View from roof of Potala Palace

View from roof of Potala Palace

1998.131.310 (Print black & white)

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Raw Image




Photographer's handlist

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

November 22nd 1936


Lhasa > View from Potala >

Accession number


Image Dimensions

127 x 176 mm

Exterior of upper floor of the Potala Palace, near the 13th Dalai Lama's tomb, the corner of which can be seen on the right. The red painted walls designate the holiest parts of the building. Gold victory banners seen on the parapets of the roof with the Kyichu valley in the distance below

Further Information

Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver

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.18.21 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - A variety of crop and reproduction instructions can be seen on the back of the print, as can a number of reference figures. These include 'C/18/21', which seems to relate to the numbering system that Chapman adopted for the photographs taken whilst on the Mission to Lhasa in 1936-7, as well as a Chatto & Windus publisher's reference 'C41349/13'. Chatto & Windus published Chapman's account of the Mission in the book Lhasa the Holy City in 1938. A piece of paper has also been stuck on the back of the print and subsequently torn off. Similar pieces of paper found on prints in the Chapman collection seem, again, to be related to interventions on the prints by the publisher Chatto & Windus [MS 11/4/2005]

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]: 'End of P. [Potala] by D.L.’s tomb, v.g.'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 2: ‘5/2 - Western end of Potala roof. Road to India in distance’ [MS 18/03/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'C.18' comprise a group of negatives containing images of the mission personnel, the Dalai Lamas’ tombs and Potala. They were all taken on November 22nd on the day of the second official visit of the Mission party to the Potala [MS 18/03/2006]

Other Information - Photographer: The stylistic device that Chapman has used in this photograph of creating a diagonal division across the frame by positioning the building in the right lower half of the frame and the landscape in the upper left, is also to be seen in other images in the collection taken by Chapman [MS 11/4/2005]

Other Information - Description: In the book Lhasa the Holy City [London: Chatto & Windus, 1938; reprinted London: Readers Union Ltd., 1940] Chapman describes this setting thus: "After tearing ourselves away from the shrine we climbed a crazy ladder to the roof, which is of sand and gravel beaten to the consistency of concrete. It is here that the Dalai Lama, when in residence at the Potala, takes exercise. And what a superb place to take a constitutional! The whole vale of Lhasa lies spread out beneath one, surrounded by its cirque of wild mountain scenery" [1940, p.180] [MS 11/4/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "View from roof of Potala Palace" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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