National Geographic : 1952 Dec
rated the walls. The monas tic library, while large, was not remarkable for rare vol umes. The greatest treasure was a small book resting in a cubicle by itself. Written alternately in gold and white on a black surface, it aroused my curiosity. "The gold is real gold, and the white ink is made by crushing into paste the bones of a great lama," the abbot told me. God of Luck Watches Dice Throw Exquisite prayer banners, or thangkas, hung from the ceiling of the next room; some really fine specimens of temple bells, skull drums, and thunderbolts adorned the altar. Thunderbolts, or dorjis, are Bhutan's most significant symbol. Images depicting deities and saints lined the walls. Before App Chungdu, the god of luck, lay a small leather tray with three dice believed to indi cate what the future holds in store (page 730). Most Bhutanese monas teries have these trays hold ing dice. Earlier at a monas tery in Ha Valley, the pre siding lama had asked me if I would care to try my luck. My first throw, five, brought a frown of distress to his face. Not so good, apparently. Again I rolled the three spotted ivories. Eleven! This brought smiles. Evi dently it is as good a throw in Bhutan as in Reno! From Taktsang I went to Dukye Dzong. This fort, reputedly the oldest in Bhu tan (since burned down), dominated the trade route between Paro Valley and the town of Phari Dzong in Tibet. Courtyards, chapels, and paneled rooms resembled those in the dzongs of Paro and Ha, except that much more intricate detail was ap parent in wood carvings and pillars. But the really fas cinating place was the ar mory, a vast room piled high 735 "Tiger's Nest" Monastery Clings to a Sheer Crag Monks here showed the author a sacred book whose white ink was made from crushed bones of a departed comrade.