Life and Marriage in Skya rgya: A Tibetan Village
Life and Marriage in Skya rgya: a Tibetan Village is an important achievement, delving deep into contemporary Tibetan society, enabling us to explore the crucial negotiations between tradition and modernity, both individually and collectively, that confront present-day Tibetan villagers.
The ethnographic discussion of songs, marriage practices, and narratives gives us direct insight into the lives, experiences and expectations of ordinary Tibetans, sharing the joys and pains, and the hopes and fears of these Tibetans, old and young. We observe how the dilemmas and celebrations that characterized an earlier era persist and evolve as the local society is propelled into twenty-first century China. Blo brtan rdo rje’s honest rendering of the details of his family life make this a page-turning account of life in a rural Tibetan area that is vanishing.
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“Skya rgya is a farming village in A mdo, the Tibetan name by which the northwest of the Tibetan Plateau is known. While Tibetans largely welcome the material benefits that have been brought to them by the march of modernity, it is also inevitable that many of their older traditions have come to be seen as outdated. By juxtaposing voices from earlier periods with those that reflect contemporary experiences, [the author] has provided us with a fascinating window onto the processes of change and development, as they are being experienced by Tibetans in this area.
This book provides a rich resource for all those interested in the history and culture of the region, . . . . [the author’s narratives give] us a direct and vivid insight into the lives, experiences and expectations of members of his home community. By letting four of his informants speak to us directly he allows us to enter into the joys and pains, hopes and fears of these Tibetans, old and young. We have a rare chance to observe how the dilemmas and celebrations that characterized an early era have persisted or evolved as local society is propelled into the modern world of twenty-first century China.”
The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
Blo brtan rdo rje’s honest rendering of the details of his family life and his experiences conducting field research make this a page-turning account of life in a rural Tibetan area that is already vanishing. When Blo brtan rdo rje was young, there was not even a bridge to cross the Yellow River into Gcan tsha County; coracle boats were the principle mode of transport across the river. After bridges were built in the late 1980s, life has been changing rapidly.
This is not to suggest that no change had come to this Tibetan village before this time, as the arrival of the troops of the Muslim warlord, Ma Bufang, prior to the Communist period are also documented here. The forced conversion of neighboring (down-valley) Tibetans to Islam was a crucial vehicle for the later commercial changes introduced in the 1990s.
Department of East Asia Languages and Cultures Columbia University
Click on the links below to view sample pages from the book:
Title and Table of Contents
Full Preface by Fernanda Pirie
The Arranged Marriage of Young Children
Introduction to the Village of Skya rgya