Interviewee Profile

Name: Tenpa Chonphel
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 73

Date of Birth: 1937

Birthplace: Manam, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1966

Profession: Dairy Farming, Farming

Monk/Nun: Previously

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 2M

Date: 2010-04-04

Language: Tibetan

Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India

Categories: Culture and History

Keywords: childhood memories, Chinese -- first appearance of, Chinese -- oppression under, Chinese army -- invasion by , Chinese rule -- life under, escape experiences, farm life, government/administration, herding, taxes, Utsang


At the young age of 7 or 8, Tenpa Chonphel herded lambs, yaks and sheep and protected the animals from wolves and tigers. Later he worked in the fields. Both his parents lived separately, not because they had divorced, but because they had different tax services to render. He tells how he, as a little child lived with his mother and from the age of 8, went to live with his father. His life gives us an insight into social customs prevalent at that time in Tibet.

A significant part of his narration details how administration was carried out in Tibet and the different tax systems imposed by the government and monasteries. Through his life story, Tenpa Chonphel gives us an understanding of the plight of the common Tibetan people and their feelings towards their tax obligations.

Tenpa Chonphel lived under Chinese occupation until 1966. He gives an account of how the Chinese came to his village and secured people's confidence by luring them with money and false promises. He also explains how the oppression came about gradually through the categorization of families, division of wealth and finally, by forcing the people to destroy their monasteries.

Interview Team:

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

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Tenpa Chonphel on 4/4/2010

Length: 01:59:29

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