Interviewee Profile

Name: Tsering Dhondup
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 85

Date of Birth: 1930

Birthplace: Ruchok - Saka Dzong, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Nomad

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 44N

Date: 2015-04-15

Language: Tibetan

Location: Jampaling, Tanahun, Gandaki, Nepal

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, Chinese -- first appearance of, customs/traditions, guerrillas in Mustang, nomadic life, salt trade, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang


Tsering Dhondup hails from a middle-class nomadic family. He fondly remembers the happy life that he and his community led when food was good and illnesses were unheard of. He contrasts the incredibly wealthy nomads with poor families based on the number of animals owned. He also describes how to ensure the herds are well fed and protected from harmful plants and water.

As a young adult Tsering Dhondup went to gather salt carried on yaks and then bartered them for grains. He also talks about how the salt formed in the presence of tsalay 'borax.' The Chinese have since removed all the tsalay, such that Jang Tsakha no longer has any salt. Tsering Dhondup also explains the kag 'year of obstruction,' which is believed to be when major changes occur in one's life and special prayers are offered.

Tsering Dhondup recalls seeing Chinese for the first time around 1945 when they were transporting boxes of dhayen 'Chinese silver coins' towards Ngari on hired yaks. He thought the silver was a good thing until hearing rumors of unrest in Kham. Then in 1958-59 he was witness to the thamzing 'struggle sessions' of the wealthy and the leaders of the community when the former poor where put in charge by the Chinese. Tsering Dhondup escaped to Nepal and participated in the Chushi Gangdrug Defend Tibet Volunteer Force in Mustang from 1960-70.

Interview Team:

  • Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
  • Katharine Davies Samway (Interviewer)
  • Henry Tenenbaum (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Tsering Dhondup on 4/15/2015

Length: 01:46:42

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