Interviewee Profile

Name: Sonam Tso
(Alias: No)

Gender: Female

Interview Age: 81

Date of Birth: 1929

Birthplace: Rong Shinglaykha, Amdo, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Farming

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 13M

Date: 2010-04-07

Language: Tibetan

Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: Amdo, childhood memories, Chinese -- first appearance of, Chinese -- oppression under, Chinese rule -- life under, customs/traditions, environment/wildlife, escape experiences, farm life, festivals, houses/villages, pilgrimage, refugee in India -- life as, starvation, sterilization


Sonam Tso's family engaged in farming growing wheat, barley and peas. The surroundings of her village were abundant in various types of flowers and fruits, which grew wild in the forests. She talks about how the villagers helped each other during farming and constructing houses as there were no workers for hire. She describes the food of the people of her region, their way of building houses by using local materials, preserving the wild pear for the winter and an account of death rituals and sky burial.

The Chinese came to Sonam Tso's region when she was around 18 or 19 and she describes how the Tibetan people were first deceived and then subjected to torture and starvation. She reveals that all of the young men and women of her village were forcibly sterilized by the Chinese.

Feeling unsafe there, Sonam Tso sold all her jewelry and fine clothes to travel to Lhasa with her husband. She also traveled to India on pilgrimage and returned to Tibet for only a year until Lhasa was occupied. After her husband joined the resistance army in Lhasa, Sonam Tso escaped to India and was fortunate to meet her husband later while working on a road construction crew.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
  • Pema Tashi (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Sonam Tso on 4/7/2010

Length: 02:23:33

Short Videos

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Construction of Homes in Tibetan Villages

Length: 00:02:03

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