Corpse being carried from Lhasa for sky burial

Corpse being carried from Lhasa for sky burial

1998.285.194.1 (Glass negative)

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Raw Image


(Lantern Slide)

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Key Information


Rabden Lepcha?


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo



Lhasa Area

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

Corpse sewn up in cloth made from yak hair with a khatak scarf on top being carried to the disposal ground by two tongden or disposers of the dead.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.

Copy difference



Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Previous Catologue Number

See H.171

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Other Information

Bell's List of Illustrations entry for H.171: "[No. of chapter] XXXI. [Subject of Chapter] Weddings and Funerals [Subject of Illustration] H.171 (g) Corpse, sewn up in cloth made from yak hair with a khata on top being carried to the disposal ground by two tong-den. [Where placed - book page] I, 183. [Remarks] L.161". Bell does not distinguish between 1998.285.193 and 1998.285.194 in his list of illustrations, and both images may be referenced by the entry for H.171 [MS 22/6/2004]

Contemporary Publication -

Contemporary Publication - Published in 'Tibet Past & Present', Bell, C. A., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924, facing p.183:"Corpse being carried away for the last rites. Ceremonial scarves are placed on the sack"

Other Information - Photographer: This image was probably not taken by Bell himself. In his Diary for 4th and 6th of April 1921 Bell describes at some length the conversations he had on those days concerning the role of the Ragyapas in taking corpses for Sky Burial, and the events that take place. These conversations then seem to provide the basis for description in his books, which do not seem to have been supported by Bell's personal experience of having seen the ritual. It is possible, therefore, that these images were collected by Bell as illustrations for his texts, rather than being taken by Bell himself. Indeed, given the social and political sensitivities of his role in Lhasa, it would probably have been inappropriate for him to have taken such an image [MS 22/6/2004]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Corpse being carried from Lhasa for sky burial" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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