U.S. Minister to Denmark, 1921-1926;
U.S. Minister to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, 1926-1929;
U.S. Minister to Yugoslavia, 1929-1933.
The following communication was sent by the
Department of State to the Smithsonian Institution and transmitted to the
editors of the American Anthropologist on
Aug. 9, 1927. Printed in American Anthropologist,
N.S. XXX (1928), pp. 341-345.
|There is a present in Belgrade a small colony
numbering about two hundred persons consisting exclusively of Kalmyk Tatars,
who fled here from Russia during the first Bolshevik aggressions. Most
Belgrade people are entirely ignorant of the existence of this curious
group at the capital. The older men of this Kalmyk community were mostly
members of Denikin's army and all are experienced horseman. The King employs
some twenty or more as grooms in the Royal stable and others have found
work in connection with racing stables and the like.
All these people are Buddhist Kalmyks and they are permitted to have their
own Lama (priest) to minister to their religious needs. The Lama and an
assistant Lama, together with a recognised Cantor (a sort of sub-deacon),
are supported entirely by free-will offerings. The Lamas, who are strictly
celibate, are in fact not allowed to work at all at any productive occupation.
The Chief Lama has called several times at the Legation, in order to discuss
with me the condition of his community and the mysteries of his particular
sect. He informs me that his Kalmyks have no complaint against the
Serbs, who have treated them very nicely and allowed them to have their
religious services in a private house (that of the Lama himself), although,
he added, objection would probably be raised if it were proposed to erect
even a small temple, as Buddhism is not one of the legally recognised religions
The Lama further informed me that he had received his religious training from and older Lama in Astrakhan, where the majority of these Kalmyks originated, and that his teacher was a regular graduate of the lamasery of the Dalai Lama of Lhassa in Tibet, which is the centre of his branch of the Buddhist faith. He then invited Military Attache Godson and myself to attend a regular Buddhist service at which we should hear the ritual in full with the usual cantillation employed in the all lamaseries which owe allegiance in Tibet to the Dalai Lama.
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