Truptop Lama

Truptop Lama

1998.285.226.1 (Glass negative)

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Key Information


Rabden Lepcha


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo

May 1921

Named Person

Truptop Lama


Lhasa >

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

A Truptop Lama. He holds a skull drum and thigh bone trumpet in his hands, has two skull cups, bell and dorje in front of him. A "Hermit's band" or gomtak is placed over his right shoulder.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.

Copy difference



Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Revised Photographer

Rabden Lepcha

Previous Catologue Number


Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry: "[No. of chapter] XXXII to XXXIV. [Subject of Chapter] The Religion [Subject of Illustration] H.197 (co) Truptop Lama (e). Skull drum and thigh-bone trumpet in hands, 2 skull cups, 1 holding beer (c) and the other tea (d), bell and dorje in front of him; ka-tam (b) (long pole) on his left. "Hermit's band" (Gom-tak) over right shoulder. These men wear long hair like Sadhus. [Remarks] (e) belongs to the Nyinma sect. (c) for offering to deities (lha). (d) which he drinks himself. In this he may keep his food generally. (b) The minds of deities dwell in the ka-tam"

In Negative - Two strips of black tape have been stuck across the top of the negative glass plate on the non-emulsion side [MS 8/6/2004]

Contemporary Publication -

Contemporary Publication - Published in 'The Religion of Tibet', Bell, C. A., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931, facing p.72:" 'Seated at his little table, almost naked, he held in his right hand a drum made from a human skull.' "

Other Information - Description: Bell's Diary entry for 17th May 1921:"Rabden has, at my request, recently taken a photo of a Trup-tor priest (See List of Illustrations, Book II, (chap 32-35), bottom of page 19). The Trup-tor told him "Nobody has succeeded in photographing me, though several have tried, for I have a god ( lha) inside me." Then, as an after-thought he added, "Still if your photo comes out well, you might give me a copy." // It has come out very well, and Rabden has given him a copy accordingly. He was very pleased to get it, has had it framed with glass and all complete and put it up in his room. He made no further remark about the god inside him." [Vol. X., p.59]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Truptop Lama" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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