The Thirteenth Dalai Lama on throne in Norbu Lingka

The Thirteenth Dalai Lama on  throne in Norbu Lingka

1998.285.88.1 (Glass negative)

Image for comparison


Raw Image

Key Information


Sir Charles Bell & Rabden Lepcha


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo

October 14th 1921

Named Person

13th Dalai Lama


Lhasa > Norbu Lingka > Throne Room

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

The Thirteenth Dalai Lama (1876-1933), close up, seated on a throne on an ornately carved and painted dais in the Norbu Lingka Palace. Surrounded by thangka, silk banners. This is the throne used by the Dalai Lama on important occasions.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.

Copy difference

Lantern Varnish Intensifier


Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Revised Photographer

Sir Charles Bell with Rabden Lepcha

Previous Catologue Number

See H.77

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry for H.77: "[No. of chapter] V. [Subject of Chapter] Dalai Lama. [Subject of illustration] H77 (v) Same as (u), but nearer view. Retouched"

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: '(u)' in Bell's caption refers to H.76 (1998.285.85 & 1998.285.86). Bell does not distinguish in his List of Illustrations between three images which are referenced by this List entry - 1998.285.88, 1998.285.89 & 1998.285.90. [MS 17/5/2004]

Contemporary Publication -

Contemporary Publication - Published in 'The Religion of Tibet', Bell, C. A., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931, facing p.192:"The Dalai Lama on his throne in the Jewel Park Palace."

In Negative - All of the glass plate negatives appear to have been extensively re-touched in a variety of ways to experiment with effects. All the effects play with the best means of enhancing the central poistion of the Dalai Lama in the darkened space, especially by adding highlights to his face. However, there also appears to have been use of special films overlaying the negative [as yet unidentified], removal of areas of emulsion and possibly painting in of domestic architectural features. The edges of negative glass plate 1998.285.89 have also been overlaid with tape to crop the image, apparently to re-enforce the centrality of the Dalai Lama in the image [MS 17/5/2004]

Other Information - Description: Bell's Diary entry for 14th October 1921:"Rabden and I photographed the Dalai Lama this forenoon, sitting on the throne in his throne room, as he would sit when blessing pilgrims. The photos on the whole turned out well. ... This is the throne room that is used on important occasions. // While the room was being arranged the D[alai] L[ama] came in to see that the arrangements were properly made. It was interesting to see him en famille , in his own household. Monk officials, ordinary workmen, went about their work, almost jostling against him, while he wound in and out among them, giving an order here, making a slight change there. Workmen clean and polish the boarded floor by sliding over it boots with large woollen flanges attached, like a ballroom being got ready for a dance." [Diary Vol. XIII, pp. 28-9]

Other Information - Description: Bell describes this occasion in detail “I am to take the Dalai Lama’s photograph again ... the first time that anyone has photographed him in the Holy City (Lhasa)... The arrangement of the throne-room is not ready. I watch them arranging it. The throne is built up of two or three wooden pieces; the nine silk scrolls, representing the Buddha in the earth-pressing attitude, are already placed on the wall behind and above the throne... Below these scrolls red silk brocade covers the wall. The throne is four feet high, a seat without a low balustrade of beautifully carved woodwork running around it. Hanging down in front of the throne is a cloth of rich white silk, handsomely embroidered in gold, with crossed thunderbolts (symbol of equilibrium, immutability and almighty power) ... Chrysanthemums, marigolds and other flowers are arranged round the dais.” (
Portrait of the Dalai Lama .p336)

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "The Thirteenth Dalai Lama on throne in Norbu Lingka" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

For more information about photographic usage or to order prints, please visit the The Pitt Rivers Museum.

© The Pitt Rivers Museum