Ache Lhamo at Tsetrung Lingka

Ache Lhamo at Tsetrung Lingka

1998.285.158 (Glass negative)

Image for comparison


Raw Image

Key Information


Rabden Lepcha?


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo

August 12th - 15th 1921

Named Person

Sir Charles Bell, Lieutenant Colonel Kennedy, Yabshi Sarpa, Tsarong Dzasa, Ngarpo, Parkang, Phunkhang Kung


Lhasa > Tsetrung Lingka

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

An Ache Lhamo hosted by Sir Charles Bell in Tsetrung Lingka, near Lhasa. In tent on roof, from left, Bell, Kennedy, Yabshi Sarpa, Tsarong Shappe, Ngarpo Shappe, Parkang, Duke of Punkang and two others. Below in verandah are lesser guests.

Further Information



Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.


Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Revised Photographer


Previous Catologue Number


Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry: "[No. of chapter] XXVII. [Subject of Chapter] Amusements. [Subject of Illustration] H.136 (h) My Ache Lhamo in Tse-trung Lingka, near Lhasa. In tent on roof - from left, Bell, Kennedy, Yapshi Sarpa, Tsarong Shappe, Ngar-po Shappe, Parkang, Duke of Punkang and two others. Below in verandah are my lesser guests."

In Negative - possibility of use of some kind of intensifying clear film/coating? [MS 2/6/2004]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: Bell's Diary for 31st July 1921:"I propose giving a two days ( Ache Lhamo ) theatrical party to the Prime Minister and other Ministers and officials, whom I have met in Lhasa, and who have called on me. The D[alai] L[ama] is lending the actors' dresses for this. The actors have their own dresses, but, when a high official gives a theatrical party, he lends the actors and actresses their dresses, either from his own store rooms, or after borrowing from his friends. Those owned by the D[alai] L[ama] are of course especially fine." [Diary Vol. XI, p.68]

Other Information - Description: Bell's Diary for 12th August 1921:"I gave a theatrical (Ache Lhamo) entertainment, lasting three days, to some thirty or forty of my Tibetan friends, the total number entertained including servants being 70 to 80. Tibetan custom prescribes that the servants of those invited shall also be fed. In addition to cups of tea, every half hour or so. Two meals are given daily, one about mid-day, and the other about five in the afternoon. Tsarong Shappe, Palha Kenchen and Ngar-po Shappe, who is related to Palhese, are very generous in lending me silk hangings, cups, cooking utensils etc. etc. // The entertainment was given in the Tse-trung Lingka. We, host and guests, sit in the Tro-khang; Kennedy and I with the Shappes and Dukes on the roof under a tent awning; the other guests in the verandah below. The Prime Minister is too unwell to come. The stage is outside on the grass. Round it in a semi-circle are arranged tents for the wives and families of the guests; and others also, of rank, pitch tents in line with these. Between these tents and the stage and in any available gaps, sit the populace of Lhasa, varying in number from five hundred to two thousand people according to the popularity of the performers (Photo). The Magistrates of Potala Sho have sent police, at the Tsendron's request to preserve order among the crowd, who may well become unduly merry later in the day. // Friday, Saturday and Monday were the days of the entertainment. A little rain fell on Sunday; but most fortunately, none on the days of the performance. It was very hot on the roof. The large tent awning over the stage (photo) was lent by the Sera Monastery." [Diary Vol. XI, p.89]

Other Information - Photographer: Three images, 1998.285.158, 1998.285.159 & 1998.285.160 are all of Bell's Ache Lhamo performance. However, it is very difficult to determine who took the different photographs. In 1998.285.158, both Bell and Kennedy can be seen on the roof. Both are holding objects in their hands, but under magnification these objects do not appear to be cameras. Intriguingly, to the right of Bell (left facing), outside the tent and crouching down below the edge of the verandah, a Sikkimese Lepcha man can be seen, identifiable by his distinctive headgear. This seems likely to be Rabden. This figure appears to be holding something to his left eye but this is in fact something attached to the guide rope, as can be seen from the shadow on the roof. However, this suggests that Rabden may have taken 1998.285.59, which has been taken from Bell's right hand side, outside the tent, from the roof. Image 1998.285.60 seems to have been taken within the tent, therefore possibly by Bell (with Rabden looking after his camera for him while Bell watched the performance?), but it is very difficult to match up the guide ropes in this series of images [1998.285.158, 1998.285.159 & 1998.285.160] to work out whether the images have been taken from within the tent by Bell or by someone standing on the outside, to Bell's immediate right. It is particularly confusing because of the presence of a piece of white cloth in the top left corner of 1998.285.160, which appear to be the textile front of the tent that Bell is sitting in, from the right, but which would put the photographer at a strange height. Therefore 1998.285.158 may have been taken by neither Rabden nor Bell (if it is indeed Rabden on the roof), possibly by one of the guests seated below Bell et al and who could therefore easily move around at ground level. Under magnification it is clear that Bell is looking directly at the photographer (as Rabden appears to do so, too) and so was clearly aware of the photographers presence and may, therefore, have sought out this image following the performance [MS 2/6/2004]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Ache Lhamo at Tsetrung Lingka" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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