Smallpox edict pillar, Lhasa

Smallpox edict pillar, Lhasa

1998.286.23.1 (Glass negative)

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Raw Image

Key Information


Sir Charles Bell or Rabden Lepcha?


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo



Lhasa > Jokhang > Smallpox Doring

Accession number


Image Dimensions

80 x 103

Smallpox edict pillar near the Jokhang, in summer, containing instructions for segregation during smallpox epidemics. Person with hat seated in foreground.

Further Information



Photographic Process

Negative Quarter Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford

Copy difference

Varnish Intensifier Lantern Notches on right side


Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

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] IV. [Subject of Chapter] History up to 1900 [Subject of Illustration] Q.21 (j). Ditto in summer, 2 views [ref: Q.20 - Smallpox edict near Tsuk La-Kang, in winter, containing instructions for segregation during smallpox epidemics]. [Remarks] L.26"

In Negative - It is not clear whether it is a clear (but now yellowing) varnish which has been applied to the negative or whether the negative has been subjected to an intensifying process. [MS 4/8/2004]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Bell does not distinguish in his List of Illustrations between 1998.286.23 and 1998.286.24 and both may be referenced by his caption for Q.21 [MS 4/8/2004]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: Bell's diary for 29th July 1921:" Lhack-cho orderly, one of my Tibetan orderlies, calls the weeping willow "Sorrow Tree" ( Nyan-gen shing ). Many of the people believe that when the 5th D[alai] L[ama] died, the branches of the weeping willows bent down and have bent down ever since. Formerly they stood up." [Diary Vol. XI, p.64]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: Bell's diary for 30th July 1921:" Per Tsendron "The weeping willow trees are called 'Chinese willows' ( Gya chang ). Since the 5th D[alai] L[ama]'s death all the trees and flowers have drooped a little. The Cho U-tra over the Small Pox Edict in Lhasa, is a Chinese willow." [diary Vol. XI, p.65]

Other Information - Manual Catalogues: Curatorial notes in an old photocopied version of Bell's List of Illustrations state under the caption for Q.21 "(Tree of sorrow on env [envelope])". This suggests that when the negatives came into the PRM they were in envelopes. If this image is also intended to identify a 'Tree of Sorrow' in the courtyard, this could explain why the site was re-photographed either to capture the tree in foliage or to reveal the Doring beneath the tree when the leaves had fallen [MS 4/8/2004]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Smallpox edict pillar, Lhasa" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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