Khampa dancers in Dekyi Lingka

Khampa dancers in Dekyi Lingka

BMR. (Album Print black & white)

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Photographer's handlist

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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

November 10th - 12th 1936


Lhasa > Dekyi Lingka

Accession number


Group of four Khampa dancers. These dancers are likely to be performing by invitation in the grounds of the British Mission residence in the Dekyi Lingka. Three men and a woman are dancing in a circle with their right arms leading into the centre of the ring, their left arms projecting outwards although they also appear to be moving in different directions. They are wearing loose fitting coats and wide bottomed, baggy trousers. They have long tasselled belts hanging from their waists. Their clothing is flowing widely around them as they dance. There are trees in the background and the dancers perform in an area of smooth, hard earth

Further Information


Dancing , Performing

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.12.12 [view film roll]

Related Collections

F. S. Chapman Collection in the Pitt Rivers Museum

This Image also appears in another collection


Other Information

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

Other Information - Album: This image appears alongside 3 others of various groups of four people on page 40 of Hugh Richardson's album 'Lhasa 1936' [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]: '4 dancing at speed'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 3: ‘30/2 - Kham dancers whirling around at speed’ [MS 16/03/2006]

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]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: The same people can also be seen in 1998.131 255 & 1998.131 257 [MS 15/2/2005]

Other Information - Cultural Background

Other Information - Cultural Background: The trouser style is the same as for people referred to as Bathang , who come from the south eastern part of Kham. They would come to Lhasa possibly on pilgrimage and would perform to raise money. The tassels on the men's dress are used to enhance the dramatic effect of their acrobatic dances; for the same reason the trousers are very baggy to exaggerate the shapes and movement of the dance [TS 31/1/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Khampa dancers in Dekyi Lingka" 05 Dec. 2006. The British Museum. <>.

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