Namgye Tratsang monks at Monlam Torgyap

Namgye Tratsang monks at Monlam Torgyap

2001. (Film negative)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

March 6th 1937


Lhasa > Jokhang (main entrance from Doring house)

Accession number


Image Dimensions

54 x 43 mm

Monks from the Namgye Tratsang monastery in the Potala palace in ceremonial dress at the Monlam Torgyap ceremony in front of the main entrance to the Jokhang. They are wearing brocade waistcoats, long pleated cloaks (gober) and a pendant on the back (gyabdar). Those forming the outside circle are all holding hand drums; those in the centre are holding censors. At the bottom of the picture there are four monks blowing into their long horns supported on a frame held by two other monks. There are police monks holding long branches on the right.

Further Information



Photographic Process

Negative film nitrate

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh E. Richardson

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative album - '1' 'Chipsha: Dzonggyab [rdzong rgyab]: Torgyap [gtor rgyag] ----- [illegible]' is written in white in Richardson's hand. Notes inside negative album: white label with Richardson's name and address in St. Andrews. [KC 8/7/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative index - Folio 51. 'PRAYER CEREMONY'. [KC 17/7/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's Hand List: Negative album No.1 nos. 47-52 "Monks of the Rnam-rgyal Grwa tshang, the Dalai Lama's special monastery on the Potala Hill, and of the Sngags pa (tantric) college of Drepung conduct a prayer ceremony in preparation for the throwing out of the gtorma". [KC 21/7/2006]

Technical Information - This image seems to have been taken with a Zeiss Super Ikonta C camera. This was a 6x9 format camera but came with a film plane mask that enabled 6x4.5 images to be taken. This enabled 16 images to be taken on a roll of 120 film as opposed to 8 without the mask [MS 6/10/2005]

Other Information - Background: See Hugh E. Richardson, Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year , 1993, London: Serindia Publications, pp 39-49 for a description of the Monlam Torgya ( mon lam gtor rgyag) ceremony. "The ceremony of Monlam Torgya is the longest and the most spectacular event of the New Year celebrations. It is the high point of the Yaso's tenure of office and the day for which the Tsisher was the preparation. (p. 39) ... After a short pause [when the cavalry wearing ancient armour have completed their ride past the main entrance of the Jokhang] four monks of the Namgye Tratsang - the Dalai Lama's special monastery in the Potala ... carry out two long silver horns and, facing west, blow a prolonged series of blasts. They move to the opposite side of the forecourt where they are joined by four more monks with two more silver horns and, facing the entrance to the Jokhang, they join in another summons. A long file of the Namgye Tratsang monks comes out from the Jokhang. There are about fifty of them; most carry large round drums with gilded frames and green backs supported on long handles and beaaten with a single long, crooked drumstick. About ten others have small cymbals, sinyen , a type used in rituals of exorcism. The monks who are an elite community, are dressed in their best ceremonial clothes with brocade waistcoats and long pleated cloaks called gober , and a pendant on the back, gyabdar , hanging from a rectangular turquoise ornament. They take up position in the forecourt. The horns sound a long blast, the drums beat and the cymbal players turn towards the Jokhang entrance clashing their cymbals. ... (pp. 44-5) [KC 21/7/2006]

Other Information - Dates

Other Information - Dates: In a letter to his parents dated November 6th 1936, Hugh Richardson commented that he was investigating buying a new Zeiss Super Ikonta camera [Hugh Richardson Manuscript Archive, Bodleian Library, MS. Or. Richardson 3 folio 46]. On March 29th 1937 he comments in a further letter to his parents that it would probaby be better to use the larger image frame [MS Or Richardson 3 folio 82]. This has assisted the dating of this image to 1937 [MS 6/10/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Namgye Tratsang monks at Monlam Torgyap" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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