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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Ngawang Chodak on 4/13/2015

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Published on Apr 6, 2018

The interpreter's English translation provided during this interview is potentially incomplete and/or inaccurate. If you are not fluent in Tibetan, please refer to the interview transcript for the complete and correct English translation. Read the interview transcript in English at http://tibetoralhistory.org/Interview...

** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.

** Interview Summary: Ngawang Chodak was born into a nomadic family in Utsang Province. His family reared sheep and yaks for their livelihood. The nomads migrated four times a year in search of pastures and transported all of their belongings on their yaks. The grazing lands were allotted to the families by the leader, who was elected by the public. Ngawang Chodak provides details about salt gathering, which was done in the spring and summer. The selected men would journey to the saltpans driving yaks. He describes how the salt formed in the lake and how the salt was gathered and dried. They filled saddle bags with the salt and loaded them on the yaks. The salt was taken to farmers and traded for grain. Ngawang Chodak recalls the horse racing festival which featured a running race and a trotting competition. He vividly describes the riders' clothing and adornments on the horses. The galloping race lasted for over two hours and the riders were normally ages 12-15. After the Chinese appeared in his region, many people began to flee and Ngawang Chodak's family left suddenly without even bringing any food on the journey. Ngawang Chodak was captured and imprisoned for one month under harsh conditions. He then made a successful escape to Nepal and was able to join his wife and parents there.

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