Ache Lhamo performance at Norbu Lingka

Ache Lhamo performance at Norbu Lingka

1998.285.157 (Glass negative)

Image for comparison


Raw Image

Key Information


Rabden Lepcha?


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo

August 4th 1921


Lhasa > Norbu Lingka

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

Spectators at the Ache Lhamo dramas performed at the Norbu Lingka. Corner of the stage in foreground with audience standing all around.

Further Information



Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.


Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Revised Photographer

Rabden Lepcha?

Previous Catologue Number


Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry: "[No. of chapter] XXVII. [Subject of Chapter] Amusements. [Subject of Illustration] H135 (g) Spectators at the Ache Lhamo at Norbu Lingka. Corner of stage in foreground"

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: This image was taken from the lower right hand side of the stage [MS 3/6/2004]

Other Information - Photographer: Image possibly taken by Rabden Lepcha because Bell describes the location in which he sat very carefully and it seems unlikely that he would wander around the scene to the lower end of the stage from such a privileged and honoured position [see Diary, vol. IX, p.72 for a detailed description of place] [MS 3/6/2004]

Other Information - Cultural background: Bell's Diary for 29th July 1921:"The Ache Lhamo troupes who are to perform shortly before the D[alai] L[ama] from the 1st to the 5th of the first 7th month, are the best in Tibet. I am having the two best of the troupes, ie: the Gyang-karas and the Kyi-mo-lung-was, on the 9th and 10th of the first 7th month (12th and 13th of August) because they are allowed to perform in Lhasa town up to the 8th of this Tibetan month. The Tsendron says that the reason why they are not allowed to perform in Lhasa after the 8th is because the people would waste too much time going to see them. They are however allowed to perform in the lingkas outside Lhasa, but the people do not go to see them there as much as they would in Lhasa." [Diary Vol. XI, p.63-64]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: Bell's Diary for 4th August 1921:"We are all in the outer grounds of Norbu Lingka, just outside the inner enclosure, the Forbidden City. In front of us is a grand square, 30 to 40 yards along each of its four sides. I arrived at 10am and thought that the theatricals would have commenced a couple of hours before we came. But when starting, I am told that the D[alai] L[ama] has given orders that the performance is not to commence until I arrive. // The proceedings open with a religious dance ( cham ) by the servants of the Karmarshar Oracle God, to provide an entertainment and spectacle for the god, just as the acting is provided for the rest of us." [Diary Vol. XI, p.73]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Ache Lhamo performance at Norbu Lingka" 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