Yaks in the Pasture


This photograph, showing domesticated yaks in a Tibetan pasture with people nearby, is from a collection of 50 photographs of central Tibet acquired in 1904 from the Imperial Russian Geographical Society in Saint Petersburg by the American Geographical Society. In his 1891 edition of The Land of Lamas, W.W. Rockhill writes of the Tibetans: "They are shrewd and enterprising traders, and able to hold their own even with the Chinese, to whom they sell large quantities of lambskins, wool, yak-hides, musk, furs (principally lynx and fox skins), rhubarb and deer-horns (lu jung). [. . .] They have but very few camels, as they are essentially mountaineers, using principally yak or dzo (a cross between a domestic cow and a yak) as beasts of burden; moreover, the hair of these animals, which on the belly and legs is nearly a foot long, supplies the material of which they make their tents. Both the Tibetans and the Mongols often use the yak as a saddle animal. A wooden ring is passed through the cartilage of the nose, and a string is attached to it by which the animal is guided and fastened to the ground at night.” The photographs in this collection were taken by two Mongolian Buddhist lamas, G.Ts. Tsybikov and Ovshe (O.M.) Norzunov, who visited Tibet in 1900 and 1901. Accompanying the photos is a set of notes written in Russian for the Imperial Russian Geographical Society by Tsybikov, Norzunov, and other Mongolians familiar with central Tibet. Alexander Grigoriev, corresponding member of the American Geographical Society, translated the notes from Russian into English in April 1904.

Last updated: March 22, 2016