Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Lepcha inhabit the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas, primarily located in the states of Sikkim and West Bengal (Darjeeling District), India. Some Lepcha also live in Nepal and Bhutan. It is believed the Lepcha originally came from either Mongolia or Tibet. The Lepcha practice Tibetan Buddhism. Over the last three centuries the Lepcha have been invaded by the Nepalis, Tibetans, and Bhutanese, gradually leading to a loss of their distinctive ethnic identity. The Lepcha have a mixed agricultural/herding subsistence economy with cardamon grown for cash.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --Central Asia





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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

There are thirteen documents in the eHRAF Collection of Ethnography collection on the Lepcha. Except for Foning (1987, no. 12) who is a native Lepcha and lived in the region from 1938 to 1984, all the documents are based on research conducted before 1953. Even Foning's work is about 19th century Lepcha culture and history as a background to a discussion of contemporary Lepcha ethos. The earliest works are an anthropometric study from 1886-1888 (Risley 1891, no. 9) and a collection of songs from 1891 (Waddell 1899, no. 10). Gorer (1938, no. 1) and Siiger (1967, no. 13) have written the most complete monographs on the Lepcha. Gorer's traveling companion, Morris (1938, no. 2), has written a more popular account. In a series of articles translated from the German, Nebesky-Wojkowitz writes about hunting and fishing (1953, no. 3), legends (1953, no. 6), religious paraphernalia (1951, no. 5; 1953, no. 8), and funerals (1952, no. 4). Jest (1960, no. 14) also writes about Lepcha religion and Hermanns (1954, no. 11) on Lepcha myths.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in the collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

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