The official diary of the Gould mission to Lhasa sent by the British government. Read more about the mission diary.
Chapman went out in the early morning to photograph a party of Nomads who have recently arrived at Lhasa. These swarthy uncouth-looking men, dressed in a single sheep-skin garment, are much larger and more healthy looking than are the inhabitants of Lhasa. They have a reputation similar to that of the Pathan: if they make friends 'they will do anything for you, but if roused they are quick to use their knives.
These Nomads had come down from the Chang Tang, the vast and semi desert away to the North of Lhasa. The journey took them fifty days. Hundreds of yaks carried wool, while each sheep was loaded with a bag of salt on each side of its back. This salt is deposited on the shores of brackish lakes by the evaporation of the water. As barley cannot grow up there they exchange their wool and salt for tsamba (roasted barley meal) and other wares.
Their dialect differs very noticeably from that of Lhasa, indeed our Tibetan clerks can hardly understand them. They were vastly amused at being photographed, and showed none of the reluctance which characterises the attitude of most of the Lhasa people to the camera.
The women, who are remarkably handsome, wear their hair in innumerable minute plaits which are attached at shoulder level to a multicoloured piece of canvas which hangs down almost to the ground. This cloth is ornamented with silver buttons, Chinese dollars and other trinkets. Although we visited their tents at dawn many of the men had already set off with yak-loads of salt and yak-dung - representing their taxes - to be delivered at the Potala. There were still a few yaks and grey and dun-coloured dzos (yaks crossed with cattle) picketed to yak-hair ropes outside the tents; but most of the herd, numbering several hundred, had already been taken out to find what grazing they could on the sandy barren-looking Sera plain. It is odd that though the Nomads always 'have a few fierce looking dogs about they are never used for herding the sheep or yaks; these are usually controlled by the men who use yak-hair slings with which they fling stones with great accuracy.
Author: Frederick Spencer Chapman [see handwritten annotations in Diary by Hugh Richardson in MS. Or. Richardson 2, Bodleian Libary, Department of Oriental Collections, University of Oxford]
Page Reference: Pt XII p.2