Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal

Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal

Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal

Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal


"An immensely engaging work that contributes much to our understanding of the social-religious culture of Tibetan village life at the local level, providing a rich and deeply personal account of the ebb and flow of life and death, of communal harmony and discord, of personal conflicts and social resolutions. The author shows that the Himalayan enclaves of Nubri and Kutang are genuinely human communities with their own complications and contradictions."--Brian J. Cuevas, author of "The Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead

"An immensely readable and genuinely moving account of Tibetan lives and religion. Childs provides mutually illuminating narratives of the present and past that reveal an intimate portrayal of a Tibetan community in the Nepalese highlands."--David Germano, University of Virginia

"A splendid book that displays a remarkable ability to combine a critical understanding of the difficulties of Tibetan life with a great sensitivity to its humane atmosphere and its culturalcomplexities. This rich anthropological study is also a good read that conveys valuable insights through an entertaining and at times moving narrative. In short, a must read for all those who love Tibetans and their culture, as well as a most welcome addition to the developing field of Tibetan anthropology."--Georges Dreyfus, Professor of Religion, Williams College, author of "The Sound of Two Hands Clapping: The Education of a Tibetan Buddhist Monk


Fortunate friends of Nubri, Keep not flowers upon the ground, but proffer them to the gods.

Tibetan Proverb

From the deep gorges and impenetrable forests to the high pastures and glorious peaks, the environment of the Nubri Valley does not lack for scenic splendor. But what makes Nubri so intriguing is the layers of meaning inscribed on the physical surroundings by human inhabitants. This is not a pristine and untouched landscape, for it bears all the marks of long-term human intervention: terraced fields shaped and molded to mimic the natural flow of the slopes, southern-facing hillsides intentionally denuded of trees to create winter pasturage, and eroded gullies where cattle have grazed too intensively. More significantly, from a cultural standpoint at least, the landscape is immersed in sacredness by being connected with the deeds of mythical creatures and historical predecessors. A rock bearing the indubitable image of male genitals is said to have been the work of the eighth-century saint Padmasambhava. A temple perched high above a village on a rock outcrop bears witness to the meditation site of a famous lama. A row of stones inscribed with religious messages lines the path to a ridge where Pema Döndrup met a white bear three centuries ago. And all the major peaks are considered to be abodes of protective deities and their retinues. The people of Nubri enliven their landscape in ways that transcend mere physical beauty and lend a timeless quality to the entire valley. By ascribing meaning to the natural environment, they cause the past and present to converge and become inseparable.

The Nubri Valley comprises the upper stretch of the Buri Gandaki (River) in Gorkha District, Nepal. Geographically and culturally the valley is divided between the lower section, called Kutang, and the upper section, called Nubri. The entire valley has long occupied a . . .

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