Stone lion on burial mound of Ralpacan in Chyongye valley

Stone lion on burial mound of Ralpacan in Chyongye valley

2001. (Film negative)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo


Named Person

Sonam Tobden


Chyongye Valley Region > Chyongye

Accession number


Image Dimensions

55 x 55 mm

The ninth century stone lion on the burial mound of Ralpacan (ral pa can) in the Chonggye valley. To the left is Richardson's local monk guide and on the right, Sonam Tobden, Richardson's travelling companion on this trip. The monk is wearing robes with an outer jacket and and a bag slung across his shoulder. Sonam Tobden has a fur and brocade hat on his head and is dressed in a light coloured chuba robe. It is possible to see another burial mound, possibly that of Mes Ag-thoms, behind him. There are two light strips on both edges of the photograph.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative film nitrate

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Richardson's 1949 tour of the Yarlung and Chyongye valleys

Previous Catologue Number

Negative Album 9 No. 71


‘High Peaks, Pure Earth’, Hugh Richardson, London, Serindia Publications, 1998 [view list of illustrations]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative album (slip cover) - 'Drikhung. Chongye. etc.' in Richardson's hand in white. (Yellow spine label) 'DRIKHUNG. CHONGYE. KOTSHAL. RGYAMA. Ganden 1948'. (Cover) - '9 DRIKHUNG. CHONGYE. YARLUNG. GYAMA. GANDEN' [KC 15/5/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes in negative index - Folio 71. 'Lion at Bangso' [KC 30/5/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's Handlist, Negative book '9' 'Drikhung, Chongye etc.' [no] 71. Stone lion on burial mound said to be that ofKhri Gtsug-lde brtsan Ral-pa-can. This is the only known Tibetan sculpture of the 9th century.' [KC 2/6/2006]

Research publication - High Peaks, Pure Earth , H. E. Richardson, London, Serindia Publications, 1998, plate 7. 'Stone lion at Ral-pa-can's tomb.'

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: Richardson discusses the significance of this stone lion in High Peaks, Pure Earth , London, Serindia Publications, 1998, p. 227. " ... there has survived one small but precious relicfrom the days of the chos-rgyal . On top of the mound attributed to Ral-pa-can I found the stone figure of a lion ... . The identification of the mound depends primarily on the statement of my monk guide, but it agrees generally with the literary description of the tomb ... . At all events, the lion now stands on the mound claimed to be that of Ral-pa-can, which is furthest to the south of the whole group of tombs ... . None of the Tibetanas of Lhasa - lamas, nobles, ordinary monks and laymen - to whom I mentioned the astone lion had ever seen or even heard of it. So the figure survived, remote and forgotton, protected from the sling-shot of some thoughtless shepherd only by the awe and sanctity of the place. The damage to the right foreleg, ... may have been caused by grave-looters and it is possible that there were originally other similar figures on the mound ... . There appears no reason to doubt that the lion dates from the time when the site was used for royal burials; and by associating it with Ral-pa-can, who died in c. 842, it is placed near the end of that period. ... Sculpture in the round, of any period, is rarely seen in Tibet, but old records indicate that in early times the carving of stone figures was not uncommon."

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Stone lion on burial mound of Ralpacan in Chyongye valley" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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