Crowds gathered to watch the burning of Torgya

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2001. (Print)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

July 25th 1948



Accession number


Image Dimensions

63 X 61 mm

Crowds surrounding a burning bonfire on which a Torma is being destroyed during the special Torgyag chenpo held in Lhasa. There are also crowds of spectators on the rooftops of surrounding buildings. In the foreground there are three people perched on a stone structure.

Further Information


Ritual Activity

Photographic Process

Print silver

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh E. Richardson

Other Information

Notes on print - 'Monlam Dharma Torgyab' and 'Monlam Dharma Torgya Chenmo in Sakya Trichen 1949' (in pencil) is written on the reverse of print in Richardson's hand and '430' and 'Velox' in an oval is stamped in black. [KC 7/9/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: Despite what is written on the back of this print, Richardson's Handlist of images states that a related image is actually that taken at a special gtor rgyag on 25th July 1948 directed against the threat from Chinese Communists, and that it was a prayer ceremony near the old Chinese Yamen on the south east of the city with a large body of monks, chanting, and clapping hands slowly; a special gtor-ma lit by the Gnas chung Oracle, contained many strange things including a human skin. At the end of the ceremony a great storm of wind, dust and thunder suddenly blew up from a clear sky. [TS 19/12/2005] [MS 19/12/2005]

Other Information - Dates

Other Information - Dates: According to the Handlist that Richardson compiled of his images some years after he left Lhasa, and according to the notes on his negative index, this and related images were taken in 1948. However, the two images in this related group of contact prints are dated both to 1949 and 1949/50, even though are clearly taken on the same occasion/day some minutes apart. Other images of this event apparently identified as having been taken in 1950 are printed out on Ridax paper, suggesting that these may have been taken in a different year - but the precise dating remains inconclusive and demonstrates some of the difficulties of memory that even someone as meticulous in his attention to detail as Hugh Richardson could be [MS 19/12/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Crowds gathered to watch the burning of Torgya" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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