Prince Minchur, whose father, Prince Palta (1882-1920), was the deputy foreign minister of the Qing Government and governor of the Altai region, travelled with a large entourage bearing rich tributes in gold from Mongolia to Tibet in the summer of 1932 to pay homage to the 13th Dalai Lama. In exchange for the gifts, he was presented with this hat belonging to the First Panchen Lama, as authenticated by a label bearing the innermost seal (bagdam) of the Panchen Rinpoche of Tashilhunpo.
Prince Minchur stayed for an extended period in Tibet, before travelling on to India and Southeast Asia. Further included with this lot is a passport granting free passage to Minchur Noyon, issued by the Sinkiang authorities in November 1931 for travel to Tibet with the purpose of visiting the Dalai Lama. It states that the group was not to exceed 25 people, 8 camels and 64 horses, and bears the stamps of two military checkpoints in Sinkiang dated 1 and 19 April 1932, and of Normae county, 24 April 1932; together with a document in the official script of the Tibetan government, issued in the 7th month of the iron tiger year (1938) to Prince Minchur (Minchur Tsewang Dorje) and his entourage for passage to India. It names the checkpoints, Chushar, Bodong, Lhartse, Gyantse, Phagthog and Phagsi on the border to Sikkim, detailing the charges for riding and pack horses, and requiring the district governors to supply fire wood; compare a similar travel document in Morning Glory Publishers (publ.), Precious Deposits, Historical Relics of Tibet, China, 2000, vol. 5, cat. no. 132.
The first Panchen (Great Scholar) Lama, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, was born in the Tsang region in 1567. During his studies, he sought to exemplify the spiritual orientation indicated by Tsong Khapa, combining meditation and ethics in a synthesis of the sutras and tantras. The Fourth Dalai Lama had strengthened Tibeto-Mongolian relations and worked towards securing Gelugpa authority throughout the land. After his death in 1616, Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, now senior in the Gelugpa Order, became the teacher of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. Their profound mutual respect is recognizable by the influence of the teacher on his disciple and the high honors the student bestowed in return. When the Fifth Dalai Lama commissioned the Potala Palace in Lhasa and settled there, the First Panchen Lama remained in Tashilhunpo, which was refurbished for his work. Between them, Tibet received a powerful, spiritual and temporal guidance that kept the lineage strong for three centuries. When Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen died in 1662, the Fifth Dalai Lama ensured that he was interred with great ceremony and he personally supervised the search for his reincarnation. The Second Panchen Lama, born a year later, was educated by the Dalai Lama. Since that time, it has become tradition for the older of the two Lamas to be the teacher of the younger.