Dalai Lama's apartments, Potala

Dalai Lama's apartments, Potala

1998.131.306.1 (Film negative)

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Photographer's handlist

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

September 6th 1936


Lhasa > Potala > Deyang shar

Accession number


Image Dimensions

85 x 113 mm

Part of the Potala Palace showing the corner of the Dalai Lama's quarters seen from the Eastern Courtyard or Deyang Shar. There is a mantra on the red painted wall, facing. The building is framed in the right diagonal of the image, with sky filling the rest of the frame, a solitary bird flying above

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative film nitrate

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.14.15 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Other Information

In Negative - The number '15' has been scratched into the negative in the bottom right hand corner [MS 7/4/2005]

Technical Information - This image was probably taken with a quarter plate Zeiss Nixe film or film pack camera as the negative is quarter-plate sized. See Chapman
Lhasa The Holy City [London: Chatto & Windus, 1938] for a description of the still and cine cameras that Chapman used as Mission photographer [MS 25/2/2005]

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]: 'Top left corner of 10 [C.14.10 - View of steps and D.L.’s way and whole face of building] and more of P. [Potala] to left' [MS 18/03/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'C.14 comprise a group of negatives containing images of the 13th Dalai Lama’s tomb and views around the Potala. They were all taken on the Mission party's first official visit to the Potala on September 6th 1936 [MS 18/03/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: This photograph was taken on September 6th 1936, when the mission party spent two hours looking around the Potala. Chapman describes this part of the building in his publication Lhasa the Holy City [London: Chatto & Windus, 1938; reprint, London: Readers Union Ltd., 1940, p.174]: "Over the central line of windows of each block are draped brown yak-hair curtains striped horizontally with white. The roofs of the terra-cotta central portion and of the wing to the east of it, which contains the Dalai Lama's private suite of rooms, are especially beautiful. Here there is a wide strip of dull maroon bordered above and below with white. In the centre of this rich matt surface, which forms an ideal background for them, are four very large embossed monograms of gold, with several smaller ones on either side. These ornaments prepare one for the larger mass of gold on the roof-pavilions. Spaced along the edge of the parapet and at the corners are golden turrets and cylindrical banners of black yak-hair crossed with white. These serve - as well as keeping off devils - to break the severity of the sky-line, which is further relieved by the roof pagodas". [MS 7/4/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Dalai Lama's apartments, Potala " 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1998.131.306.1.html>.

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