Monks during Monlam Chenmo

Monks during Monlam Chenmo

1998.285.212.1 (Glass negative)

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Raw Image


(Lantern Slide)

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Key Information


Rabden Lepcha?


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo

February 11th - 14th 1921


Lhasa > Jokhang

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

Monks in a courtyard, Shingra, in the south western part of the Jokhang taken from above, during the Prayer Festival of Monlam Chenmo.

Further Information


Ritual Activity

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

Revised Photographer


Previous Catologue Number


Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number



'Tibet Past & Present', Sir Charles Bell, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1924 [view list of illustrations]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry: "[No. of chapter] XXXII to XXXIV. [Subject of Chapter] The Religion [Subject of Illustration] H.185 (bk) Some of the monks in one of the services in the Prayer Festival (Mönlam) at the Temple in Lhasa. [Where placed - book page] I, 160 [Remarks] L.179 (Y in L)"

Contemporary Publication -

Contemporary Publication - Published in 'Tibet Past & Present', Bell, C. A., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924, facing p.160:"Priests attending service in the Temple at Lhasa"

Other Information - Photographer: Bell might be vague in his List of Illustrations about which service this image is of because it appears from his diaries that he did not attend the services during the Monlam Chenmo. This image, therefore, was probably taken by Rabden Lepcha [MS 7/6/2004]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: Bell's Diary entry for 16th October 1921:"On my way back from my Sunday ride, at 3.30 pm, I drop into the Tsuk La Kang for ten or fifteen minutes, as it is the fifteenth of the Tibetan month, which is always a holy day with Tibetans. Moreover, there will be an eclipse of the moon to-night, a bad omen. Three hundred monks of the Gyu monastery are holding a service on the front courtyard; it lasts for many hours." [Diary Vol XIII, pp.32-3]

Exhibition - Photographic caption from Seeing Lhasa exhibition at Pitt Rivers Museum, 7 September 2003 - 30 November 2004: 'The Great Prayer (Mönlam Chenmo) was instituted for the benefit of all Tibet by Tsongkhapa in 1409 and became part of the New Year celebrations. Thousands of monks from the great Gelukpa monasteries of Ganden, Sera and Drepung came to Lhasa for this event to spend several days reciting prayers. Bell's photograph shows some of them seated in a courtyard of the Jokhang, the most sacred temple in Tibet."

Other Information - Dates

Other Information - Dates: The Great Prayer would take place on the 4th to the 6th of the First Tibetan Month. In 1921 there were two days in the western calendar that could equate to the 4th day in the Tibetan lunar month and therefore the date range for this image has been given as 11th-14th February 1921 [MS 20/10/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Monks during Monlam Chenmo" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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