National Geographic : 1963 Mar
leaving a terrible mess," the Crown Prince said. "One of my ancestors invented them." The 39-year-old Crown Prince was edu cated in the British manner and has the suave polish of the old Indian Civil Service. He is an authority on all things Sikkimese, and delighted me with the most unexpected in formation and colorful random detail. An army of the past, he related, always included a doctor; astrologer; lama, or priest; and diviner. The country's first ruler, by leg end, was a youth with webbed hands and feet and blue skin. The fine for killing a bachelor, a butcher, or a servant was 30 ounces of gold. For slaying a gentleman owning more than 300 servants, the fine was 200 ounces. I asked the Crown Prince why he did not write a history of Sikkim. "I intend to have one done," he replied. "I've already found the writer." The privi leged author is Miss Hope Cooke of New York City, an American debutante whom the Crown Prince is soon to marry (page 406). They met in Darjeeling, India. His first wife, a Tibetan noblewoman, died seven years ago, leaving him two sons and a daughter. His new wife's writing will undoubtedly include the peoples inhabiting the valleys between some of the greatest peaks on earth, which tower over northern Sikkim: Siniolchu; Simvo; Pandim; Kabru; Chomiomo; and 28,208-foot-high Kanchenjunga, the "Great Snow of the Five Treasures" (pages 424-25), topped in the world only by Everest and K2. These snow-crowned peaks are regarded as the abode of gods, Sikkim's protecting deities. Therefore the country's ruler, the Maharaja Sir Tashi Namgyal, permitted a British expedition to ascend Kanchenjunga in 1955 only on condition that the summit be left untrodden. The climbers kept their pledge; they did not scale the last five feet. In Gold Brocade Gown, the Maharaja Leads a Procession on His Birthday Spectators near Gangtok throng a hillside as Sir Tashi Namgyal, the 70-year-old Ma haraja, marches to open a sports festival. His Highness's sumptuous ceremonial garb belies his family's modest wealth. Crown Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal walks at right; his children by his deceased wife flank their grandfather. Uniformed Indian police commissioner attests his country's influence over Sikkimese military and foreign affairs. High priests of Lamaism wear red. Yellow topped umbrella denotes the presence of royalty and top-ranking lamas. 404 KODACHROMECOURTESYTHE GOVERNMENTOF SIKKIM © N.G .S .