Interviewee Profile

Name: Tsewang Tenzin
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 64

Date of Birth: 1950

Birthplace: Mukrum, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1960

Profession: N/A

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 19C

Date: 2014-08-02

Language: English

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: childhood memories, customs/traditions, escape experiences, farm life, festivals, monasteries -- relationship with , myths/stories, pilgrimage, refugee in India -- life as, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang


Tsewang Tenzin was born in Mukrum in Ngari. He lived with his extended, semi-nomadic family of over 16 members. His home belonged to his maternal grandparents who had not allowed his mother to marry his father. He talks about the various activities of the family members and how as a child listening to stories was one of the main sources of amusement.

Tsewang Tenzin enjoyed visiting monasteries on special occasions, when it was a joy to witness the dance performances by monks. He describes the spiritual practices followed by his family members, particularly during wintertime when there was less work to be done, which enabled his grandmother to go on retreat in a cave. He also explains how the villagers and monasteries were dependent on one another and the work the villagers would do for the local monastery.

As the Chinese occupation increased Tsewang Tenzin witnessed many thamzing 'struggle sessions.' He describes how they were organized, who did the thamzing, and the torture, humiliation, and false accusations. Even his own grandfather attempted suicide to avoid suffering under the Chinese. Tsewang Tenzin's family made plans to escape and he outlines how it was executed. He describes the journey, life after reaching India and the education he received in exile. He later became a teacher in the Tibetan settlements of southern India.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tomas Haywood (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Tsewang Tenzin on 8/2/2014

Length: 01:09:46

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