Yaso's Maids of Honour at Preparation of Camp at Lubu

Yaso's Maids of Honour at Preparation of Camp at Lubu

1998.285.156.1 (Glass negative)

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Raw Image


(Lantern Slide)

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Key Information


Rabden Lepcha?


Sir Charles Bell

Date of Photo

March 1st 1921


Lhasa > Lubu

Accession number


Image Dimensions

120 x 163 mm

Four Maids of Honour and two assistants who will serve chang or barley beer to the Yaso officials at the ceremony of the Preparation of the Camp at Lubu, standing outside decorated tents. The women wear coral headdresses, turquoise inlaid amulet boxes or gau at the neck and waist, Lhasa style turquoise ear ornaments, and strings of pearls, corals and other precious stones.

Further Information


Ritual Activity

Photographic Process

Negative glass plate gelatin , Negative Half Plate

Date Acquired

Donated 1983

Donated by

St Antony's College, Oxford.

Copy difference



Sir Charles Bell's Mission to Lhasa 1920-21

Photo also owned by

Royal Central Asiatic Society

Revised Photographer

Rabden Lepcha?

Previous Catologue Number


Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number



'The People of Tibet', Sir Charles Bell, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928 [view list of illustrations]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Bell's List of Illustrations entry: "[No. of chapter] XXVI. [Subject of Chapter] Ceremonial and Etiquette. [Subject of Illustration] H133 (n) Ya-so's four Maids of Honour with two assistants (left). [Remarks] L.127 (Y. in L.)"

Contemporary Publication -

Contemporary Publication - Published in 'The People of Tibet', Bell, C. A., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928, facing p.275:" 'Four ladies, gorgeously dressed in coloured silks and head-dresses of turquoise and coral'. The Ya-sos' four Maids of Honour with two assistants." [MS 10/9/2004]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: There was often a great deal of confusion in the minds of western visitors of Tibet as to the role performed by women at rituals such as this, as well as more generally at social gatherings, especially when a principal duty was the pouring of alcohol. Many British officers referred to them disrespectfully as 'chang girls'. However, such duties, especially at such an important ceremony such as this, would only be given to high-ranking women of the aristocracy and was considered an honour. Bell tried to understand some of the complexities of this social role, as revealed in his Diary entry for 8th October 1921, in which he relates a discussion he had recently had: "I ask Shesur about the custom of employing ladies, as trung-shu-ma , to pass beer at dinner parties. He says that they are employed both on account of their rank and their sex. They can press the guests to drink when servants could not pressure to do so, and being of the feminine sex can crack jokes with the guests and press them more insistently than any man could do. It should be added that it is the object of every host and hostess to make their guests drink as much as possible, and, best of all, to make them thoroughly dunk. This is considered an auspicious event, and the party is then looked on as an entire success. // If a guest is so drunk that he cannot rise from his seat, a khata will often be put round his neck as a confinement. // In return for their services these ladies receive a present, sometimes of money, but more often an article of dress, eg: a shirt [Tibetan script] or an apron ( pang-den )" [Diary Vol. XIII, pp.24-5]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Yaso's Maids of Honour at Preparation of Camp at Lubu" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_1998.285.156.1.html>.

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