Dalai Lama's throne inside the Peacock tent at Rikya

Dalai Lama's throne inside the Peacock tent at Rikya

BMR.6.8.223 (Transparency colour)

Image for comparison

Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

October 6th 1939


Lhasa Area > Doguthang > Rikya

Accession number


Image Dimensions

60 x 90 mm

The raised throne of the Dalai Lama inside the Peacock tent at Doguthang. It is covered by a silk embroidered or appliquéd sheet of material. Suspended on the front of the throne there is an embroidered or appliquéd hanging with the crossed thunderbolts (dorje) motif symbolising indestructibility and overwhelming power. The textile underneath this hanging is decorated with dragon motifs.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Transparency Colour


Hugh E. Richardson

Other Information

Technical Information - The cameras used to take this collection of colour slides (Dufay colour) were a Zeiss Super Ikonta and a Reflex Korelle. [KC 09/10/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Typewritten handlist entitled 'Hugh Richardson Collection, The British Museum. Photographs taken between 1936-50. Cameras: Zeiss Super Ikonta, Reflex Korelle. 300 colour slides (Dufay colour); copies made Jan. 1995.
[no.] 223. The throne inside the Peacock Tent, waiting for the arrival of the Dalai Lama's arrival, 1940.' [KC 11/10/2006]

Research Publication - Clare Harris and Tsering Shakya, Seeing Lhasa , 2003, Chicago: Serindia Publications, p.80-1. Caption, "T he Peacock tent, decorated with silk fabrics for the 14th Dalai Lama’s arrival in Lhasa at the age of four and a half, following his recognition in Amdo (northeastern Tibet). A party travelled to the outskirts of Lhasa to greet the new incarnation which included the British Representative in Lhasa, Hugh Richardson. Richardson was therefore the first foreign national to meet the young Dalai Lama and he wrote that: 'the Dalai Lama was ... led to a throne inside a gaily coloured reception tent,hung with golden brocade.' (1998:673) In this image Norbhu Dhondhup stands next to the throne." [KC 21/10/2006]

Other Information - Location: This appears to be the state-level reception camp which the Tibetan government prepared to receive the young Dalai Lama before he reached Lhasa proper on his way from his home in Amdo. A description of this reception camp may be found in 'Discovery, Recognition and Enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama' compiled by Khemey Sonam Wangdu, Sir Basil J. Gould and Hugh E. Richardson, Dharamsala: LTWA/Paljor Publications. "The tents at Doguthang were arranged in three rings (an inner, middle and outer circle), and the sight was magnificent, resembling rings of heavenly bodies twinkling in a starry night. At the very centre was the Dalai Lama's own marquee made of superfine yellow brocade and called the "Great Peacock". Surrounding it were tents for his bed, prayers, dining and so forth all furbished in the fashion of typical Mongol tents, using tiger and leopard skins and the best quality yellow brocade. The next two rings consisted of the tents of the regent, the prime minister, the young Dalai Lama's family, the lay ministers, secretary-level civil service officials from grades one to three, and officials from the Potala and Downtown Treasury." [KC 14/2/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: Michael Harris Goodman describes the occasion of the Dalai Lama being formally greeted by the Tibetan Government in The Last Dalai Lama, 1986, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, "Finally they reached Dogu-thang, barely three miles outside, where new Dalai Lamas were traditionally accorded a formal welcome by the Tibetan government. // In the middle of the vast plain was erected the yellow satin Peacock Tent used solely for such occasions. Fifteen feet high and covering an area of over one hundred feet square, it had a yellow silk lining and a silk top and was used by the new Dalai Lama for religious audiences; smaller tents for him to sleep, pray, dress and eat were pitched in a rectangular formation around it, and these in turn were surrounded by scores of other tents to accommodate monastic and lay officials as well as foreign delegations from Britain, China, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan. For the better part of two days the Dalai Lama sat calmly on his throne, benignly bestowing his blessings on high dignitaries, monks and commoners, alike. The impassive yet affable manner of the child impressed all who saw him, although his family found quite amusing his apparent preoccupation with the two Britons: the Londoner Reginald Fox, radio operator for the British Mission, whose sandy-colored hair was most unusual in Tibet; and Hugh Richardson, the urbane Scotsman heading the mission, who was resplendent in full diplomatic gear including plumes and spurs. The child's fascination notwithstanding, Richardson eventually gave up wearing the spurs because he could find no way to do so comfortably while sitting on cushions in the prescribed cross-legged fashion. // Clusters of government workers and monks scurried about distributing ceremonial pastries and dried fruits to the thousands of celebrants, and a huge trough of dried yak meat was provided from which allure encouraged to grab what they could because doing so would bring prosperity to the land. Everywhere people were gathered in groups singing, offering prayers, and performing regional folk dances." (p. 61) [KC 14/2/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: The Dalai Lama writes about the occasion in his autobiography Freedom in Exile, 1990, London: Hodder & Staughton, "At last, our party began to draw near to Lhasa. It was by now autumn. When we were within a few days' journey, a group of senior officials came out to meet us and escorted our party on to the Doeguthang plain, two miles outside the gates of the capital. There, a huge tented encampment had been erected. In the centre was a blue and white structure called the, Macha Chenmo, the 'great Peacock'. It looked enormous to my eyes and enclosed an intricately carved wooden throne, which was only ever brought out for the purpose of welcoming the infant Dalai Lama back home." (pp. 15-16) [KC 14/2/2006]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Dalai Lama's throne inside the Peacock tent at Rikya" 05 Dec. 2006. The British Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_BMR.6.8.223.html>.

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