Pema Dolkar at home at New Year

Pema Dolkar at home at New Year

1998.131.474.1 (Contact Print)

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Frederick Spencer Chapman

Date of Photo

February 14th 1937

Named Person

Pema Dolkar Tsarong


Lhasa > Tsarong House

Accession number


Image Dimensions

89 x 60 mm

Tsarong's wife, Pema Dolkar, during the New Year celebrations at Tsarong's house. Wearing ceremonial Lhasa noble dress seated at a table with offering bowls in front of her

Further Information


Ritual Activity

Photographic Process

Print gelatin silver

Date Acquired

Donated 1994

Donated by

Mrs Faith Spencer Chapman


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Frederick Spencer Chapman

Previous Catologue Number

B.8 [view film roll]

Previous Pitt Rivers Museum Number


Other Information

Notes on print/mount - The print has been made on Velox printing out paper and the trade name in an oval can be seen on the back of the print. The batch development number '640' has been printed on the back in red ink [MS 28/03/2006]

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]: '1/4 Mrs Ts[arong] at home ceremony'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 3: ‘12/5 - Tsarong’s wife wears a striped silk scarf round her shoulders in addition to her usual finery’ [MS 28/03/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'B' seem to have been taken during the New Year ceremonies in 1937 [MS 27/03/2006]

Other Information - Dress: Traditional Lhasa dress for aristocratic women is a silk `chuba ' (often purple) held in at the waist by a brightly coloured sash with a striped apron (`pang den') worn on top. The headdress is a concave triangular crown covered with seed pearls and corals. The hair is parted in the middle and plaited in two. False hair is suspended from each side of the crown and plaited at the end with red tassels. The jewellery consists of an amulet box `gau' attached to a necklace of coral, turquoise and other precious stones. A flat band of seed pearls hangs from the left shoulder to the waist, also a silver chatelaine holding toothpick, tweezers etc. These horn-shaped headdresses are similar to those worn by the Mongol Khalka women (reflecting pastoral interests - horns of a cow). Pema Dolkar also wears a multicoloured silk shoulder sash similar to the scarf worn in Gyaluche dress. [Marina de Alarcón ZF 1995 4]

Other Information - Dress: Chapman wrote quite extended descriptions of the setting of this photograph in both the official Mission Diary of the 1936-37 Mission to Lhasa, for which he was responsible as Sir Basil Gould's Secretary and his main publication concerning his time in Tibet Lhasa the Holy City [London: Chatto & Windus, 1938; reprint London: Readers Union, 1940]. The accounts differ little, demonstrating how Chapman would sometimes lift sections from the diary for his publication. However, Chapman wrote more fully of Tsarong's costume in the Mission Diary. He stated: "The master's seat is a canopied divan which varies in height with the rank and dignity of the owner. Besides him on his left sit his wife and children in all their best clothes. If he is of high rank the master will be wearing a robe of yellow silk patterned with Imperial five-clawed dragons, and a round flat hat of red silk heavily bordered with fur and topped by an ornament of gold turquoise and other semi-precious stones surmounted by a ruby or amethyst button - a survival of the Chinese buttons of rank. His wife will be wearing over her skirt the striped apron worn by all married women; a brocade blouse with a scarf of plum coloured silk across her breast and one of rainbow colours round her shoulders. Her headdress will be heavy with great corals and turquoises and hung with closely woven streamers of seed pearls; more gold and turquoise ornaments set with precious stones hang down from her shoulders, and on her breast is a large star-shaped charm box of gold studded with turquoise and diamonds" [Mission Diary for 14th February 1937]. The scarf would have been placed around Tsarong's neck when the ritual offerings of barley beer had been presented to him by the household. He would then have reciprocated to his family and servants [see 1940:320-22] [MS 30/6/2005]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Pema Dolkar at home at New Year" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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