Ethnic jewelry of Central Tibet

Yesterday I got an e-mail with attached photos of this magnificent doll. The owner of the doll asked me whether I can help to identify the doll's costume. She was especially interested in the headdress because she was quite at a loss about how it should be put on the head.
I was very glad to help and decided to write an article too. The doll no doubt impersonates a Tibetan noble woman from Lhasa and her costume and adornments are very accurate and detailed.

Such costume was worn until mid-20th century on the most formal of occasions. The headdress is called patruk. It was worn with the two points at each side of the head and tied on with the cords. The seed-pearl type of patruk was worn for special occasions while there was a coral and turquoise patruk for everyday wear. A wig of false hair was attached to each of the patruk's front corners and fell loose to the shoulders. From there it was gathered in several braids bound with coloured string and then descended at each side nearly to the knees.

photos source

It was very important for women to have corals and turquoises matching in colour and size on their patruks. Girls were given patruk to symbolize their coming of responsible age, sometime between 15 and 20 years old.

photo  source

The earrings with ends in the form of stylized lotus buds (akor) was another typical ornament of the Lhasa women. They hung at either side of the face hiding both ears and facing forwards to show their inset stones. Due to their considerable weight they were either attached with small hooks to the headdress or hung over the head.

photo source

The amulet box gau in the form of two intersecting squares was usually decorated with turqoise and precious stones. It was fashionable in Lhasa from at least the middle of the 19th century.

Lhasa noblewomen, 1921. Photo source

In addition to the headdress, amulet box and large earrings the long necklace reaching to the waist (kyetreng) of jades, corals and turquoise was worn. It was held in the correct position by being hooked to another ornament (yarthen) made of many strings of seed pearls held together by turquoise-set gold plaques. Other body-length necklaces of semi-precious stones were attached to the waist belt ornament (gyenzen).
While wearing the full set of ornaments noblewomen always had a servant accompanying them to prevent theft.

Related posts Tibetan jewelry: a bit of history
Nepalese and Tibetan amulets
Costume and masks of the Cham dancers


  1. So elaborate! Never seen anything like this before. Thank you for the sharing this information and pictures. Love learning something new about jewelry.

  2. thank you for sharing on ancient tibetan ornaments. well done.