Te_3_1-3   Te_3_4-6Te_3_7-9 Te_3_10-12Te_3_13-15 Te_3_16-18  Te_3_19-21Te_3_22-24


Date: Water Monkey year, 6th month, 3rd day, Saturday (1992)
Stitched booklet of 24 pages, six lines per page; p. 1: 2 lines; p. 24: 3 lines Script: ’bru tsha; some ’khyug


Every twelve years, in a Monkey year, the Tepas hold a meeting to examine their existing writ- ten constitution. The meeting is called the Gö Sogwa. Gö, which in Tibetan means ‘necessi- ty’ or ‘use’ (dgos), is the usual term in Te (through only rarely in written documents) for ‘law’, and as such corresponds to the Tibetan word khrims. Sogwa is a Seke verb meaning to ‘invert’ or ‘turn upside down’ (probably < Tib. zlog pa). The Gö Sogwa, then, is literally ‘The Turning Upside-down of the Law’. The meeting continues for about two weeks, and during this peri- od the assembly decides what is to be set down in the new lawbook. The assembly in question is the yupa (< yul pa) gathering, that is, the senior male member of each of the forty-six active estates. Each of the issues is raised in turn, and after a period of discussion the matter is put to a vote. Under the supervision of the headmen and constables (who, as estate-holders, also vote), each person places a stone in the pile that signifies either support or opposition. The stones are counted and if the majority votes against the prospective rule the matter is closed; if a majority is in favour the rule is written into the new constitution by whichever priest of Tshognam or Baza happens to be acting as scribe.

Once the constitution has been compiled the old one is destroyed (unfortunately for the social historian) and the new document is placed in the care of the steward. The last Monkey year fell in 1992, and a new set of laws was duly drawn up. The lack of any real distinction, mentioned above, between the concepts of ‘law’ and ‘custom’ is revealed on the title page of the booklet, which advertises its contents as ‘the new customs of the community of Te’. Many of the thirty-five clauses in the document are elliptical to the extent that they refer to institu- tions with which the Tepas are very familiar. While their significance may be obvious to the villagers themselves, a certain amount of explanation is in order here. In the following treat- ment, the roman numerals correspond to the numbers of the clauses given in the text, while sub-clauses are identified by lower-case letters that have been added for the sake of conven- ience. Emendations are provided at the end of each page; the translation and commentary are organised according to clauses rather than by pages.


p. 1.

gter yul gyis dpes srol gsar ’du zos pis | chod tshig yig ges bzhug yod pa legs so |

dpe srol gsar du bzos pas; yi ge bzhugs

p. 2

  1. bod bsod nams chu sprel zla 6 tshes 3 res gza’ span pa’i pa’i nyin |
  2. ster yul rgan mi grags lung pa dpe bskal bka’ gros gcig mthun gyi
  3. mthun gyi thog dpe srol gsar du bzos nas chod tshig yi ge bris don la |
  4. don mtshan dang po | mchod pa zhing sngar so so la yod pa bzhin rang rang byed rgyu
  5. la ’gyur bcos med | II shing ’thu rgyu’i bskor la tshogs rnams dgon dang
  6. ga’u dgon pa gnyis la ster yul shing ’thus nas zhag gsum rjes su

1. chu spre; re gza’ spen 2. mi drag; dpe skal 3. {mthun gyi}; ’bri don 4. don tshan 5. skor la

p. 3

  1. shing mi khur lnga dang | dug shing ’thus nas zhag gsum rjes su
  2. shing mi khur lnga ’thus rgyu yin | III bla mi mgur la lo bco brgyad nas
  3. nyi shu rtsa lnga ’bar la na gzhon glu bgar byed rgyu dang | nyi shu rtsa drug nas
  4. gsum bcu ’bar la khyim bdag glu gar byed rgyu yin | gsum bcu so cig
  5. nas gsum bcu so lnga ’bar la zhag gcig nyin mo bgar rtse rgyu yin |
  6. ’gal srid gar rtse la su rigs nas ma yong na nyin re sgor brgya re zha
  7. zhu med pa chad pa sbyangs rgyu yin | IV yul nas ’phral mthon nas

1. dug: see commentary 2. ’thu rgyu; bla ma gu ru la 3. bar la; glu gar 4. bar la 5. bar la; gar rtse
6. gal srid; 6–7. zhazhu (SMT < zhu ba) med; sbyong rgyu; khral thon

p. 4

  1. phyis mi nang mi su mthon kyang zla gcig ma tog yul du ’dod sa med |
  2. zla gcig song nas zhag gcig thos pa dad na sgor stong gcig su yi
  3. nang du dad kyang khang bdag rang nas sbyangs rgyu yin | slar yang yul du yong rgyu byung
  4. na | zla ba gcig mi yul du ’dad nas ma tog yul du yong sa med |
  5. rjes su bsam btang ’dren skyes kyi yul rang du ’phral sbyangs nas ’dad rgyu yin
  6. bcas yul la bskyid bsdugs zhus na | sgor nyi khri (20000) tham pa ster yul

1. phyi; ’thon kyang; ma gtogs; sdod sa 2. thol pa bsdad na 3. bsdad kyang; sbyong rgyu
4. bsdad nas ma gtogs 5. ’dran skyes; khral sbyang nas sdod 6. skyid sdug

p. 5

  1. la ’bul nas ma tog dad mi mchog | V grwa pa jo mo
  2. grwa sa grim nas bod chos rong chos sogs chos chos bzhin du byed
  3. na ma togs | grwa pa jo mo yin bcas mthar sa med | grwa pa jo
  4. mo mar log ’byung na mi mang nang bzhin las don gang ci’i thogs
  5. las ka byed rgyu yin | VI yul ’dzom rgyu’i thad lo che rim ma togs
  6. ma ’dad nas bu ’dzom mi mchog | gcen po ’dad nas gcung po

1. phul nas ma gtogs sdod mi chog; 2. ’grims nas 3. ma gtogs; thar sa
4. byung na mi dmangs; ci’i thog 5. ma gtogs

p. 6

  1. ’dzom rgyu {nang} nam yang byed mi mchog | VII ri klung gang la’ang tshe ston
  2. mi mchog | ’gal srid su rigs nas tshe gal pa gcig khyer ba mthong tshe
  3. sgor brgya re chad pa zha zhu med | zhing gi rtsig pa ldib nas de la tshe yod
  4. na | yul gyi rgan rol la zhus nas ma tog nang du khyer mi mchog | VIII
  5. zhing snga rgyu’i thad | zhag du{s} ma sleb par zhing snga rgyu byung {cha}na | yul la sgor brgyad
  6. dang kha thag gtsug nas zhus na sngon la zhing snga mchog | IX nang du pha

1. mi chog; ri klungs; mtshe ston 2. mi chog; gal srid; mtshe mgal pa 3. zhazhu (SMT < zhu ba); brdibs nas
4. ma gtogs; ’khyer mi chog 5. rnga rgyu’i; rnga rgyu 6. kha btags; btsugs; zhing rnga chog

p. 7

  1. ma bza’ tshang sogs mi rtags ’chi bas rkyen pas ya ’bral sogs
  2. byung na | zhag bzhi bcu zhe dgu ma tog bsdugs khur mi mchog | zhing btab
  3. nas zhag drug bcu nas zhing rgya ram pa zhag gsum lag pa’i spi rgyu ma tog
  4. zor rgyab mi mchog | X gnas tshang ka gnyen ’gru pa yar ’gro mar ’gro
  5. la yul rang ’dad na ma tog | gtsang po ’das nas rtsa sprad mi mchog |
  6. gnas tshang yin bcas su rig nas rtsa sprad na | ka li rer sgor lnga re chad pa sbyang

1. mi rtag ’chi ba’i rkyen; ya bral 2. ma gtogs sdug ’khur mi chog 3. phyud (?) rgyu ma gtogs 4. ’grul ba yar
5. bsdad na ma gtogs; sprod mi chog 6. su rigs; khili (Nep. packet, roll); chad pa sby- ong

p. 8

  1. rgyu chod | XI lcang ma shol bu sogs gtsug shing gtsug na | rang gi gdong
  2. po nas ma tog gzhan nas gced mi mchog | ’gal te gtsug shing gced
  3. dgos na rgan rol la spyan ’bul zhus nas ma togs gced mi mchog |
  4. XII yur chu yi yur sgo chu yi khyer na chu thag gi rka mtsham ’bar
  5. la | mi mang lo bcu gsum yar dang drug bcu re lnga mar tab nas zo rgyu chod
  6. pa yin | chu thag rka nas sten rtsa rka bar zo rgyu byung na chu re dgu

1. lcang ma gshol po; btsug (?) shing btsugs; gi sdong 2. ma gtogs; bcad mi chog; gal te btsug shing bcad
3. ma gtogs gcod mi chog 4. chu yis; rka mtshams bar 5. mi dmangs; mar stabs; bzo rgyu 6. sten rtsa (?); bzo rgyu; ’chu res dgu

p. 9

  1. bcu go lnga nas bzo rgyu yin | yur chu rtsa ba nas chu yi khyer na
  2. ko ra la man chad grong go spyad yan chod | snye shang la tshur stabs bang mi
  3. btang nas ma yong na | sgor lnga brgya chad pa sbyangs rgyu mchod pa yin | XIII
  4. sngar srol ltar bco brgyad drug bcu na ri la ’gro dus | ’gro ba’i dgong mo ma
  5. tog snga gro rtse mo rtse mi chog | de’i phyi nyin g.ya’ rdzogs sgang la bco brgyad
  6. d rug bcu tshang ma ’gro rgyu dang | de’i phyi nyin g.ye sman la tshang ma ’gro rgyu yin |

1. chu yis 2. yan chad; ’bangs mi 3. sbyong rgyu chod 4. snga srol 5. gtogs snga dro

p. 10

  1. yul nas mi ’dzam gling phyi rgyal gang du phyin kyang | yu ra la cha la ma
  2. non tshe ’bru zo ba gnyis dang sgor lnga bcu tham pa zha zhu med pa sbyang rgyu
  3. yin | zla 3 tshe 12 nyin bco brgyad drug bcu na ri la zhag cig ’gro du de
  4. la yul nang nas mi su ma ’gro na sgor lnga bcu re chad pa yod | XIV
  5. yul rgan pa bkos rgyu’i thog | yul ’tsho che chung gsum du bgos nas
  6. ’tsho re re nas rgan pa re re rgyan rgyab rgyu chod | rgan pa khur rgyu’i skar mi nyin

5. sko rgyu’i; yul tsho 6. tsho re; ’khur rgyu’i

p. 11

  1. su ma yong tshe nye chad sgor stong gsum re zha zhu med pa sbyangs rgyu dang
  2. na tsha sogs nas yong ma thub na rgan tshab khang pa’i ka la kha
  3. thag bkon rgyu yin | rol po yang ’bar tshogs bzhi nas re re rgyan rgyab
  4. rgyu chod | mda’ btang rgyu ni rol po bzhi nas so so’i srang nas mda’ btang
  5. rgyu yin | rgan rol gyi tshab los sa med | rgan rol khur du ma yong na

1. zhazhu (< zhu ba); sbyong rgyu; 3. btags skon rgyu 4. brda gtong 5. klod sa; ’khur du

p. 12

  1. chad pa sgor stong gsum dang | ’khor dus ma yong na chad pa sgor stong gsum
  2. byangs rgyu chod | yang rgan pa gcig dang rol po gnyis yul btang nas
  3. zhag gcig yang phar tshur ’gro mi chog | ’gal srid phar tshur ’gro
  4. na nyin rer sgor brgya re nye chad yod | yul bsrung rgyu’i tshab dang chu re
  5. bskor rgyu sogs la | rang lo bcu gsum yan chod kyi los yul
  6. du rgan rol ga tshod yod kyang snga ’gro (chu tshod) bcu dang dgong mo (chu tshod)

2. sbyong rgyu 3. gal srid 4. yul srung 5. skor rgyu 6. snga dro

p. 13

  1. bzhi la klu la blta’ bskor theng gnyis res bskor rgyu chod | ’gal
  2. srid klu la blta’ skor ma theb na nyin rer sgor lnga bcu re nye chad yod | chang
  3. tsos rgyu’i lta ka che chung gcig ma tog med | XV ri yi skor la kha chu
  4. byung tshe | bdud ’gro la bag gsum dang mi la bag gcig ’gro song btang rgyu yin |
  5. XVI tshe thang | kyu ldan | dangs ra nyi rim pa gsum la bdud ’gro ’dad rgyu’i lhe
  6. dang khang pa yul nas zos rgyu chod pa yin | lus dang ril ma tshang ma khyim

1. klungs la lta skor thengs gnyis re skor rgyu chod | gal 2. klungs lta skor
3. btsos rgyu’i; ma gtogs 4. bg gsum; bg gcig; gtong rgyu 5. mtshe thang; sdod rgyu’i lhas 6. bzo rgyu

p. 14

  1. grangs la bgos rgyu chod | XVII rgan rol rnams kyi thog tu drangs bden gyi skor
  2. blta’ rtogs byed pa’i mi bzhi bskos nas mi bzhi nas kyang | zla re bzhin yul
  3. ’dzom nas rtsis byed rgyu chod pa yin | rgan rol rnams nas phyogs re then khyer
  4. sogs byed nas drangs bden ma byed na | rgan rol rnams nas chad pa ’dab ’phar
  5. grub rgyu chod | mi bzhi la skol chang zla re la shag zo bzhi re yul nas sprad rgyu
  6. yin | mi bzhi la mthar chang dge ba sogs chang ga tshod ’thung rgyu yod na yang thob |

1. drang bden 2. lta rtogs 3. ’dzoms nas; ’then ’khyer 4. drang bden; ldab ’phar 5. ’grub rgyu; bkol chang
6. thar chang;

p. 15

  1. mi bzha’i tshab kyi los sa med | mi mang nam rgyas ’bar la
  2. mi bzhi dad rgyu yin | chang ’thung nas rtsod gleng byed nas skad ston pa sogs
  3. byung na | las ’dzin nas slob bso theng gcig rgyab nas ma nyen na | sgor
  4. lnga bcu chad pa zha zhu med | XVIII shing gi thad | rge rgon rgan tshang la
  5. ’gro na ma tog rgan shing thob sa med | XIX mthar chang zla ba bdun pa’i
  6. sgo nas zla brgyad pa’i ’jug ’bar la mthar chang ston thub pa dgos rgyu dang

1. mi bzhi’i; klod sa; mi dmangs; ’gas bar la 2. sdod rgyu; btungs nas; byas nas; bton pa
3. slob gso thengs gcig brgyab; nyan na 4. zhazhu (< zhu ba); rgad rgon 5. ma gtogs; thar chang
6. mgo nas; bar la; thar chang

p. 16

  1. zla brgyad pa nas ’phar ’gyang tshe ’bru zo ba lnga re chad pa yod | mthar chang
  2. yang nyin mo ston rgyu yin | mthar chang ston mi la brten ’brel la sgor
  3. brgyad re nas mar ma chag pa kha thag kha tshang gsar pa ’dri ma med pa me
  4. btang tshad na rgyus rgyu yin | mthar chang mal ldag bza’ rgyu la | me btang
  5. tshad nas bud med re re mda’ btang rgyu dang | phe phed ’chang la me btang tshad
  6. nas bu re re shog bcas mda’ btang rgyud chod | XX yul du mi grags

1. thar chang 2. thar chang 3. kha btags 4. brgyud rgyu; thar chang; maldag 5. brda gtong; phe- phe chang (see commentary)
6. gzhogs bcas brda gtong rgyu; mi drag

p. 17

  1. su yong kyang | bca’ dngos bza’ mthung ji ltar dgos rung
  2. rgan rol bdun nas rgan khur byed rgyu yin | ’gro song ga tshod ’gro
  3. kyang mi bzhi rtsis byed sar ’dad dgos | rgan rol bdun dang mi
  4. bzhi bcas khyon sdom mi bcu gcig la bza’ rgyu ’thung rgyu tshang
  5. ma yul nas thob | XXI yur chu la las byed skab | las mgo la ma non
  6. sgor bco lnga dang | las bzhugs bar du ma yong na sgor lnga bcu chad pa yod |

1. bza’ btung 2. rgan ’khur 3. sdod dgos 4. khyon bsdoms 5. byed skabs; las zhug (SMT < mjug)

p. 18

  1. XXII khyim grangs yul pa mda’ btong ma thag ma yong na sgor lnga chad pa dang | yul nam
  2. rgyas ’bar ma yong na sgor nyi shu chad pa yod | XXIII klung gi nag bskor la rgan rol
  3. la zhus nas ma tog nag gcad mi mchog | XXIV ’dzing bu’i las don bskor la
  4. rang lo bcu gsum yar | rang lo drug bcu re lnga man ’dzing bu’i las ka la ma yong na
  5. zhag gnyis la sgor nyi shu chad pa yod | yang ’dzing bu ston dus sgar rtse sar ma yong na
  6. sgor nyi shu chad pa yod | bla mi gur la rang lo bcu gsum yan dang drug bcu re lnga man gzigs

1. brda btang ma thag 2. ’gas bar; klungs kyi; don skor 5. ’don dus gar rtse 6. bla ma gu ru las

p. 19

  1. mo la tshes bcu nyin tshang ma yong dgos rgyus | ma yong na sgor nyi shu chad pa yod |
  2. dgon pa gnyis kyang yul nang bzhin ma tog zhing la bdu ’gro btang mi mchog | btang
  3. nas rgan rol lag tu theb na yul ltar chad yod | XXVI yur ra dang zhing sogs nas
  4. sa ston pa rgan rol lag tu theb na | ’bru zo ba lnga chad pa yod | g.ya’ thang la
  5. rtse yan chod dang | ’or rdo thang yan chod ma togs shing ’thus mi mchog | ’gal
  6. srid man chod shing ’thus na shing khur re la ’bru zo ba lnga re chad pa yod | XXVII

1. dgos rgyu 2. ma gtogs; bdud ’gro gtong mi chog 3. yur ba 5. ma gtogs; ’thu mi chog | gal

p. 20

  1. rang lo bcu bdun song na nang bag chud bzhin rang don ma tog gzhan gyi mi lag mi los |
  2. yul pa tshogs ’dus chung ba yang rang lo bco brgyad ’bar la rang skal ma togs gzhan go
  3. mi chod | XXVIII ’dzo bkug rgyu dang ra ’tsho rgyu thad rang lo bco brgyad yan dang drug bcu re
  4. lnga man ma togs ’gro mi chog | lo tshad ma slebs bar ’gro na sgor nyi shu rtsa lnga zhag
  5. re bzhin chad pa yod | grongs pa rang gal ra cang na ’dzi bu re re mthar | XXIX bla ma gur
  6. gyi chang tshos theb ma theb chang tshos mi rang mna’ dags spud rgyu chod | XXX yur chu nas

1. ma gtogs; mi glod 2. tshogs dus; bar la; ma gtogs 3. mdzo bkug 4. ma gtogs;
5. grong pa rang skal ra bcangs; rdzi’u re re thar; bla ma gu ru’i 6. {gyi} chang; mna’ dags spud

p. 21

  1. shag thang zhing la chu nam yang khyer mi chog | ’gal srid khyer pa byung na zhing
  2. snang ma re re la sgor brgya re chad pa zha zhu med | XXXI dmang rtse chu re grigs nas
  3. zhing che chung la ’phral khur rgyu yin | XXXII bza’ ston bzas la yul nang du
  4. yod pa’i tshogs ’dus gar rtse sar ma yong sgor nyi shu rtsa lnga chad pa zha zhu
  5. med | XXXIII gsum mdo yi ’khor du | lpag pa bang ba dang | dmar tsha dung ba |
  6. ral bsad pa | sa ston pa | lpag pa brnyed pa | lud ston pa sogs nam yang

1. ’khyer mi 2. zhazhu (< zhu ba) 3. khral ’khur 4. zhazhu (< zhu ba) 5. sbong ba; dmar tshwa brdung
6. ral gsed; sa ’don; lpags pa mnyed pa; lud ’don

p. 22

  1. byed mi mchog | ’gal srid ’gal ba shar tshes sgor lnga bcu re chad pa zha zhu
  2. med | bskor bu gcig bu mkhal mchog | XXXIV ’dzing bu khang nas smug
  3. kyu mthon na | chu ri re re nas mi gnyis re mthar rgyu dang | smug dkyu ma thon
  4. na mi re re mthar rgyu chod pa yin | khru gu rang lo bcu gnyis mar btab shis na khang
  5. nang gi mi zhag gsum ma tog bsdugs khur mi mchog | dgong gsal don
  6. mtshan | XXXIV de la na tsha sogs ’byung nas yong ma thub pa sogs byung na

1. gal srid; shar tshe; zhazhu (< zhu ba) 2. ’khal chog; 2–3. gang nas mugkyu (see commentary)
3. ’thon na; ’chu re re re; thar rgyu; mugkyu ma ’thon 4. thar rgyu; phru gu; shi na
5. ma gtogs sdug ’khur mi chog; gong gsal 6. byung nas

p. 23

  1. mna’ dags pa spud thub na mthar rgyu dang | na tsha sogs ha cang bsdug po
  2. byung nas rdzong sar sman khang sogs la ’gros dgos nas nad pa kyal sar mi
  3. bzhi lnga ’gro na yang | nad g.yog mi gcig ma togs mthar sa med |
  4. gzhan rnams yar phyir log ’phral du dgos rgyus dang | yul du nad pa phyi la
  5. mthon thub na | nad g.yog yin bcas mthar sa med | don de la
  6. nam yang mi ’gyur ste {u} lung pa khu shi dbra rtags res ’bul ’phral |

1. mna’ dags pa spud; thar rgyu; sdug po 2. ’gro dgos; skyal sar 3. ma gtogs thar 4. dgos rgyu
5. ’thon thub; thar sa 6. khusi r[ji] (see commentary);

p. 24

  1. dgong du ma mthus pa | sku tsog gangs gi g.yas g.yon
  2. nas sa nag ston pa su rig nas mthong tshe sgor brgya re chad pa zha
  3. zhu med |

1. gong du ma ’thus pa | sgang gi 2. ’don pa su rigs


p. 1. Contained herein is a document containing the revised version of the customs of the community of Te

p. 2. Saturday, the third day in the sixth month of the Tibetan Agrarian Water Monkey year (1992). This document has been written after revising the customs of the community of Te following an agreement on the basis of a vote by the headmen, officials and the [rest of] the com- munity. The first point: the communal fields: these shall be kept as they are, according to their previous distribution without there being any changes.

II. Concerning the collection of firewood. The monasteries of Tshognam and Ga’u may col- lect five man-loads each of firewood three days after the community of Te has collected its wood, and they may collect five man-loads [of wood and dung] three days after [the community] has collected its wood and dung.

III. At the Lama Guru festival, those aged bet ween 18 and 25 should perform the Young Peoples’ singing and dancing; those between the ages of 26 and 30 should perform the Householders’ singing and dancing; and those bet ween the ages of 31 and 35 should dance on one day in the daytime. If anyone does not come for the dancing and singing he or she shall be fined one hundred rupees per day, and no excuses.

IV. Those who, whether outsiders or members of the community, relinquish their tax liabili- ties, may remain in the village for no more than one month. If they stay one day more than one month, 1000 rupees must be paid by the owner of whichever house they have lodged in. Should they later revisit the village, they may come to the village only after staying somewhere else for one month .

If, later on, they should miss [their homes] and would like to live in the village [again] as taxpayers, and request the community for full membership, they will be permitted to remain only if they pays 20,000 rupees to the community of Te.

V. Only if the monk and nuns fre quent their monasteries and are properly literate in both Nepali and Tibetan and act like religious people will they be exe mpted from duties as monks and nuns. If monks or nuns should turn apostate they must perform any kind of task, like ordinary people.

VI. Concerning village meetings, only people of the highest rank should join the assembly: a son should never come while the father remains [at home], nor a younger brother while the elder brother remains at home.

VII. Ephedra may not be upro oted anywhere on uncultivated or on cultivated ground. Anyone seen carrying [even] one Ephedra plant will be fined 100 rupees, and no excuses will be accepted. If there is any Ephedra [exposed by] a field wall that has collapsed, it may be taken home only after requesting the permission of the headmen and constables.

VIII. Concerning the harve st: if someone must harve st his fields befo re the appointed day (zhag dus) has arrived, if he presents the community with 8 rupees and a white scarf, and asks permission, he may harvest his fields in advance.

VIII. Unlike other villages, which decide the date of their harvest on the basis of the weather, Te’s harve st begins a fixed number of days from the date of planting. In the case of buckwheat, this is exactly 100 days. Now not all fields receive the same amount of sunshine, but even though the crops in certain patches would have ripened befo re the official opening of the harvest had arrived, the owners were, until this constitutional change, obliged to watch them wither in the fields.

IX. a. (p. 6, l. 6–p. 7, l. 1) If a household has any bereaved people as a consequence of the death of a father, mother spouse or whoever, in the nature of impermanence, its members may not remain in mourning for more than 49 days.


IX. b. (p. 7, l. 2) Sixty days after planting the fields [with buckwheat], for a period of three days the quitch grass in the fields may be [collected], but only by pulling with bare hands, not by cutting with sickles.

X. Animal fodder may be given to trading partners, friends and relatives, and travellers on their way up or down only if they stay in the village itself, but not once they have crossed the river. If anyone gives fodder to his guest, he shall pay a fine of 5 rupees per bundle of fodder.

XI. If someone makes a cutting from a willow or poplar or whatever, he may cut it from no tree other than his own. If someone needs to take a cutting, he may not do so except in the presence of the headmen and constables.

XII. If the Yurchu should carry away the [gabions by the] tunnel through which it passes, it has been decided that the whole populace over the age of 13 and below the age of 65 should repair it up to the beginning of the sluices at the water mill. If it is necessary to carry out repairs between the water mill sluices and the Tentsa[zur] sluices, the work shall be done by the 95 members of the irrigation roster.

If the river carries away the Yurchu canal from its foundations, it has been decided that those who do not come after the messengers have been sent [to summon everyone] below the Kore Pass and above Drong-goce, and on this side of the pass into Nyeshang, shall pay a fine of 500 rupees.

XIII. When, according to past custom, people aged between 18 and 60 go to Nari, they may play [cards] only on the evening they go there, not on the following day. The day after [they arrive], everyone between 18 and 60 must go to Yadzog Gang, and the day after that everyone must go to Yemen.

Even if people from the village has gone to another country of the world, if they are not on time to go to the irrigation canals with everyone, they shall pay 2 zo ba of grain and 50 rupees without making excuses.

If, in the daytime of the twelfth day of the third month, the day on which those aged between 18 and 60 should go to Nari, anyone from the village does not go he or she shall be fined 50 rupees.

XIV. a. (p. 10, l. 4) Concerning the appointment of the village headmen: the community shall be divided into three groups according to age (che chung gsum), and each group shall cast lots to decide one of the headmen. If, on the astrologically appropriate day for choosing the head- men, someone does not come, he shall be fined 3000 rupees, and no excuses. If [one of the new incumbents] is seized by illness or whatever [away from Te] and is unable to attend, the pillar of his house shall be dressed with a white scarf in place of the headman himself.

XIV. b. (p. 11, l. 3) The constables too shall be chosen by lot, one by each of the four sectors.

XIV. c. (p. 11, l. 4) For calling meetings the four constables shall summon people from with- in their respective streets. No one shall be accepted as substitutes for the headmen and consta- bles. Anyone who does not come for the selection of the headmen shall pay a fine of 3000 rupees, and if anyone has not arrived by the time the changeover is taking place (? ’khor dus) there will be a [further] fine of 3000 rupees.

XIV. d. (p. 12, l. 2) Moreover, one of the headmen and two of the constables may not leave the village and go anywhere for even one day; if they do go away they shall pay a fine of 100 rupees each.

XIV. e. (p. 12, l. 4) Substitutes [for the constables] over the age of thirteen shall be acceptable for watching the village [fields] and managing the irrigation circuit and so on. However many headmen and constables are in the village should walk around the fields twice a day to check them, once at ten in the morning and once at four in the evening. If someone does not fully accomplish his patrol of the fields he will be fined 50 rupees per day.

XIV. f. (p. 13, l. 2) There shall be only two Taka fields for making beer, one big and one small.

XV. If a dispute [with a neighbouring community] should arise over pastureland (lit. hillsides), the expenses shall be covered by payments of a ratio of 3:1, animals to people.

XVI. The pens where livestock stay shall be repaired and houses shall be built in Tshethang, Kyuden and Dangda. Manure and goat dung shall be divided up among all the houses.

XVII. Concerning the headmen and constables: four men shall be appointed to supervise their honesty and truthfulness. Furthermore, these four men shall check the accounts during a monthly meeting of the community. If the headmen and constables have been biased or deceit- ful and so forth, and have not been honest and truthful, they should repay in double whatever fines they have levied.

Every month the four men shall be given beer by the community: four zo ba of warm beer each. At retirement celebrations, merit-making memorial rites and so on, the four men should be given as much beer as they would drink. No substitutes will be accepted for the four men. The four men must be present until meetings of the people are over. If, after people have been drinking beer, an argument should break out and there are people shouting loudly (skad bstan pa), if they do not obey the constables after one warning (slob gso), they shall pay a fine of 50 rupees without excuses.

XVIII. With regard to firewood: elderly men and women shall receive ‘elders’ wood’ only after they have entered their retirement quarters.

XIX. People must be able to hold their retirement ceremonies between the beginning of the seventh month [of the Te calendar] and the end of the eighth month. If one is held later than the eighth month there shall be a fine of 5 zo ba of grain. Moreover, the retirement ceremonies shall be held in the daytime.

As an auspicious gesture, every hearth shall present the host of the retirement ceremony with no less than 8 rupees and a clean, new, stainless white scarf.

For eating oil porridge at retirement ceremonies one woman from each hearth shall be invited, and one man invited from each hearth to the men’s beer-drinking.

XX. If any important people come to the community, the headmen and constables, those seven, should take the responsibility for [providing] whatever materials, drink and food are required. If any expenses are incurred, the four men must do the accounts. The headmen and constables, those seven and the four men, eleven altogether, shall be provided with all their food and drink by the community [until the business is concluded].

XXI. Whoever is late for the beginning of work on the Yur chu [canal] will be fined 15 rupees, and anyone who has not arrived by the time the work is over will be fined 50 rupees.

XXII. If people do not come as soon as they have been called for meetings of hearths or house- holds they will be fined 5 rupees. If they have not arrived by the time the villagers have dis- persed they will be fined 20 rupees.

XXIII. Concerning the field forest, the forest may be cut only after asking permission of the headmen and constables.

XXIV. a. (p. 18, l. 3) Concerning the work on the reservoir: if anyone above the age of thir- teen and below the age of 65 does not come for the work he or she will be fined 20 rupees for the two days.

Moreover, anyone who fails to come to the dancing ground when the reservoir is being cleared will be fined 20 rupees.

XXIV. b. (p. 18, l. 6) During the Lama Guru, everyone over thirteen and under 65 must come to the spectacle on the tenth day. Anyone who does not come will be fined 20 rupees.

XXIV. c. (p. 19, l. 2) Moreover, the two monasteries, like the community, may not let their livestock into the fields. If they are let into the fields and the headmen or constables seize them, the fine will be the same as for the community.

(sic; there is no XXV: that number should probably have been inserted before XXIVc). Anyone caught by the headmen or constables taking earth from irrigation ditches, fields or suchlike shall be fined 5 zo ba of grain.

Wood may be collected only above the cairn of Yathang and above Ordothang. If someone collects wood below these points there will be a fine of 5 zo ba of grain per bundle of fire wood.

XXVII. Until a [young man] is over seventeen years old, he may act only on his own behalf as he would within his family, and may not be accepted as a hired worker.

Furthermore, until the junior member of the assembly is 18 years old, he may deal only with his own affairs, and may not substitute for others.

XXVIII. Concerning the retrieval of dzos and goat-herding: only those who are above eight- een and below sixty-five may go. If someone who has not reached the proper age should go, he will be fined 25 rupees per day. If a household has its own goats, one herder shall be exempted from village duties.

XXIX. The people who make the beer for the Lama Guru must swear an oath about whether the [grain for the] beer has been thoroughly boiled or not.

XXX. Water may never be channelled to the Shagthang fields from the Yurchu. Anyone who does channel the water will be fined 100 rupees for every subsection, and no excuses.

XXXI. After the irrigation roster for the Mangtse area has been established, taxes will be levied according to the size of fields.

XXXII. If someone from the community belonging to the group [that does the dancing] at Zatönse does not come to the dancing area, he or she will be fined 25 rupees, and no excuses.

XXXIII. In the area of gSum mdo people should never tan (lit. soak) hides, pound chillis, whip goat-wool, remove earth, work a hide, or carry out manure. Anyone who violates this rule shall be fined 50 rupees, and no excuses. Only spinning is permitted.

XXXIV. a. (p. 23, l. 2) If the reservoir fills up and overflows, two people from each [house-hold in each] unit on the irrigation roster will be excused from civic duties, but if it does not overflow, one person from each shall be exempted.

XXXIV. b. (p. 23, l. 4) If a child under the age of twelve dies the people in the house may mourn for no more than three days.

XXXIV. c. (p. 22, l. 6) Further to point XXXIV, if there is someone who cannot come because he is ill or whatever, he may be excused if he can swear an oath to this effect. If someone falls seriously ill and has to go to Jomsom hospital or wherever, even if four or five people go to carry the patient, only one person may be exempted from village duties as a helper to the patient. The others must come back up immediately. If a sick person in the village is capable of walking out of his house, there shall be no assistant who is exempted from village duties.

XXXIV. d. (p. 23, l. 5) The [people of the] community of Te gladly and willingly set their thumbprints [to affirm that] they will never deviate from these rules.

p. 24. Omitted above: if anyone sees a person taking black earth around (lit. to right and left of) Kutsog ridge, [the offender] will be fined 100 rupees.


p. 2, l. 4, mchod pa zhing: ‘offering fields’. A better reading, which is in fact more common- ly encountered in documents from neighbouring settlements, would probably be chos pa zhing, ‘fields of the religious community’. In the case of Te, the term denotes the fields attached to the dBon po grong pa, one of the community’s two ‘dormant’ estates. Their char- acterisation as ‘religious’ derives from the fact that the now-extinct dBon po clan were the hereditary Nyingmapa lamas of Te (see HMA/Te/Tib/01). At the time of the cadastral survey these fields were registered as dharma guhi, ‘religious collective’ land, a category for which land taxes need not be paid to the government.

In the late 1980s a huge retaining wall carrying an aqueduct to an area of fields on Thangka collapsed, and the fields became unusable. The worst affected was a large religious field that was being leased by a certain rGyal mtshan. Wi thout water the field produces nothing, but since the lease fee in Te is based on seed capacity, not yield, rGyal mtshan is still obliged to pay the fee. Since he is the only one who is losing out under the terms of the arrangement, it is in his inter- est that the retaining wall be repaired. The purpose of the clause then is to ensure that rGyal mtshan lessee should not return the field to the community but must keep paying the lease fee. It is entirely for him to choose between the two evils of leaving the field unproductive or incurring the considerable expense of engaging labourers to help him repair the collapsed wall. Either way, the community will receive its annual fee.