1998.285.90 (Glass negative)
Sir Charles Bell & Rabden Lepcha
Sir Charles Bell
October 14th 1921
Lhasa > Norbu Lingka > Throne Room
120 x 163 mm
Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate
St Antony's College, Oxford.
Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21
Royal Central Asiatic Society
Sir Charles Bell with Rabden Lepcha
Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry for H.77: "[No. of chapter] V. [Subject of Chapter] Dalai Lama. [Subject of illustration] H77 (v) Same as (u), but nearer view. Retouched"
Other Information - Related Images: '(u) in Bell's caption refers to H.76 (1998.285.85 & 1998.285.86). Bell does not distinguish in his List of Illustrations between three images which are referenced by this List entry - 1998.285.88, 1998.285.89 & 1998.285.90. Although the quality of this image in relation to others referenced by H.77 [1998.285.88, 1998.285.89] is weaker, the contact print displays a far richer and naturalising textural quality to the skin of the Dalai Lama's hands and face than the contact prints of the other negatives [MS 17/5/2004]
In Negative - The emulsion of the glass plate negative appears to be silvering extensively. This makes it difficult to determine the full nature of the re-touching of the image that was undertaken. All of the glass plate negatives referred to above appear to have been extensively re-touched in a variety of ways to experiment with effects. All the effects play with the best means of enhancing the central position of the Dalai Lama in the darkened space, especially by adding highlights to his face. However, there also appears to have been use of special films overlaying the negative [as yet unidentified], removal of areas of emulsion and possibly painting in of domestic architectural features. The edges of negative glass plate 1998.285.89 have also been overlaid with tape to crop the image, apparently to re-enforce the centrality of the Dalai Lama in the scene. [MS 17/5/2004]
Other Information - Description: Bell's Diary entry for 14th October 1921:"Rabden and I photographed the Dalai Lama this forenoon, sitting on the throne in his throne room, as he would sit when blessing pilgrims. The photos on the whole turned out well. ... This is the throne room that is used on important occasions. // While the room was being arranged the D[alai] L[ama] came in to see that the arrangements were properly made. It was interesting to see him en famille , in his own household. Monk officials, ordinary workmen, went about their work, almost jostling against him, while he wound in and out among them, giving an order here, making a slight change there. Workmen clean and polish the boarded floor by sliding over it boots with large woollen flanges attached, like a ballroom being got ready for a dance." [Diary Vol. XIII, pp. 28-9]
Other Information - Description: Bell describes this occasion in detail “I am to take the Dalai Lama’s photograph again ... the first time that anyone has photographed him in the Holy City (Lhasa)... The arrangement of the throne-room is not ready. I watch them arranging it. The throne is built up of two or three wooden pieces; the nine silk scrolls, representing the Buddha in the earth-pressing attitude, are already placed on the wall behind and above the throne... Below these scrolls red silk brocade covers the wall. The throne is four feet high, a seat without a low balustrade of beautifully carved woodwork running around it. Hanging down in front of the throne is a cloth of rich white silk, handsomely embroidered in gold, with crossed thunderbolts (symbol of equilibrium, immutability and almighty power) ... Chrysanthemums, marigolds and other flowers are arranged round the dais.” ( Portrait of the Dalai Lama, p.336)
For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "The Thirteenth Dalai Lama on throne in Norbu Lingka" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1998.285.90.html>.
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