Drigung thil monastery

Drigung thil monastery

2001. (Film negative)

Image for comparison


Raw Image

Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo



East Kyichu Valley Region > Drigung thil

Accession number


Image Dimensions

55 x 55 mm

The buildings of Drigung thil ('Bri-gung Mthil) monastery, the seat of Drigung Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, scattered over a hillside near the Shorongchu river. A track to the monastery is clearly visible on the left.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative film nitrate

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Richardson's 1948 tour of the East Kyichu Valley

Previous Catologue Number

Negative Album 9 No. 9

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative album (slip cover) - 'Drikhung. Chongye. etc.' in Richardson's hand in white. (Yellow spine label) 'DRIKHUNG. CHONGYE. KOTSHAL. RGYAMA. Ganden 1948'. (Cover) - '9 DRIKHUNG. CHONGYE. YARLUNG. GYAMA. GANDEN' [KC 15/5/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes in negative index - Folio 9. 'do' [BRI-KHUNG MTHIL] [KC 15/5/2006]


Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's Handlist, Negative book no 9, 'Drikhung, Chongye etc. [nos] 8-16. ''Bri-khun Mthil, the principal monastery of the 'Bri-khung sect c 25 miles up river from Yang-ri dgon. See Mkhyen-brtse p. 111.' [KC 15/5/2006]

Other Information - The houses at the side of the mountain is Dri Khung settlment. The adminstrative area is known as Dri Khung Rdzong gsar and lies on the left bank of the Kyichu (skyid chu) meet Sho rong Tsangpo. (TS)

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: The monastery of Drigung thil is mentioned in Mkhen-brtse's Guide to the Holy places of Central Tibet , Serie Orinetale Roma XVI, Alfonsa Ferrari (Luciano Petech), Rome, Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, 1958, p.111. note 116. 'The monastery is situated about 100 miles north-east of Lhasa, on a ridge resembling a sheep's back ... in the upper part of the gZo valley ... . [T'il, the origianl 'Bri gun foundation, is spread over the side of a hill on the right sid e of the upper waters of the gZo ron c'u. The chapels and the colleges are at different levels, joined by steep stone steps and, in some cases, wooden ladders. The monastery is at an elevation of 13,000 feet or higher. There are no signs of cultivation further upstream. There is a ruined lha-khang at the foot of the hill said to have been destroyed by the Mongols (Sog po). ... About 300 ordinary monks and 60 mts'ams pa, who have a separate assembly hall and wear long hair and white shawls." [KC 15/5/2006]

Other Information - Background: Richardson describes the site in
High Peaks, Pure Earth , London, Serindia Publications, 1998, pp. 308-9, "Twelve miles further up the valley [from Yangri monastery] ... one comes to 'Bri-gung Mthil (1948), the mother monastery of the 'Bri-gung Bka'-brgyud-pa sect founded in 1179 by 'Bri-gung Chos-rje. It is a scatter of temples, chapels and monastic residences spread widely over a steep hillside overlooking a patch of cultivated ground by the Sho-rong-chu. The buildings are connected by walkways and ladders along the hill. The gtsug-lag-khang and assembly hall is built on a solid stone rampart about sixty feet high. ... The monastery was a rather bewildering collection of widely separated buildings; it was difficult to get a single view of it." [KC 15/5/2006]

Other Information - Dates

Other Information - Dates: The contact print of this image is part of a group made from 6x6 negatives that share the same batch development number [585 printed in black ink]. All of the contact prints processed in this batch seem to have been taken during or around the time of a trip to Drigung Monastery and Zhwai (Sha) Lhakhang, including Tsa Pobrag, Yeregang and Khyer. Photographs from this trip can be dated to 1948. In A Corpus of Early Tibetan Inscriptions [ Hertford: Stephen Austin and Son, Royal Asiatic Society, James G. Forlong Series, No. XXIX, 1985, p.45] Richardson states of the Zhwai inscriptions translated in the book that “The texts, which were first published in JRAS in 1952 and 1954, are based on copies and photographs made by me in 1948 and checked on a second visit in the following year”.

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Drigung thil monastery" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_2001.>.

For more information about photographic usage or to order prints, please visit the The Pitt Rivers Museum.

© The Pitt Rivers Museum