1814: Tibetan nobles clamour for Dalai droppings

John Pinkerton (1758-1826) was a Scottish explorer and cartographer, best known for his 1808 atlas which updated and greatly improved many 18th century maps. He was also a prolific writer of histories and travelogues.

In 1814, Pinkerton published a volume summarising his “most interesting” voyages and travels in various parts of the world. One of these chapters described the people of Tibet and their devotion to its political and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama:

“..The grandees [nobles] of the kingdom are very anxious to procure the excrements of this divinity, which they usually wear about their necks as relics… The Lamas make a great advantage [by] helping the grandees to some of his excrements or urine… for by wearing the first about their necks, and mixing the latter with their victuals, they imagine themselves to be secure against all bodily infirmities.”

Pinkerton also claimed that Mongol warriors to the north:

“..wear his pulverised excrements in little bags about their necks as precious relics, capable of preserving them from all misfortunes and curing them of all sorts of distempers.”

Source: John Pinkerton, A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels, London, 1814. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.