Staffs of Office

Description: 2 of 2 (non-matching) monk-magistrate's or shalngo's staff of office. Long square staff of iron covered with damascene work of scrolling foliage and 'shou' or long life symbols. Inset into the staff at the centre are four gilt brass panels, there is one on each side of the staff that are separated into five medallions (that are flatter than the previous staff). The panels are decorated with designs of the Seven Treasures of Royalty and the Eight Auspicious Symbols, the centre design of each panel being the garuda or khyung, dragon, snow lion and the tiger respectively. An additional single panel sits at the front of the staff in the same openwork design featuring Tara sitting in royal ease pose with the kirtimukha or 'face of glory' below her and a bowl of jewels above. Above this panel are attached red and white glass symbols of the sun-moon emblem, nyi-da. The finial of the post is also finished with the moon and sun or nyi-da. The pointed end of the staff is now mounted into a three tiered wooden stand. A handle sits at a right angle to the staff and is finished with a red wool and red silk loop fastened with a knot of leather.

Place collected: Asia: Central Asia: Tibet [China]: Ü-Tsang: Gyantse: Drongtse
Date collected: 1917-06 before
Measurements: Overall: 1635 mm x 265 mm x 290 mm; 64 3/8 in x 10 7/16 in x 11 7/16 in
Type: Religion; Personal Object

Note: List of Curios No 279: A pair of pe-re staffs of office used by the Shal-ngos in Lhasa at the Mönlam festival. Made of iron, embossed with brass gilt in the middle and at the ends. Each has a handle with a ring. The iron is decorated with Jam-sang (damascene) work. The brass gilt figures in the middle are of the Tashi Ta-gye and other figures and signs. These iron staffs are carried by the Shalngos when going to and fro between the assemblies and their monasteries. When they arrive at their place of meeting, the plant the pe-re in the ground. These two pe-re were obtained by Palha Kusho through the Palha Kenchen from the Dre-pung monastery. Only Sera and Drepung have pe-re like this. A few spare ones are kept in each of these two monasteries, perhaps 8 or 10 in each. Paid Palha Kusho Rs 160/- for each of the two pe-re. June 1917. Curator's note: Bell mentions the pere on several occasions when he is in Lhasa in 1921, particularly during the Mönlam festival. Palha Kenchen was a relation of Palha Kusho, Palha Kenchen was head of the Palha family and lived at Bangyeshar Mansion in Lhasa, he was a close relation of Palhese, Bell's confidant and advisor. Written by Emma Martin
Accession no: 50.31.116b
Other number(s): 50.31.116a [Accession Number]; 50.31.75a [Previous Number]; CB19 [Collector Number]

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