Monk riding up to Potala at New Year

Monk riding up to Potala at New Year

1998.131.583 (Contact Print)

Image for comparison


Raw Image

Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

February 13th 1937


Lhasa > Potala (north path)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

60 x 56 mm

Monk riding up to the Potala for New Year Festivities.

Further Information



Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver

Date Acquired

Donated 1994

Donated by

Mrs Faith Spencer Chapman


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Frederick Spencer Chapman

Previous Catologue Number

A.9 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - The contact print has been printed out using Velox paper and the trade name can be seen on the back of the print in an oval. The batch development number '640' has been printed on the back in red [MS 03/04/2006]

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]: 'Monk riding to Potala (small neg light in)’ [MS 03/04/2006]

Technical Information - This print is smaller than a full size 6 x 9 contact print. It was possible with this kind of camera (a Zeiss Super Ikonta) to use a film plane mask to reduce the frame size by half (thus doubling the number of exposures possible per film) [see Richardson Collection for details]. However, this does not seem to be the reason for the small image size in this case. Chapman had repeated problems with the Zeiss camera that he used, indeed they were well-known for having faulty shutters, and in his handlist he states that the original image had 'light in' [see Manual Catalogues]. It seems probable, therefore that the flawed portion of the image was cropped when the contact print was made [see images of Zimchongpa on roof of Jokhang on December 24th 1936 for similar cropping and technical difficulties with the image] as other images in this sequence are full frame images (6 x 9) [MS 03/04/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: The Mission as a whole was not invited to this, the 2nd day of the New Year ceremonies at the Potala (although this changed in the 1940s), but Chapman was able to go unofficially to take photographs. Mission Diary entry for February 13th 1937: "Chapman went unofficially to the Potala early this morning to photograph a gorgeously bejewelled costume that is worn by thirteen young officials on this day only. ... // Yesterday was the priestly celebration of the New year: today there is a similar ceremony for laymen. ... On this day only in the year the Shapes and Dzasas must wear the "geluchey" dress with its black pleated skirt, multi-coloured silk brocade coat and white cockle shell hat perched on top of the head. Minor officials wear the usual brightly coloured silk robe reaching almost to the ground, and wide flat topped hats edged with fur. Even the servants wear silk" ['Lhasa Mission, 1936: Diary of Events', Part XIV pp. 4-5, written by Chapman] [MS 03/04/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'A' comprise a group of negatives containing images of officials and the Regent riding in ceremonial dress up to the Potala, all of which seem to have been taken on February 13th 1937 [MS 03/04/2006]

Other Information - Location: This series of images en route to the Potala Palace in order that Chapman might take photographs of the ringyen jewels, were taken as Chapman ascended the Potala hill, probably on horseback. The lake behind the Potala can be seen in the background in many pictures revealing Chapman's movements and relative position for each image [MS 07/04/2006]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Monk riding up to Potala at New Year" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

For more information about photographic usage or to order prints, please visit the The Pitt Rivers Museum.

© The Pitt Rivers Museum