Potala from the east with nomads on path

Potala from the east with nomads on path

1998.131.297 (Print black & white)

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Raw Image




With tracing paper


Other Version of this Photo in Hugh E. Richardson collection

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Image in Album

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

February 10th 1937?


Lhasa > Potala (from east)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 183 mm

The Potala from the east, showing the round-walled watchtower, Taktshang Gormo. Nomad pilgrims walking away from the Potala in the foreground

Further Information

Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver , Retouched

Date Acquired

Donated 1994

Donated by

Faith Spencer Chapman


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Frederick Spencer Chapman

Previous Catologue Number

C.12 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


This Image also appears in another collection



'Lhasa the Holy City', F. Spencer Chapman, London: Chatto and Windus, 1940 [view list of illustrations]

Other Information

Notes on print/mount - The back of the print is covered with crop and reproduction markings to a degree far beyond most of the other images of this type in the collection. The marks and various annotations have clearly been made by a number of people at different times. Significantly, in pink/red crayon the annotation 'Y Page 17', enclosed in an oval and 'Use portion indicated on tracing'. The person who has made these marks has also deleted other pencil-inscribed marks, including the reference 'O.C.12' across the middle (apparently a reference to the number system Chapman used for the images taken whilst on the British Mission to Lhasa in 1936-7). The name 'Stanhope' has been written in pencil in the bottom right hand corner. '8-6 1/2' has been written in red crayon in the bottom left side and '41b' has been written in the top left (partially concealed by the tracing paper). Other markings can also be seen on the object. Tracing paper has been attached to the back of the print and folded over the front to transfer cropping and other instructions. The paper also bears the caption 'The Potala from the East. Nomads performing holy walk'. The image has also be manipulated. A matt grey substance has been used to colour the sky, which has the effect of highlighting the Potala and the foreground and making it stand out from the upper portions of the image [MS 4/4/2005]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Caption in Chapman's hand-written list of negatives made whilst on the Mission to Lhasa, 1936-7 [See PRM Manuscripts Collection]: '1/2 Potala Horpas from the E.[ast]'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 2: ‘4/1 - Nomads from Chang Tang approaching Western end of Potala’ [MS 18/03/2006]

Research publication - Clare Harris and Tsering Shakya (eds) 'Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan capital 1936-1947' Chicago: Serindia, 2003, facing page 1

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'C' comprise a group of negatives containing images of the Potala and dancers at the Potala. They seem to have been taken on or around February 10th 1937, mainly related to the Tse Gutor ceremony on that day [MS 02/04/2006]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: Chapman described in his book Lhasa the Holy City [London: Chatto & Windus, 1938; reprint, London: Readers Union Ltd., 1940] how in the weeks before the New Year festivities in February, it was common to see groups of nomads walking daily on the pilgrimage route around the Potala and Lhasa called the Lingkhor : "While they are in Lhasa, in fact this may be the primary object of their journey, they visit the shrine of the Dalai Lama and the Cathedral. The nomads, in the off season, are notorious brigands, making it unsafe for pilgrims or merchants to cross the Chang Tang except in large caravans, which are formed at regular times each year for mutual protection. They rarely rob their victims of money or valuables that are being taken as an offering to the Jo-kang or the Dalai Lama's tomb, for the nomads are notoriously pious, and sometimes they will save up for years and present surprisingly rich gifts to these shrines" [ibid., p.160] [MS 4/4/2005]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: The Potala Palace showing the Taktshang Gormo watch tower on its eastern side. A group of Tibetans (including monks) can be seen walking away from Lhasa. They may have completed the route of the Lingkhor (sacred walk) around the city in order to gain merit and the chance of a better rebirth. Lhasa was a site of pilgrimage for people from all over Tibet. Due to its height the Potala dominates the landscape of the Lhasa valley serving a visual as well as a spiritual focus for the city. Western visitors also succumbed to this awe inspiring sight [CH 2003]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Potala from the east with nomads on path" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1998.131.297.html>.

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