Torgya procession in Barkor, showing large votive offering

No scan for this photo

2001. (Print)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

March 6th 1937


Lhasa > Barkhor (from Doring house)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

89 x 115 mm

A close up of the skull which decorated the torma or votive offering as it was being carried in procession immediately below the balcony of the Doring house from which the photograph was being taken during the Monlam Torgya ceremony. Spectators can be seen lining the road and watching from the windows of houses along the route. This part of the procession moves southwards past the Jokhang Temple.

Further Information


Ritual Activity

Photographic Process

Print silver , Enlargement

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh E. Richardson

Other Information

Notes on print - 'Tor gyab demon' is written on the reverse of print not in Richardson's hand. [KC 31/7/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's Hand List: Negative album No.1 nos. 53-58 "The gtor-ma (or zor ) is brought out, and carried southwards past the Jo-khang. No 56 is a beggar boy with a dog skin on a string who follows the gtor-ma " [KC 21/7/2006]

Technical Information - This image seems to have been taken with a Zeiss Super Ikonta C camera. This was a 6x9 format camera but came with a film plane mask that enabled 6x4.5 images to be taken. This enabled 16 images to be taken on a roll of 120 film as opposed to 8 without the mask [MS 6/10/2005]

Other Information - Background: See Hugh E. Richardson, Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year , 1993, London: Serindia Publications, pp 39-49 for a description of the Monlam Torgya ( mon lam gtor rgyag) ceremony. "The ceremony of Monlam Torgya is the longest and the most spectacular event of the New Year celebrations. It is the high point of the Yaso's tenure of office and the day for which the Tsisher was the preparation. (p. 39) ... the torma, in which all evil influences are stored, is brought out ... . It is a tall pyramidal structure with fretwork wings surmounted by a grinning skull mask with a spear and a small umbrella on top. The standards and torma are taken off down the Barkor ..." (p.45) A small party of monks wearing brightly coloured brocade shawls ... come into the forecourt. Like all Namgye Tratsang monks they are noticeaby good-looking with shining clean faces and arms. Eight, carrying silver censers and two with silver ritual vesses, form two ranks facing each other. Their leader, the officiating priest, performs a hieratic dance between and around their ranks chanting a prayer of exorcism and gesturing solemnly with his bell and dorje while the monks around the court keep up a rhythmic accompaniment with drums and cymbals. Finally the officiant is handed a silver chalice containing a red-coloured ball of dough. An attendant monk pours holy water over it from a silver ewer and after an incantation the priest throws it out. This is done twice more after which the celebrants go back into the Jokhang and the other monks surrounding the square proceed down the Barkor with drums beating and cymbals clashing, following the torma towards the south-west of the Tsuklakhang. ... (p.46) [KC 21/7/2006]

Other Information - Dates

Other Information - Dates: In a letter to his parents dated November 6th 1936, Hugh Richardson commented that he was investigating buying a new Zeiss Super Ikonta camera [Hugh Richardson Manuscript Archive, Bodleian Library, MS. Or. Richardson 3 folio 46]. On March 29th 1937 he comments in a further letter to his parents that it would probaby be better to use the larger image frame [MS Or Richardson 3 folio 82]. This has assisted the dating of this image to 1937 [MS 6/10/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Torgya procession in Barkor, showing large votive offering" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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