Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/91

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ITS LARES AND PENATES.

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shape common to all Buddhist places of worship, the sides facing the four cardinal points; the entrance is by a triple gate on the south, opposite to which is a stone platform ascended by a flight of steps. The sloping roof is covered with sheets of copper gilt, adorned with dragons at the corners.

A copper-gilt statue (fourteen feet high) of Sakyamuni, i.e. Buddha, occupies a conspicuous place in the interior. The god is represented seated; before him a lamp is always burning, and pinchbeck vessels containing water, rice, and barley-meal stand near.

Along three sides are ranged on shelves a thousand lesser deities from one to two feet high, the attitudes of some of which are peculiarly grotesque.

All these idols were made at Dolon-nor by order of the Abbot Djandji, and brought to Ala-shan, whence they were conveyed to Chobsen at the cost of the prince.

A gallery runs round the four sides of the courtyard, 100 paces each way, covered with rude paintings illustrating the exploits of gods and heroes, a strange medley of serpents, devils, and monsters; here too, at intervals of seven feet along the balustrade, are placed small iron urns, to contain the prayers, written on slips of paper, of the devout suppliants who daily attend the sacred edifice.

At the time of our visit 150 lamas and one Gigen resided at Chobsen. The cost of maintenance is defrayed by the abbot and by the voluntary contributions of pilgrims who are entertained on festivals with tea, milk, and roasted barley or dzamba.