Phunkhang Yabshi Kung, his son and Phunkhang Gyatso

No scan for this photo

2001. (Contact Print)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

June-July 1939

Named Person

Phunkhang Yabshi Kung, Phunkhang Yabshi Kung's son, Phunkhang Gyatso


Lhasa > Dekyi Lingka

Accession number


Image Dimensions

60 x 60 mm

Tibetan guests at a reception including Phunkhang Tashi Dorje (centre) and his son and Gyatso. All are dressed in silk robes typical of the Lhasa aristocracy.

Further Information

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 - 'Gyatso with Phunkhang' (in pencil) is written on the reverse of print in Richardson's hand and '516' and 'Velox' in an oval are stamped in black. [KC 5/7/2006]

Clare Harris 2003: The Yabzhi Phünkang Kung (known to the British as “The Duke”) was a member of the Lhasa aristocracy and later became a shappe in the Tibetan government. The title of kung (or “Duke”) is given to the father or brother of the reigning Dalai Lama (in this case the Phünkang was the name of the family of the11th Dalai Lama). As the title is hereditary there are usually a number of kung living at the same time. The Dalai Lama often comes from a poor family so the title of kung carries with it considerable estates. The kung used to be the highest status layman in Tibet but the 13th Dalai Lama made the office of Prime minister even more exalted. Spencer Chapman describes the subject of this portrait thus: “The Duke … is a tall lean man with such bad sight that he has to hold everything up to his eyes before he can see it. He gives the impression of being completely absent-minded and unpractical in a very aristocratic and charming way.” (1938:79)

Other Information - Dates

Other Information - Dates: This image relates to a group of 15 contact prints which all have the same batch development number, 516 printed in black ink upon them. In this group of images there is one picture with Capt. A. H. O O’Malley, who had taken up the post of Medical Officer in Gyantse in July 1938 [see McKay 1997 p.236] and who visited Lhasa in early June 1939. Also, some of the images are from a ceremony at Darpoling Monastery on the 15th Day of the 5th Month, which Richardson states he saw only once and which correlate with the year 1939. Many of the images were taken in and around Lhalu mansion [MS 19/12/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Phunkhang Yabshi Kung, his son and Phunkhang Gyatso " 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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