Nomad girl

Nomad girl

BMR. (Album Print black & white)

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Other Version of this Photo in Frederick Spencer Chapman collection

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Image in Album

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Hugh E. Richardson

Date of Photo

January 15th 1937


Lhasa Area >

Accession number


Nomad girl from Eastern Tibet, probably Kham, wearing sheepskin chuba and tinder pouch at waist. Her hair is braided and decorated with turquoise and coral ornaments.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Donated to the British Museum in 1986 by Hugh E. Richardson

Previous Catologue Number

2.1 In publication
'Lhasa Mission 1936, Diary of Events', P. Neame, H. Richardson, F. S. Chapman, Government of India Political Department [Note: photographs for October 18th - November 4th 1936 are not included as their relationship to text is not detailed; see Mission Diary text for details of images] [see photos in publication]

Related Collections

F. S. Chapman Collection in the Pitt Rivers Museum

This Image also appears in another collection


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - There are a variety of pencil crop marks and other annotations on the back of this print. These include the instruction 'Cut as shown and reducce to 3 2/5" across. Fit to Layout 35a". The caption 'Nomad girl' has also been written in pencil. The reference number '2/1' has been written across the centre back, which relates to the numbering system Chapman adopted for images taken on the British Mission to Lhasa in 1936-37. '35a' has been written in the top left hand corner and there also appears to be a publishers reference (possibly Chatto & Windus) on the centre left of the print [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]: 'Nomad woman from Kham'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 4: ‘6/3 - Nomad girls. The lead [head] is ornamented with amber, coral and turquoise and jewelled flint and steel hangs at belt’ [MS 18/03/2006]

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]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: This girl can also be seen in images 1998.131.288 & 1998.131.289 [MS 2/4/2005]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: The young woman is wearing an amber, coral and turquoise head dress. Around her waist she is wearing me chag, which are pieces of metal decorated with turquoise and other stones. The metal edge is attached to a pouch containing a flint and some tinder. The flint is used against the metal edge to start fires [TS 31/1/2005]

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

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