National Geographic : 1916 Mar
Photograph by John Claude White A PORTRAIT OF TIIE TASIII LAMA WITH IIS MINISTERS AND FOLLOWERS as their souls on departing the life are reincarnated in the body of some infant, who by some miraculous sign, such as the recognition of a rosary, an article of clothing belonging to the deceased, or something of that sort, establishes his claim. Mr. W ilton tells us how the Chinese manipulate the selection to insure the chosen candidate belonging to the pro Chinese faction. When the choice has been narrowed down to four, four fish shaped tablets are publicly placed in a golden urn, the gift of the Great Man chu Emperor Kienlung. The name in scribed on the first tablet drawn is hailed as the Dalai Lama, and it is the custom to solemnly recommend him for confir mation to the Chinese Emperor by the Amban. Kienlung's method of choice of a Da lai Lama was intended to prevent a selec- tion likely to be detrimental to Chinese interests, and this is how it was carried out: The selection of the infant was left entirely in the hands of the Tibetans; only the final putting in of the four fish tablets was superintended by the Tibetan Regent and the Chinese Amban. The actual drawing was done by a Tibetan; but to insure the right candidate, all four tablets were inscribed with the same name. The last four Lamas-ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth-have all died be fore attaining their majority, 18 being the age of majority for a Dalai Lama. It was prophesied in Lhasa ten years be fore the present incumbent's selection, in 1876, that he would be the last of the Dalai Lamas, and, as events have turned out in China during the last few years, it is more than likely we shall not see an other.