Nechung Oracle about to go into trance, Sertreng festival

Nechung Oracle about to go into trance, Sertreng festival

2001. (Film negative)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

April 11th 1937


Lhasa > Sho

Accession number


Image Dimensions

55 x 85 mm

The Nechung Oracle seated in a chair shortly before going into a trance dressed in ceremonial clothes in the room of a building in the Sho area of Lhasa below the Potala. The occasion is the Sertreng festival on the 30th day of the second Tibetan month. The room with carved pillars is filled with monk and secular officials.

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 - Folio 47 'The Nechung'. [KC 20/9/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's Handlist - 'Vol. Album 'A' 21-48 'Tshog-mchod Gser-'phreng Other photographs in Album C os 34-47. The Tshog mchod was instituted by Samgs-rgyas Rgya-mtsho in memory of the Vth Dalai Lama. The Gser-'phreng procession is said to represent a dream the Dalai Lama had. ... 40. The Gnas-chung Oracle going into a trance preparatory to taking part in the procession. 41. do.'

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)

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Nechung Oracle about to go into trance, Sertreng festival" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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