Name: Bell, Charles Alfred
Date of birth: 1870-10-31
Date of death: 1945-03-08
Biography: Diplomat and Tibetologist
Description: Charles Alfred Bell was born in Calcutta, India, on 31 October 1870 to Henry and Anne Bell. As one of six children he would eventually follow in his father's footsteps and take up a post in the Indian Civil Service (ICS). Bell first studied at Winche... more
Date of birth: 1869
Date of death: 1918
Biography: Head of Tibetan aristocratic family
Description: Head of an important family from the Tibetan aristocracy. Charles Bell writes of Kusho Palha in his book, The People of Tibet, but unfortunately does not give us the man's name or dates, so his identity cannot be confirmed. There is a possible photograph of the man in Eric Teichman's, Travels in Eastern Tibet, plate XI, bottom of page, figure in centre.
'Till the age of thirteen he lived at home and did not attend any school. Then, his father being a De-pön at Shigatse, he joined his mother at Lhasa and attended the Yül-ka-gang school until he was seventeen. He learnt reading, writing, and arithmetic. At this school there were about thirty boys of whom eight were sons of gentlemen and the remainder of the lower classes. ...Next, he entered the Finance Office (Tsi-kang) at Lhasa. Here, where the secular officials of the Government are trained, he was taught the routine of Government business, especially the keeping of accounts. Here, too, he had to learn the art of official correspondence, embodying the compliments prescribed separately for each class and grade, and often preferring allusions, allegories, and proverbs to bare, blunt facts.
When he was twenty years old, he received his first employment in the public service. He was placed in the sixth grade, the lowest but one, and was made Dzong-pön of Sheka, which stands a few day’s journey south-west of Shigatse, and contains Mount Everest in its jurisdiction. He held this post for three years, but never went himself to She-ka....Meanwhile he got married. The choice of the parents fell on one of the daughters in the Nam-se-ling family.
When Palha was only eighteen years old, his father and his mother were banished to Chong-gye, a place three or four days’ journey south of Lhasa, for having helped Sarat Chandra Das, the Bengali explorer, on his secret journey to Lhasa. They were kept there for seven years. Their son lived on in their town house at Lhasa...
When only twenty-three, the young man was appointed as a judge - of the kind known as Sher-pang he enjoyed the fifth rank, and had a colleague who was also a layman and of similar rank. These two judges work in Lhasa, where they decide both civil and criminal cases of considerable importance.
At the age of thirty-three he was appointed a ‘Grain Paymaster’(Dru Po-pön) in the province of Tsang, a post ranked in the fourth grade. For this work his head quarters were at Gyantse.
In June 1913 Ku-sho Pa-lha was appointed one of the three Financial Secretaries (Tsi-pön)...After three years in Lhasa he was deputed as a general assistant to the Ka-lön Lama, the head of the administration in eastern Tibet. Although working there he retained his title of Tsi-pön and the emoluments attaching to the Tsi-pön’s post. He suffered from gout and rheumatism, as do many who go from Lhasa to the eastern districts... And so he died at the early age of forty-nine, when there were hopes that he might soon be promoted to the high position of a member of the Supreme Council'. Additional notes written by Emma Martin
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