Dancers at Kungtang, near Lhasa

Dancers at Kungtang, near Lhasa

1998.285.600 (Glass negative)

Image for comparison


Raw Image

Key Information


Lt Col R. S. Kennedy? Willoughby Patrick Rosemeyer?


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo

May 21st 1921 or May 1922?


Lhasa Area > Kungtang > Monastery

Accession number


Image Dimensions

138 x 88 mm

Row of masked dancers standing in the centre of a courtyard. People are seated around the edges, some holding umbrellas. Dancers are portraying the children of the character Jinda Hashang

Further Information



Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Copy Negative

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.

Copy difference

Copy Neg


Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Revised Photographer

Not Bell?

Previous Catologue Number


Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Related Collections

British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry: "[No. of chapter] LXVI. [Subject of Chapter] Festivals. [Subject of illustration] P.564 (gl) (b) Children of Jin-da Ha-shang, the Mongolian, at the dance at Kung-tang, near Lhasa"

Other Information - Photographer: Bell did not use P-sized or 'Postcard' sized negatives of the kind with which this image is made for his images of Lhasa in 1920-21. However, Lt Col Robert Kennedy, who was with Bell in 1920-21, did so, as did W. P. Rosemeyer, who visited Lhasa many times from 1922 onwards as a telegraph officer involved with establishing the telegraph line to Lhasa. This is a copy of a print, not an original image, and the print may well have been acquired by Bell from one of these sources [MS 25/02/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: On May 20th according to Bell's Diary, he travelled to Kungtang, 5 miles from Lhasa up the Kyi Chu Valley, to witness the religious ceremonies that commemorated the birth of Gotama Buddha, the enlightenment of Gotama Buddha and the Buddha's entry into Nirvana. Bell describes the ceremonies in some detail in his Diary for May 21st 1921:"The whole performance is, as usual, in the courtyard of the monastery. Seated on the ground round the sides are the ordinary spectators, and in verandahs and rooms round are those of the upper classes. The Tsendron tells me that by watching these dances spectators not only have the pleasure of watching the show, but gain religious merit ( ge-wa ) also. ... The Black Hat dance is followed by a dance executed by eight Atsaras. This says the Tsendron , is the only dance executed by the Atsaras in Central Tibet. The Atsaras, who are the servants of the Chyokyongs, are represented as Indians, (for both the Chyokyongs and their servants are supposed to be Indians). They have large noses, large, round, staring eyes, big mouths with prominant teeth, thin cheekbones and thin bodies. // Next comes a dance of Chyokyongs. The Tsendron stops this for a moment (not at my suggestion) and [?] Rabden to take a photograph of it for me. And so with some of the later dances." [Diary Vol. X, pp. 67-68]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Dancers at Kungtang, near Lhasa" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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