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0423 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 423 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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dare to shed the blood of any, whether man or beast, for the reverence they bear a certain idol which is there worshipped. In that city dwelleth the Abassi, i.e. in their tongue the Pope, who is the head of all the idolaters, and who has the disposal of all their benefices such as they are after their manner.'

is so unsatisfactory (Hue and Gabet's) that no picture of any distinctness can be formed from it. They say the chief streets are broad, well laid out, and tolerably clean, but do not specify if they are paved. I know not if it is worth while to refer to their account of a suburb in which the walls of the houses were inlaid with black and white horns of sheep and oxen, arranged in fantastic designs. I may observe, however, that the ordinary way of building lofty houses in the higher Himalaya, and probably in Tibet, is with large longitudinal timbers inserted at frequent and regular intervals. The stone-work is generally whitewashed, whilst the timber darkens with age, and some photographs of this style of building which I have lately seen give quite the impression of alternate bands of black and white material.

A fatality has attended the accounts of Lhassa that should have been. Grueber and Dorville, who were there in 1661, give no account of the city. Father Desideri who travelled thither by Ladakh in 1715-16, a route not known to have been travelled by any second European in modern times, gives no detail of his journey beyond Ladakh, and says nothing of Lhassa. The journal of Samuel Vanderput, a Dutchman who in the time of the Emperor Yungching reached Lhassa from India, acquired the language and the friendship of the Lamas, and accompanied a deputation of them to Peking, was never published, and appears to have perished. Nothing tangible is to be got out of the notices of Giorgi in the Alphabetum Tibetanum. Thomas Manning, an Englishman who reached Lhassa from Calcutta in 1811, was arrested and sent back by the Chinese, and died without publishing any particulars of his journey. For nearly thirty years the spirit of geographical exploration has been at a sadly low ebb in India; may it revive before foreign nations snatch the honour from us of solving such problems as the true course of the great river of Tibet, and the latitude of Lhassa, the last uncertain to the extent of more than a whole degree. (Kircher, Ch. Illust. ; Lettres Eclifiantes, vol. xv ; Jour. As. 2de. Ser., x, 322, and xiv, 191; and Prinsep's Tibet Tartary and Mongolia, 1851).

' The title Lo Abassi, which Odoric gives to the Great Lama, is a difficulty : for a wonderful hotchpotch of misplaced erudition on the subject, see Giorgi's Alphabetum Tibetanum, p. 688.

Three possible solutions have suggested themselves to me. First: in the journey of Evesko Petlin, a Russian, in Tartary (1620) which is given by Bergeron, the Mongol Lainas are called Lobaes. This seems to suggest some mode of pronunciation not unlike Lo abassi. (Berg. Traité des