materials used for the Chortens in the open air are rough stones, bricks,[1] or clay; they are almost all of solid masonry. The outer surfaces are thickly plastered with mortar, which is coloured red with the dust of pounded bricks. Grooves are formed similar to the panels on European doors, and simple ornaments are delineated in the mortar. Only once, at Gyúngul, in Gnári Khórsum, my brother Adolphe saw a hollow tower-chorten, which was constructed of planks. It stood close to the monastery, and was perhaps but an enclosure for smaller Chortens, similar to those which Gerard had seen in Kanáur,[2] where they are open in front; this is not the case with the Chorten at Gyúngul, which has four walls and no entrance.

The height of the Chortens is in general from 8 to 15 ft., though a few considerably exceed this latter height, attaining to as much as 40 ft. Those set up in the temples are moulded from metal, or more generally from clay mixed with chopped straw; occasionally they are carved of wood; but such Chortens scarcely ever exceed four feet; they are often not higher than as many inches.

2. Manis.

Mani, originally a Sanskrit word meaning "a precious stone,"[3] which became naturalised in Tibetan, is used to

[1. The custom of hardening the bricks in the sun originated in the powerful insolation, combined with the very small amount of humidity in the atmosphere.

2. Gerard, "Kanawur," p. 124.

3. The prayer cylinders are also called "Manis."]

{p. 197}

designate walls of about six feet in height and four to eight feet in breadth, but their length varies much more considerably. The largest hitherto known is that which is situated on the road from the banks of the Indus to Leh; according to Cunningham it has a length of 2200 ft.[1] Two others at Leh itself Hermann found to be respectively 459 and 386 ft. in length. He also measured one at Mándang, near Darjíling, in Síkkim, which was 90 ft.: another at Narigún was 244 ft. in length.

The Manis are constructed in the higher valleys of loose stones only; whilst in the lower ones, where mortar is not so expensive an article, lime is used. Some of the large Manis have a kind of tower at both their ends, occasionally in the form of a Chorten, with a sacred image in front; if, as is sometimes the case, the Mani is made longer, the old tower remains and a new one is added at the end of the prolongation. Large poles, to which flags with prayers are attached, are also not unfrequent at the ends of the Manis.

Rough, irregularly rectangular stone slabs greatly differing in size, and bearing inscriptions in Tibetan or Lantsa characters,[2] or adorned with images of deities, lean against the upper part of the wall or are laid down on the roof of the Mani. The most frequent inscription met with in the stone slabs is the six-syllabic prayer: Om mani padme hum;[3] or adorations of Vajrasattva, as:

[1. "Ladák," p. 378.

2. See p. 80.

3. This sentence was traced in enormous characters, formed by blackish stones, on the slope of the mountain opposite Láma Yúrru, and was visible at a great distance.]

{p. 198}

Om, ah, hum; vajra guru padma siddhi hum; of Vajrapâni, as: Om Vajrapâni hum; or mystical ejaculations, as: Om, ah, hum. Amongst the names of deities engraved on the stone slabs, we frequently find Sâkyamuni, Padmapâni, Padma Sambhaba, Vajrapâni (see Plate II.), and different recluses. The slabs are, according to Cunningham, votive offerings made for the purpose of obtaining the fulfilment of particular wishes. Travellers, when passing along the Manis, leave them on the left hand, in order to follow the succession of the letters of the inscriptions.[1]

3. Derchoks and Lapchas.

Almost every building is decorated with flags, attached to a pole set up before the edifice, such flags being considered efficacious in preventing the evil spirits from doing mischief. Single flags are also met with in front of religious buildings, and along the road; those before large monasteries are often of considerable height; the two largest which my brothers saw were planted in front of the entrance to the monastery of Hímis;[2] one was 45, the other even 57 ft. in height, and as there is no tree in Tibet attaining such a height, these poles

[1. Gerard, in his "Kanawur," p, 123, remarks that passers-by always leave the Manis to their right, and expresses his belief that superstition is the reason for their doing so; but my brothers never saw their people pass them in this way, but always so as to leave the Mani on the left hand; and they were told by several Lamas that the reason for this was, that in so passing by they could follow the characters, instead of having to spell backwards.

2. See my brother Hermann's "Views of the monastery of Hímis," in the Atlas to the "Results of a Scientific Mission."]

{p. 199}

must have been transported with great difficulty, across the Himálaya. The upper part of these poles was decorated with three concentric rings of black yaks-hair suspended at some distance from each other; whilst in general the poles have but one tuft of yaks-hair surmounted by a gilt spear-end.

The flags are called Derchok (the Durchut of Gerard), the heap of loose stones to support the pole, Lapcha; both terms are doubtless words of popular origin, not occurring in the Dictionaries. The "der" in Derchok might be explained from dar, silk, a stuff sometimes used for flags. Lapcha is very probably a modification of lab-tse, "a heap," which also occurs in geographical names, either in the form of Labtse, as in Lábtse Nágu and Lábtse Chhu, in Gnári Khórsum, or as Lápcha.[1]

Some flags are of a regular shape, and prayers and incantations (such as "Om mani padme hum"), invocations of the airy horse (in Tibetan Lungta), the magical figure Phurbu, and others, are printed upon them. These printed flags are fastened to the pole on the longest side, and are prevented from loosely hanging, down and folding by horizontal red sticks. Other flags are mere rags of every size and material; such rags are chiefly added by travellers to the Lapchas found along the route, in order to obtain "a happy journey." Nowhere are Lapchas more numerous than on the highest point of a pass, and not unfrequently one is surprised to find a Lapcha even on

[1. For details I refer to Hermann's "Glossary of Geographical names," s. v. Lápcha which forms Part. II, of Vol. III. of the "Results."]

{p. 200}

high spots situated out of the regular road; the reason is that the frontiers of provinces are likewise marked by irregular heaps of stones,[1] and thus, even on the top of the Gunshankâr, in Gnári Khórsum, which attains a height of 19,699 ft., my brothers found a Lapcha. Their Buddhist companions were always most eager to add new flags wherever they passed, or to erect a new Lapcha by making a large heap of stones, in the middle of which they set up one of their almost indispensable mountain-sticks, which was then decorated with flags, partly made from my brothers' handkerchiefs, partly from the bags in which they had kept their provisions, and from pieces of their very dress. When every one had made his contribution to the Derchok, they walked solemnly round the heap whispering prayers.

[1. Comp. Georgi, "Alphabetum Tibetanum," p. 508.]

{p. 201}

Next: Chapter XIV. Representation of Buddhist Deities