Itinerant monk with bell and skull drum

Itinerant monk with bell and skull drum

BMR. (Album Print black & white)

Image for comparison


Photographer's handlist

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Other Version of this Photo in Frederick Spencer Chapman collection

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Image in Album

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Hugh E. Richardson

Date of Photo

September 1936?


Lhasa Area

Accession number


Itinerant monk with bell and skull drum and eye shade of black hair. Half-length portrait. Man wearing sheepskin chuba and with a skull drum and silver bell. Also holding a textile banner in his right hand. Appears to have a wooden sling container suspended over his back

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

C.4.14 [view film roll]

Related Collections

F. S. Chapman Collection in the Pitt Rivers Museum

This Image also appears in another collection


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - There are many crop and reproduction marks on the back of the print including the comment "Cut as shown. Facsimile". the reference number C/4/14 has been written on the back in pencil, and this seems to relate to the numbering system that Chapman adopted for his images whilst Secretary to the British Mission in Lhasa in 1936-37. There is also a publishers number from the publisher Chatto & Windus which is "Chatto 41928/15". The number 37 has been written on the back of the print in the top left hand corner [MS 14/3/2005]

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]: 'Close up of same [Beggar with bell and skull drum]'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 2: ‘26/1 - Wandering monk with drum made of two human skulls and holy bell’ [MS 13/03/2006]

Contemporary Publication -

Contemporary Publication - This photograph was reproduced in Chapman's publication Lhasa The Holy City [reprint, London: Readers Union Ltd., 1940, plate 5 between pages 48 & 49]. The caption for the image is "Beggar with skull-drum and dorje (sacred thunderbolt) bell". A description of a similarly attired itinerant monk appears in the nearby text, although following an encounter on August 6th 1936, when the the Mission was en route to Lhasa: "Some monk beggars appeared at dusk. One had a black beard and a curious frilled eye-shade of stiff black hair. The chief one had a drum made from two human skulls, and a dorje (symbolical thunderbolt) bell. They chanted a mournful prayer" [1940, p.38]. [MS 14/3/2005]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Same person as in 1998.131.202. Images prefixed with 'C.4.' seem all to have been taken during September and early October 1936 and comprise a group of negatives containing images of soldiers, turning prayer wheel, horns and rock paintings, paintings, Dr Morgan and mission hospital, beggar with skull and drum, monks outside Sera, a meat seller, and water tanks [MS 14/3/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Itinerant monk with bell and skull drum" 05 Dec. 2006. The British Museum. <>.

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