Zimchongpa at Tse Gutor ceremony

Zimchongpa at Tse Gutor ceremony

BMR. (Album Print black & white)

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Image in Album

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Hugh E. Richardson

Date of Photo

February 10th 1937


Lhasa > Potala > Deyang shar

Accession number


Soldiers, or Zimchongpa, in ancient uniform and carrying spears 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. A large crowd of dancers forms a circle round the two lines of men in the centre. Two minor Tibetan officials stand in the centre

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.17 [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 - This contact print has been made using Velox printing out paper and the trade name in an oval can be seen on the back of the print. The batch development number '631' has been printed on the back in red ink. The letter 'D' in a circle has been written in pencil on the back of the print in the top right corner [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 Spear man’s dance'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 3: ‘3/2 - New Year celebrations at the Potala Feb 1937. Mock battle in courtyard at eastern end of Potala - the spear men’ [MS 06/04/2006]

Other Information - Images prefixed with 'C' comprise a group of negatives containing images of and around the Potala and dancers at the Potala taken on February 10th 1937 [MS 04/04/2006]

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. There seems to be a series of scenes acted by different units. One group wears enormous plumed head-dresses ornamented with bunches of white fluff, and dances a stately minuet; another has the tail feathers of a cock streaming from his hat like an Italian soldier. One scene is acted solemn spearmen with daggers in their belts. The two ranks close and some argument seems to be carried on, chiefly by the leaders, while they make dignified passes at each other. Their places are soon taken by bowmen who have enormous conical basket-work shields; they wear khaki coloured uniforms and a halo of rolled cloth round their leather or iron helmets. Their armour consists of metal plates, about two inches long and half an inch in width, threaded loosely together" ['Lhasa: The Holy City', F. Spencer Chapman, London: Chatto & Windus, 1938, pp. 301-2] [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 British Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_BMR.>.

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