Interviewee Profile

Name: Gonpo Dorjee
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 85

Date of Birth: 1927

Birthplace: Ganyak Jang, Kham, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Nomad

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 47D

Date: 2012-05-18

Language: Tibetan

Location: Tashi Jong, Tashi Jong, Himachal Pradesh, India

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: astrology, Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, customs/traditions, death/burial customs, festivals, houses/villages, Kham, marriage practices, nomadic life, songs/opera


Gonpo Dorjee was born in a place called Ganyak Jang close to Khampa Gar Monastery. He belonged to a large family and was the eldest of five siblings. His family was nomads and Gonpo Dorjee remembers going to the hills to look after the animals, making curds and butter and spinning wool. He talks about the ba, a tent made from yak hair, which was sturdy enough to withstand the snow.

Most of the festivals in his region were connected with Buddhism and Gonpo Dorjee talks about the cham, a performance by monks wearing different kinds of masks. There were also different religious festivals where lay people recited prayers. He tells about the various kinds of prayers: prayers for long life, to remove any harm and obstacles, when a person dies and another to bring wealth.

Gonpo Dorjee recounts his marriage that was a love marriage. He describes how boys and girls express their love through songs. He sings a few songs that express a young couple's feelings for each other. He also explains about different types of burials for the deceased and how stars and astrology are used to make predictions. He shares his understanding of Buddhist philosophy, which includes the idea of "cause and effect" and the importance of giving freely to others.

Interview Team:

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

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Gonpo Dorjee on 5/18/2012

Length: 00:58:34

© 2009-2018 Tibet Oral History Project. These translations and transcripts are provided for individual research purposes only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: Tibet Oral History Project, P.O. Box 6464, Moraga, CA 94570-6464. Privacy Policy