Nomad girl

Nomad girl

1998.131.289 (Print black & white)

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Raw Image

Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

January 15th 1937


Lhasa Area >

Accession number


Image Dimensions

82 x 107 mm

Nomad girl from Eastern Tibet, probably Kham, wearing sheepskin coat. Her hair is braided and decorated with turquoise and coral ornaments.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver

Date Acquired

Donated 1994

Donated by

Faith Spencer Chapman


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Frederick Spencer Chapman

Previous Catologue Number

2.3 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - Notes on print/mount - The number '2/3' has been written on the centre back of the print in pencil. This relates to the numbering system that Chapman adopted for images taken whilst on the British Mission to Lhasa in 1936-37. [MS 2/4/2005]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Caption in Chapman's hand-written list of negatives made whilst on the Mission to Lhasa, 1936-7 [See PRM Manuscripts Collection]: 'Amazing headdress of nomad woman (out of focus)' [MS 18/03/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: The girl in this photograph can also be seen in 1998.131.288 & 1998.131.290 [MS 2/4/2005]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with '2' comprise a group of negatives including images of Khampa people, Kinchung, a shuttle cock game and images of the Regent’s palace. They all seem to have been taken between January 15th and 27th 1937 [MS 18/03/2006]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: Other images with a '2' prefix are used to illustrate the official Mission Diary for this month. Furthermore, it seems that it was during January 1937 that Chapman took a particular interest in photographing and recording in text the various groups of nomads that were coming to Lhasa to pay their taxes at the Potala, to make pilgrimage and to participate in the New year festivities that would take place in early February. They were frequently to be found on the Linghkor Sacred Way around Lhasa at this time of year and Chapman paid much attention to the styles of women's head dress that he encountered. On January 7th Chapman rose early to photograph nomads encamped on the outskirts of Lhasa, although this photograph was taken in the city itself on another occasion. [MS 18/03/2006]

Other Information - Description: In the introduction to the Mission Diary Part XIII (January 15th to 31st) Chapman wrote: "Most of the travellers are nomads from the Chang Thang or the Hor and Kham provinces. They wear a single voluminous garment of sheepskin hitched up with a girdle to facilitate walking. Unlike the inhabitants of Lhasa these men have their hair fairly short - that is to say in a tousled black mop - and they usually go hatless. While the women-folk have their hair done in the most intricate fashion and often adorned with a variety of strange ornaments. Many of them wear on top of their heads several pieces of amber exactly resembling a cake of ochre-coloured soap, surmounted by a coral the size of a cherry." He wrote a similar description in his book
Lhasa the Holy City [London: Chatto & Windus, 1938; reprint, London: Readers Union Ltd., 1940]: "Some women wear two lumps of amber as big as plums on top of their heads, and usually a few turquoises or corals between. Sometimes strips of black, green, or scarlet cloth are sewn onto the border and sleeves of the sheep-skin garment. This is very effective" [1940, p.159] [MS 2/4/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Nomad girl" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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