About this object

A beautifully painted wooden domestic altar. The base unit hold eight panels painted with large lotus, sprouting from rocks painted in bands of red, blues and greens bordered with gold, the background being a bright yellow. The shelving unit is smaller in width and depth than the base and is split into eight niches. The trefoil shaped painted wooden inlays above each niche create a shrine like space for individual statues or objects to sit. The canopy is intricately carved with scallops and painted with several lotus flowers, this is supported on a variety of Tibetan architectural features including false exposed joists painted in red and green.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Asia: Southern Asia: India: West Bengal: Darjeeling
  • Date made
  • Materials
    Wood; Pigment; Copper Alloy
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, World Cultures
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sir Charles Bell
  • Collector
    Charles Alfred Bell
  • Place collected
    Asia: Southern Asia: India: West Bengal: Darjeeling
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
  • Note
    List of Curios No 69a: A chö-sam (mchod sams) (altar) has been made for above (jade figure) by the chief carpenter (um-dze) of the Dalai Lama in Darjeeling and painted by a Tibetan painter living in Jore Bungalow. This is also numbered 69. Curator's comment: Bell displayed a group of jade figures given to him by the Dalai Lama in the eight niches, several of these are in private collections. Written by Emma Martin
  • Related people
    13th Dalai Lama ( commissioned by); Charles Alfred Bell ( Collector)

Explore related


  • 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.


  • 13th Dalai Lama's exile in British India 1910-1912

    Start date: 1910
    End date: 1910
    Description: Following an increase in hostilities between China and Tibet and the arrival of two thousand Chinese troops into Lhasa, the 13th Dalai Lama and a small entourage fled Lhasa during the night of 12 February 1910. Having been cut off from travelling to Mongolia they decided to head for British India and Sikkim. They rode hard with Chinese troops following closely behind them. A young member of the entourage Chensal Namgang (who would later become Tsarong Shapé), along with a small party, held back the Chinese troops at Chaksam Ferry giving the Dalai Lama time to make it to Phari, where W P Rosemeyer, a British India telegraph engineer gave him protection at a dak bungalow. The following day the Dalai Lama rode on to Yatung, where he was again given protection by David Macdonald (British Trade Agent), he finally rode on to Gnatong and to British India protection on 21st February 1910. Charles Bell was the officer in charge of the Dalai Lama and his entourage, during his time in British India and the two men developed a strong friendship during this event. The Dalai Lama was to stay in British India for over 2 years, only returning to Lhasa once Chinese troops had been removed and the intense fighting in Lhasa had stopped. This event would trigger the Dalai Lama's proclamation of Tibetan Independence in February 1913 and a series of modernising reforms.

Object view = Humanities
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