Ortner, Sherry B., 1941-. High religion: a cultural and political history of Sherpa Buddhism

Table of Contents

Publication Information

Chapter I Introduction: The Project, The People, And The Problem

Who Are The Sherpas?


Expanding Practice Theory

Chapter Ii The Early History Of The Sherpas: Fraternal Contradictions

Time Frame

The Sources

Migration, Settlement, And Subsistence

Family And Inheritance

Egalitarianism And Hierarchy: The Core Contradiction

Inheritance, Economy, And Inequality

Leadership And Power

Religion Before The Temples

Chapter Iii The Founding Of The First Sherpa Temple: Political Contradictions

Time Frame

The Novelty Of Noncelibate Temples

The Stories Of The First Founding

The Political Rivalry With Zongnamba

Contradictions Of The Political Order

Chapter Iv The Meaning Of Temple Founding: Cultural Schemas

Cultural Schemas

The Founding Of Zhung Temple

The Schema

Rituals For Gaining The Protection Of The Gods

“grounding” The Schema

Merit And Power

Chapter V The Sherpas And The State

Time Frame

The Period Before The Temples (1533–1720)

The Further Evil Ways Of Zongnamba

The Gorkha Conquest And Long-term State Interference

The Enrichment Of The Big People

The Founding Of Khumjung Temple

Controlling The Big People

Chapter Vi The Political Economy Of Monastery Foundings

Time Frame

Getting Rich With The Raj And The Ranas

The Effects Of The British In Darjeeling In The Second Half Of The Nineteenth Century

Trade And Profit: The Further Enrichment Of The Big People

The Continuing Contradictory Impact Of The Nepal State

The State As A Source Of Wealth

More Pembu Conflict

Further Political Erosion

Chapter Vii The Big People Found The Monasteries: Legitimation And Self-worth

Actors And Schemas

The Founding Of Tengboche, 1916

Karma As Hero

The Lamas And The Schema

Building Tengboche: 1916–1919

The Founding Of Chiwong, 1923

Building Chiwong (1923–1929)

Sangye As Hero

Legitimation From The Big Point Of View: Prestige And Merit

Chapter Viii The Small People

Who Are The Small People?

The Sherpas In The Larger Economic Context Of Nepal

The Genesis Of Smallness


The Introduction Of The Potato

Wage Labor And The Empowerment Of The Small People

Founding The Monasteries: Feeling “big”

Chapter Ix Monks And Nuns

Time Frame

The Founding Of Devuche Nunnery

Who Are The Monks And Nuns?

The Monks And Nuns As Little Big People

The Nineteenth-century Marriage Squeeze

Rumbu Monastery And The Seeds Of Monastic Rebellion

The Founding Of Rumbu

Gelungma Palma And Monasticism By Choice

Founding The Monasteries

Revolution At Thami Temple

Chapter X Conclusions: Sherpa History And A Theory Of Practice

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information


Title: High religion: a cultural and political history of Sherpa Buddhism

Published By: Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989. 24, 245 p.: ill., maps

By line: [by] Sherry B. Ortner

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 2004. Computer File

Culture: Sherpa (AK06)

Subjects: Theoretical orientation in research and its results (121); Traditional history (173); History (175); Real property (423); Inheritance (428); Literary texts (539); Status, role, and prestige (554); Ingroup antagonisms (578); Arranging a marriage (584); Family relationships (593); Sacred objects and places (778); Prayers and sacrifices (782); Purification and atonement (783); Prophets and ascetics (792); Organized ceremonial (796);

Abstract: This work is a detailed description of the establishment of the first celibate Buddhist monasteries among the Sherpas of Nepal in the early 20th century. Using a combination of ethnographic and oral-history methods, the author attempts to answer the questions of how, by whom, and why these monasteries were founded. Ortner employs the technique of 'practice' anthropology to study the relationship between human intentions and actions on one hand and those structures of culture and society on the other which feed back and emerge from the intentions and actions of others. Ortner's work constitutes a major advance in the knowledge of Sherpa Buddhism as well as in the integration of anthropological and historical modes of analysis.

Document Number: 11

Document ID: ak06-011

Document Type: Monograph

Language: English

Field Date: 1966-1976

Evaluation: Ethnologist-4,5

Analyst: John Beierle ; 1991

Coverage Date: not specified

Coverage Place: Khumbu region, northeastern Nepal

LCSH: Sherpa (Nepalese people)


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