Black Hat dancers at Tse Gutor

Black Hat dancers at Tse Gutor

1998.131.623 (Print black & white)

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Other Version of this Photo in Frederick Spencer Chapman collection

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

February 10th 1937?


Lhasa > Potala > Deyang shar

Accession number


Image Dimensions

111 x 172

Black Hat dancers at the Tse Gutor ceremony in the Eastern Courtyard of the Potala.

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 Pitt Rivers Museum Number


This Image also appears in another collection

1998.157.77 198.157.78

Other Information

Notes on print/mount - 'F. S. Chapman Alb I' has been written on the back of the print in pencil in the top right hand corner [MS 04/04/2006]

Technical Information - This print was made from a colour transparency. It has been made in reverse and needs to be flipped to see it the right way round [see 1998.157.77]

Other Information - Description: "Then comes the serious business of the day. The skeletons scamper away, and the trumpets proclaim the chief actor, a black hat magician who is to lead the remainder of the ceremony. He is dressed in brocade robes embroidered with the dorje thunder bolt and with skulls. He wears an apron of bones and on his head is a tall black hat with an enormous brim and topped by a fan-shaped ornament of peacock's feathers. He dances still to the same rhythm which continues through the whole ceremony, weaving spells with the skull which he holds in one hand and the Dorje which he holds in the other. His movements are fluid and graceful beyond those of the other dancers. Soon a procession of monks appears, bearing censers and sticks of incense abd blowing shrill trumpets. They lead into the dancing floor some 20 black hat dancers dressed like the chief magician but without the bone apron. They slowly dance their way round the court until they are arranged about it in a circle." ['Lhasa Mission, 1936: Diary of Events', Part XIV p.2 , written by Richardson] [MS 06/04/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: The “Tse Gutor” masked dances being performed by monks in the eastern courtyard of the Potala. This ceremony takes place at the end of the Tibetan calendar and is designed to purge the sins of the past year. At the Potala it is performed by the monks of Namgye Tratsang who undergo training for many years. Richardson gives a detailed account of this event in “Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year”: “The chief is the Chinese priest Hashang, a huge heavily padded figure in a scarlet robe and with a massive, smiling bald-headed mask. With him are two tiny child-like figures, two more in the dress of Indian sadhus, and two with death’s head masks” (1993:116 – 123) Then two more masked dancers arrive - one representing Shinje the lord of the dead and protector of the Buddhist faith and the other, the stag-headed Tsamuntri. Other dancers portray wrathful protector deities such as Dorje Jigje (with a bull’s head), Tamdrin (the horse-headed), a red masked Mahakala and the black-faced Lhamo. [CH 2003]

Other Information - Location: This photograph seems to have been taken from the far end of the Eastern Courtyard, facing the balcony where the Mission party was seated [MS 07/04/2006]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Black Hat dancers at Tse Gutor" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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