About this object

A small framed portrait of the Dalai Lama, seated formally in monastic robes on a raised dais. At either side of the dais are huge ceramic vases filled with flowers. The photograph is framed in a red lacquer frame with gilt repeating swastika motif. There is an inscription from Tsarong Shapé (using his given name, before he received the Shapé title) saying that he is presenting Bell with this image on the 8th day of the 6th month of the Iron Dog year (mid August 1910).

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Asia: Southern Asia: India: West Bengal: Darjeeling
  • Date made
  • Materials
    Glass; Metal Gilt; Pigment; Paper Plant; Wood
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sir Charles Bell
  • Collector
    Charles Alfred Bell
  • Place collected
    Asia: Southern Asia: India: West Bengal: Darjeeling
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    185 mm x 250 mm x 19 mm; 7 5/16 in x 9 13/16 in x 3/4 in
  • Note
    Curator's note: It was long assumed that the Dalai Lama had given Charles Bell this framed photograph while in exile in British India. Mr Tashi Tsering, Director Amnye Machen Institute, Dharamsala, India, has since identified this as a gift from Tsarong. Tsarong, who was known as 'Chensal' Namgang at the time of the gift, was a pro-British Tibetan official who would become Chief Commander of the Tibetan army and a highly influential official. Written by Emma Martin
  • Related people
    13th Dalai Lama ( sitter); Charles Alfred Bell ( Collector); Dasang Damdul Tsarong ( gifted by, previous owner)

Explore related


  • Tibet: Catalogue of Exhibits

    Tankard, Elaine

    Author: Tankard, Elaine
    Publisher: Liverpool Public Museums
    Date: 1953-03
    Description: Introductory essay and catalogue entries, in themes, for the 1953 exhibition; 'Tibet', held at the Walker Art Gallery.


  • 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.


Previous owners

  • Dasang Damdul Tsarong

    Owned from: 1910
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1912
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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