Nechung oracle leaving the Jokhang at Lugong ceremony

Nechung oracle leaving the Jokhang at Lugong ceremony

2001. (Film negative)

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Raw Image

Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

April 6th 1940


Lhasa > Jokhang (from Doring House)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

55 x 85 mm

A group of monks lead the Nechung Oracle walking beneath a ceremonial umbrella away from the Jokhang along the Barkhor lined with crowds of monks and spectators during the Lugong ceremony which took part on the 29th day of the second Tibetan month. His sedan chair is being carried behind him.

Further Information


Ritual Activity

Photographic Process

Negative film nitrate

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh E. Richardson

Manual Catalogues -


Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative index - 'Lu gong at Jokhang prayer' (red ink) is written in Richardson's hand on a piece of paper glued onto the first page of the negative album. [KC 20/9/2006]

Research publication - Hugh Richardson, Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year, 1993, London, Serindia Publications, p.67 'The Ging dancers drive out the Lugong Gyalpo.'

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's handlist Album 'A' - "Nos 1-20 illustrate the Scapegoat ceremony,the Glud-'gong rgyal-po , on the 29th day of the second month. no.2 The Kashag are seated in a balcony overlooking the courtyard in front of the Jokhang; and the Zhal-ngo -the Proctors of Drepung- are seated on the north side of the courtyard. The ceremony starts with a dance by Black Hat "magician" dancers. No. 6 Long trumpets, in the foreground, sound a summons and the scapegoats, two men dressed in half their face painted black and half white, run in to a great noise of clapping and whistling; they dance round the courtyard. The two have been chosen some time before and are allowed a great deal of liberty for some days before the ceremony when they demand food and money from the shopkeepers and passers-by who give for the sake of having their ill luck removed. While they dance money is thrown to them and bags of grain are offered to urge them to go away. One of the black-hatted dancers challenges the scapegoat to debate the merits of the doctrine and eventually it is decided to settle the dispute by casting dice with the Byang chub glong Abbot. This is done; and as the scapegoat's dice are all ones and the abbots are sixes, the result is a foregone conclusion. Nos 7-9 show that part of the ceremony. When the scapegoats lose, they are driven out: one goes to the north; the other, the more important, and probably of a long-standing tradition,goes to Samye. Formerly he spent the night in a terrifying cell there and is said usually to have died. 10,11,12 show the scapegoat leaving; the crowd throw money to him wrapped in white cloth. It is a chance to get rid of all bad money. (no 13 is missing) No. 14 When the scapegoat has gone, the trumpets sound another summons and No.15, a band of protectors come out to chase the scapegoats and the evil away. (16 also) No.17. a gtor-ma is then brought out and nos 19,20, the Gnas-chung, State Oracle, also comes to drive the scapegoats away (cf. no 64 in Album 1)"

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: Richardson mentions that he saw this ceremony on three occasions so one can assume that the photographs of the ceremony are from three different occasions. He provides a very full description of the proceedings in Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year, 1993, London: Serindia Publications, pp. 61-71, "In this ceremony two men dressed in shaggy goatskins and with their faces painted half black and half white are driven out of the city in a performance which has a superficial resemblance to the ritual recorded in other civilizations where a scapegoat is expelled bearing with him the sins of the people. ... of the two men on whom the burden fell one was a poyen , servant, of the magistrates of the Sho whose other duties were to flog criminals and look after the neighbouring parks; the other was chosen by the villagers of Phenpo who were tenants of the Kundeling monastery in Lhasa. (p.62) Unlike the majority of ceremonies at Lhasa this one does not start until midday. By then a crowd has gathered around the courtyard in front of the main entrance to the Jokhang. Then the two Shengo of Drepung with their deputies,attended by brawny monk police carrying long poles, staves and sticks, march gravely across the courtyard and sit on a bench below the Dalai Lama's window. A long blast from two silver horns on the west side of the courtyard announces the emergence from the Jokhang of the Changchubling monks who perform a short ritual of exorcism to the accompaniment of oboes and cymbals. When that is finished a party of Black Hat (Shanak) monk dancers, also from Chanchubling, wearing tall broad-brimmed hats surmounted by flame-like fretwork and a conical gold ornament, perform the slow pirouettes of their tantric dance, gesturing with wide, flowing sleeves and holding a skull cap in one hand and a dorje in the other. While they dance the lopon, the senior teacher of Changchubling, enveloped in a red cloak and wearing a yellow mitre, comes to sit on a high cushioned seat facing the Dalai Lama's window." p. (64-5). ...

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Nechung oracle leaving the Jokhang at Lugong ceremony" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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