Interviewee Profile

Name: Sonam Tobden
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 80

Date of Birth: 1937

Birthplace: Sintso, Amdo, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Farming, Herding, Trade

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 27U

Date: 2017-03-31

Language: Tibetan

Location: Clement Town, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: Amdo, childhood memories, Chinese -- first appearance of, customs/traditions, houses/villages, March 10th Uprising, Norbulingka -- defense of, resistance, trade


Sonam Tobden was born in 1937 in Sintso, Amdo Province, which was a village of 60-70 families filled with flowers. All the villagers helped one another in times of need, such as a family illness or construction of a new house. The houses were made of wood, designed with many pillars, and each floor had a specific use. His family members gathered together and recited prayers in the evenings in the shrine room. As a teenager, Sonam Tobden whiled away his time hunting and racing horses.

The Chinese began entering his region in small groups, offering to help the Tibetans and giving them money. After the Tibetans realized that the Chinese were not there to assist them, fighting broke out. Sonam Tobden's family sent him on a long journey to Lhasa to sell butter. He arrived in Lhasa in 1957 and later received letters from his parents telling him never to return to Amdo because it was not safe there.

In March of 1959 Sonam Tobden joined many others in Lhasa who went to the Norbulingka palace to protect His Holiness the Dalai Lama from the Chinese. They were powerless to act after the Chinese' bombarded the palace for hours. After 10 spending days there, it was announced that the Dalai Lama had escaped safely and Sonam Tobden fled to India.

Interview Team:

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

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Sonam Tobden on 3/31/2017

Length: 01:21:33

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