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Oracle Nechung

Picture shows the 14th Dalai Lama (left) listening to Nechung in Autumn 1958. 
When handling important affairs, the Gashag government would seek advice from the oracles. Among these, Nechung held a special position. He lived in the Zhaibung Monastery, which could house 7,700 monks during the Qing Dynasty. He played the principle role in assisting the Dalai Lama and Gashag governmental decision-making. A third-ranking official, he was hailed as "Greater Lama". Over the past several hundred years, many miraculous things occurred in Tibet, such as the reincarnation of the soul boy of several Dalai Lamas and the subtle political career of several powerful Regents. These things were almost always related to the advice of oracles. In addition to the senior officials, even the Dalai Lama, hailed as "omniscient", "reincarnation of Avalokitesvara" or "holy king on the Tibet Plateau" would consult them on some difficult affairs. Nechung called himself the prolocutor of the powerful Behar holy king, and represented the will of both Buddhist Guardian Chilei Gyipo in the north and the major minister Buddhist Guardian Dorgyi Chamdian in the west. Nobody could dispute the oracle's words when the deities had descended. Nechung wore an armored gown, on the chest of which a copper mirror hung, as if he was a commanding general of ancient times. A "Gungpo" (assistant) flanked him on each side, followed by a swarm of servants. As he progressed, hundreds of monks blew suona horns, beat drums and gongs, recited scriptures with an earsplitting sound amid writhing clouds of incense smoke. He wore a heavy gold hat (weighing about 30kg) tied tightly with lace under his chin. He would become red in the face and short of breath, quivering from head to foot, foaming and speaking incoherently as he pronounced the words of the oracle. At the climax, he would jump and cut about as if his body is full of many souls. Then he would sit down and become weak and limp. His assistants would unfasten the lace ands massage him until he revived.

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