Himalayan Village An Account of the Lepchas of Sikkim

Item Code: IDI849
Author: Geoffrey Gorer
Publisher: Pilgrims Publishing, Varanasi
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 9788177693126
Pages: 488 (Illustrated Throughout in B/W)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.4" X 5.4
Weight 520 gm
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Book Description

Apart from very small textual emendations, all the matter of this book is identical with the first edition of 1938. there have been, however, two excisions made. Professor J. H. Hutton, the William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology at Cambridge, my old university, very graciously wrote an introduction to sponsor me with my English colleagues; this did not appear relevant to this new edition, and it has been removed. Secondly, I wrote a final chapter under the title 'Social Evolution and Aggression: Some Suggestions,' in which I attempted to apply the data derived from my study of the Lepchas to wider problems, to the question of why the Lepchas had failed to develop a centralized state when their neighbours had done so, and to relate this absence of a state to the individual inhibition of aggression among the Lepchas. This chapter contains so many postulates and hypotheses which I now consider inaccurate or inadequate that it seemed more sensible to suppress it. Even had the question been a legitimate one-and too little is known of the tribes answered-the hypotheses I accepted about the unidirectional nature of social evolution, indirectly adapted from Lewis H. Morgan's Ancient Society, are much too schematic and simplified. I also shared the delusion-widespread at the period, and still not completely abandoned-that there was a direct correlation between individual aggressiveness and the waging of war as a state policy.

Although I do not think today that this study of the life of a small Himalayan tribe has any direct relevance to the political preoccupations of the great nation-states of the second half of the twentieth century, I believe that the data still have implications wider than the people or the area from which they are derived.

In particular, I think some wider psychological implications can be drawn from the Lepcha method of rearing children and the resultant adult characters. There are very marked parallels between.

Back Of The Book

High in the Himalayas between Nepal and Bhutan is the small Kingdom of Sikkim. In these lofty isolated foothills live a people who have developed a unique way of life. These are the clans of the Lepcha people.

But who are they, and what are their special characteristics and traditions?

This story takes place in 1937, when the author Geoffrey Gorer lived amongst these hardy mountain folk. His lively and engaging observations and comments make an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of these remote communities.

Where man and nature are at their closest, the Himalayan foothills provide a distinct backdrop for the Lepcha cultural heritage. Disturbed only by festivals, marriages, religious celebration and nature's occasionally angry retorts, life has a timeless quality in a Himalayan village.

Foreword To The Second Edition7
Foreword To The First Edition11
List Of Plates29
Reference List Of The Inhabitants Of Lingthem31
Chapter OneThe Lepchas And Sikkim35
i.The Lepchas original inhabitants of southern and eastern slopes of Kinchenjunga-a subject race for at least three centuries-submirged in Sikkim and British India except in the Lepcha reserve of Zongu in Sikkim-Lepcha in India converted to Christianity.

iiTo make converts the Baptist revived the artificial Lepcha script, invented in the eighteenth century for the lamaist converts, and almost forgotten-General G. G. Mainwaring took the Lepchas under his protection in the nineteenth century-in 1926 Miss Stocks collects Lepcha folklore.

iiiThe Native State of Sikkim: peaceful in the last seventy years-indirect British protection abolishes slavery: effect on Lepchas.

ivLepchas an unusual society because they have been influenced by more highly developed non-European societies but untouched by Europe-insoluble questions of culture contact.

vThe position of Zongu and Lingthem.

Relations with the environment
Chapter Two.The Homes Of The Lepchas51
iPhysical description of Zongu-temperature-clothes: Lepchas no longer weave-villages of Zongu-derivation of names-the serpent eaters of Pantoong.

iiDescription of Lingthem monastery.

iiiThe construction of Lepcha houses-internal disposition-absence of decoration except for some private lamaist altars in the de-ong-painting and wood-carving alien arts-lama's attitude to paining-use of knife and bamboo.

ivNew houses rarely built nowadays-native traditions-choice of house-site chiefly dependent on larmaist metaphysical desiderata: details-methods and ritual for building and repairing houses-all building done o-operatively without payment and without an overseer-the 'house goblin' Thyakdum: how he has to be treated if he cannot be controlled.

vExcept for the garden in front of the house individual land is scattered all over the neighbourhood.

viIncorrect to describe Lepchas as animists-supernaturals live in various phenomena but are quite distinct from them-rare exception of supernaturals' dwelling places being worshipped: the lakes which are the 'mother' of family lines, ptso-devils sometimes seen and heard.

viiThe landscape of the Talung valley.

Chapter Three.Getting Food83
iImpossible to overestimate the importance of food-getting in primitive society-food-getting not of much religious importance to Lepchas but of very great emotional importance -Lepchas nearly omnivorous-hunting falling into desuetude-rituals and rules connected with hunting.

iiLepchas have two types of cultivation-permanently cultivated land and land cleared once every eight years-permanent cultivation, rice terraces and cardamom, a new social feature with great implicit economic changes-no exploitation so far-story of ginoo moong the deil of jealousy.

iiiDetails of Lepcha agriculture-alien ceremonies imported with cardamom, bringing with the Nepali ban on menstruating women-Lepcha agricultural calendar-groups of field-workers.

ivLepcha food and drink-millet grown exclusively for chi,-methods of fermenting and preparing-Lepcha fondness for alcohol-methods of cooking food-Lepcha high standard of living.

vAnimals more important for prestige and sacrifices than for eating-attitude to and treatment of cattle-goats-pigs: all boars castrated young as a Lepcha who ate boar-flesh would commit sodomy: instances-pigs scavengers-dogs-cats-women must never kill animals: to ear an animal killed by a woman is supernaturally dangerous-lams also must not kill them.

viLand and property belongs to the houseowner-divided if joint families separate which is rare-women cannot own land-if there is no direct heir a suitable person is designated as ke-tsop by Mandal: examples-in a household consisting of more than three people the dependents, women and children have a certain amount of animals and land as their own private property-methods of working and example-in Zongu land can only be owned by Lepchas and transferred by Court permission.

viiPossible history of Lepcha agriculture.

Relations with Foreigners
Chapter Four.Money Lenders And Trading Friends113
iThe Stores in Mangan owned by money lenders, kanya, who have control of the cardamom trade-their methods of exploiting and heating the Lepchas: details-only Lepcha co-operation and the benevolence of the Court have prevented the Lepchas being completely enslaved by debt-the riches people also the most indebted-regulation of inter-village debts.

iiThe institution of ingzong, trading friends, between Lepchas, Sikkimese, Nepali-its mythological origin and ceremonial-after performing ingzong ceremony two ingzong are considered as blood-brothers and inter-marriage for nine generations becomes incestuous-relationship now less important and term used loosely between Lepchas to indicate 'special friends'.

iiiLepchas have to send boys to Gangtok to act as servants to the Maharajah and to be trained as state carpenters-decreasing necessity of travel for Lepchas.

Relations with other Lepchas
Chapter Five.Law And Order123
i. Zongu Administered in Gangtok by a Kazi-internally divided into twelve villages under Mandals-the recently invented position of Muktair, the local superior to the Mandals-originally two Muktair, one of Teesta one on Talung side-Talung Muktair father of Tafoor-did not succeed him-Tempa get gives post-history of Tempa became overweening-deposed by joint action of the Mandals.

iiMandal hereditary office-rights and duties of Mandal history and description of Chala Mandal o Lingthem-youmi with whom Mandal consults chosen from ex-gyapan, the village official who do all the work: each household does three years in turn on a rota.

iiiVillage officials have to collect taxes and keep order-details little actual crime-old nun Hlatam suspected of being a poisoner: details-theft very unusual: methods of dealing with if witnessed-Lepcha society founded on the belief that people don't steal so unknown thieves can only be dealt with supernaturally by sorcery-methods of killing people by sorcery-examples-who can do it-not done in recent years and not feared-permissive define for adultery-disputes about boundaries-the taking of oaths: the fate of perjurers-the enormous social importance of stopping quarrels-methods of patching up quarrels by youmi and gyapon-two serious quarrels of recent years due to Mrs. Jigoong, who has therefore been permanently forbidden to attend monastery feastsdetails of the quarrels she caused.

Chapter Six.The Rules Of Kinship And Marriage143
iKinship terms-changed when too irrational-descent calculated nine generations on father's side, four on mother's-personal names only used for children-names functionless-emotional importance of extended kinship terms: crucial case of 'little mother'-shame relationship: strongest between spouse and parent-in-law of opposite sex-lack of shame before blood relations.

iiThe patrilineal clan or ptso now almost exclusively an exogamic unit-distribution of ptso in Lingthem-ptso super-naturals and their worship-different for brother and sister-ptso unimportant.

iiiLepchas' horror of incest-the number of blood and affinal relations considered incestuous-cases of 'brother-sister' incest-the lesser evil of one man sleeping with mother and daughter, or one woman with husband and son.

ivOwing to wide incest bans spouses almost always have to be sought from distant villages-Lepchas marry young-two stages of Lepcha marriage-marriage arranged by uncles and go-betweens, never by parents-people usually strangers till betrothal-a number of marriages between two groups permissible-expense of marriage may be reduced by consent or cooperation-komok myok or resident sons-in-law.

v.Methods of breaking down incompatible betrothals or marriage. Divorce.

vi.Lepcha marriage contract between two groups-sororate and levirate rights in theory and practice-list of hereditable spouses-a man or woman may and usually does sleep with all potential hereditable spouses during their husband's or wife's life-time-how this should be done-by this rule most boys are sexually educated by older women-suggestion that regulations were made to prevent in-group jealously and splitting of group-mythology shows absence of jealousy among brothers-no word in Lepcha for jealousy-Lepchas not aggressive-right not used outside Zongu-readjustments if two brothers marry two sisters-disadvantage of levirate marriages through disparity of age-example of Chele who inherited his aunt.

viiRight to take second wife if first wife is sterile: methods and examples-second wives taken when first wife has produced children-very disruptive situation-examples-Lepchas try to ignore personal and passionate love-they separate love and sex-a weak man or one who travels much may coopt a younger brother as co-husband-arrangement unpopular and rare.

viii.Bastards from unmarried women a great disgrace-what must be done-after birth neither mother nor child suffer disadvantages-great sterility and low fertility rate of Lepcha women: some suggested causes.

ixChildless people can adopt children-methods of doing so-examples-children gain property by adoption but appear to be warped psychologically and unhappy-six out of seven adopted men with abnormal characters-Lepcha life arranged on the hope of regular births and deaths-households too small-only two in Lingthem approach ideal.

Relations with the supernatural
Chapter Seven.Religion I: Lamaism181
iLepchas practise simultaneously two contradictory religions-lamaism and the old Mun religion-points of contrast -points of agreement: ambivalent attitude of supernaturals-meaningful chapter of dreams: details and examples-cross-identification of lamaist and Mun supernaturals owing to the fact that names are unimportant to Lepchas-all supernaturals have at least two names-confusions and recon-ciliations-usually ceremonies of two religions performed simultaneously-veiled rivalry between priests.

iiSikkim coverted to lamaism about 1641-Lingthem monastery built 1855 belonging to the subsect Lhatsun-pa of the sect Nyingma-pa 'Red Hats.'-importance of lamaist scriptures-lamaist ethics founded on aim of individual freedom from reincarnation-lamaist attitude to the repeating of prayers orally or mechanically-lamaist beliefs about the soul-social organisation of lamas-converted Lepchas have accepted scriptures, mythology, view of priesthood and social organisation but have rejected individualist ethics-suggested rule about imported complexes into integrated cultures.

iiiLamas designated by birth-horoscopes and by being the sons of lamas-education-the different grades of lams, with their special duties and feasts to validate each rise in grade-corresponding grades of nuns less important.

ivDuties of lamas personal and individual, set monthly and calendrical services, and ministering to the sick or threatened-rosaries-description of bi-monthly monastery feasts and calendrical feasts-the killing of the quarrel demon.

vEnormous variety of exorcisms and apotropaic rites for the benefit of individuals-generalisations-parallel between Lepcha's attitude to religious ceremonies and supernaturals and a hypohondriac's attitude to doctors, germs and vitamins-employment of lamas depends on personal inclinations and wealth-great importance of and belief in horoscopes: obligatory on many occasions.

Chapter Eight.Religion II: The Mun215
i.The Mun have no social organisation: priesthood by possession of supernaturals resident in family lines-padem, pau, yama less important parallel priests-'black Mun and 'white Mun'-the Mun Gongyop describes his possession by Padem and Mun spirits, his training, his feelings during the biennial in trance, what he sees when he sacrifices-possession accompanied by sense delusions.

iiValidating mythology of the Mun: the sacred story of Genesis only known in full by Mun-the sacred story of the origin of marriage-other stories of origin-story of origin of menstruation-peculiarities of Lepcha stories.

iiiMost Mun ceremonies performed for individuals-some calendrical ceremonies performed together with lams-description of Cherim ceremony to avert illness from the community.

iv.Mun more often necessary in the lives of individuals than lams-ceremonial cleansing by pek-ing-the sacrament of sakyou faat-generalisations about Mun exorcisms-some examples.

Chapter Nine.Religion III: The People Of Mayel.235
i.The worship of the People of Mayel in connection with the rice and millet harvest shows some such anomalous features as to suggest that it was originally a different religion-description of the mythology of the People of Mayel-their country visited by human beings in olden times.

iiThe rites of sowing and harvesting rice-the blighting effect of a person who has seen crops drying in the sun before the sacrifice has been offered.

iiiSacrifices to Pong rum the god of hunters, who is the guardian of the road to the country of Mayel-how the god persecutes those who displease him with poltergeist phenomena-examples-daily food sacrifices.

Book Two. Life Of The Lepchas
Chapter Ten.The Rhythm Of Lepcha Life249
iRelationship of the author with the Lepchas-present giving-unselfishness of Lepchas.

iiThe Lepcha working day: household life-Lepcha feasts a continuous interruption of ordinary life-description of monastery feast-food and drink and their result.

iiiLepchas' constant verbal preoccupation with sex-examples-suggested reasons for this-sex is always funny.

ivSpeech of very great importance to Lepchas as their art and their intellectual entertainment-the elegant speaker: honorific words and symbolical words (tang-bor)-the story teller-importance of stories, when told and by whom-Lepcha tendency to monologue.

v.Speech also social sanction-people shamed by speech-social rebukes may drive people o suicide: why externalized social disapproval has so much weight-the great importance of malicious gossip and scandal a strong urge to social conformity-Lepchas' emphasis on behaviour and lack of interest in individual character differences.

vi.Characteristics of the average Lepcha-vivid and exact memories-no number sense-do not dramatise-extremely tolerant-lack feelings of inferiority-contented and indifferent-antithetic emphasis on social conformity and individual liberty produces different types of behaviour in the privacy of the home and in public-Lepchas much dislike hurrying-do not allow for quarrelling or aggression but admit sulking-differences in squeamishness-very low disgust reactions-physical dirtiness.

viiThe Lepcha standards of physical beauty-care of the body

viii.NO sharp contrasts in Lepcha life-relative obscurity of childhood and extreme old age-the best time of life is youth.

Chapter Eleven.Birth And Childhood383
i.Lepcha theory of conception and development of foetus-second five moons of pregnancy a time of great watchfulness for both parents who have to observe very many pre-natal precautions-sex of infant fixed after five months but can be altered willingly or surreptitiously-miscarriages-Mun ritual-special chi prepared against delivery-women de-livered in their homes-treatment of newborn child-disposal of afterbirth-birth accidents and their significance-multiple births very rare-still-born babies and infants turn into dust-devils-babies seldom reared if the mother dies at or soon after chidbirth-children witness birth of subsequent siblings.

iiA child only officially born on the third day-the third day Birth Feast-the child's bracelet and necklace.

iiiThe nursing situation-children seldom weaned before they can talk-weaning sometimes accompanied by physical separation-children normally only suckled by one woman-Lepcha women lactate with great facility-only or youngest children occasionally continue sucking till puberty-examples-babies fed whenever they cry-teaching of sphincter control starts early by the baby being carried out on to the verandah-not treated with strong emotion-Lepcha expectation of the development of infants-children almost always carried-training in passivity-cradles not used except by Mrs. Datoop-Lepcha babies cry very little: guardian will try to find out why baby cries and gratify it: if it continues it is threatened with devils-babies not much talked to or played with-kissed and caressed-Lapcha babies rely a great deal on elder siblings-three-year-old babies have mostly acquired the typical Lepcha character.

ivLepchas consider children small adults, capable of committing crimes but needing training to become good members of society-childishness no excuse-ambivalent attitude towards children because if they die they become of great supernatural danger-parents recognise child's physical independence in various ways-gifts of knife and knapsack-education-moral maxims-children hit in anger if they get in the way of or annoy adults-really severely punished if they commit crimes, such as stealing-technical education in various tasks-children useful from about the age of six-Lepchas explicit about the aims of education-two categories of children: only fixed about the age of ten-signs that a child may develop hadly.

v.Childhood a relatively unpleasant period-a time of neglect-children do not make a group opposed to adults-adult status a desirable aim-childish bashfulness-little boys have more freedom than little girls-choice of companionship limited-Lepcha children have no toys-play by themselves or in groups but not organized play-Lepcha plays imitations of adult life-special childish language-some sexual plays considered funny by adults-children liked the author playing with them: reactions-excessive fear of devils a childish stopped by elders-few children have a choice of homes-except for lonely children and exceptional cases childhood is not an actively unhappy time but a time of obscurity.

Chapter Twelve.Sex, Marriage And Maturity315
iLepchas' contrasted attitude to male and female puberty-belief in the necessity of external intervention for women to attain puberty-no formal marked entry into puberty-not word for puberty-children given a socially sexually role very early: usually betrothed before puberty-parents play no role in children's marriage-method of demanding a girl as wife-bride-price gifts: dedication-visits of the groom to his bride: the two are meant to copulate under the supervision of their uncles but often refuse to-hostility to betrothal frequent, especially on the part of the girl who will have to leave home-examples Nariya, Konde, etc.-boys want to grow up but are uninterested in marriage-the period between betrothal and marriage the most humiliating in a man's life-a groom is the servant of his father-in-law.

ii.Most Lepcha boys start their sexual life with the wife of an elder brother or uncles-the is considered desirable education-great sexual freedom of Lepchas until the birth of their first child-different types of sexual experience-behaviour when a couple are unrelated and unmarried: these unions occasionally achieve social recognition-sex not part of hospitality pattern-seduction not brothers about the sexual life of daughters and sisters-sex not made a secret of except for very recent adultery-remarkable potency of Lepcha men-methods of sexual intercourse-Lepcha theories of sexual physiology-danger of menstruating women-menopause not recognised but sexual activities of very old people considered slightly ludicrous-Lepchas' separate sex and emotion-sexual activity not a reason for social obligations.

iii The feast and ceremonies of bringing home the bride and the post-nuptial visits.

ivMarriage makes little difference to the social position of the husband, but more to that of the wife-young married people still in a subservient position-the birth of a child alters their status-the ideal gradual development of responsibility is falsified by a very uneven death rate.

Chapter Thirteen.Death245
i.The Lepchas have entirely antagonistic attitude to death and the dead: death is contagious and the dead only return as devils-after a death the two things to do are to get rid of the dead man's should and to prevent his death affecting the living-danger of death local and nothing is done if people die abroad except in the case of young children-the clash between Lamaism and the Mun religion is most obvious in the attitudes towards and the ceremonies surrounding death and their views of the afterlife-Mun perform no ceremonies for lams and nuns-lamas and nuns usually cremated and never buried-laymen usually buried and never burned-both may be thrown into the river-position and hour of death important for horoscopes-lamas instruct and feed dead man before body is disposed of-treatment of corpse.

ii.Cremation-burial-disposal by water.

iiiExorcising the devils of death-the ceremony of Sande moong-of Shidook Moong-of Arot Moong-the ceremony of Dek Flee for the Death of a child.

ivThe sanglion, the speeding of the soul-the lamaist ceremony-the Mun ceremony-the treatment of the dead man's clothes and possessions-the memorial services held a year after death.

vThe Lepchas formalize grief very little.

Book Three. Lives Of Lepchas
Chapter Fourteen.Deviants And Defectives365
i.The Lepcha stereotype a compromise between the ideal personality and observable behaviour-types of deviation-Rigya, the horder.

iiMental defectives-Sangkyar the cretin-the subnormal "wanderers"-Kanden the wanderer-are the clinical symptoms of insanity culturally determined

Chapter Fifteen.The Life Of Kurma376
i.Reasons for collecting primitive life-histories: the link between psychology and sociology-advantages of the method.

iiKurma offered his own story freely-his character-his atypical traits and circumstances.

iiiKurma's story of his own life.

ivJournal of Kurma's actions and sayings.

Chapter Sixteen.The First Dorje Lapoon, His Family And Jiroong 415
i.The author regrets that he was unable to get the life-history of a well-adjusted Lepcha to counterbalance Kurma's obvious maladjustments-well-adjusted Lepchas have inadequate self-feeling.

iiStory of the first Dorje Lapoon-of his son Datoop-of Mrs. Datoop-of their Children Pembu and Pichi.

iiiStory of Jiroong, his wives and sister.

Appendix I. 433
(a) Vital statistics of Lingthem.
Table I. Distribution by age and sex.
Table II. Distribution by sex in ten-year groups.
Table III. Fecundity of married women.
(b) Plan of the village of Lingthem.
Table IV. Distribution of households by ptso.
Appendix II. Lepcha Kinship Terms441
Appendix III.445
(a) Birth Horoscope
(b) Marriage Horoscopes
(c) Death Horoscope
(d) Lama's divination by horoscope of illness
(e) Performance of ceremonies indicated in (d) and also accompanying Mun ceremonies.
Appendix IV.The Sacred Story Of The Origin Of Marriage459
Appendix V.Lepcha Stories463
(a) The story of Lyang-Mok moong, a frightening story about devils
(b) The story of Meloan moong, a comic story about devils.
(c) A legend of the King of Tibet and Sikkim (commencement only)
(d) Fables: Why the Leopard and Monkey are enemies; The origin of eating fish; The story of the Blackbird and the Crab.
Appendix VI.A Note On The Lepcha Language471
Vocabulary Of Lepcha Words475
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