1st Edition

Oral Histories of Tibetan Women Whispers from the Roof of the World

By Lily Xiao Hong Lee Copyright 2022

    Through the translated stories of twenty Tibetan women of various backgrounds, ages and occupations who were alive in the twentieth century, this book presents broad, under-explored and engaging perspectives on Tibetan culture and politics, ethnicity or mixed ethnicity, art, marriage, religion, education and values.

    Offering a unique spectrum of primary sources, this book showcases interviews which were recorded in the 1990s and early 2000s which faithfully document Tibetan women telling their stories in their own words and situate these stories in their historical and socio-cultural contexts. These women were historically and religiously significant, such as a tulku (an incarnate), and tribal and local leaders, as well as ordinary women, such as poor peasants, the urban poor and women in polyandrous marriages.

    An important and unique contribution to the understanding of Tibetan women, this book is a valuable resource for those in the fields of anthropology, women and gender studies, applied history, contemporary China studies and Indigenous studies.

    Introduction Part 1: Performing arts and sports 1. Opera Performer: Ama Lhakpa 2. Dancer: Pangdi 3. Epic of King Gesar: Yuman 4. Everest Mountaineer: Kun-bzan Part 2: Cultural identity 5. Female Tulku: Dechen Chökyi Drönma, Twelfth Samding Dorje Phagmo 6. Abbess of Ani Tsangkhung: Tenzin Sangmo 7. Wasi Jiarong Tibetan Headmanship: Suo Guantao 8. Hoshut Mongolian Princess: Tashi Tsering 9. Queen’s Tribe: Dorji Dolma Part 3: Marriage and social customs 10. Aristocratic Marriages: Yangzom Tsering and Her Niece Thon-pa Bsod-nam rdo-rje 11. Polyandrous Families 12. Poor Peasant and Single Mother: Ngodup Dolma 13. Lhasa ‘Urban Poor’: Phuntshog Drolma 14. Sisterhoods Part 4: Professions 15. Medical Practitioner and Eye Surgeon: Yangkar 16. Folklorist: Tharab Tsering Yudun 17. Professor of Tibetan Language and Literature: Dundrup Lhamo 18. Radio Broadcaster: Dechen Drolma 19. Party Member: Tsering Drolka 20. The New Generation: Sanye and Nimacuo Conclusion


    Lily Xiao Hong Lee was born in China and has lived in Australia and the United States. She received her PhD and then taught at the University of Sydney until her retirement, where she remains an Honorary Associate. Her main interest is women’s biography and history, being editor of the Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women in four volumes and author of Women of the Long March.