Ragyapa family outside tent shelter

Ragyapa family outside tent shelter

1998.131.234 (Print black & white)

Image for comparison


Raw Image




With tracing paper

Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

January 1937


Lhasa > Ragyapa camp

Accession number


Image Dimensions

117 x 173 mm

A disposer of the dead or Ragyapa family by their shelter with a yak wool tent roof and surrounded by horns from animals that they have slaughtered as part of their duties. Ragyapa must dispose of any animal carcasses as well as dead people. Dog in foreground

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

8.13 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - The caption 'Outcasts tent surrounded by horns from animals slaughtered' has been written across the back of the print in pencil. The caption 'An outcast's tent surrounded by a wall of bones from animals he has slaughtered' has been written on the tracing paper that has been attached to the back and folded over the front. There are also cropping instructions, which would result in the figure in the background being cropped from the scene. '8-7' has been written on the back in red crayon. Further reference numbers include '8-13' written on the middle of the back of the print in pencil and the Chatto & Windus publisher reference C&W41074/18. Chatto & Windus published Chapman's book of the Mission to Lhasa, Lhasa the Holy City in 1938. 25b has been written in the top left corner [MS 4/2/2005]

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]: 'Ragyapas - close ditto [general view tent and horn walls] dog in foreground'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 4: ‘16/2 - The Ragyapas or disposers of the dead and butchers with walls made of horns of slaughtered animals’ [MS 16/03/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with '8.' comprise a group of negatives containing images of Mondo’s house, a weaver and ragyapa people. All these images seem to have been taken in January 1937 [MS 16/03/2006]

Other Information - Description: Chapman described encountering the dwellings of
Ragyapa people in his book Lhasa the Holy City [London: Chatto & Windus 1938; reprint, London: Readers Union Ltd., 1940, pp.166-7]. He describes encountering a group when completing a circuit of the Linghkor pilgrimage route around Lhasa close to the Regent's summer palace: "On the left of the road are the hovels of the lowest class of Lhasa society, the ra-gyap-pa, a community of scavenging beggars whose work is to dispose of the dead bodies. ... // Their dwellings consist of a wall of sods into which are built the horns of animals; over the top is raised a roof of ragged yak-hair tent-cloth. This is often surrounded by an outer wall of the horns of yaks, cattle and sheep heaped together. In the summer their hovels are gay with nasturtiums and marigolds. ... But these are the lowest of the Ra-gyap-pa. Further on, though they must still live outside the city, they have proper houses, built of sun-dried bricks, but still with neat rows of yak horns let into the face of the wall, like a mosaic" [1940, pp. 166-7] [MS 21/3/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Ragyapa family outside tent shelter" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1998.131.234.html>.

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