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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Sonam Dolma on 4/3/2017

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Published on Apr 13, 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: Sonam Dolma was born in 1940 in Tsang, Utsang Province, whose residents paid taxes to the District of Zongkar. Her family was samadok ‘farmers and herders,’ who divided their work between growing barley, wheat and peas and raising several types of domestic animals. They led a self-sufficient life because they got everything they needed from the fields and animals. Sonam Dolma’s family moved up into the mountains with the animals during summertime when the crops were growing in the fields. The animals raised by Sonam Dolma’s family were sheared during springtime and they spun the wool by hand. She explains the process of weaving the wool to make tents from yak hair. In her region the woven tent was used only as a roof placed over a stone structure that was left standing when they moved. Goat hair was used to make bags for transporting soil and barley on the yaks. Clothing was also made from the wool and dyed. Sonam Dolma explains how disputes were settled by the district administrator, who gave lashings to both the parties under the assumption that only the guilty one would cry out in pain. She also talks about how they atoned for the negative action of slaughtering sheep for consumption by lighting butter lamps.

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