Crowds around Sho pillar below Potala at Sertreng

Crowds around Sho pillar below Potala at Sertreng

2001. (Film negative)

Image for comparison


Raw Image

Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

Feb-March 1949


Lhasa > Potala

Accession number


Image Dimensions

57 X 55 mm

Part of the southern face of the Potala adorned with two appliquéd banners, Koku, (gos sku) for the Sertreng ceremony (tshogs mchod ser spreng) on the 30th day of the 2nd Tibetan month. The banners have images of the Buddha surrounded by deities and bodhisattvas. The Sho pillar can be seen in the foreground surrounded by onlookers watching the procession. Some monks holding hand held drums are processing.

Further Information


Ritual Activity

Photographic Process

Negative film nitrate

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh E. Richardson

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative album - '5' 'Yaso. Serpang. Byamspa gdan dren. Taarpa gling Oracle, lhosar [?] ceremonies. Jo mo lhari, Phari' is written on the negative album in white in Richardson's hand. [KC 31/7/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative index - Folio 45. [blank] [KC 31/7/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's Handlist - 'Vol. 5' 'Nos. 34-7. The Tshogs-mchod Gser-'phreng. In the second month there is a lesser prayer assembly from the 19th to the 29th. On the 29th there is a Scapegoat Ceremony (in another album) and on the 30th a day-long procession takes place round the Potala. In the morning monks from several monasteries, smartly dressed and well washed go to the Jo-khang where they receive a great variety of precious and sacred objects to carryin the procession. A large number of tall banners are carried in front; the objects include shrines, images, musical instruments and so on. The procession enters the courtyard at the foot of the Potala where various ceremonies take place. As the procession starts two huge appleque banners (gos-sku) are hung on the face of the Potala. They are drawn up from the ground by a team of monks on a ramp of the Potala. The ceremonies include several different dances, the appearance of the Gnas-chung Oracle, etc. There are other photographs of the Ser 'phreng in Album A.' [KC 12/8/2006]

Other Information - Background: Richardson describes the Sertreng ceremony in
Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year, 1993, London, Serindia Publications, pp. 74-81. " ... a spectacular ceremony, the Sertreng, in which hundreds of participants marched round the Potala with banners, religious objects and music. ... the Koku - "The Silk Image" - a great appliqué banner which covers the lower face of he Potala for a space of some 75 by 40 feet. It consists of two panels, one rather larger than the other; in the centre of which is a huge figure of the Buddha surrounded by many deities and bodhisattvas. The priviledge of hauling it up is enjoyed by the monks of the Pempora college of Drepung. ..." [KC 12/8/2006]

Other Information - History: For a description of the Sho pillar see Richardson,
A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions , James G. Forlong Series, No. xxix, Royal Asiatic Society, 1985, pp. 1-25.

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: The Potala Palace is the winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas and the seat of traditional Tibetan government. The palace is know as several names by the Tibetan, Tse Podrang, ( rtse pho brang ) or more formally, Potala Podrang ( pho brang po ta la ) The first structure was established by the legendary Tibetan Emperor Song Gampo on Mt Marpori in 637. The original structure is said to have been 11 stories high and was destroyed by lightening during the reign of Emperor Trisong Detsen. The present structure was built by the 5th Dalai Lama on the foundation of the earliest ruins. The Potala is divided into two parts, the central upper part is known as the Red Palace ( pho brang mar p o) and the surrounding structure is know as the White Palace ( pho brang dkar po ). The Red Palace contains the main temple inside the palace and housed the reliquaries of the successive Dalai Lamas. The Red Palace also represents the original structure build in the 7th Century. Between 1645-1653 the 5th Dalai Lama added the White Palace and made it the seat of his government. Since the 17th Century, the White Palace has formed the main administrative offices of the Tibetan government and it became the seat of Tibetan government only in the 18th Century when the 5th Dalai Lama shifted his base from Gaden Palace in Drepung monastery to the Potala. There are said to be over 1000 rooms and over 200,000 images inside. The grounds of the Potala also housed a school known as Tse Lobdra ( rtse slob grwa ) 'The Peak School'. The students were mostly boys from aristocratic families and trained to become government officials. The palace was also the site of two printing presses the older one known as Ganden Phuntsog Parkhang ( dpa’i ldan phun phyogs par khang ) founded in the 17th Century and in 1920s the 13th Dalai Lama established the Shol Printing House ( zhol par khang ). [TS 27/6/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Crowds around Sho pillar below Potala at Sertreng" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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