1936 - 1937 Mission Diary

The official diary of the Gould mission to Lhasa sent by the British government. Read more about the mission diary.

August 27th, Thursday, Lhasa.

see photographs below

At 10 A.M. we all went in uniform to pay our official call on the, Regent and Prime Minister in the Potala.

Photos and cine of the procession were taken, for we had a great display with 'Tibetan guides, chaprasis, clerks etc., Photo N. 9, from left to right, shows; Norbhu, Neame, Gould, Morgan, Richardson. N.10 is the same with the addition of Chapman on the right. N. 11, shows officials, clerks and chaprasis etc.

The ceremony was most impressive, for the buildings although in places dirty, and with low doorways etc., are of noble design and in a wonderful situation with views over the plain around Lhasa. The ceremonial is strict and carefully carried out with officials and attendants to usher us in. First we met the Prime minister in an ante-room, and then went into the Regent's throne room, small but well decorated. He is not allowed to use the Dalai Lama's apartments.

We exchanged scarves, and then being seated, Tibetan tea, biscuits and dried fruits were handed round by some colossal servants. One of them would indeed have made Carnera look small. They are specially selected for attendance in the Potala on the Dalai Lama, or Regent.

Then all our Tibetan or Sikkimese officials and clerks were presented. Headed by Rai Bahadur Norbhu they all "kow towed" to the Regent in truly Chinese fashion, bowing their faces right on to the ground three times. They then advanced bowing low and the Regent touched them with two hands or one hand according to their rank. On retiring they each had some red threads put round their necks as well as the return of their ceremonial "calling", scarves. The thread confers a particular blessing.

Norbhu as a Tibetan Dzasa had already previously re-ported his arrival at the Potala.

The grading of officials is interesting. Of Shape's (cabinet rank) there are four in all Tibet. They are 2nd rank officials. Of Dzasa's there are six in Tibet, and two honorary in British India (Laden La and Norbhu Dhondup), they are 3rd rank officials.

It is a notable fact that the Commander-in-Chief of the army, of whom there are usually two, are fourth rank officials only, i.e., quite low in grade, and that the present two have no military qualifications. They do not apparently ever take the field, and might be regarded more in the light of War Secretaries. Compared With the religious organization of Tibet the army takes a low place, for there is a Lama Shape (cabinet minister) and a very high official in addition Chikyab Khenpo graded just below Shape who is in charge of all the religious organization of the country, and he has four Grand Secretaries graded as fourth rank officials who are very influential each of whom is equal in rank to the Commander-in-Chief. In fact one of the religious Grand Secretaries is at present Commander-in-Chief in addition to his religious duties.

Gould is accorded the same precedence in Tibet as the Prime Minister, and is regarded as senior to the Kashag and all the Shapes. There is no doubt that his seniority and experience have been a great factor in the warmness of the welcome which we have undoubtedly received.

The reception by the Regent ended with a ceremonious conversation between Gould and the Regent, consisting of greetings, asking after health, a message from the Viceroy etc. No business was touched on, as this has to wait until all official calls are completed. We then got up, shook hands and departed.

The Regent is a young man (a lama) of perhaps twenty three years old, with apparently no particular personality or qualifications. The Prime Minister was appointed by the late Dalai Lama, and had no previous official experience.

The men of character whom we have met, and who would appear to be the most important personalities are Bhondong Shape and Tendong Shape, and Tsarong Dzasa.

The following visitors called today:

(i) Chikyab Khenpo head of' the Ecclesiastical organization of Tibet.

(ii) Monks of Kundaling Gompa which owns Deki-Ling-Ka where we are camped.

(iii) Derge Se Kusho, a past student at Ludlow's school.

(iv) Kusho Khenchung Lobsang Jungne, late Tibetan Trade Agent Gyantse.

(v). The Lonchen (Prime Minister) returned the call of the Political Officer at 1 P.M.

Author: Philip Neame [see handwritten annotations in Diary by Hugh Richardson in MS. Or. Richardson 2, Bodleian Libary, Department of Oriental Collections, University of Oxford]

Page Reference: Pt IV p.2

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