Potala and Koku at Sertreng ceremony

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2001. (Print)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson


Lhasa > Potala (foot of)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

160 x 110 mm

The Potala at the time of the Sertreng (tshogs mchod ser spreng) ceremony which took place on the 30th day of the second Tibetan month. The southern face of the building is decorated with the huge Koku "silk image" banner consisting of two panels. In the centre of each is a huge figure of a Buddha surrounded by many deities and bodhisattvas. The buildings of the Shol district of Lhasa may be seen at the base of the Potala.

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 - 'Tshogs mchod' (in pencil) is written on the reverse of print in Richardson's hand. [KC 21/9/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's Handlist - 'Vol. Album 'A' 21-48 'Tshog-mchod Gser-'phreng Other photographs in Album C nos 34-47. The Tshog mchod was instituted by Samgs-rgyas Rgya-mtsho in memory of the Vth Dalai Lama. The Gser-'phreng procession is said to represent a dream the Dalai Lama had. 21. the great banner on the Potala. 22-23 do.' [KC 17/09/2006]

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 - 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. "Potala and Koku at Sertreng ceremony" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_2001.>.

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