Black and white photograph showing a close-up of a young lama seated and wrapped in a Buddhist robe. He is wearing the distinctive hat of a lama.
The Palace of Concord and Harmony (Yonghe gong) was originally the palace of the Kangxi Emperor's fourth son who later became the Yungzheng Emperor. In 1745, the Emperor Yungzheng's son, Qianlong, who was born there converted the palace into a temple. This practice followed the custom that the palace of a prince who ascended the throne could no longer be inhabited and had to be transformed into a temple. Resident lamas would assemble in the Hall of the Wheel of Law (Fa Lun Dian) five times a day for prayer. Arlington and Lewisohn in their book, 'In search of Old Peking' (p. 195), originally published in 1935, wrote: 'Visitors are advised not to venture alone into the maze of buildings with any of the lamas. In former days the Yonghe gong had a very bad reputation indeed for assaults on foreigners and sometimes the complete disappearance of solitary sightseers. Even in quite recent times there have been numerous authentic cases where single foreign visitors have undergone very unpleasent experiences there'.
This is one of a large number of photographs that were taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Peking (Beijing), China 1933-1946.
Exhibited in 'Peking: 1933-1946 - A photographic impression', Menzies Library, Australian National University, 17-30 June 1967. Reproduced in Hedda Morrison, 'A photographer in Old Peking. Hong Kong', Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 68, with the caption: 'A young lama from Yung Ho Kung, the Lamaist temple near the Temple of Confucius. It was originally the site of the palace of the Manchu prince who became the Emperor Yung Cheng. The palace of a prince who ascended the throne could not be inhabited again and so Ch'ien Lung replaced it with a Lamaist temple'.
Gift of Mr Alastair Morrison, 1992