Waiting for Tse Gutor ceremony

Waiting for Tse Gutor ceremony

BMR. (Album Print black & white)

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Other Version of this Photo in Frederick Spencer Chapman collection

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Hugh E. Richardson

Date of Photo

February 10th 1937


Lhasa > Potala > Deyang shar

Accession number


Entrance to the Potala from the Eastern Courtyard, the Deyang Shar, prior to Tse Gutor ceremony held at the end of the Tibetan year. Spectators gathered around the perimeter

Further Information

Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Donated to the British Museum in 1986 by Hugh E. Richardson

Previous Catologue Number

B.13 [view film roll]

This Image also appears in another collection


Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Caption in Chapman's hand-written list of negatives made whilst on the Mission to Lhasa, 1936-7 [See PRM Manuscripts Collection]: '1/2 Whole facade '; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 3: ‘2/2 - The eastern facade of the Potala overlooking the courtyard where the New Year dances take place. The central staircase is reserved for the Dalai Lama only’ [MS 04/04/2006]

Other Information - Album: This image appears alongside two other images of the Potala on page 12 of Hugh Richardson's album 'Lhasa 1936' [MS 10/06/2006]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: The “Tse Gutor” masked dance ceremony takes place at the end of the Tibetan calendar and is designed to purge the sins of the past year. At the Potala it is performed by the monks of Namgye Tratsang who undergo training for many years. Richardson gives a detailed account of this event in “Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year”: “The chief is the Chinese priest Hashang, a huge heavily padded figure in a scarlet robe and with a massive, smiling bald-headed mask. With him are two tiny child-like figures, two more in the dress of Indian sadhus, and two with death’s head masks” (1993:116 – 123) Then two more masked dancers arrive - one representing Shinje the lord of the dead and protector of the Buddhist faith and the other, the stag-headed Tsamuntri. Other dancers portray wrathful protector deities such as Dorje Jigje (with a bull’s head), Tamdrin (the horse-headed), a red masked Mahakala and the black-faced Lhamo. [CH 2003]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'B' comprise a group of negatives containing images of Jigme and the Tsarong family, dancers and monks taken on February 10th and 14th 1937 [MS 04/04/2006]

Other Information - Description: Entry in Mission Diary for February 10th 1936: "Today we were invited by the Tibetan Government to witness the first of the ceremonies connected with the Tibetan New Year. // With sound reasoning the Tibetans hold that before you can hope to celebrate and [ sic ] auspicious New Year, all the evil influences which have accumulated during the Old Year must be driven out. Accordingly on the 29th day of the last month a devil dance takes place in the great Eastern Court of the Potala. // All officials from the Regent down are present, those of the higher ranks in the rooms in the high Western facade above the triple steps which lead down into the court. // The red, black, and yellow pelmets over the windows flap and belly in the chilly north wind" ['Lhasa Mission, 1936: Diary of Events', Part XIV pp. 1-2, written by Richardson] [MS 04/04/2006]

Other Information - Location: This photograph seems to have been taken at the entrance to the eastern courtyard, before the Mission party moved to their official location for the occasion in the balcony above [see ['Lhasa: The Holy City', F. Spencer Chapman, London: Chatto & Windus, 1938, p. 301] [MS 06/04/2006]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Waiting for Tse Gutor ceremony" 05 Dec. 2006. The British Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_BMR.>.

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