Four Abbots of Sera Monastery

Four Abbots of Sera Monastery

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

October 18th 1936

Named Person

Abbots of Sera Monastery


Lhasa Area > Sera

Accession number


Four abbots of Sera monastery wearing silk ceremonial scarves, khatak, presented by the British Mission during a formal visit on October 18th 1936. Food and drink for the Mission guests are visible on the right and left of the image. The cushions in the centre create a raised seat for European visitors

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.8.20 [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 - The back of this print is covered with crop and reproduction marks and instructions. The caption 'The 4 Abbots of Sera Monastery' has been written on the back in pencil, as has the reference number 'C-8-20' [MS 21/03/2006]

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]: '4 abbots of Sera'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 2: ‘22/4 - Four abbots of Sera monastery wearing silk ceremonial scarves presented by us during formal visit’ [MS 21/03/2006]

Research publication - Clare Harris and Tsering Shakya (eds) 'Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan capital 1936-1947' Chicago: Serindia Publications, 2003, p. 11

Exhibition - This image appeared in the 2003-4 Pitt Rivers Museum temporary exhibition 'Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936-1947.

Other Information - Description: "Having drunk tea with each of the abbots of the four colleges we gave a donation to the Monastery funds. After a picnic lunch in one of Sera's private gardens we returned wearily home visiting a a large Tibetan monastery is a somewhat heavy day's work" ['Lhasa Mission, 1936: Diary of Events', part VIII p. 2, written by Chapman] [MS 21/03/2006]

Other Information - Historical Background: Sera monastery was just north of Lhasa. It was constructed in 1419 and was at the time of the Mission the second largest monastery in the world, housing 5500 monks. These abbots were in charge of the various colleges which made up the monastery. The Regent Reting Rinpoche was affiliated with this monastery. [CH 2003]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'C.8' comprise a group of negatives containing images of the Potala and Lhasa, officials coming through Pargo Kaling, the Turquoise Bridge, Tsarong, Trimon, views from and of Sera, a woman washing clothes, a shepherd with a sling and football teams. They seem to have been taken October 13th - 20th 1936 [MS 16/03/2006]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Four Abbots of Sera Monastery" 05 Dec. 2006. The British Museum. <>.

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