Kham dancer and fiddler

Kham dancer and fiddler

BMR. (Album Print black & white)

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Image in Album

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Hugh E. Richardson

Date of Photo

November 10th - 12th 1936


Lhasa > Dekyi Lingka

Accession number


A woman dancer and fiddler who performed as part of a troupe in the Dekyi Lingka in November 1936. She is wearing a brocade outer garment and has an elaborate charm box or gau at her neck

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

C.12.14 [view film roll]

Related Collections

F. S. Chapman Collection in the Pitt Rivers Museum

Other Information

Notes on print/mount - 'Khampa woman' has been written beneath the image in the album in pencil, apparently not by Hugh Richardson [MS 25/08/2006]

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]: 'Woman [Kham dancer] with fiddle'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 3: ‘29/3 - Kham dancer and fiddler’ [MS 25/08/2006]

Other Information - Album: This image appears alongside 2 others of women on page 33 of Hugh Richardson's album 'Lhasa 1936' [MS 25/08/2006]

Other Information - Description: Chapman gives a description of these performers in his publication Lhasa the Holy City (London: Chatto & Windus, 1938; reprint, London: Readers Union Ltd., 1940, p.272): "Another form of entertainment was provided by troupes of dancers who appeared from time to time at the Dekyi Lingka. One group, known as the Khampa Dancers - since this form originated in the Kham - were skilful acrobats. These were professional players who toured southern Tibet and even went down to Gangtok and Kalimpong. The troupe consisted of a sour-looking but handsome girl who played, alternately, a Tibetan fiddle and a drum or gong similar to those used in the monasteries; and three wild looking men, one of whom clashed small cymbals. The tallest of these was a retired bandit; he was short of his right hand, having it cut off as a punishment. The men wore white balloon shirts tied in at the ankles and, hanging from the belt, a fringe of plaited cords. // Playing their instruments and singing as they danced, the troupe would start stepping backwards and forwards with arms swinging in time to the measure. Gradually they would gather speed until they were whirling round in a circle with outstretched arms and long sleeves flying, so that first one hand and then the other swept the ground" [MS 15/2/2005]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'C.12' comprise a group of negatives containing images of Ladakhi men, Ngagchen Rimpoche, Mir/Amir Khan (the mission cook), football match, Dagg, Kham dancers, Nechung, Drepung, the Potala and the sand track approaching it. They all seem to have been taken between October 28th and November 15th 1936. Chapman has also included this image in a sub-group he titles 'Kampa Dancers and Mummers' in his handlist from the Mission [MS 16/03/2006]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Kham dancer and fiddler" 05 Dec. 2006. The British Museum. <>.

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