Nechung Oracle leaves the Jokhang in procession

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2001. (Print)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

April 18th 1939


Lhasa > Jokhang (main entrance from Doring house)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

124.5 x 119 mm

The Nechung Oracle, the State Oracle of Tibet, and his retinue leaving the courtyard outside the Jokhang to process around the Barkor. He is in trance and is wearing his ornate headdress and round metal 'mirror' (me long) on his chest. A monk supports him on each side and another is holding a ceremonial umbrella above him. Religious and lay officials can be seen in the crowd surrounding him.

Further Information


Divining , Ritual Activity

Photographic Process

Print silver , Enlargement

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh E. Richardson

Other Information

Notes on print - 'THE NECHUNG ORACLE' (in blue pencil) Gnas chun (in pencil not in Richrdson's hand) at glud-'gong ceremony (in pencil) in Richardson's hand is written on the reverse of print. [KC 31/7/2006]

Clare Harris 2003: The State oracle of Tibet, who plays a key role in predicting future events and identifying reincarnations of the Dalai Lama photographed in his garden at Nechung Monastery. Richardson describes Gould’s meeting with the Nechung oracle in 1936. “When Sir Basil Gould visited Lhasa in 1936 the Nechung Oracle, to general surprise came to visit him. Such a meeting had never happened before. He was a sturdy monk with a large, smiling, rather pale face and an open and cheerful manner who later became a very good and hospitable friend. He was about forty-two years of old and his name was Lobzang Namgye. He had formerly been a junior official in the Shö office, known to be sociable and very fond of mahjong. In 1934 without warning and much against his will he was chosen for the position and became a greatly venerated personage with the title of Ta Lama and the honorific epithet of Chöjé and the duties of a Chökyong, a protector of the faith, and the head of a small wealthy monastery with a pleasant sunny house of his own. During my time at Lhasa before his death in 1945, whenever I left or returned there officially, I would find his steward waiting by the side of the road with an urgent command to go up to Nechung for tea with the Ta Lama, which always included a delicious lunch. At other times I visited him in his country estate in the Tölung valley where he and his monks relaxed in a pleasant park, wearing holiday dress and enjoying archery at which the Oracle was expert. In return he came frequently to Dekyilingka often at short notice.” (1993:49-50)

Other Information - Dates

Other Information - Dates: This photograph was probably taken in 1939 as Richardson used a Reflex Korelle camera to take the image and he did not acquire this until 1938. He was not present in Lhasa for the New Year ceremonies in 1938, although he was there in 1939 [MS 16/12/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Nechung Oracle leaves the Jokhang in procession" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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