About this object

A small, rounded, copper teapot with vertical bands of copper gilt that imitate an older style of wooden teapot that had metal braces. The collar is of brass and is decorated with scrolling floral patterns in openwork. There are three imitation braces on each side of the teapot's body. Each brace has a roundel with swirling leaf-like decorations. The handle is designed in the shape of a makara or mythical sea creature and the spout also has a makara head. The foot is in the shape of a lotus, as is the lid which shows a large three-tiered lotus.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion; Household Objects
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Ü-Tsang: Lhasa
  • Date made
    Late 19th Century
  • Materials
    Brass; Copper; Gilt Metal; Silver
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sir Charles Bell
  • Collector
    Charles Alfred Bell
  • Place collected
    Not recorded
  • Date collected
    Before 14 January 1913
  • Measurements
    250 mm x 330 mm x 200 mm; 9 13/16 in x 13 in x 7 7/8 in
  • Note
    List of Curious No 35:
    Per Barmiak Lama on the 14th January 1913.
    Copper tea pot with brass bands, 10 inches high. Bought from a trader who said he had bought it at the sale at the property of the Tengyeling Monastery and its lamas in Lhasa after the Tengyeling Gyalpo was condemned to imprisonment for attempting to kill the Dalai Lama by witchcraft. Teapots of this kind are used on ceremonial occasions only, e.g. at the New Year, at marriage ceremonies, when entertaining an important lama, or a lama who has come from a distant place.
    On everyday occassions people, both rich and poor, use earthen teapots, because they keep the tea warmer than metal ones, and the tea tastes better in them. Well-to-do people sometimes have their earthen teapots lacquered on the outside to improve their appearance.
    The ornamentation on the bands of brass seem meant to represent leaves. Wealthy people often have bands of silver or gold on their teapots.
    At the top of the bands is the ornamentation known as the "Dog's Nose" (kyi-na) and on the lid lotuses are represented.

    Curator's note: Tengyeling Monastery situated within the sights of the Potala had a very strained relationship with the Dalai Lama and his circle. As early as 1896 the Demo Rinpoche who had been Regent of Tibet (Tengyeling was one of the four monasteries that could provide a Regent) was found guilty of planting paper amulets in the soles of the 13th Dalai Lama's boots in order to do him harm. The punishment was, amongst other things, the confiscation of Tengyeling Monastery's wealth and belongings. During the 1910-11 Tibetan-Chinese war in Lhasa. Tengyeling offered help to the Chinese and as a result the monastery was destroyed in 1914 and all its remaining possessions confiscated.
    David Macdonald in his book, Twenty Years in Tibet wrote of the Tengyeling treasures, ' I saw of the treasures formerly owned by Tengyeling, and they are priceless. Wonderful examples of Chinese porcelain, gold-work, carved jade and turquoise, and many very finely painted and embroidered religious banners were stored in go-downs sealed by the Devashung. Many pieces have been stolen by traders, and have found their way to India, but there are still several hundred old Chinese carpets stored there. No Tibetan monastery, as a rule, will sell its property, which finds its way on to the market only when stolen by the lamas'.

    Written by Emma Martin
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  • List of Curios

    Bell, Charles Alfred

    Author: Bell, Charles Alfred
    Description: A typed object catalogue from Bell's handwritten notes on a wide variety of objects from his personal collection. This information often contains, the date he obtained an object, its provenance (including where and who he acquired from) and the person responsible for giving him the information. The process of writing the inventory began in December 1912 and continued until the late 1930s.

Object view = Humanities
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