Wheel of Life

No scan for this photo

1998.285.204.1 (Glass negative)

Image for comparison

Key Information


Sir Charles Bell or Rabden


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo



Gyantse > Palkhor Chode

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

A painting depicting the "wheel of life", Gyantse Monastery

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.

Copy difference

Lantern Intensifier


Sir Charles Bell

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Previous Catologue Number


Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number



'The People of Tibet', Sir Charles Bell, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928 [view list of illustrations]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry: "[No. of chapter] XXXII. [Subject of Chapter] The Religion [Subject of Illustration] H.179 (al) Wheel of Life (si-pa Kor-lo) in Gyantse (Pal-kor Cho-de) Monastery. [Remarks] See D. Macdonald's description (? in T. N. F-[?] L.170"

Other Information - Historical Background: T.N.F. in the List of Illustrations entry refers to Bell's Tibetan Notes Files, which are archived in the British Library. Abbreviated versions also exist in the PRM Manuscript Collections. David Macdonald sent Bell lengthy interpretations of the Wheel of Life [Si-pa Khor-los] in 1921. Bell invited Macdonald to spend Christmas with him in Lhasa and Macdonald subsequently spent one month there, before being asked to return to Yatung by the Tibetan Government [McKay, A.
Tibet and the British Raj: The Frontier Cadre 1904-1947 , 1997, Surrey: Curzon Press, p.68]. However, it seems from the correspondence sent by Macdonald from Gyantse upon his return in March and April 1921 that Bell had requested his assistance in interpreting the Wheel of Life while he was in Lhasa. In his correspondence of May 1921, Macdonald also suggests that it would be "a good thing to secure a copy of one of the Si-pa Khor-los, said to be found inside the Potala". It would seem from Bell's photographic collection that this was not possible during his 1920-21 mission [see British Library Mss Eur F80/52 and copy in PRM Manuscript Collections] [MS 30/7/2004]

Contemporary Publication -

Contemporary Publication - Published in 'The People of Tibet', Bell, C. A., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928, facing p.300:"The Wheel of Life."

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Wheel of Life" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1998.285.204.1.html>.

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