The present work has for its object the description of Buddhism as we find it in Tibet.
The book is divide into two parts, ‘which deals with Sketch of the life of Sakyamuni, the founder
of Buddhism, Gradual rise and present area of the Buddhist eligion, the religious system of
Sakyamuni, the Historical account of the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet, the sacred
literature, Views on metemsychosis, details characteristic of the religion of the people,
translation of an Address to the Buddhas of Confession’, the Tibetan priesthood, Religious
buildings and monuments, representation of Buddhist deities, Worship of the deities, and religious
ceremonies, the systems of reckoning time, and Description of various tables used for astrological
THE religious systems of all ages—paganism in its rudest form perhaps excepted—have undergone
changes and modifications which, if not materially affecting their principles, have at least
exercised a certain influence upon their development. Buddhism may be considered a remarkable
illustration of this; for not only have the rites suffered notable changes, but even the dogmas
themselves have, in the course of time, become much altered. Although plain and simple in the
earlier stages of its existence, it was in time greatly modified by the successive introduction of
new doctrines, laws, and rites; so-called reformers arose, who assembled around them a greater or
less number of followers; and these by degrees formed schools, which by-and—by developed into
sects. The shifting of its original seat also exercised al considerable influence: the difference
between a tropical and a cold and desert region and between the physical character of tribes
separated by the distinctive marks of the Arian and Turanian races, had to be smoothed over,
partly at least, and obliterated by the influence of time.
The present work has for its object the description of Buddhism as we now find it in Tibet, after
an existence in this country of upwards of twelve centuries.
The information obtained by my brothers Hermann, Adolphe, and Robert de Schlagintweit, when on the
scientific mission undertaken between the years 1854458, which gave them the opportunity of
visiting various parts of Tibet and of the Buddhist countries in the Himalaya, has been the chief
source on which I have drawn for my• remarks and descriptions. The reports of former travellers
have also been consulted and compared with the contributions received from my brothers. Not less
important for my subject, as enabling one to judge of the fundamental laws of Buddhism, and their
subsequent modifications, were the researches of the oriental philologists and intelligent writers
on Buddhist doctrines, amongst whom Hodgson and Burnouf have so successfully led the way to the
analysis of the original native works.
For the greater part of the objects here treated of and for most of the native explanatory
remarks, I am indebted to my brother Hermann. He had engaged in Sikkim the services of Chibu Lama,
a very intelligent Lepcha, then a political agent of the Raja of Sikkim at Darjiling. Through this
personage he was enabled to
obtain numerous objects which had come from Lhassa, the centre of the Buddhist faith in Tibet. Mr.
Hodgson and Dr. Campbell, besides giving him much valuable in- formation, were also so kind as to
present him with various articles of interest for this subject. In Western Tibet, it was
particularly at the monastery of Himis and in Leh, the capital of Ladak, that Hermann’s wishes
were the most readily accomplished. In Gnari Khorsum Adolphe, who was at that time accompanied by
Robert, succeeded in persuading the Lamas of Gyungul and Mangnang to sell him even objects which
he had seen treated with the greatest respect and awe.
The folio atlas of twenty plates, two feet high and one and a half broad, contains facsimiles of
representations of deities and of objects used for keeping off evil spirits. The originals were
reproduced by means of transfer—paper, a method which has the great advantage that the alterations
are entirely avoided which the artists are but too willing to make. The drawings being
mechanically copied retain entirely the stamp of foreign art. The details in reference to the
method employed lm- the reproduction are given in the introduction to the atlas. The plates have
been printed in the lithographic establishment of Dr. C. Wolf and Son at Munich.
For the illustrations accompanying the text I selected those of a more scientific nature in
preference to those of a descriptive character. They consist of copies taken from original
woodcuts and of prints in Tibetan characters of the texts translated. These tables have been
executed in the imperial printing office at Vienna. Their correct execution was kindly undertaken
by Mr. de Auer, the director of this institution, so well known for its excellence in
typographical and artistical reproductions.
In my studies of Tibetan I have been greatly assisted by Mr. A. Schiefner at St. Petersburg, to
whose publications I shall often have occasion to allude. This gentle- man also afforded me the
welcome opportunity of laying the verbal explanatory details of the priests in loco a second time
before a Lama, the Buriat Galsang Gombojew, who is engaged at St. Petersburg as teacher of
Mongolian; he made for` me, besides, various abstracts from books contained in the imperial
oriental libraries having ` a bearing upon these objects.
I may be allowed to mention that I had the honour of presenting to the Royal Academy of Munich the
Address to the Buddhas of Confession (contained in Chapter XL), a sacred imploration, of which a
translation in German was inserted in the Proceedings of this Institution (February, 1863).
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