Collection Description

Culture Name

Sherpa

Culture Description

The Sherpa are a Tibetan-speaking people who moved into the valleys of eastern Nepal in the middle of the sixteenth century. They survived as traders transporting goods by Yak across the Himalayas, linking the markets of China to Nepal and India. Today mountaineering and tourism have become major industries profoundly affecting their way of life. Successful traders in the past and today businessmen enjoy a big man status. The Sherpa practice a form of Mahayana Buddhism, which supports a significant population of monks.

Note

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

Region

Asia --Central Asia

Countries

India

Nepal

OWC Code

AK06

Number of Documents

20

Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages

3557

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 19 documents in the Sherpa collection period from the 1950s to 1990s. The Sherpa environment, religion, and social change have received the most attention by scholars. A basic ethnographic approach is found in the work of Füre-Haimendorf (1963, no. 7; 1964, no. 1; 1975, no. 2). Füre-Haimendorf (1984, no. 18) wrote a more recent study examining changes in Sherpa society resulting from their involvement in the business of mountain climbing. Fisher (1990, no. 4), Kumwar (1989, no. 16), and Mühlich (1997, no. 20) also look at changes in Sherpa society, religion, and gender relations, respectively. Ortner (1973, no. 10; 1978, no. 8; 1989, no. 11) and Paul (1977, no. 9; 1982, no. 6; 1990, no. 19) have written sophisticated treatments of Sherpa religion, Paul taking a Freudian psychoanalytic approach and Ortner from the perspective of social agency. A detailed analysis and interpretation of a Sherpa dance-drama is provided by Jerstad (1969, no. 3). Adams (1997, no. 14; 1992, no. 15) writes about Sherpa notions of self as revealed in curing ceremonies. Ecological approaches are found in Stevens (1990, no. 13) and Brower (1987, no. 12), and Weitz (1984, no. 17) examines Sherpa adaptation to high altitude environment.

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

This culture summary is based on the article "Sherpa" by Robert A. Paul, in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 3, South Asia. Paul Hockings, Ed. 1992. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. synopsis was written by Ian Skoggard and indexing notes compiled by John Beierle. Ian Skoggard updated the census figures from Ethnologue (October 3, 2003, URL: http://www.ethnologue.com/ )

BLA - the human life force - Category 761

CHORUMBA (and CHORPEN) - officials in charge of the temples - Categories 624, 794, and sometimes 792

Dee system - a system for controlling the use of village lands for agriculture and livestock - Categories 185, 233, 241, and 626

DEM-CHANG - a betrothal ceremony - category 584

GEMBU - a dignitary with power over several villages - 634

GOMBA - temple - Category 346

GYOWA ceremony - 49 days after death - Category 765

Hermits - Categories 785 and 792

Himalayan Trust - Category 741

IHAWA - shamans or spirit callers - Category 756

KALAK - lineages - Category 613

KHADEU/KHAMENDU status - a class-caste type of stratification among the KHAMBAS - categories 554 and 563

KHAMBAS (KAMI) - ethnic Tibetan population living among the Sherpas - Categories 563 and sometimes 619

KHUMBA, PHARAK, and SOLU - territorial organization of Nepal - Category 631

KLU - the chthonic power associated with purity and pollution - Category 783

LAWA - men chosen to organize religious performances - Categories 624, 794, and 796

MAKSU - a married son-in-law - Category 606

MANI RIMDU - ritual dances - Categories 535, 536 and 796

MANI walls - Categories 346 and 778

MINDUNG - a soothsayer - Category 791

NAPUR - a ceremony held after a funeral, usually on the 7th or 11th day - Category 765

NAUA - the village supervisor/guardian who controls use of village lands - Categories 423 and 624

NGALOK - mutual aid work groups - Categories 476, 464, and 240

NORPA (SHRINDI) - malignant ghosts - Category 775

NYUNGNE ritual - Categories 788 785, 783, and 796

ONG - a mystical force or power - Category 778

Padma Sambhava - a Sherpa deity-hero - Category 776

PANCHAYAT - councils - Categories 623 and 634

PEMBU - a village dignitary and regional tax collector - Categories 624, 651 and 554

RU - clans - Category 614

Sagarmatha National Park - Category 529

SANGYE - heaven - Categories 772 and 775

SEM - the human spirit - Categories 774 and 775

SHETU ceremony - Categories 764 and 765

SHINGO NAUA - forest guards - Category 624, 185

SONAM - merit - Category 782

THEMBA - an illegitimate child - Category 848

THOWU - ceremonial friends - Category 608

TORMA - molded, unbaked dough used as a disposable offering and religious icon - Category 778

TSENGA TSALI - mutual aid groups - Categories 476 and 571

TSHO - a sacrificial rite marking the anniversary of a person's death - Category 769

TSO - a collective feast to the high gods concluding various ceremonials - Categories 782 and 796

YUL-THIM (village law) - village meeting - Category 623

ZENDI (GYEN-KUTOP) - marriage ritual - Category 585

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