Chaksam ferry on Tsangpo and Chushul Monastery

Chaksam ferry on Tsangpo and Chushul Monastery

2001.35.301.1 (Print Black & White)

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Other Version of this Photo in Hugh E. Richardson collection

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Other Version of this Photo in Frederick Spencer Chapman collection

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Key Information


Frederick Spencer Chapman


Evan Yorke Nepean

Date of Photo

December 14th 1936?


Tsangpo Valley Region > Chaksam

Accession number


Image Dimensions

104 x 72 mm

The Chaksam winter ferry, loaded with animals, can be seen crossing the Tsangpo River. The ferry is a rectangular wooden barge with a carved horse's head on its front. It is propelled by oarsmen using wooden paddles. This kind of flat-bottomed ferry could only be used during the winter when the water level was relatively low. At other times, hide coracles would be used at Nyapso La, further upriver. Chushul monastery can be seen in the background on the right. The remains of the Chaksam iron suspension bridge can be seen in the distance. However, this line has been retouched on this print to emphasise the line where the suspension bridge would have been. A dust storm can be seen blowing across the lake, which was apparently common at this time of year. The horses in the raft were probably those of Mission party members

Further Information

Photographic Process

Print silver

Date Acquired

Loaned August 2002

Donated by

Judy Goldthorp


British Diplomatic Mission to Lhasa 1936-37

Photo also owned by

Lady Nepean

Previous Catologue Number

BD.6 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]

This Image also appears in another collection

BMR. 1998.131.180

Other Information

Notes on print/mount - 'Chaksam ferry; old chain bridge between port and island; ink no: 77; pencil no: 79, 9; , blue no: 19'; from an envelope marked 'Scenes during journeys around Lhasa' [KC 14/08/2006]

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]: '[Chaksam] Ferry in centre of picture'; PRM Manuscripts Collection: ‘List of Tibetan Prints and Negatives’ - Book 1, From Gangtok to the Natu La August 1936: ‘26/3 - Chaksam ferry and monastery in background. Notice horse’s head on ferry and sandstorm in distance’ [MS 12/03/2006]

Other Information - Related Images

Other Information - Related Images: Images prefixed with 'BD' seem to have been taken during Chapman's December 1936 trip to Yamdrok lake. They comprise a group of negatives containing images of Jangme village, Chaksam and ferry, Nepean and Sona Mundhu, Nakartse, animals and birds, Karo La, yaks descending pass. Chapman escorted Nepean, who was returning to India, to Nakartse, and then remained near Yamdrok Tso to take photographs of the flora and fauna and await the arrival of Major Finch who was to visit Lhasa over the Christmas period [MS 12/03/2006]

Other Information - Setting

Other Information - Setting: The image just above the water level in the distance appears to be clouded (possibly a dust storm, haze etc.). It may be because of this that the line highlighting the location of the bridge has been drawn onto the print by hand. In the Mission Diary for December 23rd 1936, to which this image is attached as an illustration, Chapman makes the following comment: "Returning to Lhasa from this lake [Yamdrok Tso] the Kampa La (15,400) was crossed; though in summer, when the Tsang Po was flooded that the ferry could not be used, we were forced to cross by the higher Nyapso La. A rough track was followed downwards for 4,000 feet to the valley of the Tsang Po, which was crossed at Chaksam Ferry. Anyone using the ferry would be well advised to cross very early morning, as on each occasion that we were there the whole valley was swept by so violent a dust storm that we had to wait for several hours before it was safe for the crazy old box of a boat to venture out into mid-stream". The need to highlight the bridge in the background seems also to have been influenced by the presence of a dust storm on the far banks of the river [MS 13/01/2005]

Other Information - Historical Background: Tangton Gyalpo was renowned for his bridge building and was responsible for building over 100 Bridges, as well as for his development of Tibetan music and drama. Chaksam is Tibetan for iron bridge. [Zara Fleming 1995.1?]

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Chaksam ferry on Tsangpo and Chushul Monastery" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <>.

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