Zimchongpa at Tse Gutor ceremony

Zimchongpa at Tse Gutor ceremony

1998.131.609.1 (Contact Print)

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Other Version of this Photo in Hugh E. Richardson collection

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

February 10th 1937


Lhasa > Potala > Deyang shar

Accession number


Image Dimensions

60 x 91

Soldiers, or Zimchongpa, in ancient uniform and carrying flintlock rifles, dance and display arms at Tse Gutor ceremony to mark the end of the old year. Ceremony takes place in the Eastern Courtyard, or Deyang Shar, of the Potala. Two lines of dancers gathers in the centre of the courtyard whilst other soldiers form a circle around the perimeter. Officials direct proceedings in the centre

Further Information



Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver

Date Acquired

Donated 1994

Donated by

Mrs Faith Spencer Chapman


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Frederick Spencer Chapman

Previous Catologue Number

C.16 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


This Image also appears in another collection


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - This contact print has been made using Velox paper and the trade name in an oval can be seen on the back of the print. The batch development number '640' has been printed on the back in red ink. [MS 04/04/2006]

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]: '1/2 About to [??] at Potala dance’; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 3: ‘2/6 - duel between two lines of rifle men. They turn their backs to each other, hold their guns over their shoulders pointing backwards and fire’ [MS 06/04/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'C' comprise a group of negatives containing images of the Potala and dancers at the Potala. They seem to have been taken on or around February 10th 1937, mainly related to the Tse Gutor ceremony on that day [MS 02/04/2006]

Other Information - Description: "Down below us the courtyard is gradually filling with a motley crowd of men-at-arms in all kinds of antiquated and dilapidated armour. A few minor officials with ragged pigtails and wearing faded scarlet cloaks over their silk robes are drilling the soldiers - of whom there are several hundred - into some semblance of order. They are in two lines now; some of them are blowing brass trumpets, while others sing a dirge and stamp to and fro as if the two ranks were enacting a mock battle. Those who are not actually taking part form a great circle round the edge of the court. ... The most interesting of these war dances is done by men with incredibly ancient flint-lock guns with rusty barrels encased in wood. The soldiers are drawn up in two lines; after the usual chanting, disputing, and goose-stepping, the ranks turn their backs on each other and, holding their weapons at waist level, point them backwards at their opponents. At a word from the scarlet robed conductor of ceremonies, they apply fuses to the breeches of the guns and, after a tremendous explosion, the courtyard is completely filled with smoke. Much to my surprise there are no casualties" ['Lhasa: The Holy City', F. Spencer Chapman, London: Chatto & Windus, 1938, p. 302] [MS 06/04/2006]

Other Information - Location: This photograph seems to have been taken from the balcony directly above the entrance to the eastern courtyard. The Mission had been offered use of the balcony above this one but, as this was better for photographic purposes, Gould apparently allowed the Chinese delegation to use the higher level. Chapman and Doctor Morgan were in charge of photography on this occasion and Chapman comments that he set up seven cameras (presumably a combination of cine and still) to record the proceedings [see ['Lhasa: The Holy City', F. Spencer Chapman, London: Chatto & Windus, 1938, p. 301] [MS 06/04/2006]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Zimchongpa at Tse Gutor ceremony" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1998.131.609.1.html>.

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