Name: Gursang Damdul
Interview Age: 73
Date of Birth: 1937
Birthplace: Gerge, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1961
Profession: Salt Trade
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 38M
Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, Chinese rule -- life under, customs/traditions, escape experiences, festivals, marriage practices, nomadic life, refugee in India -- life as, resistance fighters, salt trade, taxes, thamzing/struggle sessions, trade, Utsang
Gursang Damdul was the only son among four children. His family owned a large number of sheep, goats, yaks and horses which were looked after by the family and their servants. Gursang Damdul recounts his experiences of salt trade to Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh,India. Either sheep or yaks were used to transport goods for trade depending on the trail conditions. Salt was traded mainly for grains, but sweets, soap and fabric were also brought back to Tibet.
A popular sport in Gursang Damdul's region was horse racing, target shooting and performing acrobatic acts while riding on a horse. He gives a vivid description of the competitions that took place once a year. The annual affair was also a time to pay tax, chant prayers and for settling any disputes. He also gives a glimpse of various social customs be describing his arranged marriage and wedding ceremony. He talks about the villagers' reactions to pre-marital sex, pregnancy outside of wedlock and infidelity as well as the punishments for such acts.
Gursang Damdul narrates the appearance of Chinese in his village in 1959. They were asked to give up their weapons and the entire village fled, but were captured. He relates the arrests and the thamzing 'struggle session' unleashed on the villagers. The poor were misled by the Chinese to execute the thamzing on the wealthy people. Eventually his family escaped to Ladakh.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Ronny Novick (Videographer)
- Namgyal Tsering (Interpreter)