Tibetan officials ascending the steps of the Potala

Tibetan officials ascending the steps of the Potala

1999. (Album Print black & white)

Image for comparison


Image in Album

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Key Information


H. Staunton ?


Harry Staunton

Date of Photo

February 9th 1940


Lhasa > Potala (south steps)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

119 x 88 mm

Party of Tibetan officials ascending the outer stepped ramps of the Potala for the Installation of the 14th Dalai Lama.

Further Information



Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver

Date Acquired

Donated 1999

Donated by

Diana Hughes


H. Staunton

Photo also owned by

Diana Hughes

Other Information

Notes on album mount - "Installation of the Dalai Lama at Potala Lhasa, Feb. 1940" is written in capital letters in pencil in the middle of the album page. [KC 20/12/2005]

Other Information - Album: This image appears in Staunton's personal album on a page (1999.23.1.15) with two (three) other images. [KC 9/12/2005]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: This image appears on an album page with the general title, "Installation of the Dalai Lama at Potala, Lhasa, Feb. 1940". However, I suspect that together with 1999. it was taken on the 1st day of the 1st Tibetan month (Feb 9 1940) when, "On February 9th the members of the British Mission, alone of foreigners, were priviledged to witness the religious celebration of the New Year in the main hall of the Potala." (Basil Gould, 1957, The Jewel in the Lotus, 1957, London: Chatto & Windus p.217). The actual Installation or Enthronement ceremony ( Serthri ngasol ) began on the 14th day of the 1st Tibetan month (Feb 22). It would continue "for a several days in succession, and again after an interval for several more days [and the Dalai Lama] would occupy the Golden Throne, confer blessings and receive gifts." ( ibid. p.222) Further, "The Tibetan government proposed that the British Mission should attend with their gifts on the second day...[Feb 23]" ( ibid. p.223). The British Mission duly set off on this day, "at eight o'clock in the morning we set out, some fifty persons in all in uniforms of many kinds ... to the Potala. ... Rai Bahadur Norbhu was resplendent in the stiff brocade suitable to his rank as Dzasa and Rai Sahib Sonam in the golden robes of a Depon." ibid. p.227. Unfortunately, Gould does not tell us how he was dressed. I would expect him to be in full ceremonial regalia and not in a tweed overcoat and bowler hat. [KC 21/12/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Tibetan officials ascending the steps of the Potala" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1999.>.

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