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Hail to the Gods of the Pass, near Syangboche

Hail to the Gods of the Pass, near Syangboche
80 x 62 Scale 1: 16.25 Private Collection

On every pass in the high Himalayas are sites where travellers can give thanks for arrival and solicit protection for the way ahead. This is often a simple mound of rocks added to by each traveller with a shout of lha gyalo, "The gods are victorious!". The structure here is a Ihato, a god-place, on the pass above Gelung village. Nearby, an especially propitious yellow ochre is found in a deep fissure below the Chizi cave, a site associated with Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava), worshipped as the second historical Buddha.

The base has decoration typical of chortens but the animals usually found on the "lion throne" are replaced by the eight auspicious emblems. Here on the north side are placed the dharmachakra, the Wheel of the Law, and the Endless Knot.

The square structure above with juniper branches identifies it as a shrine to a local god of place, like the tsenkhang on the rooftops of houses usually dedicated to a household protector. (42)

Copyright 1998 Robert Powell

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